S16P11 – Personal lessons from Paul: the old creation has passed away

2 Cor. 5:16-19
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

There are two ways to view a man’s sinful past. The first is to remember it as if it were his present condition. This perspective causes us to count a man’s past sins against him today. In Paul’s case, his past sins were significant to God’s call on his life as a force of great influence in the early church. Imagine being presented with the good news of Jesus Christ by someone who until recently persecuted your very brothers and sisters in the faith! For some, Paul’s sinful past would have been a great stumbling block in their learning from his teaching.

The second way to view a man’s sinful past is to count it as evidence of who he once was but not who he is now. For the believer, this is how he is viewed by God. The old creation mired in sin is replaced by the new creation robed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. God not only reconciled us to himself, but He gave us reconciliation as a ministry. Yes, it is the ministry of all of us to preach this message, that the Father sent his only Son to reconcile mankind to himself. We not only have a testimony but are a testimony of God’s grace. And as we accept the grace of God in no longer seeing our past sins, we must have the grace to view each other in the same light.

While our brothers and sisters in Christ were once enemies of God, they no longer are. Their past sins count against them no more. If we view them as God views them, we see their past as a testimony of God’s gracious saving power but not as an indication of who they are today. They are new creations in Jesus Christ, no longer accountable for the sins of the old creation. Father, give us eyes to see our brothers and sisters as You see them, reconciled to You in grace through your Son, new creations robed in righteousness.