In Christ we’re a new being, not a better person

by Matheus Yuhlung

A “promised land” also awaits the Christian who is willing to move from the wilderness wonderings of self-effort and frustration.[i]

It seems like people with a high sense of morality are often people who don’t know or haven’t accepted Christ. I studied Buddhism, Jainism, and Vedanta in my first year of my Masters Degree in Philosophy. The idea of morality and how to attain it is so meticulously devised in these philosophies that, if it is followed to its very detail, I believe it’ll make gods out of men. Although, as good as it sounds, it’s only ideal in nature. Meaning, it’s completely impractical.

The same was, and is, with Moses’ law. Yet, even after knowing this, I’d struggled every day of my life trying to be a good Christian. I tried to live up to the standards of what I thought defined a good Christian.

Dress well, talk well, rid of this habit, rid of that habit, smile, and say nice things and whatnot. Even after all this, I felt like a gigantic failure. Every day, the gap between who I thought I was supposed to be and who I was suffocated me.

I guess that I had the head knowledge and lacked the heart knowledge of what the epistles emphatically explained salvation is: Christ plus nothing. What defines a good Christian are not the good works of the Christian himself but the good work that Christ has done in him. When we are in Christ, it is not about being a better person. When we are in Christ, we become a totally new being. You no longer have to work at bettering your old self because it’s no longer there. The moment you give your life to Christ, it’s gone. At the time of conversion you are made new and it is towards holiness that you must strive, but now you have the Holy Spirit with you who shall work the work of sanctification in you so that it may be achieved.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here![ii] 

It does not say, the new is fashioned out from the old or the old is made better into new. It says, the old has gone, the new is here. How amazing is that? I like to think maybe that’s why Christ changed His disciples’ names when He asked them to follow Him. They also left there old professions (names and profession being that which forms the very fabric of our identities). The disciples had nothing of the old with which people could recognize them with their former lives. That too was not by their efforts. The old was gone and the new was here as soon as they followed Christ.

Dear Reader, if you’re tired of not being good enough, I’d like to remind you again. Our goodness cannot come from us, it comes from Christ. So start believing that Christ is in the business of making us into a new being. And if you have accepted Him, the work has already begun. The old with all its imperfection is (gone) nailed to the cross while the new is (here) ushered in.

As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.[iii]

[i] Hunger for Reality – George Verwer (Authentic Books, 1972, page 43)

[ii] 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

[iii] Luke 8:15 (ESV)

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