17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come, the old has gone, the new is here!
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
19 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.
20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (italics supplied)
Last post we looked at some of the benefits and blessings of being in Christ. Notice that if we are in Christ “the new creation has come, the old has gone, the new is here.” (v. 17) What is Paul telling us in this concept of the new creation? The context of the verse relates to verses 18-21 where we are introduced to the idea that through Jesus, God is reconciling the world to Himself by not counting our sins against us.
This is the language of the New Covenant. “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34
To be in Christ is to have entered into the New Covenant with all of its blessings of being reconciled to God through the atoning work of Jesus with the result that our sins are no more. It is important for us to notice that the old covenant is done away with, “the old has gone,” and should not be considered as somehow a part of the New Covenant.
The heart of the Old Covenant given to Israel at Mount Sinai was the law and that law was written on stone. The concept of the covenant was that God would do certain things for Israel and Israel would respond to the kindness and love of God by doing all that He said. However, the problem quickly arose in the fact that Israel didn’t obey. They continually turned their hearts away from God and followed other gods. Over and over the children of Israel rejected God and worshipped pagan idols.
We as Christians think we are above the worship of dumb idols that are made of sticks, rocks, trees, and carved images, but are we really? An idol is simply something that can be good, like work, love, success, family or even the Bible and we elevate it above God. When work, which is good in itself, so dominates our thinking that it is elevated above family relationships and makes us too busy to worship God, it has become an idol. The desire for power, wealth, success, and fame can all become idols when they become more important than God. And when you think about it, we are simply back to worshipping sticks, rocks, and hand carved images just like the children of Israel.
This is the marvel and wonder and magnificence of the New Covenant that our sins are not counted against us. Do we really understand what liberty that encompasses? Our hearts are darker than any of us want to admit and deep down in all of us lives evil. Even the best of us has their righteousness compared to filthy rags by the Bible writers. We are told that not one of us is righteous of himself and we all fall short of what we should be.
The New Covenant stops us in our tracts and says you can stop this endless struggle to be something you are not (perfect) and can stop beating yourself up for your sins and failures. In the New Covenant you are reconciled to God through the substitutionary death of Jesus and all His merits of perfection are accredited to your account. And all the sins of your life are removed and placed on the shoulders of Jesus who willingly carried them to Calvary where they were nailed to that cross never to be remembered anymore.
And what do you and I have to do to receive the benefit of such a wonderful trade? All you have to do is accept it. “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.” (v. 18, 19a) (italics supplied)
Sin separated us from God and we could never span the gulf to get back to God so He came to us. He reconciled us, declared us right with Him, through Jesus sacrifice at Calvary. Do you notice something in these verses? The Old Covenant is done away when we are in Christ. We are reconciled to God through Christ and “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ.” (v. 19) Everything we have, including our salvation, is only made possible through being in Christ.
The center of the Old Covenant was obedience to the law, but the center of the New Covenant is being in Christ. While the Old Covenant focused on doing, the New Covenant says you may rest because Jesus has done it all for you. Under the Old Covenant our sins stood against us but in the New Covenant our sins are not counted against us.
I have met so many Christians who never experience assurance of salvation because they believe that their sins are somehow held against them. It is as if they believe that their sins are stored somewhere and God is just waiting for them to make a mistake so He can whip out the old sin and say how evil they are.
No, your sins under the New Covenant are not held against you. They are cast into the deepest part of the sea, as far as the East is from the West, and the slate wiped clean, according to the Bible, is what happens to your sins under the New Covenant.
We will dig deeper into these verses next post when we explore the idea that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation.
* What does it mean to be in Christ? It’s when you are so in love with Him that you are willing to give your life for Him. These people who are currently experiencing persecution for their faith in God, and many even unto death, this is being in Christ. They need our support and prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…