2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Please pay attention to “if” words, for they usually introduce a conditional clause such as “if” this is true then it should result in this. So, when this says, “if anyone is in Christ,” it is not assuming that everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ is indeed “in Christ.” And remember the words of Paul in Romans 8 where he describes those who are “in Christ” as those who are no longer walking (in conduct, in practice) according to the flesh, but now according to the Spirit, in righteous living, in obedience to the Lord.
Therefore, IF we are truly in Christ, by genuine God-given faith in him, then the old life of living in sin and for self should have died with Christ (passed away), and we should have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, no longer as slaves to sin but now as slaves to God and to his righteousness. And that is the new that should have come. And all this is from God, for we can’t even come to faith in Jesus unless God the Father draws us to Christ, and even the faith to believe in him comes from God.
Yet even though it is God who initiates our salvation and who draws us to Christ, and even though he is the one who reconciles us to Christ, we still have to believe in him, and we still have to be reconciled to God, and we still have to die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, but in his power, for this is what it means to be reconciled. It means to change and to change to the same position as God with regard to sin and righteousness, and to change from being God’s enemies to now being his friends.
2 Corinthians 6:1-2 ESV
“Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,
“’In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’
“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
If we receive God’s grace in vain, it means that it is futile, useless, ineffective, abortive, and/or worthless. And this can happen through false professions of faith in Jesus Christ, or professions in a false faith, or it can result from a superficial faith which never takes root, etc. But the point is that there are people who have received the grace of God (or a false grace) in vain, for it has taken no effect in their lives, for they are still living in sin, making sin their practice, and righteousness and obedience to the Lord are not what they practice, and so they have not changed.
The old has not passed away and the new has not come because they are not truly “in Christ.” They just think they are, probably because someone told them that they were. And so the encouragement here is to make certain you are truly “in Christ,” and the evidence is that you have changed, and you are no longer living in sin, but now you are walking in obedience to the Lord in walks of righteousness. But if you are still walking in sin, and sin is still your practice, then you will not inherit eternal life with God unless you repent of your sin and you follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his ways.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
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Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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