“THE DIVINE MAKEOVER”
(A Sermon Series from 2 Corinthians)
Westgate Chapel 07-22-07 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Proposition: At new birth the Holy Spirit gives those who are in Christ a new identity, a new creation, a new relationship and a new mission.
- REALITY television capitalizes on people in America who are unhappy with some significant element of their lives and want or need a make-over :
* If you are embarrassed with how your mom or your dad dress and do their hair, you may be able to get them on Oprah Winfrey’s make-over special….the producers will take these frumpy parents of yours behind the set and for the next hour make-up artists, and hair stylists, and fashion designers will work their magic and when the curtain parts at the end of the show, out will come two people who look like Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.
* One entire TV program is devoted to changing your life through plastic surgery.
* Another program will make over your wardrobe starting with ridicule for everything in your closet and then dressing a new you.
* If your dog has a serious personality disorder, you could get the yapper on the Dog Whisperer and get a doggy make-over and, from the programs I have seen on TV, it is very likely your behavior will get made over as much as the dogs.
* If you are embarrassed by the condition of your automobile, you can get your car on Pimp my Ride….and get a car makeover…or even your tractor if you own a tractor trailer.
* Of course there is the extreme house make-over, get your house ready to sell make-over, and trading spaces with your neighbor make over….which from my limited perspective never seems to go that well.
- EVERYBODY wants a make-over….but for the most part changing your car, your house, your clothes or your body is a substitute for the change we all really long for…..on the inside.
- AND you already know that there are whole industries making millions off of giving you a make over on the inside also….for a mere $200/hour, or a $4,000 weekend encounter, or just the right therapy, from aromas to new self-talk.
- BUT I am here to tell you this morning that there is nothing that will bring about real change, I mean deep down transformation at the core of who you are, like a genuine encounter with the living God.
* When God first got hold of Saul in the Old Testament, he was out looking for his father’s lost donkeys, not necessarily the most prestigious job in town.
* And when Saul encounters Samuel the prophet and Samuel invites Saul to a sacrifice to be made to God, Saul says to Samuel,
“Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?” (1 Samuel 9:21)
* But when the Spirit of the Lord came on Saul in a powerful way, just as Samuel had prophesied, Saul became someone he was not before (1 Samuel 9:21).
* Saul’s encounter with God changed him into a new man.
* Moses was another reluctant, broken-spirited, stutterer who encountered God in the burning bush and Acts 7:22 says that he became “a man of power in word and deed.”
* Zaccheus was an extortionist and after his encounter with Jesus he gives half of his wealth to the poor and returns four times what he stole from anyone.
* Mary Magdalene had seven demons tormenting her when she first met Jesus…and we know from the New Testament that demons had a hard time whenever Jesus came around. Well, tormented Mary is delivered of her demons and becomes one of several women who follow Jesus with the other disciples ministering to His needs.
* Paul runs into Jesus on the road to Damascus and is changed from being a persecutor of Christians to Christianity’s main apologist and church planter of the first century.
- THIS building is full of people who have been changed and are being changed….down deep make over.
- THEY have become someone they were not before.
- THAT is the essence of what it means to be a Christian.
- LISTEN to the dramatic make-overs that Paul identifies amongst the Corinthians Christians in his first letter to them,
“…do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
- WHEN you repent of your sin and rebellion against a holy God and are born again….everything changes from your heart to your actions.
- YOU literally, like Saul, become someone you were not before….everything becomes new.
- AND in the few verses we will be looking at from 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 today….Paul identifies some of those things that become new in yours and my make-over in Christ.
ii. a new identity
- FIRST, Paul says that you get a new identity.
- MOST of what makes up your present, earthly identity has to do with….your job, your position, your title, your bank balance, your body shape, your clothes, your gender, your age, your nationality, your ethnicity, and your education….just to name a few measurements.
- BUT those are all external things.
- AND in fact, many of those measurements become walls behind which we often hide from others who we really are.
- PAUL knew all about this problem. He had been a Pharisee, and as a group Pharisees were notorious for making a big deal out of external measurements of identity.
- EXTERNAL measurements were what you used to separated yourself from others and hold yourself aloof.
- IT is a huge source of division.
- SO, look at verse 16 with me,
“Therefore from now on we recognize [judge] no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.” (2 Corinthians 5:16)
- PAUL says here that his first assessments of Jesus’ life was based on external judgments…and in Paul’s learned opinion, Jesus had not measured up to the Pharisees expectation of what a Messiah should look like or what a Messiah should do.
- THAT was part of the reason Paul had originally persecuted Christians…he had measured Jesus by external measurement.
- HE had expected the Messiah to arrive, kick the Romans out of Israel, and re-establish the kingdom of God on the earth right there and right then.
- AND instead Jesus came as a suffering servant and died on a cross….and in the beginning Paul was having none of it.
- THAT was because Paul was judging Jesus according to the flesh…and not according to the Spirit.
- THEN Paul had a supernatural encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, and Paul was born again…to use a phrase that Jesus taught Nicodemus.
- AND when Paul got saved, it changed how he saw everything.
- IT was like the blinders came off his eyes and he understood spiritual things.
- HE understood why Jesus had to die on the cross.
- HE understood the agenda of the kingdom of God.
- HE understood that the things you can see or touch or boast about in the world have no value when it comes to your real identity.
- WHEN you are born again, your whole identity changes.
* It doesn’t matter what is in your Washington Mutual account….but treasure that Jesus says we are to store up in heaven.
* The title in front of your name is not as important as whether your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
* The clothing that matters the most is whether you are covered by the righteousness of Christ so you won’t be naked when you stand in front of God’s throne.
* Having audience every day with the Creator of the Universe is more important than meeting Paris Hilton or Colin Powel.
* The only nationality that matters is being a citizen of a heavenly city whose builder and maker is God.
* In fact, in describing this new identity that is spiritual and not of this earth, Paul says, in Galatians 3:28, that in this new community of born again believers,
“There is neither Jew nor Greek [nationality], there is neither slave nor free man [economic], there is neither male nor female [gender]; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
- PAUL says, we are done with judging people on externals. We are a spiritual people and know each other on a totally different plain.
- WE have a new and liberating identity as spiritual beings in Christ Jesus.
iii. a new creation
- IN the next verse Paul says that we are a totally new creation.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- MOST people think that becoming a Christian means adding God to the life they already have…like a good luck charm or fire insurance.
- BUT in reality, when you accept Christ you lay down your old life and become someone you were not before….a new creation!
- THE word “new” in the Greek means “something entirely different than what previously existed.”
- THE word “creation” added to the word “new,” according to one commentator, means that not only is the person made new, but an entirely new situation has been created for their lives.
- OLD things, refers to everything that characterized your life before you came to Christ….passed away, not part of your identity any more.
- NEW things have come!
* New heart with new desires…and that doesn’t mean that there will still be some battles with old desires, but you have a new heart to cultivate now.
* New loves…beginning with God and all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
* New sensitivities…about what is acceptable and what isn’t.
* New priorities…the world and its ambitions is out of the picture. You are a citizen of the eternal kingdom of God now.
* New schedule….giving God the first fruits of the day and making gathering with His people regularly a priority.
* New worship….the things of this world are off the pedestal and we worship God.
* New relationships with people who are on the same journey and the same destination.
- NEW things have come!
- YOU are a new creation in Christ.
iv. a new relationship
- SO, from verse 16….new identity as a spiritual being in Christ.
- FROM verse 17….a new creation with new things in your life.
- IN verse 18, you have a new relationship…with God. A relationship you never had before.
- IN fact, Paul says in Romans 5:10 that before we became Christian we were enemies of God.
- JESUS said in John 3:36, that the wrath of God abides on those who refuse to believe and obey God.
- THERE is a great reluctance today to call sin, sin, lest we offend.
- THERE is an even greater reluctance to mention the wrath of God against sin and those who resist God.
- BUT without calling sin, sin, there is no basis for any call to repentance.
- AND without repentance, there is no good news. You and I are cut off from God and His wrath rests on us.
- BUT listen to this good news…
“Now all these things [new identity, new creation] are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ…” (2 Corinthians 5:18)
- WE have a new relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
- JESUS died on the cross, took on Himself the wrath of God that we deserved, and rose again to reconcile us in relationship to God.
- THAT word reconcile means the restoration of relationship and peace where before there was hostility and alienation….usually by means of removing the offense that caused the break in relationship.
- WE who were enemies of God have been reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ.
v. a new mission
- THE next part of the Christian’s make-over is found in verses 19-20 and has to do with our new mission in life,
“…and [God] gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20)
- THIS is obviously not a mission given to a select few, but involves every one of us.
- SINCE we have been reconciled to God and given this new relationship with Him as a gift, gratitude would dictate that we share the gift frequently, and it is obvious from this text…with a degree of earnestness.
- WE are to beg people to be reconciled to God.
- I HAVE to admit that this is not my nature.
- BUT I just told you…and me that we are new creations.
- MY nature has nothing to do with it.
- I AM reconciled to God…and therefore I am Christ’s ambassadors begging people God sends us to be reconciled to God.
- IT is a new mission. It is our mission. My mission.
vi. new righteousness
- ONE quick last part of this massive make over, in verse 21,
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- OUR sin was made over to Him.
- HIS righteousness was made over to us….not just to make us righteous, but to make us righteousness in Christ.
- LISTEN to Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:30,
“…by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption….” (1 Corinthians 1:30)
- NO wonder the Christian starts changing his/her behaviors….something fundamental has changed on the inside!
- YOU have become righteousness in Christ.
- DOESN’T that sound fresh and new and clean?
- THAT is exactly what happens to you in God’s make over!
- LET me run over this make over quickly again:
1. New identity….a spiritual man/woman.
2. A new creation…the old is gone, new things have come.
3. A new relationship…once enemies of God, now friends.
4. A new mission…once you lived for yourself, now you live to urge others to be reconciled to God.
5. A new righteousness…because that is what you have become in Christ.
- IF you have never given your life to Christ, what is keeping you from this divine make over?
- IF you once knew Him and have drifted away, what is keeping you from coming home to Him today?
- IF you have already been made new…let’s celebrate all that God has done in our lives.