What Does It Mean to Be a Christian?

By Pastor Ay Nee Ng

We have been doing a series on why we do what we do. As I conclude this series, I would like you to take home this and chew on it. Have you ever asked yourself how we are to live our lives as Christians and a new creation? Should we feel any different? What is it that I need to give up or change? There is a saying that if we have learned bad habits in the past, the good news is that we can also unlearn them and begin to respond in a new way. The result will be a change for the better in our ability to communicate.

When we accept Jesus Christ into our lives as our loving Saviour and Lord, we are now a new creation and the old has past. Second Corinthians 5:17 says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” What does that mean to us? The day we accepted Jesus Christ something shifted in our lives! This is Paul’s most characteristic expression of what it means to be a Christian.

Let’s establish what His death and resurrection mean to us. First, Christ’s death and resurrection for us and our identification with Him by faith make existence as a new creation possible. Paul tells us that all believers have died with Christ and no longer live for themselves since the minute they invited Jesus into their lives (2 Cor. 5:14-16). Our lives are no longer worldly but spiritual. But how many of us know that although that should be the case, it’s not quite happening?

Our “death” is that of the old sin nature that was nailed to the cross with Christ. It was buried with Him, and just as He was raised up by the Father, so are we raised up to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). That new person that was raised up is what Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 5:17 as the “new creation.” We don’t live anymore for ourselves but for Christ and for what He has done for us.

Should We Feel Any Different?
At the present, this new creation is only partially experienced, but it is to be our focus as we stay connected to Jesus and are in the process of re-creation. We might not feel it—our guilt, hurt, disappointment, and frustration may linger—but God tells us that the minute we ask and seek His forgiveness and invite Him into our lives, our sins are expunged (i.e. to obliterate or remove completely something unwanted or unpleasant or an unsatisfactory incident of the past from one’s memory). This is the kick start we need to start again, to rebuild our lives afresh, and to recover. Time and time again, we have been dashed, but we can stand again, loving God afresh and deepening our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ every day.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

Our relationship with Christ affects every aspect of our lives. Creation is something created by God. John 1:13 tells us that this new birth was brought about by the will of God, not by inheriting the new nature.

How Do We Live Our New Life?
We learn to have a fresh look at life with new understanding to deal with our old life or the “old things” that have passed away.  Ask yourself what is so good about holding on to the old life and ways when they only gave us some temporal satisfaction until we came to rock bottom or near enough to turn to someone or something for help.

The “old” refers to everything that is part of our old nature—greed, natural pride, love of sin, serving mammon (i.e., money), reliance on works and our former opinions, sinful habits, worldly passions, and everything that leads to self-gratification. Most significantly, what we loved has passed away, especially the supreme love of self, self-righteousness, self-promotion, self-ideology, and self-justification. The new creature looks outwardly toward Christ instead of inwardly toward self. The old things have died, nailed to the cross with our sin nature. So why are we still clinging on to our old ways?

“Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:5-8).

What Are These New Things?
Along with the old passing away, “the new has come!” Old, dead things are replaced with new things, full of life and the glory of God. The newborn soul delights in the things of God and abhors the things of the world and the flesh. Our purposes, feelings, desires, and understandings are fresh and different. We see the world differently. We let go of the past and realize that we are all a work in progress. We see and read with hunger the Bible afresh as a new book though we may have read it before; there is a beauty about it which we never saw before and which we wonder at not having perceived. There is new revelation, rhema (spoken word), coming alive into our soul. The whole face of nature seems to us to be changed, and we seem to be in a new world. The heavens and the earth are filled with new wonders, and all things seem now to speak forth the praise of God.

Our emotions go through an overhaul. There are new feelings toward all people—a new kind of love toward family and friends, a new compassion never before felt for enemies, and a new love for all mankind. The things we once loved, we now detest. The sin we once held onto, we now desire to put away forever. We “put off the old man with his deeds” (Col. 3:9) and put on the “new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).

“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Col. 3:9-11).

What about the Christian Who Continues to Sin?
There is a difference between continuing to sin and continuing to live in sin. No one reaches sinless perfection in this life, but the redeemed Christian is being sanctified (made holy) day by day, sinning less and hating it more each time he or she fails. Yes, we still sin, but unwillingly and less and less frequently as we mature. Our new self hates the sin that still has a hold on us. The difference is that the new creation is no longer a slave to sin, as we formerly were. We are now freed from sin; it no longer has power over us (Rom. 6:6-7).

Now we are empowered by and for righteousness. We now have the choice to “let sin reign” or to count ourselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11-12). Best of all, now we have the power to choose the latter.

The new creation is a wondrous thing, formed in the mind of God and created by His power and for His glory.

Read Ephesians 4:17-24 on Instructions for Christian Living
17-19 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20-24 That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 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.

Spider’s Web
Video script by I’m So Blessed Daily

During the World War II, a US marine was separated from his unit on a Pacific Island. The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire, he had lost touch with his comrades.

Alone in the jungle, he could hear the enemy soldiers coming in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up of a high ridge. Quickly, he crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed.

As he waited, he prayed: “Lord, if it be Your will, please protect me. Whatever Your will, though, I love You and trust You. Amen.”

After praying, he lay quietly listening to the enemy being to draw close. He thought: “Well, I guess the Lord isn’t going to help me out of this one.”

Then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave. As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave.

“What I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web. God does have a sense of humor,” he said.

As the enemy drew closer, he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand.

To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on. Suddenly, he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered there for quite a while.

“Lord, forgive me,” prayed the young man. “I had forgotten that in You a spider’s web is stronger than a brick wall.”

We all face times of great trouble. When we do, it is so easy to forget the victories that God would work in our lives, sometimes in the most surprising ways. As the great leader Nehemiah reminded the people of Israel when they faced the task of rebuilding, “In God we will have success!” (Neh. 2:20). Remember: Whatever is happening in your life, with God, a mere spider’s web can become a brick of wall of protection. Believe He is with you always. Just speak His name through Jesus His Son, and you will see His great power and love for you.

As we come to the close of 2016, know who you are in Christ. Reflect on the many times God has carried you and seen to your well-being, even in the midst of trials, and give thanks. Look to the New Year afresh and inspired to serve the Lord. When you grow and deepen your love for Him, you will grow others too. Don’t build walls thinking that people will intrude on your life, but build walls of protection around them. In Christ we trust; He is our strength and hope. Let’s pray.