How are you all doing? I hope you are having a good week. We had a great weekend with workday on Saturday. Then, on Sunday the Lord brought this wonderful message about who we are in Christ. That, as we abide in Jesus we are brand new creatures, filled with the Holy Spirit. We are new people who are born again. We carry his DNA, and we have the perfect environment in the Church family to grow into strong men and women of God. The old has gone: all things become new! What a great message to take us into this week.
Many years ago I remember when Tess and I bought our present house. We were so excited! The house used to belong to someone else; they had lived there; it had their decorations and furniture. But now the house was ours. Those previous residents could no longer live there. They had moved out, and Tess and I were moving into our new home. When the day came we opened the door and stepped in. This was our new home. This is where we would eat, sleep, and bring up our family. It was a new start in a new place. We had brought some furniture in the van and started to set up.
We loved the place, but of course there were lots of things left behind by the previous owners that we did not like and needed to change. Some things went to the rubbish tip straight away and our new furniture and items were brought in. So we had started, however, there were some things that we could not change straight away. I remember disliking the wall paper in the front room but we were busy and doing other things and we did not change it for three years. Other aspects of the décor: getting rid of old wallpaper, or paint, or furniture took even longer. Then there was the positive side of things: there were things we wanted in the new house but we could not afford them yet. We were not ready yet, but years down the line we eventually purchased those goods. Even now our house needs changing. It needs cleaning regularly, repairs need to be done, and it needs a new coat of paint to replace what has faded or to change the colour. The main thing is the house is ours. All the decorating we have done has added changes, but it has been built on that one clear premise: the house is ours.
The same principles apply to our theme scripture from the preaching last week describing our new identity in Christ. ‘If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. All things become new. (2 Corinthians 5 : 17) The new creation, the new me, is like the new house. I am brand new. I have a new life, a new start, a new future, a new hope.
Like the old resident in our house, the old resident in my life – my old life, old things, my old man – has moved out. He is no longer in residence. He does not own this house any more. I am a new creation, that old sinful person, those old habits and experiences, those old emotions and hurts do not own me. They do not control me anymore (the old has gone). This is the starting point. The foundation for living my new life in God’s Kingdom.
However there are still bits of old furniture in my new house; left-overs from the previous life. There are memories of old hurts and rejections. They can be thrown away quickly as the love of God fills me and heals me. There are some old wallpapers from that house that are dingy and dirty and inappropriate. That takes a little more work, they need steaming and scraping off the walls (a messy job). Then there will be new wallpaper to put on in that house. In our life as new creations there are some old habits and behaviour patterns that are stuck on from the past like that old wallpaper. They need to be peeled off, as we turn away from them and throw them off. The Word of God teaches us new patterns of behaviour. We learn new ways to live as Christians. Then we receive the grace of God to attach the new habits: that is like the new wallpaper going on. There is some old paint from the previous owner that is faded and dirty now. It needs sanding down and repainting with something clean and bright and new. We have old broken dreams, faded hopes, negative attitudes to ourselves and others. They have been shaped by negative experiences. It’s time to rub them down and repaint. We let them go and, by God’s grace, we build new hopes and dreams in the Kingdom of God. Then there are all those grimy, dusty, dirty corners left behind by the previous owner. Those are my past sins and failures. They are cleaned away by the love and forgiveness of God.
Of course this new house of our new life in Christ will constantly change and need cleaning. We repent of sins and receive forgiveness. We are changed ‘from glory to glory by the Spirit’. But the old resident has gone. The old will no longer shape us or control us. NO! We are new creations now. Of course there is redecoration and refurbishment to come but remember this today: the house has new owners and is looking great! If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. Behold; all things become new.