2 Corinthians 5:17

I. How THE NEWNESS ORIGINATES.

1. The believer has died with Christ. (Ver. 14.) Christ is his Substitute, has borne his sins, has made complete satisfaction for his guilt. By faith he is so united to Christ that what Christ has done is imputed to him. He is thus new in relation to God. He was condemned; now he is justified.

2. The believer partakes of the life of Christ. He is "risen with Christ" (Colossians 3:1). He has received the Spirit of Christ. Having been justified, he is now being sanctified. The likeness of the Redeemer is being wrought upon and in him by the Holy Ghost. There is thus a "new creation." The old life was a life of sin, but the new life to which he has risen is a life of righteousness. The love of Christ constrains him (ver. 14) to live, not to himself, but to Christ.

II. HOW THE NEWNESS IS MANIFESTED. In the believer's

(1) spirit;

(2) speech;

(3) character;

(4) acts;

(5) plans, purposes, desires, etc. All things are become new (ver. 17). There is no part of the believer's life from which the newness should be absent. Whilst not yet perfect, manifestly a great change has taken place: "Old things are passed away" (ver. 17).

III. THIS NEWNESS FURNISHES A TEST. What have we more than our profession of Christianity? Have we been transformed; made new creatures? "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7). Can faith save a man - faith which has a name to live, but is dead; faith which we only know a man possesses because he tells us so? We are not in Christ at all unless thereby we have become new creatures. The test is beyond appeal. The sentence of the judgment will proceed upon the assumption of its infallibility (ver. 10). All men in Christ become new creatures. "If any man," etc. A decided change takes place in the best as well as in the worst. .All men may become new creatures in Christ. The vilest can be recreated equally with the most moral. This newness is not to be waited for till we enter another world. It belongs to this sphere in which we now are. Unless we are new creatures in this world we shall not be new creatures in another. It is on earth that "new creatures" are specially needed. - H.







Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature.
I. THE NEW RELATION INDICATED. The believer is "in Christ."

1. As the ground of his acceptance (Philippians 3:9). Christ by His atoning sacrifice has supplied the grounds whereby sinful men may become objects of complacent regard to God. We are lost in ourselves, but are to find ourselves in Him, surrounded by His merits as with a wall of defence, sheltered by them as by an all-embracing canopy. This alone is the position "wherein we are accepted in the beloved."

2. As deriving from Him his spiritual life (John 15:4, 5; cf. Galatians 2:20). The link of union being faith. Christ is "the living soul" of the spiritual life of the believer. The order is, first the believer enters into Christ by faith, then Christ enters into the believer by power. The branch is in the tree by union with it, and the tree is in the branch by the life it imparts to it in the nourishing sap.

3. As the sphere of his activities. Suppose, e.g., a person hears a glowing account of Australia. tie believes every word of the account. By this act of faith Australia enters his heart, and he becomes possessed by an intense desire to get there. Physically, Australia and he are thousands of miles apart, but morally Australia dwells in his heart, and has become a motive power within him, and will not give him rest until it brings him bodily there. He ventures across the ocean, until he finds himself actually in the country which was already in his heart. Here, now, he lives and acts. Thus it is with the believer; the whole fabric of his life becomes permeated by its spirit and purposes. Such expressions as "in sin," "in faith," "in wisdom," "in love," "in the spirit," mean that the particular things in which the person is said to be, form the sphere of his activity, the circle in which he moves, the atmosphere in which he breathes. And this devotedness of life to Christ is not limited to the religious activities, but includes all secular employments.

II. THE NEW EXPERIENCES INVOLVED IN THIS RELATION.

1. He who is in Christ is a new creation. In what sense? Clearly not in any physical or constitutional sense, for in that case he would not be the same person after the change. The latter portion of the text explains the nature of this important process. It is not the person that passes away, but his things, his former principles, motives, aims, and habits: and new ones have been substituted.

2. This change involves an entire reversal of the whole tenor of the life. Take, e.g., the steam locomotive. Its course is in a certain direction, but connected with it is the reversing gear. By the action of this gear the engine which may be seen proceeding with such speed in one direction may in a few minutes be seen moving with equal velocity in the contrary direction. The change does not involve any change in its construction, but only in its course; every wheel, rod, and crank that worked before works now, only in the reverse direction. This represents the change effected upon the believer through his relation to Christ. There has been no change effected in his constitution, only the whole course of his activities has been changed as to direction. And the change in these respects has been so entire as to justify the statement that he who has undergone it is a new creature. The new life is so different from the old, so changed as to its employment and aims, as to be like the life of another person. Paul himself is a striking exemplification of this truth.

(A. J. Parry.)

When the Apostle Paul said this, I suppose he was thinking of himself. What a different man he had become since he was a Christian! I do not wonder that he thought himself almost a new creation by the Almighty Maker. How many old things had passed away; how many new things had come! His whole manner of thought had been revolutionised. Before, he was on the highway to position and honour in the Jewish Church; now, he was reviled as an apostate. He had entered a new world of thought and life. But notice the stress laid by the apostle, here and elsewhere, on that little preposition "in." It is to be in Christ which makes one a new creature. So he says, "My wish is that I may be found in Him"; and in another place, "When God revealed His Son in Me." It is one thing to be with Christ, and another thing to be in Him. If we had been with Christ when He was walking the streets of Capernaum or Jerusalem, we might not have thought much about it. Nicodemus was with Him, and had a long conversation with Jesus, but does not seem to have come again. Judas was with Jesus during all His ministry, and then betrayed Him. We are all of us with Jesus, in a certain sense, by being taught about Him from childhood, by growing up in the midst of Christian society. But we are not necessarily in sympathy or union with Him on that account. Our purposes may be very different from His. Contiguity is not union. How often parents and children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, live together, side by side, for years, in utter ignorance of each other's inmost thoughts, sorrows, experiences, and hopes. They do not understand each other at all; for it is mutual love, not proximity, which leads to mutual knowledge. Nor is it enough even to be strongly attached to others, and clingingly devoted to them. That does not necessarily produce real union. We may cling to them externally, yet never be in them, never get a glimpse of the real secret of their lives. It was the sort of feeling with which a snail sticks to the rock, or a barnacle to a ship's bottom — because they need something strong and solid to cling to. To cling to another for our own comfort is not to be in him. So some persons cling to Jesus-for their own salvation. Weak in themselves, they need something to hold them up. They may cling merely for their own sake, only to be saved. They have not entered into the mind or the heart of Christ at all. Nor is it enough to have a great deal to say or to do about Christ in order to be in Him. You may spend your life in talking about Him, using His Name on all occasions, and yet be in no real union with Him. Men may fight for Him, die for Him, and not be in Him. The crusaders who went to Palestine to die under the banner of the Cross were, many of them, in no sympathy with Him. To be in Christ we must love Him. But love means much more than blind affectionate instincts, or clinging attachments, or sudden emotions. Love looks up to receive a higher influence, to be inspired by a purer life. Love must elevate us, or it is not really love. If any man loves, he is in the person he loves. He has entered into his soul, and has something of his spirit. If any man loves Christ, he is in Christ, because he has something of Christ's spirit, and is a new creature. He has something added to him, or developed out of him, that was not there before. There is nothing sudden, nothing artificial about this. This change is as natural as that by which the blood renews the body; the body seeming to continue the same, but always becoming different. It is a growth, and all growths are gradual. Conversion is always sudden, for it is simply turning round. But regeneration is gradual, for it is a growth. Paul was converted in a moment on his way to Damascus. He changed his mind about Christianity. He began a new life. But it took him a long time to become a Christian. Thus, if we are in Christ, we grow into new convictions. Not into new speculations or beliefs, for these may change suddenly, or may not change at all. Belief puts us with Christ, but not in him. A creed is like a carriage, which may take us to the place where our friend is, but cannot put us into communion with him. But if we are in Christ, we have new convictions. Spiritual things become more real to us. God becomes to us more real. So, also, if we are in Christ, we grow into new affections. A change of heart, as it is called, does not mean any new faculty or power of loving implanted in us, which we had not before. It means having new objects of love. What we did before merely from a sense of duty, we now do with pleasure. So, again, the Bible is a new book if we are in Christ. If you stand outside of the Cathedral of Milan, or the Minster of Cologne, and look on the vast windows of the choir, they seem dark and dingy. But go inside and let the light stream through them, and they turn into emeralds, and sapphires, and rubies, and are gorgeous with the forms of saints and angels. So enter into a book, sympathise with the spirit and aim of its author, and you can understand it. We call the Bible a supernatural book. I call it the most intensely natural book ever written. It is a revelation of human nature, showing its motives and workings. It is like a watch with a transparent dial, through which we look and see the movement. Again, if we are in Christ, life becomes new. Nothing prevents life from seeming old, stale, flat, and weary, like having an object — something we are interested in, something we love to do. The higher and better this object is, the more of interest it adds to our life. There is no end to the joy and freshness of existence, if we can have Christ in our hearts, and be in His heart, by drinking His spirit. And if any man be in Christ, death is new. Death has lost its terrors.

(Jas. Freeman Clarke.)

I. THE STATE SUPPOSED. "If any man be in Christ."

1. Any man may be in Christ. For what hinders? Nothing from without the sinner himself. There is no prohibition, no legal barrier interposed to prevent any one being in Christ.

2. Every man must be in Christ in order to be saved.

3. Every believer is in Christ. The sinner, by the first act of faith in Christ, becomes united to Him, or one with Him. In what respects one? Not one in essence, in nature, or person; but one with Christ in law — in the eye of the Divine Lawgiver. The believer is so treated as if he had done what Christ did.

II. THE CONSEQUENT CHANGE AFFIRMED. The change is not antecedent to, but consequent on, the state of being in Christ. Every man in Christ is brought into —

1. New relations. Every state of being gives rise to corresponding relations. A state of poverty, for instance, has its relations generally among the poor of this world; of wealth, among the rich; of rank, among the noble; of power, among the powerful; of rule and authority, among the rulers of this world; of liberty, among the free; of subjection, among the servile; and of captivity, among the captives. So it is with spiritual relations. Of these Christ is at once the source and the centre. The relations of every one in Christ are all changed. Being in Christ the man is out with Satan; he is severed from the world.

2. Receives a new nature or disposition. New relations tend to the formation of a new character, to fit the "man in Christ," for intercourse with those to whom he is spiritually related. A mere superficial and temporary change will not answer the appellation of a new creature. That can mean nothing less than a real, a radical, a universal, and abiding change over the whole man, over his whole spirit, and soul, and body. The new creature has new views. It is in the new as it was in the old creation; the first element produced to dispel the darkness and disorders all around was light. New inclinations as well as new views. New affections.

III. THE EVIDENCE ADDUCED. Old connections with the devil, the world, and the flesh, are broken off; old idols are cast away. "Behold, all things are become new." The man in Christ becomes a Christian, who is become a new man, and comes into a new world. To the new creature, even old and familiar things wear a new aspect. To his eyes, the sun shines with new splendour, the heavens display new glory, "the manifold works of God" present new wonders. "Behold!" which is a note of attention, of wonder, and of admiration.

1. With attention, for its certainty and importance.

2. With wonder, for its novelty.

3. With admiration, for its excellence. New things may be noteworthy for their greatness and novelty, but not for excellence or usefulness.

(Geo. Robson.)

(text in conjunction with vers. 13-16): — We can attach only four intelligible ideas to the expression "in Christ."

1. In His ever-sustaining energy. This cannot be the idea, inasmuch as Paul uses it to designate the state of a particular class of men; whereas all men, good and bad, live in Him.

2. In His dispensation. Again, as Paul means here the state only of a certain class of men, this cannot be the idea, since all men now during eighteen hundred years have been in Christ in this sense.

3. In His affection. There is propriety in a man saying of his friend, or a loving parent of his child, "He lives in me. He mingles with all my thoughts, sympathies, and plans." In this sense men are verily in Christ.

4. In His character. Without figure, we live in the character of others. The soul of the: artist lives in the genius of his master; that of the pupil in the ideas and mental habits of his admired teacher. The spirit of our heroes, the ideas of our favourite authors, do we not live in them? So all men in a moral sense live either "in Adam," or "in Christ." The selfishness, the carnality, the falseness, and the moral atheism, which came into the world through Adam, form that moral atmosphere which the millions breathe as their vital air. To be "in Christ" is to be so thoroughly impregnated with His ideas, so imbued with His spirit, so inspired with His purposes that our spirits live in Him. This connection is most vital. Hence the Bible teaches that what the foundation is to the building, the fountain to the stream, the root to the tree, the head to the body, Christ is to the good. Now he that is so in Christ is a "new creature," a new man. This man has three things new.

I. A NEW IMPERIAL IMPULSE (ver. 14). Love transfigures the lover into the spirit of the object. Now this love in Paul's case became the dominant passion of his being. It carried him on like a resistless torrent.

1. This new governing impulse is incomprehensible to those who possess it not (ver. 13). The apostle under its influence appeared to be mad to some. They saw him brave the greatest perils, etc., and they could not discover the principle which produced this self-sacrificing conduct. It was not ambition, for Paul repudiated power. It was not avarice, for Paul suffered the loss of all things. The world never has understood the principles that rule the truly good. The world did not understand Christ; even His own relations considered Him mad. "The world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not." Love alone can interpret love.

2. Arises from reflection upon the death of Christ. The apostle assumes that "Christ died for all." Now the fact that "Christ died for all," seemed to suggest to the apostle two strong reasons why he should be zealous in the cause of Christ.(1) That the whole world was in a ruined condition. "Then were all dead," in a moral sense. With this view of the world, he felt overwhelmed with the magnitude of his work.(2) That the principle of self-sacrifice is the binding principle of action. "He died for all, that they which live," etc. Selfishness is the death of the world. Christ died to destroy it.

II. A NEW SOCIAL STANDARD (ver. 16). "Henceforth" implies that he did once know men after the flesh; that his conduct towards men was once regulated by carnal standards. Such standards, however, Christianity regards as false and evanescent. It estimates man by his righteousness and not by his rank. The fact that this is the true standard serves:

1. As a test by which to try our own religion. What is the kind of sympathy we have with Christ?

2. To guide us in the promotion of Christianity. In our endeavours to convert the world, we are not to inquire if men are rich or poor, etc.; it is sufficient to know that they are men, and that they are morally dead.

3. To indicate the principle on which we should form our friendship with men. It should be not on account of their material condition but of their spiritual character.

4. As a rule to regulate our actions. Paul said, "When it pleased God to reveal His Son in me, I conferred not with flesh and blood." Spiritual considerations not material ones then ruled him; principles not persons became his authorities.

III. A NEW SPIRITUAL. HISTORY (ver. 17). In what sense can you call this change a "creation"?

1. It is unlike the first creation in many respects. The first creation —(1) Was the production of something out of nothing. It is not so in the new. No new element or faculty of being is produced; the change is simply in the mode and course of action. When a vessel that has been pursuing her course to some northern port turns directly round and sails to the south there is no change in the vessel, the mariners, or the cargo. The change is simply in the course.(2) Presented no difficulties. The Creator had only to speak and it was done, to command and it stood fast. But in this moral change there are resisting forces — "the world, the flesh, and the devil."(3) There was nothing but direct force. There was no instrumentality. But in this change you must have Divine argument, suasion, example: God did not "strive" to create, but He strives to save.

2. Wherein then is the propriety of representing this moral change as a creation? In both cases there is the production(1) of something new; a new imperial passion, love! This passion for Christ is a new thing in the universe.(2) Of something new by Divine agency. The architect can rear n cathedral, the sculptor can carve from marble, the painter can depict life on his canvas, the machinist can construct engines, but not one of them can create. God alone can create. It is so in this moral change. He alone can produce it.(3) Something new according to a Divine plan. Everything in the universe is formed by plan. The work in the human soul is also so. "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works," etc. "We are predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ." Conversions are accomplished by plan. We may not know the plan. The architect has the outline of that majestic cathedral which is in course of building: — very few, if any, know of it; he has it in the secrets of his own brain. Still the building under his superintendence is advancing. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, are helping to work his plan. Some are excavating the mountains, and some are ploughing the seas, etc. Very few of the workers are known to each other, yet the act of each helps to work out the plan of the architect. So it is in the moral creation. Heaven, earth, matter, mind, even hell is unwittingly working for it.(4) Something new which develops the Divine glory. The universe is a mirror of God, etc. There is more of His glory seen in the free intellect, the pure sympathies, the lofty aspirations, the refined conscience of one regenerate soul than the whole material universe displays.(5) Something new in n gradual way. According to geology unnumbered ages were taken up in bringing this earth to its present form as a suitable residence for man. So man does not become virtuous and great by a bound; it is by a series of efforts and a course of training.

3. These remarks are sufficient to show the propriety of representing man's moral change as a "creation." It is not, however, the things without that change. Material nature, society, events that pass over him — all may remain the same; but the change is within. His consciousness is changed, and with that all has changed. He looks at the forms of the universe with a new eye, with a new judgment. He looks at all through the medium of a new passion, and all assume new phases. If you would have me admire some fine piece of architecture, or some magnificent painting, inspire me first with a love for the artist. The moment we look at the universe through love to Christ, the Great Architect, it becomes new: the old universe passes away, and new heavens and a new earth appear. Conclusion: Such, then, is what Christianity does for us. What a world this will be when Christianity shall have realised its sublime mission! I rejoice to believe that that period will one day come.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. WHAT A NEW CREATURE IS. It "is a second birth added to the first.

1. The efficient cause is the Holy Ghost; who but God can alter the hearts of men, and turn stones into flesh?

2. The organical cause or instrument is the Word of God (James 1:18).

3. The matter is the restoring of God's image lost by the fall. He does not bestow new faculties, but new qualities. As in the altering of a lute, the strings are not new, but the tune is mended; so, in the new creature, the substance of the soul is not new, but is new tuned by grace; the heart that before was proud is now humble, etc.

II. WHAT KIND OF WORK THE NEW CREATURE IS.

1. A work of Divine power (Ephesians 1:20). It is a work of greater power to produce the new creature than to make a world.(1) When God made the world He met with no opposition; but when God is about to make a new creature Satan and the heart oppose Him.(2) It cost God nothing to make the world, but to make the new creature cost the shedding of Christ's blood.

2. A work of free grace. There is nothing in us to move God to make us anew; "By the grace of God I am what I am."

3. A work of rare excellency. A soul beautified with holiness is like the firmament bespangled with glittering stars; it is God's lesser heaven. In the incarnation, God made Himself in the image of man; in the new creation, man is made in the image of God.

4. Concerning the new creature, I shall lay down two positions:(1) That it is not in the power of a natural man to convert himself, because it is a now creation.(2) When God converts a sinner, He doth more than use a moral persuasion, for conversion is a new creation.

III. THE COUNTERFEITS OF THE NEW CREATURE.

1. Natural honesty, moral virtue, etc. Morality is but nature at best. Heat water to the highest degree, you cannot make wine of it.

2. Religious education. This is a good wall to plant the vine of grace against, but it is not grace. Have not we seen many who have been trained up religiously, who have lived to be a shame to their friends?

3. A form of godliness. Every bird that hath fine feathers hath not sweet flesh; all that shine with the golden feathers of profession are not saints. How devout were the Pharisees! Daedalus, by art, made images to move by themselves, insomuch that people thought they were living; formalists do so counterfeit a devotion that others think they are living saints — they are religious mountebanks.

4. Change of opinion. Man may change from error to truth, yet only in the head, not in the heart.

5. Sudden passion, or stirring of the affections. Many desire heaven, but will not come up to the price. King Herod heard John gladly; his affections were moved, but his sin was not removed.

6. Trouble for sin, i.e., while God's judgments lie upon men; when these are removed, their trouble ceaseth (Psalm 78:34-36). Metal out of the furnace returns to its former hardness.

7. Possession of the Spirit. A man may have some slight transient work of the Spirit, but it doth not go to the root; he may have the Spirit to convince him, not to convert him, the motions of the Spirit, but the walk after the flesh.

8. Abstaining from sin. This abstaining may be from restraining grace, not renewing grace. Men may leave gross sin, and yet live in more spiritual sins; leave drunkenness and live in pride; leave uncleanness and live in malice.

IV. WHEREIN THE ESSENCE OF THE NEW CREATURE EXISTS.

1. In general it is —(1) A great change. He who is a new creature is not the same man he was. He is of another spirit.(2) A visible change, one from darkness to light. Paul, when converted, was so altered that all who saw him could scarcely believe that he was the same.(3) An inward change. Though the heart be not new-made, it is new moulded.

2. More particularly it consists in two things.(1) "Old things are passed away." Old pride, old ignorance, old malice; the old house must be pulled down ere you can set up a new, yet though it be a thorough change, it is not a perfect change; sin will remain. If sin then is not quite done away, how far must one put off the old man, that he may be a new creature? There must be —

(a)A grieving for the remains of corruption (Romans 7:24).

(b)A detestation of old things, as one would detest a garment in which is the plague (Psalm 119:63).

(c)An opposition against all old things; a Christian not only complains of sin, but fights against it (Galatians 5:17).

(d)A mortification of old corrupt lusts (Galatians 5:24; Romans 6:11).(2) "All things are become new." The new creature is new all over; grace, though it be but in part, yet it is in every part. There is —(a) A new understanding (Ephesians 3:24). The new creature is enlightened to see that which he never saw. before. He knows Christ after another manner. He knows himself better than he did. When the sun shines into a room it discovers all the dust and cobwebs in it; so, when the light of the Spirit shines into the heart it discovers that corruption which before lay hid. A wicked man, blinded with self-love, admires himself; like Narcissus, that seeing his own shadow upon the water, fell in love with it.(b) A renewal of conscience. The least hair makes the eye weep, and the least sin makes conscience smite. A good conscience is a star to guide, a register to record, a judge to determine, a witness to accuse or excuse; if conscience doth all these offices right, then it is a renewed conscience, and speaks peace.(c) The will is renewed. An old bowl may have a new bias put into it; the will having a new bias of grace put into it is strongly carried to good, and carries all the affections along with it.(d) A new conversation. Grace alters a man's walk; before he walked proudly, now humbly; before loosely, now holily; he makes the Word his rule, and Christ's life his pattern.Conclusion —

1. In this, true Christianity consists. It is not baptism makes a Christian; many are no better than baptised heathens.

2. It is the new creature fits us for communion with God. Birds cannot converse with men unless they had a rational nature put into them, nor can men converse with God, unless they partake of the Divine nature. Every one that hangs about the court doth not speak with the king.

3. The necessity of being new creatures. Till then —(1) We are odious to God.(2) Our duties are not accepted with God; they are but wild grapes. When they brought Tamarlane a pot of gold he asked what stamp it had on it, and when he saw the Roman stamp on it he refused it; so if God doth not be His own stamp and image on the soul, He rejects the most specious services.(3) Get no benefit by ordinances. The Word preached is a savour of death; nay Christ Himself is accidentally a "rock of offence."(4) We cannot arrive at Heaven (Revelation 21:27). Heaven is not like Noah's ark — that received clean and unclean. Only the pure in heart shall see God.

4. The excellency of the new creature.(1) Its nobility. The new creature fetcheth its pedigree from heaven; it is born of God, and is fellow-commoner with angels.(2) Its immortality. The new creature is begotten of the incorruptible seed of the Word, and never dies.

5. The misery of the unregenerate creature; dying so "good were it for that man if he had never been born."

(T. Watson.)

Our text is to be viewed —

I. AS A REQUISITION UPON THE SINNER. Nothing short of a new creation can constitute any man a Christian.

1. If we consider the extent of the requisition, as applied to individuals, the emphasis rests upon the word "any." It matters not who he may be. No man can become a Christian in any other method.

2. The requisition may be considered in its application to character in each individual. Here the emphasis is on the words "new creature."(1) The object to be obtained marks this necessity for a new creation. This object is not to be in the church. That may easily be secured by conformity to outward ordinances. It is not reform in external conduct merely. This may be accomplished by man's own exertions. It is not to obtain a good reputation among men. But it is to be in Christ, and to be made an heir of everlasting glory. This object no partial change of character can secure.(2) That which separates men from God is a radical perversion of motive and principle; the change required therefore is a change of the heart, a new creation of the soul in its principles and objects of pursuit. They have but one simple want. But that want is a total one. They must be new men.

II. AS A PRIVILEGE TO THE CHRISTIAN. He is a new creature —

1. In the personal relations which he sustains.(1) In his relations to God his Creator and Judge. He stands in the Divine presence no longer under condemnation. The penalty for his sin has been endured. God is no longer angry, but is a reconciled Father. He enjoys the comfort of this new relation. His conscience is peaceful through the blood of sprinkling, and perfect love has cast out fear.(2) In his relation to Jesus the Saviour. Once, like others, he despised and rejected Him. Now he has embraced Him in the warm affections of his heart, as his comfort, and hope, and portion for ever.(3) In his relations to men around him. To the children of God, wherever they are, he is a brother and a friend. To the unconverted, he feels a bond of pity which he never knew before. He now knows the galling chain which they ignorantly wear. He labours and prays that they may also become new creatures in Jesus Christ.

2. In his personal character.(1) He is released from the dominion of sin. It may dwell within him, but it dwells there as a captive, not as a ruler.(2) He is released from the darkness and confusion of mind, which sin has produced. The image of God which was lost in man's apostasy, has been restored. In the true order of his powers, his whole soul is devoted to the service of God. Thus his heart has become right in the sight of God.(3) He has received a principle of Divine grace within him, which shall flourish and increase for ever.

3. In his associates. There was a time when he avoided the society of the pious, when he loved the associations of the worldly. Now there has been a total revolution in all his intercourse with men. He has forsaken the society of those who fear not God, and he selects for his friends those in whom he can find the mind of Christ. He now regards men according to their character in the sight of God.

4. In his occupation and enjoyments. His desire is in the fulfilment of every required duty, to honour the God whom he delights to serve. Religion sanctifies his daily engagements. His comforts and joys come to him from above. He looks beyond the bounds of sense to find his joy and his crown of rejoicing in eternity. Prayer is no longer a task but a pleasure. The Bible comes to him not so much to remind him of a duty as to call him to a privilege.

5. In his prospects.

(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)

I. THE CHRISTIAN'S POSITION — "in Christ." There are three stages of the soul. First — Without Christ, this is the state of nature, and is a most unhappy condition. It is inconvenient to be without gold; it is miserable to be without health, without a friend, without reputation, but to be without Christ is the worst lack in all the world. The next state, "in Christ," leadeth to the third, with Christ, which is the state of glory.

1. Our business now is with the second, "in Christ," which is the state of grace. I never heard of any persons being in any other man but Christ. We may follow certain leaders, and imitate eminent examples, but no man is said in these respects to be in another.(1) We must interpret this by scriptural symbols.

(a)We were all of us in the first Adam. Adam stood for us. Now, as in Adam we all fell, so all who are in Christ are restored.

(b)Noah's ark was a type of Christ. Christ is the ark of God provided against the day of judgment, and we are in Him.

(c)Christ is God's eternal city of refuge, and we, having offended, flee for our lives and enter where vengeance cannot reach us.(2) Christ represents us as being in Him as the branch is in the vine.(3) Paul describes us as being in Christ also as the stone is in the building. In some of the old Roman walls you can scarcely tell which is the firmer, the cement or the stone, for their cement held the stones together as though they were one mass of rock; and such is the eternal love which binds the saints to Christ.

2. "How do we conic to be there?"

(1)By faith.

(2)By love.When love and faith come together, then there is a blessedly sweet communion.

II. THE BELIEVER'S CHARACTER — a "new creature." The phrase suggests —

1. A radical change.(1) A man may undergo many changes, but they may be far from being radical enough to be a new creation. Ahab may humble himself, but he is Ahab still.(a) Conversion is sometimes described as healing; but healing does not rise to the radical character of the text. Naaman washed in Jordan, and came up with his flesh clean like unto a little child; but it was the same flesh and the same Naaman. The woman, bowed down with infirmity eighteen years, was marvellously changed when she stood upright; but she was the same woman.(b) There are great moral changes wrought in many which are not saving. A drunkard may become sober, and many persons of debauched habits regular; and yet their changes may not amount to regeneration. The most startling changes will not suffice unless they are total and deep. The Ethiopian might change his skin, the leopard his spots; but the leopard would remain a leopard, and the Ethiop would still be black at heart.(c) Even the metaphor of resurrection does not go so far as the language of the text. The daughter of Jairus is the same child, and Lazarus is the same man after restoration to life. A new creation is a root-and-branch change; not an alteration of the walls only, but of the foundation; not a new figuring of the visible tapestry, but a renewal of the fabric itself.(2) We are new creatures through being in Christ. People object to the doctrine that men are saved by faith in Christ on the ground that there must be a great moral change. But if those who are in Christ are new creatures, what greater change can be desired? He who believes in Christ, finding himself pardoned, loves Christ, and loves the God who gave Christ, and love to God expels love to sin.

2. A Divine work. If any doubt it, let us bid them make the effort to create the smallest object.(1) Regeneration is God's sole work. In the first creation who helped God? So the sovereign will of God creates men heirs of grace.(2) It was more difficult to create a Christian than to create a world. Unto Him, then, be glory and strength!

3. Remarkable freshness. It is very long since this world saw a new creature. All the creatures we now see are old and antiquated. Any new creature coming fresh into the world would startle us all. And yet the text tells you that there are new creatures upon earth, fruits that have freshness and bloom of Eden about them, life with the dew of its youth upon it; and these new creatures are Christian men. There is a freshness about them which is to be found nowhere else. He that prayed yesterday with joy, shall pray in fifty years' time, if he be on earth, with the selfsame delight. He that loves his Maker, and feels his heart beat high at the mention of the name of Jesus, shall find as much transport in that name, if he lives to the age of Methuselah, as he doth now.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

That God's creating of a new supernatural work of grace in the soul of any man, is that man's sure and infallible evidence of a saving interest in Jesus Christ. Why the regenerating work of the Spirit is called a new creation. First, the same almighty Author who created the world created also this work of grace in the soul of man (2 Corinthians 4:6). Secondly, the first thing that God created in the natural world was light (Genesis 1:3), and the first thing which God createth in the new creation is the light of spiritual knowledge (Colossians 3:10). Thirdly, creation is out of nothing; it requires no pre-existent matter. So it is also in the new creation (1 Peter 2:9, 10). Fourthly, it was the virtue and efficacy of the Spirit of God which gave the natural world its being by creation (Genesis 1:2). Fifthly, the Word of God was the instrument of the first creation (Psalm 33:6-9). Sixthly, the same power which created the world still supports it in its being: the world owes its conservation, as well as its existence, to the power of God. Just so it is with the new creation (Jude 1, "Preserved in Christ Jesus," and 1 Peter 1:5). Seventhly, in a word, God surveyed the first creation with complacence and great delight (Genesis 1:31). So this also in the second creation; nothing delights God more than the works of grace in the souls of His people. Next we must inquire, in what respects every soul that is in Christ is made a new creature; and here we shall find a threefold renovation of every man that is in Christ. First, he is renewed in his state and condition: for he passeth from death to life in his justification (1 John 3:14). Secondly, every man in Christ is renewed in his frame and constitution; all the faculties and affections of his soul are renewed by regeneration: his understanding was dark, but now is light in the Lord (Ephesians 5:8); his conscience was dead and secure, or full of guilt and horror, but is now become tender, watchful, and full of peace (Hebrews 9:14); his will was rebellious and inflexible; but is now made obedient and complying with the will of God (Psalm 110:2). Thirdly, the man in Christ is renewed in his practice and conversation; the manner of operation always follows the nature of beluga. Now the regenerate not being what they were, cannot walk and act as once they did (Ephesians 2:1-3). Thirdly, let us inquire into the properties and qualities of this new creature. First, the Scripture speaks of it as a thing of great difficulty to be conceived by man (John 3:8). Secondly, but though this life of the new creature be a great mystery and secret in some respects; yet so far as it appears unto us, the new creature is the most beautiful and lovely creature that ever God made; for the beauty of the Lord Himself is upon it: "The new man is created after God" (Ephesians 4:24). Thirdly, this new creature is created in man upon the highest design that ever any work of God was wrought: the end of its creation is high and noble (Colossians 1:12). Fourthly, this new creation is the most necessary work that ever God wrought upon the soul of man: the eternal well-being of his soul depends upon it; and without it no man shall see God (Hebrews 12:14; John 1:3-5). Fifthly, the new creature is a marvellous creature; there are many wonders in the first creation (Psalm 111:2). But there are no wonders in nature, like those in grace. Sixthly, the new creature is an immortal creature (John 4:14). Seventhly, the new creature is an heavenly creature; "It is not born of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13); its descent is heavenly. Eighthly, the new creature is an active and laborious creature; no sooner is it born, but it is acting in the soul (Acts 9:6). Behold he prayeth! Activity is its very nature (Galatians 5:25). Ninthly, the new creature is a thriving creature, growing from strength to strength (1 Peter 2:2), and changing the soul in which it is subjected from glory unto glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Tenthly, the new creature is a creature of wonderful preservation. There are many wonders of Divine providence in the preservation of our natural lives, but none like those whereby the life of the new creature is preserved in our souls. Fourthly, we will demonstrate the necessity of this new creation to all that are in Christ, and by Him do attain salvation; and the necessity of the new creature will appear divers ways. First, from the positive and express will of God revealed in Scripture. Secondly, this new creation is the inchoative part of that great salvation which we expect through Christ, and therefore, without this, all expectations of salvation must vanish. Salvation and renovation are inseparably connected. Thirdly, so necessary is the new creation to all that expect salvation by Christ; that without this, heaven would be no heaven. Fourthly, there is an absolute necessity of the new creature to all that expect interest in Christ and the glory to come, since all the characters and signs of such an interest, are constantly taken from the new creature wrought in us. Fifthly, the last thing is, how the new creation is an infallible proof and evidence of the soul's interest in Christ; and this will appear divers ways. First, where all the saving graces of the Spirit are, there interest in Christ must needs be certain; and where the new creature is, there all the saving graces of the Spirit are. Secondly, to conclude: where all the causes of an interest in Christ are found, and all the effects and fruits of an interest in Christ do appear, there, undoubtedly, a real interest in Christ is found; but wherever you find a new creature, you find all the causes and all the effects of an interest in Christ. Is the new creature the infallible evidence of our saving interest in Christ? From hence, then, we are informed —Inference 1. How miserable an estate all unrenewed souls are in.Inference 2. On the contrary, we may hence learn what cause regenerate souls have to bless God for the day wherein they were born.Inference 3. Learn from hence that the work of grace is wholly supernatural; a creation-work is above the power of the creature.Inference 4. If the work of grace be a new creation, let not the parents and friends of the unregenerate utterly despair of the conversion of their relations, how great soever their present discouragements are. If it had been possible for a man to have seen the rude chaos before the Spirit of God moved upon it, would he not have said, Can such a beautiful order of beings, such a pleasant variety of creatures, spring out of this dark lump? Surely it would have been very hard for a man to have imagined it.Inference 5. If none but new creatures be in Christ, how small a remnant among men belong to Christ in this world!Inference 6. If the change by grace be a new creation, how universal and marvellous a change doth regeneration make upon men! First, because the work of grace is wrought in divers methods and manners in the people of God. Some are changed from a state of notorious profaneness unto serious godliness; there the change is conspicuous and very evident: but in others it is more insensibly distilled in their tender years, by the blessing of God, upon religious education, and there it is more indiscernible. Secondly, though a great change be wrought, yet much natural corruption still remains for their humiliation. Thirdly, in some the new creature shows itself mostly in the affectionate part in desires after God; and but little in the clearness of their understandings, for want of which they are kept in darkness most of their days. Fourthly, some Christians are more tried and exercised by temptation from Satan than others are; and these clouds darken the work of grace in them. Fifthly, there is great difference and variety found in the natural tempers and constitutions of the regenerate; some are of a more melancholy, fearful, and suspicious temper than others, and are therefore much longer held under doubtings.Inference 7. How incongruous are carnal ways to the spirit of Christians! who being new creatures, can never find pleasure in their former sinful companions and practices. If none be in Christ but new creatures, and the new creation make such a change as hath been described, this may convince us how many of us deceive ourselves, and run into fatal mistakes in the greatest concernment we have in this world. First, that the change made by civility upon such as were lewd and profane is, in its whole kind and nature, a different thing from the new creature. Secondly, that many strong convictions and troubles for sin may be found where the new creature is never formed. Thirdly, that excellent gifts and abilities, fitting men for service in the Church of God, may be where the new creature is not; for these are promiscuously dispensed by the Spirit, both to the regenerate and unregenerate (Matthew 7:22). Fourthly, be convinced that multitudes of religious duties may be performed by men, in whom the new creature was never formed.Next, therefore, let me persuade every man to try the state of his own heart in this matter. First, consider well the antecedents of the new creature; have those things passed upon your souls, which ordinarily make way for the new creature.

1. Hath the Lord opened the eyes of your understanding in the knowledge of sin and of Christ (Acts 26:18).

2. Hath He brought home the Word with mighty power and efficacy upon your hearts to convince and humble them (Romans 7:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:5).

3. Have these convictions overturned your vain confidences, and brought you to inward distress of soul.Secondly, consider the concomitant frames and workings of spirit, which ordinarily attend the production of the new creature.

1. Have your vain spirits been composed to the greatest seriousness and most solemn consideration of things eternal, as the hearts of all those are whom God regenerates?

2. A lowly, meek, and humble frame of heart accompanies the new creation; the soul is weary and heavy laden (Matthew 11:28).

3. A longing frame of spirit accompanies the new creation; the desires of the soul are ardent after Christ.Thirdly, weigh well the effects and consequents of the new creature, and consider whether such fruits as these are found in your hearts and lives.

1. Wherever the new creature is formed, there a man's course and conversation is changed (Ephesians 4:22).

2. The new creature continually opposes and conflicts with the motions of sin in the heart (Galatians 5:17).

3. The mind and affections of the new creature are set upon heavenly and spiritual things (Colossians 3:1, 2; Ephesians 4:23; Romans 8:5).

4. The new creature is a praying creature, living by its daily communion with God (Zechariah 12:10; Acts 9:11). If the new creation be a sound evidence of our interest in Christ, then let me persuade all that are in Christ to evidence themselves to be so, by walking as it becomes new creatures. The new creature is born from above; all its tendencies are heavenward. Let every new creature be cheerful and thankful: if God hath renewed your natures and thus altered the temper of your hearts, He hath bestowed the richest mercy upon you that heaven or earth affords. This is a work of the greatest rarity. "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes." There are unsearchable wonders in its generation, in its operation, and in its preservation.

(John Flavel.)

Consider this change, on account whereof Christians are new creatures in respect of —

I. THE INWARD FRAME OF MIND. And this is what the Scripture calls a new heart, a new spirit, a renovation in the spirit of the mind, a transformation by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. There is a change in their —

1. Apprehensions.(1) They had once a notional sight only of the being and perfections of God; but now they appear to them the surest realities.(2) They once saw no beauty in Christ, nor were sensible of any need they stood in of Him; but He is now altogether lovely.(3) They once saw no great evil in sin; but it now appears an evil and bitter thing.(4) They once saw no great beauty in holiness; but it now appears the most amiable grace.

2. Purposes. Once the bent of their mind was towards the earth; it is now towards heaven.

3. Affections. There is a change in their —(1) Love. They now hate what they once loved, and vice versa.(2) Sorrow. The things which once moved their grief were worldly losses and crosses, pain in their bodies, etc. As for their sins, they were not grieved on account of them. But the new creation has wonderfully turned the channel of their sorrow.(3) Hope. This they once placed on the creature; but they now place it on the Creator. They had once no views beyond this earth; but they now reach to heaven.(4) Fear. The things which once moved their fear, were the threats of men, the frowns of the world, etc. They now fear God's displeasure more than anything else. They dare not now live in sin.(5) Anger. They were once angry with those who were a hindrance to them in sin; but they now love and thank them. Their anger is now turned against themselves.

II. THE OUTWARD COURSE AND MANNER OF LIFE. They do not now live in sin as they once did; but "have put off concerning the former conversation, the old man," etc. And this reformation is sometimes so remarkable that it is taken notice of, and admired by others. But this change carries more in it than what is negative. It is a change not only from sin, but to holiness. That is, they live in the practice of the whole of their duty; all that duty they owe, either to God, their neighbour, or themselves.

(C. Chauncey, A. M.)

I. A VISIBLE CHANGE — "Behold." There is a change without as the expression and effect of a change within. This visibility will appear —

1. To ourselves. If a man entertains a hope that it has taken place, and yet is not able to perceive that he is in any wise different from what he was before, that man ought rather to fear than hope.

2. To others. It behoves us so to conduct ourselves that men shall take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus. We must seem to be religious as well as be so actually. How otherwise can we be the lights of the world? Must we not show our faith by our works?

II. AN ADMIRABLE CHANGE. The interjection is thrown in not barely to attract attention, but to excite wonder and admiration. It is admirable if we consider —

1. Its author. It is God. Every work of God is admirable. What a noble piece of work is man, even in his ruins! how much more then in his restoration!

2. The loving-kindness displayed in making it. "Behold, what manner of love" is here!

3. Its nature and connections. It is a singular change, infinitely superior to any other of which the human character is susceptible. Other changes are necessarily superficial; this is deep and radical. It inserts a new mainspring. What evils other changes restrain or abate, this eradicates; and this communicates the reality of the good, of which they do but put on this appearance.

III. A THOROUGH CHANGE. "All things are become new." There may be a partial reformation, while the heart remains unchanged; but if the heart is changed, the reformation must be universal. Where one trait of the Christian character is found, there they are all found. Where faith is, there is love, for faith worketh by love; and where these are, in inseparable society is found the whole sisterhood of graces, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance. And so the heart that hates one sin hates all, and is equally disposed to renounce all. Therefore if any of you find that your religion is not universally influential, you may conclude that it is vain.

IV. A CHANGE OF THE NATURE OF A SUBSTITUTION, AND NOT A SUPERADDITION. There is a passing away of the old things, and a coming in their place of new. The new man is not put on over the old man, but the old man is first put off. The soul becomes dead unto sin before it is made alive unto righteousness.

V. A GREAT CHANGE. It is hardly necessary to affirm this after what has been already said, It is a work of God; a new creation; a passing from death unto life, a being born again, a translation out of darkness into marvellous light, a resurrection.

VI. A PERMANENT CHANGE. It lasts.

(W. Nevins, D. D.)

? —

I. IN ORDER TO SALVATION A RADICAL CHANGE IS NECESSARY.

1. Everywhere in Scripture men are divided into two classes, with a very sharp line of distinction between them — sheep lost and sheep found, guests refusing and guests feasting, wise virgins and foolish, sheep and goats, men "dead in trespasses and sin" and alive to God, men in darkness or in light, "children of God" and "children of wrath," believers who are not condemned and of those who are condemned already, etc., etc.

2. The Word of God speaks of this inward change as —(1) a birth (John 1:12, 13 ; 1 John 5:1).(2) A quickening (Ephesians 1:19; Ephesians 2:1).(3) A creation, as in our text, and this also is no mere formality, or an attendant upon a rite (Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:24).(4) A translation (Colossians 1:13).(5) A "passing from death unto life" (1 John 3:14; John 5:24).(6) A being "begotten again" (1 Peter 1:3; James 1:18). Can you conceive of any language more plainly descriptive of a most solemn change?

3. The Scriptures speak of it as producing a very wonderful change in the subject of it.(1) In the character (Romans 6:17, 22; Colossians 3:9; Galatians 5:24).(2) In feeling. Enmity to God is exchanged for love to God (Colossians 1:21). This arises very much from a change of man's judicial state before God. Before a man is converted he is condemned, but when he receives spiritual life we read "there is therefore now no condemnation," etc. This altogether changes his condition as to inward happiness (Romans 5:1, 11).

4. It is further represented as the chief blessing in the covenant of grace (Jeremiah 31:33, cf. Hebrews 10:16; Ezekiel 36:26, 27 .

II. THIS CHANGE IS FREQUENTLY VERY MARKED AS TO ITS TIME AND CIRCUMSTANCES. Many souls truly born of God could not lay their finger upon any date and say, "At such a time I passed from death unto life." Conversion is often so surrounded by restraining grace that it appears to be a very gradual thing, and the rising of the sun of righteousness in the soul is comparable to the dawning of day, with a grey light at first, and a gradual increase to a noonday splendour. Yet, as there is a time when the sun rises, so is there a time of new birth. If a dead man were restored to life, he might not be able to say exactly when life began, but there is such a moment. There must be a time when a man ceases to be an unbeliever and becomes a believer in Jesus. In many cases, however, the day, hour, and place are fully known, and we might expect this —

1. From many other works of God. How very particular God is about the time of creation! "The evening and the morning were the first day." "God said, Let there be light: and there was light." So in the miracles of Christ. The water turns at once to wine, the fig-tree immediately withers away, the loaves and fishes are at once multiplied in the hands of the disciples. Miracles of healing were as a rule instantaneous.

2. From the work itself. If it be worthy to be called a resurrection, there must manifestly be a time in which the dead man ceases to be dead and becomes alive.

3. From the conversions mentioned in Scripture. Paul was one moment an opponent of Christ, and the next was crying, "Who art Thou, Lord?" and this conversion was to be a pattern (1 Timothy 1:15, 16). Let us look at other instances. The Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus, Matthew, the three thousand at Pentecost, the Philippian jailer. It would be much more difficult to find a gradual conversion in Scripture than a sudden one.

4. From experience. The matter is one about which I feel it a weariness to argue, because these wonders of grace happen daily before our eyes, and it is like trying to prove that the sun rises in the morning.

III. THIS CHANGE IS RECOGNISABLE BY CERTAIN SIGNS.

1. A sense of sin. True conversion always has in it a humbling sense of the need of Divine grace.

2. Faith in Jesus.

3. The change of his principles, objects, desires, life. A convert once said, "Either the world is altered or else I am." The very faces of our children look different to us, for we regard them under a new aspect, viewing them as heirs of immortality. We view our friends from a different stand-point. Our very business seems altered. We learn to sanctify the hammer and the plough by serving the Lord with them.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

is

I. A CHANGE.

1. A real change; from nature to grace, as well as by grace.

2. A common change to all the children of God. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature."

3. A change quite contrary to the former frame. What more contrary to light than darkness? (Ephesians 5:8); flesh to spirit (John 3:6); translation from one kingdom to another (Colossians 1:13).

4. A universal change of the whole man, It is a new creature, not only a new power or new faculty. Understanding, will, conscience, affections, all were corrupted by sin, all are renewed by grace.

5. Principally an inward change. It is as inward as the soul itself. It is a clean heart David desires, not only clean hands (Psalm 51:10). If it were not so, there could be no outward rectified change. The spring and wheels of the clock must be mended before the hand of the dial will stand right.

II. A VITAL PRINCIPLE. This new creation is a translation from death to life (1 John 3:14). It is not, then, a gilding, but a quickening; not a carving, but an enlivening.

III. A HABIT. It is impossible to conceive a new creature without new habits. Nothing can be changed from a state of corruption to a state of purity without them.

IV. A LAW PUT INTO THE HEART. Every creature hath a law belonging to its nature. Man hath a law of reason, beasts a law of sense and instinct, plants a law of vegetation, inanimate creatures a law of motion. A new creature hath a law put into his heart (Jeremiah 31:23; cf. Hebrews 8:10). It is called the "law of the mind" (Romans 7:23), it beginning first in the illumination of that faculty as sin began first in a false judgment made of the precept of God, "You shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." It consists in an inward conformity of the heart to the law. The soul hath a likeness to the word and doctrine of the gospel within it (Romans 6:17). As melted metal poured into a mould loses its former form, and puts on a new shape, the same figure with the mould into which it is poured; the soul, which before was a servant of sin, and had the image of the law of sin, being melted by the Spirit, is cast into the figure and form of the law.

V. A LIKENESS TO GOD. Every creature hath a likeness to something or other in the rank of beings: the new creature is framed according to the most exact pattern, even God Himself. The new creature is begotten; begotten, then, in the likeness of the begetter, which is God. Were not a real likeness attainable, why should those exhortations be, of being "holy as God is holy, pure as He is pure"? (1 Peter 1:15; 1 John 3:3).

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

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