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2 Corinthians 5:16-21 | "The New Has Come"

[A New Year]  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  24:01
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Sunday, January 3, 2021. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 | "The New Has Come." A new year invites us to reflect theologically on what it means to be a new creation in Christ. New years come and go, but the "new you" in Christ remains, dramatically changing our way and reason for living!

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I. Reading of Scripture

2 Corinthians 5:16–21 ESV
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 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. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
This is God’s Word, Amen!

II. Introduction

A. Introduction to Text

The Holy Spirit preserved this word in 2 Corinthians through the writing hand and ministry of the Apostle Paul.
As an “apostle,” he is a special messenger appointed and sent by Jesus Christ, to proclaim the Gospel of grace and peace in Jesus’ name.
But Paul had a particular challenge ministering among the Corinthians and getting his message through to them. He was a victim of a comparison trap.
Because there in Corinth, some apostles, called “super-apostles” (2 Cor 11:5) had invaded with all the outward adornments. They had letters of recommendation. They were skilled in oratory. They boasted in their abilities.
But Paul calls them what they are — false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ (2 Cor 11:13).
I can’t help but to ask us:
Who are we listening to? What voices are we listening to?
If you are inclined to reject this message about Jesus, why is that? What voices are you listening to instead? Who are they, and why are they credible to you?
If you are inclined to receive this message about Jesus, why is that? What voices are you forced to ignore in order to hear the truth about Christ? Why is Christ’s message more precious to you than what others have to say?
There is a difference between what is old and what is new.
What is old is what is seen. What is new is what is unseen.
What is old is transient (or temporary), what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18 speaks of Christians by saying:
2 Corinthians 4:18 ESV
18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
This is why we approach God’s Word with a prayer: “Give us eyes to see.”
If we look only at what we can see, at outward things, we have not been made new in Christ.
As the Apostle Paul expounds the depths of the Gospel in this letter, which is written to a church —
As he explains what Jesus has done in coming to this earth, living a sinless life perfectly in God’s will, dying on the cross as a sacrifice for sin in our place, being buried and raised again to life — to give us a new life — Paul realizes that a new life in Christ leads him to see everything and everyone in a dramatically different way (LCC:NT). A new way.
He makes five observations about a new life in Christ.
See if these five things are true of you.

III. Exposition

The first observation has to do with the way a Christian views other people.

A. The “new you” knows people in a new way (5:16).

2 Corinthians 5:16 ESV
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
To “regard” someone is “to know” someone.
The “new you” knows people in a new way.
The “new you” sees someone differently than what you used to. Your attitude toward people is new. Your point of view is new.
The “old you” regards people according to the flesh. But when we are made new, something changes forever. Fleshly distinctions are removed.
2 Corinthians 5:16a (ESV)
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.
To regard someone according to the flesh means to know them from a human point of view (NET). To know people by what can be seen outwardly.
This leads to all kinds of problems for us. In our flesh, we judge people by their outward appearance and we sin by showing partiality, and by creating distinctions.
But all of that goes away in Christ.
Galatians 3:27–28 ESV
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
This means that as Christians who are made new, we do not see people from a human point of view, but we see people as God sees people. We see the work of God that is done on what is unseen, on the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7b (ESV)
For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
As a new creation, we see people through the eyes of Christ.
The new way of knowing people is seen supremely in Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:16 ESV
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
During the Christmas season, we display nativity scenes. Images of the baby Jesus — in the flesh.
But what have you done this past week? You’ve likely packed up that nativity scene, and that image of baby Jesus in human flesh. And you don’t see him in this way any longer.
Jesus did not stay human on Earth. And while for a time, he could be seen walking the earth in human flesh, only those who were alive and with him in that small moment of history saw him that way.
What about the rest of us? What about you and me?
We still see Jesus, but not from a human point of view. We see Jesus with eyes of faith.
The “new you” knows people in a new way.
God’s Word then explains how this can be in verse 17.

B. The “new you” is a new creation in Christ (5:17).

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Highlight that phrase “if anyone.”
That is an invitation for a new life, for anyone.
If you are hearing this message, you belong to that group of people. “If anyone.”
And anyone is becomes known as a new creation based on one relationship: being in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Your life will have a moment of change. When the old passes away, and the new comes.
Just as when you walk through a door, you leave one room, and enter into the next room. You don’t leave part of yourself in the other room. All of you enters the next room when you pass through the door.
In the same way, when God makes you new in Christ, your relationship in Christ guarantees that you are made new completely.
Your nature changes.
So much so, that the old things are no longer attractive to you.
This is something God did not do for his people, Israel, that God now does for us, in Christ.
God brought Israel out of slavery in Egypt, but God did not make them new when he brought them out.
Because in Numbers 14, and in other places, it records that they want to go back to Egypt.
Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation, and the old things have passed away.
So what does it mean to be “in Christ?” What has happened to make make us a “new creation” in Him?
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 tells us, by telling us that

C. The “new you” has been reconciled to God through Christ (5:18-19).

2 Corinthians 5:18–19 ESV
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 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.
Being those who are “in Christ” means something has happened between us and God “through Christ.”
And what has happened is this word “reconciliation.” The “new you” has been reconciled to God through Christ.
The word “reconciliation” is a word that means “to exchange.” One thing has been exchanged for another.
Our old self, in sin, as an enemy of God, is exchanged for a new self, in Christ, as a friend of God.
The word reconciliation means that something went wrong somewhere in humanity’s relationship with God. And the problem wasn’t with God.
It was with us. It goes all the way back to the first man and woman, who made a decision that God’s Word was not to be believed, and they believed the word of another, a deceiver. And sinned.
And because God is just, and God is holy, and God is righteous, sin receives what sin deserves: Judgment. Death. Relational brokenness. Being cut off from the Creator and Sustainer of life.
And being the offenders, we were rendered incapable of righting what was wronged.
This is why 2 Corinthians 5:18 says:
2 Corinthians 5:18(a) (ESV)
All this is from God...
2 Corinthians 5:19 ESV
19 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.
This is God’s amazing grace! God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself.
This is God’s plan, God’s purpose, in Christ!
God could not accomplish reconciliation for the world in Israel. God could not accomplish reconciliation for the world through kings.
But God can, and God did, in Christ.
So that through Christ, and Christ alone, our trespasses — that is, all our wrongdoing that goes against God’s instruction and God’s will (LN), is not counted against us, because it was all counted against us in Christ!
Reconciliation had a cost. An exchange. Something old for something new. A perfect life, for a sinless life. The shedding of innocent blood, in the place of those who shed blood.
The cross of Christ is this great exchange.
Christ did not die for one, or even some. Christ died for all. For “anyone.”
And that is why God entrusts this message of Christ, of reconciliation with God, to people to proclaim it. Because the message is for anyone to receive it!
2 Corinthians 5:19 ESV
19 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.
This message is the message of God’s grace and peace in Jesus Christ. The message of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The message of newness of life in Him.
The “new you” knows people in a new way.
Because the “new you” is a new creation in Christ.
Which means the “new you” has been reconciled to God through Christ (5:18-19).
And as with all knowledge, it is not given for the sake of knowledge itself.
This knowledge of new life, this new identity in Christ, through Christ, translates into practice. Who we are, translates into what we do.
Think of it like a transmission in a vehicle. In simple terms, a transmission converts the power created by the engine, into something that turns the wheels and makes the vehicle move.
And this is why this message is just as beneficial for us as Christians who are already made new, as it is for the person who has yet to be made new.
Because new life in Christ, means a new assignment on earth. It is a wake-up call! A call to action, for time is short!
2 Corinthians 5:20 goes on to teach us that:

D. The “new you” is an ambassador on behalf of Christ (5:20).

2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Now this is Paul, and is co-laborers speaking of their calling.
But church, God has equipped each one of us to be ambassadors for Christ as well!
Ephesians 4:11–12 ESV
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
The work of ministry belongs to each one of us who are in Christ.
We each are gifted with gifts of the Spirit and callings, and all belongs to the ministry — A ministry that in one way or another, is God making his appeal to the world through us as His Church!
And what is that appeal?
2 Corinthians 5:20(b) ESV
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
That word “implore” is a strong word. Translated another way, it means “to beg.”
A true ambassador of Christ is a beggar.
One who doesn’t beg you for money. There are plenty of poor and rich people that will do that.
A true ambassador of Christ is a beggar, begging you with all urgency to be reconciled to God.
And this appeal is not our own. We make this appeal on behalf of Christ.
God wants you to be reconciled to Him!
John 3:16 ESV
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5:8 ESV
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
And a person becomes reconciled to God, not through works, but through grace. Receiving God’s work, believing in faith what was accomplished in Jesus Christ through his life, death, burial and resurrection.
We are reconciled, we are saved, to serve God in the name of Jesus.
The “new you” is an ambassador on behalf of Christ.
And as such, 2 Corinthians 5:21 ends by summing up our identity as a new creation in Christ:

E. The “new you” is known by the righteousness of God in Christ (5:21).

2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
“In him we might become the righteousness of God.”
In him, in Jesus, we can do what is right in the eyes of God. We can please God by faith. We can obey God. We can live for God. We can live as a new creation in the old creation, as ambassadors of what is available now and is yet to come in Christ.
There is coming a day when the first heaven and the first earth will pass away, when a new heaven and a new earth comes. (Rev 21:1).
In that day, it is said: “the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Rev 21:3).
Revelation 21:4 ESV
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:5 ESV
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

IV. Conclusion

Hebrews 13:8 ESV
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Revelation 21:6 records these words of Jesus:
Revelation 21:6(b) ESV
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”
New Years come and go.
But the New You remains in Christ.
And a New Day awaits us, when Christ returns, and we will live with Him forever in a New Heaven and a New Earth.
But what is old cannot enter into what is new.
Jesus Christ will make you new, by faith today.
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