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Rebecca McLaughlin: In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul talks about Christians as a new creation. What do you think that means?
Taylor Turkington: Oh, Rebecca. I think that Paul is talking about in this context a dramatic life change. He says he doesn’t see people according to the flesh anymore, but now in Christ. So there is this major transformation that defines them like the old is gone, the new has come and really in our lives, there is a very real transformation when we’ve come to know him. It is the initiation of our eschatological future. It’s the tastes of the new creation that comes into us as we are people who’ve been this transformation, this New Covenant heart that’s come inside of us.
I think that’s what Paul’s talking about in chapter three of that book about this transformation that’s been coming and now he’s exclaiming about it in this verse in chapter five. It’s like Paul can’t even get over it in the way that he explains it in this verse. New, new, new seems to be almost a summary of what God does through the gospel. It’s a New Covenant. There’s a new commandment. There’s a New Covenant heart and there’s this new creation that’s coming. All of it is summarized in this newness.
Rebecca McLaughlin: Yeah. I love that. I think just to build on that idea of newness, I had my third baby eight months ago. And anytime I see words in the Bible that seemed to connect up with something in God’s first creation, I kind of stopped brewing on that because I feel like he’s given us so many living metaphors in our lives to understand more of who He is and how we relate to Him.
So if I think about the new creation, that is my son, Luke, he’s eight-months-old. He has all the physical features that he will have God willing when he’s an adult. He has his arms, he has his legs, he has his head, his eyes, all of the features. And all of them are working to some extent as they will one day work. So he can move his legs. He can use his mouth. He can wave his arms around. But if you put them in a car and ask him to drive, he’s got nothing. It’s not even the right size to do that.
So as I think about the concept of us as a new creation spiritually, I think there’s an analogy there because I have the spiritual arms and legs that in the ultimate new creation will be perfected. But right now I’m often functioning at the level of, I don’t know, maybe a two-year-old, I’ve been a Christian for a really long time. I’m able to do some of the things that might one day perfect itself will be able to do. But I’m still battling with sin and so many ways and struggling with weakness in so many ways that it seems like I’m both entirely new and very far from what I will one day be. I don’t know. Do you find that.
Taylor Turkington: Yeah, I think I can see what you’re saying. This idea that you are new and you’re able to do these things that you couldn’t may not have been able to do before in the womb maybe even. But now you’re this newness that eventually is going to progress to something much greater. And that’s what we’re going to have in the new creation.
The same time in this newness, we are able to fight sin, right? We can because of the spirit that dwells us actually fight sin and we are becoming sanctified. There is a process of growth in the midst of this today.
Rebecca McLaughlin: And I think we’re caught in this tension as Christians, which Paul experienced as well, where he prayed three times for God to take away the thorn in his side, whatever it was. And God’s answer to him is, “My grace is enough for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” And I think there’s an extent to which probably all of us are carrying things that we really wish God would just take away.
I could deal with being a much newer creation in some areas of my life. Well, that’s how it feels. And sometimes God does take away those areas of struggle in sin. And I think sometimes we’re actually finding ourselves in that place of saying, “You know what? I’m praying and praying and praying for God to take this away.” It remains a struggle for me, but I can be confident that his power is made perfect in my weakness.
Taylor Turkington: So what we’re saying is that this verse does say that we are a new creation, that we are completely new. The old order has passed away. We are under a new system being in Christ and then Paul’s exclamation about it. The old is gone, the new has come, but at the same time, that doesn’t mean that we don’t sin.
We are not fully glorified yet. We are still waiting for the ultimate new creation when we will be completely new and perfect. So at this point, there’s still a struggle though there has been transformation.
Rebecca McLaughlin: Yeah, yeah. And my son, Luke, he’s not partly human or maybe human. He is fully human, but he is not yet what God will one day make him to be.
Taylor Turkington: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. And I think there’s another way that I’ve heard this text perhaps used poorly and that this idea of, “I’m a new creation. So don’t judge me.” It doesn’t matter how I live because I’m a new creation and which is again, the opposite of what Paul is saying here. In context, a couple of verses before he’s talked about how we all live to please Jesus Christ, because we will stand before him as he’s our judge.
And that in a couple of verses later, he’s talking about how we are then called to be ministers of reconciliation, that being new is being under a new value system. It’s a new transformation, but also a newness of our obedience that comes under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
Rebecca McLaughlin: And why would we cling on to something that is old and dying when we can be clinging on to Jesus who is new in our life?
Taylor Turkington: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Amen. And that’s exactly what it looks like to live out our lives as new creations, living out the things that the Lord would have us do. I’m so thankful for his work and for the newness that he gives us that I feel like is promised in the Old Testament. And then we can see the fulfillment, the beginning of that right here. And when we come to know the Lord as a new creation here, and then ultimately when he does it again.
Rebecca McLaughlin: Can’t wait.