Often when we seek to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18) we unintentionally hinder our growth by not understanding Christ’s transformation. In reading the words of Paul, we are told all things have become new. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) But how are we to understand this when it comes to our growth in Christ? Often I think Christians approach their new life in Christ as not so different than the old life we left behind.
In the book of Romans, Paul teaches that when we come to Christ in obedience to the gospel our old life has been buried with Christ. Notice (Romans 6:1-4) “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
When we are baptized into Christ, we are baptized into His death. As Christ was raised from the dead, we rise from the waters of baptism to newness of life. We bury our old life and rise to live a new life in Him [Christ]. This is a complete change from who we were.
In the passage above (Romans 6:1) Paul says we are not to continue in sin, taking the grace of Christ for granted. We are a new creation and are to walk in newness of life.
Is this how we view our new life in Christ? On more than one occasion, I have talked with Christians who see our new life as simply “adding” to the life we already live. Our lives instead of reflecting a transformation reflect our same old life, our same routines and even our same sins. We have just “added” some Bible study, some prayer, even meeting with the church to our lives. Is this living as a new creation?
What Jesus does in our lives is more than “adding to” our old practices. He transforms our lives. Consider an example from nature. When a caterpillar enters the chrysalis, it emerges as something new: a butterfly. Where the caterpillar’s walk ends, the butterfly’s flight begins. Although this example may not fully reflect the type of transformation we receive in Christ, it does help us understand Christ’s work of transformation in our lives. It is something new!
If we are going to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, we must understand His transforming power.
We must realize we have been raised to walk in newness of life. In Christ we are to leave our past lifestyle and pursue Him. In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes that we have been made alive in Christ. Although a little lengthy, it would be good to read (Ephesians 2:1-7) as a reminder of that which we have left behind. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
We were dead in trespasses and sins. We once walked according to the pattern of this world, in the lust of our flesh fulfilling the desire of our flesh and mind. This is written in the past tense and is not speaking of our present condition, this is not now how we are to live. We now have been made alive together with Christ and raised up together with Him, to live a new life.
If we are going to grow in Christ, we need to realize it’s more than just “adding” to our old self.
Through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we have been created anew. We are to leave the past and the lusts of our past, realizing it has been buried with Christ and pursue Christ and His righteousness. Failing to do this will hinder or may even keep us entirely from growing in Christ. The Apostle Paul states it this way in (Philippians 3:13,14) “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
If we are to grow in Christ, we need to let go of sin. We need to forget the life we left behind and reach forward to Christ. I hope you will consider the transformation that has been given to us in Christ. This transformation is not simply “adding to” our old self but walking as a totally new creation.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.