It’s Monday Grace!
Whatever happened to the old you? You know, the person you were before you met Jesus?
Some teachers would have you believe that you are still the same person, that you still need to repent for those things you did before you came to Christ, and that you are still identified by those sins. In other words, you might have become a Christian, but you are still the same as you were before.
Other teachers would have you think that you are some kind of hybrid, a schizophrenic dual personality. There is the new you in Christ, they say, but there is also the old you in sin. Each moment you have to choose which you will be. The successful Christian life is one where the person chooses to be the new self most often.
Now, those two ideas present some very practical problems. In the first scenario, becoming a Christian has really done nothing for you. You are still in your sins, still afraid and ashamed, and still under bondage. You might go to Heaven when you die, maybe. There is no real hope and no freedom for those who are still in the old person.
And, to be fair, the world and the devil, even our own flesh, constantly tells us that nothing has changed. When we find ourselves doing the things we used to do, we condemn ourselves and the evil one accuses us and the world points to our sin and offers testimony against Jesus. There are certainly days in the new life when we don’t feel like much has changed.
Yet, we want to believe that something has changed, in fact that everything has changed. So, we become open to the second teaching, that the old self and the new self live side-by-side and battle every minute of every day for control. That also feels sort of right, doesn’t it? We do have some good times when we do the right things. But the old way seems to be there too.
Many believers live this kind of broken and conflicted life. They spend their days fighting against themselves and have no confidence of success. If they win, they feel good, but they also believe they might fail next time. After all, they think they are two equal and opposite people. The old and the new.
So, believers continue to live in fear and shame. Never confident in their relationship with the Lord. Never sure of eternal life. Never really at peace. The yoke they carry is neither light nor easy.
The Scriptures, on the other hand, are quite clear that the old man is dead! There are three specific references to the “old man,” the person you were before Jesus.
…knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Romans 6:6
…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts Ephesians 4:22
Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, Colossians 3:9
In the first reference, the old man died by crucifixion with Jesus. He/she was not raised with Jesus. The old person died. In the second, the old man is becoming “corrupt,” which means decaying. It is so dead that it is beginning to stink. In the third, we are told that the old man has been “put off,” no longer attached to us in any way. We have been separated from what we were.
I think that is pretty clear. We are no longer that old person. What we were is not what we are. Even if we still do some of the same things, even if we remember those things too clearly, even if others accuse us of still being the same, we have been made new in Jesus. We are not what we were.
So, the message of grace is not for us to get better or work harder or try to make up for what we did before Jesus. The message of grace is for us to live according to the Spirit who is guiding us into who we are. Our hearts and minds are being transformed day by day. The flesh, which I have written about before, wants to pull us back to what is familiar, but the Spirit pushes us into the truth of who we have become in Christ.
The good news for the believer is that the old is truly gone. That person died on the cross. You and I are new creations, and we no longer are guilty and shamed by the past that is separated from us. Nor are we bound to the sins which once controlled us. We are to live as free sons and daughters of the King of kings. We are good and righteous and strong because of Jesus. His life is the new life that flows in us, and we are never going to be separated from Him.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17