A New Person In Christ

The apostle Paul wrote in Rom. 6:6 that our old self was crucified with Christ. This was a decisive and definite act in the believer’s past. In Col. 3:9,10, Paul exhorts believers to stop living in the old sins of their past life, “Since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self.” Paul makes a similar point in Eph. 4:22-24; “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

In Rom. 6:6 and Col. 3:9,10, Paul clearly teaches a definitive past action, which happened the moment we were born-again, but the Ephesian passage implies a continuous action on our part. The old self was crucified with Christ (positional sanctification), but as believers we have to do our part in putting off the old self and putting on the new self (progressive sanctification). This is not an exhortation to do again for ourselves what Christ has already done for us. Paul is saying that we are new people in Christ who must become in practice what God has already made us. We must have the resolve to not let our “former way of life” impinge on who we now are.

This spiritual metamorphosis is illustrated in the plight of the caterpillar. This earth bound little creature is led by instinct to climb as high as it can by its own strength – usually on the limb of a tree. There it sows a little button that forms an attachment for the cocoon that it spins around itself as it hangs upside down. The caterpillar then ceases to exist, and a miraculous transformation takes place. The caterpillar has “crucified” itself in order to be “resurrected” a butterfly. The caterpillar gave up all that it was in order to become all that the Creator designed it to be.

The caterpillar can’t take any credit for becoming a butterfly any more than we can take credit for becoming a child of God, which is imputed to us by the grace of God. Imagine what would happen to the growth of the new butterfly of it chose to believe that it was still a caterpillar and kept on crawling instead of flying. The butterfly would never reach its potential and neither will we if we don’t believe that we are new creations in Christ, and learn to live accordingly.

Dr. Neil

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