By Pr Ay Nee Ng
Have you ever tried dressing up in different clothing styles or costumes? When you put on fancy clothes, do you feel differently? Maybe, for an instance, you may feel different or take on the character of the costume you are wearing. But when you take off those clothes, you realize that you are still the same old you. It was only temporal.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17, NASB).
“And put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:24, NASB). I wonder what God is saying to us when He says, “Put on the new self”?
“I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: ‘Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.’ The Enthroned continued, ‘Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate’” (Rev. 21:3-5, MSG). This is about the New Jerusalem. Remember: Our Lord Jesus Christ is coming back soon for His children–for a spotless bride!
How many of us here were sworn in either a club or society? You have to be sworn to become member of the surf life club for example. Recently, there was a short clip on Australia’s unsung heroes for Australia Day. These unsung heroes are people behind the scenes, volunteers who make Australia what it is today. One part of the clip showed all these young life savers who volunteer to prepare, very early in the morning, the beaches for the oncoming crowd during Australia Day. To become a life saver, each had to undergo training and be equipped to save lives. Without that training, wearing the badge or the life saver outfit is worthless; they would not qualify to be a life saver. They become a life saver because they wanted to, are trained, and have dedication and commitment to the cause of saving lives. You have to know your duties, responsibilities, protocol, and code of conduct.
Do we Christians know our code of conduct? At the start of this year, we were encouraged to live differently: to build up, stoke, and encourage someone for God’s glory. We are not to live selfishly, indifferent to our surroundings, or nonchalant about things. Our Lord Jesus Christ is coming again for His spotless bride! You and I, hopefully!
For those who became citizens of Australian, how did you feel after you received your certificate of citizenship? Was there any difference that day to who you are? This Australia Day, we were watching on TV the swearing in ceremony of new Australian citizens held in Canberra. There were people representing so many different races, backgrounds, and cultures. To become a citizen, they had to qualify, be interviewed, and be sworn in. Some of these people were more excited about receiving the certificate from the Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull and in Canberra than about becoming Australian citizens. After receiving their certificates, all Australians joined in to stand and read their affirmation as a citizen.
So what makes you Australian? Some are citizens by birth but others had to choose to become Australian, legally becoming Australians the moment they were sworn in and received that certificate of citizenship. As Australians, we have to learn the whole set of rules and regulations that govern this country. It takes time to shift your mindset from your background and culture to adopt and adapt to new surroundings with a new standard of living, new social etiquette, new code of conduct, and different religious understanding.
Likewise, when we accept the Lord Jesus into our lives and become Christians, we are still the same person. The only difference is that our sins are forgiven. We are all work in progress. “Now the old has passed” means our sins and past have been washed away. “Behold all things made new” speaks that we are forgiven, with no weight to hold us back, and able to move on with our lives in accordance to God’s will. We need to undergo change and adapt to a whole new code of conduct—God’s Word.
Before becoming Christians, we came to the Lord with emotional turbulences, attitudes, and upbringing or cultural differences from our past. When we became children of God, we decided to let go of the old ways that compromise our belief system and faith in Jesus Christ and to adopt new standards of living, a new social etiquette, and a new religious understanding. It takes a lifetime to do that and we are to consciously do that. Yet, we are not walking by ourselves. Jesus Christ is in us to take our hand, put it in His clasp, and lead us on as long as we are willing and obedient.
Do Christians go to church? Let us find out what God has for us as new citizens of heaven—new men and women in Jesus Christ.
What Does It Mean to Be a New Man/Woman?
It means we can have a new life, a hope, and trust for the future in Jesus Christ. Being changed into a new man/woman is for our best because God looks down on us with favour. We belong to our Lord Jesus Christ the very second we confess our sins and invite him to come into our lives.
- We are accepted as God’s children; our identity is now in Christ.
- We are secured; our security is in Christ.
- We are significant; we belong to Jesus.
“And have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Col. 3:10, NASB).
“You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation. The prophets who told us this was coming asked a lot of questions about this gift of life God was preparing. The Messiah’s Spirit let them in on some of it—that the Messiah would experience suffering, followed by glory. They clamoured to know who and when. All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves—through the Holy Spirit—the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this!” (1 Pet. 1:8-12, MSG)
Am I a New Man/Woman?
We may not feel like a new man or a new woman sometimes. We may have behaved badly or not done what we expect Christians to do. So what assurance do we have? God’s Word.
“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 11:19, ESV).
“But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tent”—the true Holy Place—once and for all. He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behaviour, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God” (Heb. 9:11-15, MSG).
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18, NKJV).
How Am I to Walk in This Newness of Life?
1. Understand the seriousness of sin, the damage it causes in your life, and the repair work needed. We need to realize the sin in our lives, confess it, renounce to it, and repent. We need God’s forgiveness. Acknowledging these truths helps us to stay humble, to recognize our need for and dependence on God. Temptation is not sin until we give way to temptation–so flee from all youthful lust.
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16, NASB).
“Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Rom. 6:6, NASB)
2. Envisage victory over sin, darkness, and the enemy because Jesus Christ died for our sins and we have received the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:19-20). “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith” (1 John 5:4, NKJV).
“I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory” (1 Pet. 1:6-7, MSG).
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Rom. 13:14, NASB).
“That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16, NASB).
“Strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously” (Colossians 1:11, NASB).
3. Be equipped to walk as a new man/woman. “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Col. 3:12-14, NASB).
“For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity” (Eph. 2:14-16, NASB).
Trust! There is a hope and a future in God. First Peter 1:13-25 (MSG) reads:
13-16 So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy”.
17 You call out to God for help and He helps—He’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, He’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.
18-21 Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.
22-25 Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That’s why the prophet said,
The old life is a grass life,
Its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers;
Grass dries up, flowers droop,
God’s Word goes on and on forever.
This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.
“No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9, NASB).
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6, NASB).
4. Assemble together with other Christians. God wants the best for us; we can’t afford to miss out on church, life groups, and prayer if we really love God. “So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching” (Heb. 10:22-25, MSG).
Am I living as a new man/woman? If not, why? God’s promises mean well for our soul, spirit, and body. May we continue to adopt our heavenly citizenship and live following God’s code of conduct—His Word! As a new man and a new woman in Christ, we are called to be a blessing.
Read and meditate on 1 Peter 3:8-12 (MSG):
Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, here’s what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
Run after peace for all you’re worth.
God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what he’s asked; but he turns his back on those who do evil things.
Let us end by reading the doctrinal affirmation taken from Neil T. Anderson’s The steps to freedom in Christ.
I recognise that there is only one true and living God (Ex. 20:3) who exists as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and that He is worthy of all honour, praise and glory as the Creator, Sustainer and Beginning and End of all things (Rev. 4:11; 5:9-10; Is. 43:1, 7, 21).
I recognise Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14). I believe that He came to destroy the works of Satan (1 John 3:8), that He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public display of them, having triumphed over them (Col. 2:15).
I believe that God has proven His love for me because when I was still a sinner, Christ died for me (Rom. 5:8). I believe that He delivered me from the domain of darkness and transferred me to His kingdom, and in Him I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13-14).
I believe that I am now a child of God (1 John 3:1-3) and that I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6). I believe that I was saved by the grace of God through faith, that it was a gift, and not the result of any works on my part (Eph. 2:8-9).
I choose to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Eph. 6:10). I put no confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3) for the weapons of warfare are not of the flesh (2 Col. 10:4). I put on the whole armour of God (Eph. 6:10-20), and I resolve to stand firm in my faith and resist the evil one.
I believe that apart from Christ I can do nothing (John 15:5), so I declare myself dependent on Him. I choose to abide in Christ in order to bear much fruit and glorify the Lord (John 15:8). I announce to Satan that Jesus is my Lord (1 Cor. 12:3), and l reject any counterfeit gifts or works of Satan in my life.
I believe that the truth will set me free (John 8:32) and that walking in the light is the only path of fellowship (1 John 1:7). Therefore I stand against Satan’s deception by taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). I declare that the Bible is the authoritative standard (2 Tim. 3:15-16). I choose to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
I choose to present my body as an instrument of righteousness, a living and holy sacrifice, and I renew my mind by the living Word of God in order that I may prove that the will of God is good, acceptable and perfect (Rom. 6:13; 12:1, 2). I put off the old self with its evil practices and put on the new self (Col. 3:9-10), and I declare myself to be a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
I trust my Heavenly Father to fill me with His Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18), to lead me into all truth (John 16:13), and to empower my life that I may live above sin and not carry out the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). I crucify the flesh (Gal. 5:24) and choose to walk by the Spirit.
I renounce all selfish goals and choose the ultimate goal of love (1 Tim. 1:5). I choose to obey the two greatest commandments: to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and mind, and to love my neighbour as myself (Matt. 22:37-39)
I believe that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18) and that He is the head over all rule and authority (Col. 2:10). I believe that Satan and his demons are subject to me in Christ since I am a member of Christ’s body (Eph. 1:19-23). Therefore, I obey the command to submit to God and to resist the devil (Jas. 4:7), and I command Satan in the name of Christ to leave my presence.