The New You

Fred was a caterpillar, not a worm. The look, function, and purpose of a caterpillar is completely different from that of a worm. But the most important difference is that the caterpillar has entirely different "insides" than a worm.

Many Christians actually believe that they are dirty rotten sinners and they are here on earth to survive as best they can until they die and go "home" to heaven. I have even heard believers, when confronted with their true identity in Christ, retort by saying that their true identity is Sinner!

Sinner or Saint?

What about you, dear reader? Do you also believe that you are a sinner? Well, if you do, I am here to prove you wrong. You were a sinner, but now you are a saint.

But God demonstrated his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).

Notice the phraseology in this scripture: "while we were yet sinners." Christ died for us when we were sinners. But we are no longer sinners. We were at one time. That's when he died for us, when we were still in that state. But now we are different. Now we are in a new place. Now we are in Christ and Christ is in us. Oh yes, it's true that we may sin at times. But we are no longer sinners. We no longer have a sin nature. We have been freed from the power of sin. Now we can choose to sin or not to sin. We are no longer slaves to sin. The old man has been crucified with Christ. Sin no longer has any power over us. This is the wonderful message given to us by Paul in Romans 5, 6, and 7.

When the Saints Come Marching In

So, if you are no longer a sinner, then what are you? You are a saint! The Bible says that you are a "holy one." This may be hard for you to accept at first. But it is the gospel truth. You don't have to be "canonized." If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are already a saint.

But you may be wondering about all those bad things you have done. A saint wouldn't do those things. How could this be? Let me tell you what a saint is and how it is possible that you have become one.

The word "saint" literally means 'a holy one.' But what does it mean to be holy? The term "holy" means to be separated or set apart to God and his purpose. Whatever is holy is no longer common but is now "special" in the sense of being separated for God. Because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, you have been separated and set apart for God. You are his possession. You are a holy one. It doesn't depend upon what you do. It depends upon what he already has done. That is something called grace.

Grace or Law

For the law was given through Moses; grace and reality came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

Many Christians believe that they are still dirty rotten sinners and they therefore need to repent every minute of every day. These believers still live under a mountain of guilt from their past. They have not fully received the completed work of Jesus Christ that he accomplished on the cross. They somehow believe that his work on the cross is incomplete. When he said, "It is finished," he was just kidding. Now we, the sinners, must atone for our own sins by repenting, repenting, repenting, ad infinitum. These poor Christians are still functioning under the Old Covenant law of Moses. They are still living in condemnation and guilt.

There is now then no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:1, 2).

These believers either have never read or they have never understood the message of the letter to the Hebrews. In chapter ten, the writer deals with this issue of sin (and sacrifices for sin, i.e. "repentance") once and for all.

For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after having said, 'This is the covenant which I will covenant with them after those days, says the Lord: I will impart my laws upon their hearts, and upon their mind I will inscribe them,' He then says, 'And their sins and their lawlessness I shall by no means remember anymore' (Hebrews 10:14 - 17).

The problem is that even though God has forgotten our sins, we have not. Many cannot completely receive God's forgiveness and so feel that they need to do something to pay for the sins themselves. Sorry. That's not God's way. He already did all the work and paid the price for your sins. You are forgiven. You are clean. You are holy. Not because of your holiness but because of his. Now, he is your holiness.

Many Christians have still only believed in the baptism of John (the Baptist) which is a baptism of repentance. They have not moved on to the baptism of Christ. Paul ran into a group of believers like this in Ephesus (see Acts 19: 1-7). We don't want to hang onto John once we have met Jesus.

The Need for Repentance

Now please don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that there is never a need for a Christian to repent. Actually, the term "repentance" in the original language means "to turn." We should be constantly turning to the Lord. There are times in our lives when we have sinned and turned away from the Lord and we definitely need to repent (turn back to him). But the focus should always be him, not the sin. If we are always thinking about not sinning, guess what we will do. Sin.

We want to see as he sees. And he sees us as holy, blameless, and above reproach (Eph. 1:1 - 4).

This is why Paul uses the term "saints" to greet the believers in the various churches (See: 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2).

The Two Men

You need to be able to see yourself from God's viewpoint. His perspective is really the only one that counts. Wouldn't you agree? So the key here is to capture his perspective on your identity.

As far as God is concerned, there are only two men in the whole universe. Those two men are the first Adam and the last Adam.

So also it is written, 'the first man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit' (1 Cor. 15:45).

You were originally born into the first Adam. You were part of Adam's race. You were born a sinner. But then you received Christ and were transferred from the 'old' humanity to the 'new' humanity. You were brought from the first Adam to the last Adam, who is Christ. Now you no longer have any identity in the first Adam. Your only identity now is in Christ. You are part of the "new Creation." You are a member of the "new man."

Your identity is now based on that of the new man, the last Adam, who is Christ. You are now dead to the first Adam. You can no longer take the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, actions, and lifestyle from that old race. It just doesn't fit who you are. And if you try to do that, it just won't work because you no longer belong to that race. Yet, we all try to do that, don't we? We all still believe that our identity is based upon the first Adam. Let me ask you a series of five questions to prove my point. Answer them as honestly as possible.

  1. Do you believe that your identity is determined by what you do? Does doing determine being? Does your career define you? Does what you do every day determine who you are? Remember the age-old question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
  2. Do you believe that your identity is established by your relationship to other people? Are you a mother or a father? Are you a husband or a wife? Do these relationships define who you are? Ever heard of the "empty nest syndrome"? This is when a woman (or man) becomes emotionally distraught and depressed because her children have grown and left the home. Her whole identity was wrapped up in her kids.
  3. Do you believe that your identity was given to you by your parents? "I have become my mother!" is an exclamation that women sometimes make. And men say, "I have become my father!" Are you the sum total of how you were raised? Do genetics determine who you are?
  4. Do you believe that your circumstances determine your identity? You have been burned and abused by other people, even by other Christians. You have gone through some hard times financially. You lost three jobs and your wife left you. Are these circumstances who you are? Are you a helpless victim of your environment?
  5. Do you believe that your decision determines your identity? You have (perhaps) made many mistakes in your life. Does that mean you are a failure? Do your choices determine who you are?

Is it not true that most of us derive our sense of identity from one or more of these five areas? But don't be fooled. None of these things define who you are. You are now part of a "new humanity," the last Adam. All of your identity comes from that new position.

The Masterpiece

In Ephesians chapter two, Paul gives us a wonderful description of how our position (and corresponding identity) completely changed.

I suggest that you read Ephesians 2 right now and then come back to this book.

Can you see who you were? You were dead in your trespasses and sins. You were a son of disobedience. You were a child of wrath. You were living in the lusts of your flesh and indulging yourself in those lusts of body and mind.

But God . . .

Made you alive with Christ.

Raised you up with Christ.

Seated you in heavenly places with Christ.

So that he might show (display) the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ.

For you are his masterpiece!

Created to perform good works.

The word "masterpiece" in the Greek literally is poiema which means something which has been handcrafted or composed, such as a poem. This is an artistic expression of the life and nature and character of the artist.

This is so God could have a visible expression of his love and grace and mercy to show all who are in both the visible and invisible worlds.

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