We often start the new year with a sense of eager expectation of making a fresh start. We may have a number of resolutions concerning areas of self-improvement, but how effective are we at following through? Do you find it difficult to make changes in your life? Long-standing habits can be especially difficult to change because they seem to define us. The secret to long-lasting change is becoming the type of person from whom these changes naturally occur. We often act in accordance with how we see ourselves. Do you see yourself as a child of God or one who has failed time and again? The Apostle Paul makes an amazing declaration of the identity of those who are in Christ,
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
If you are in Christ, Paul declares that you are a new creation. He doesn’t say you will become a new creation, but you are a new creation. The word he uses for “new” does not mean new in time or recent, but new in form or quality resulting in a different nature in contrast to the old. You must see yourself as God sees you. You have been redeemed and He has placed His Spirit within you. This is God’s provision that enables you to live the new life.
Paul elaborates on the implications of our new identity, “the old things passed away.” You may be thinking, “But I don’t feel like a new creation.” You must be guided by truth, not by feelings. If you don’t let your past die, it won’t let you live. The old neural pathways still exist but you don’t need to follow them, you now have a choice. You have a responsibility to renew your mind so you can act in accordance with your new, true identity. As your mind is transformed, you realize that new things have come.
When I was in flight school they taught us about vertigo. Your feelings may not be accurate. They emphasized, “Don’t fly by your feelings, trust your instruments.” If what you’re believing is not true, then what you’re feeling is not accurate. As you start to believe the truth about your identity as a child of God, then you will start to act like a child of God. Although God has made a provision for your new identity, you must work out in everyday life what He has worked in.
This is where we have a tendency to fall short. We read a promise that we are a new creation and we think the blessings are automatic. We have a responsibility to use the means of grace (e.g. prayer, Bible study, fasting, fellowship, holy communion, works of mercy, etc.) to enable us to become conformed to the image of Christ. Good intentions are not sufficient, but we are to train ourselves to bring the totality of our lives into the likeness of Jesus.
We have the privilege and the responsibility to live as a son or daughter of the King of Kings! Don’t ignore your birthright, the key to long-lasting change is to realize your identity as a child of God.
Associate Pastor – Discipleship. The Church at LifePark
Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University
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