Based on 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
If you've ever given up a bad habit, you've experienced "The Look".
It drifts over the features of well-meaning family and friends. It flashes across the face of acquaintances and co-workers. It's that momentary glimpse of the fact that some part of them expects you to falter. After all a cheetah can't change his spots and a zebra can't alter his stripes and whatever other animal they choose to attribute the inability to change to, well, it can't change either.
You may have even seen "The Look" in the mirror.
Maybe when you're getting ready to go out with friends and you give yourself a pep talk so that those 46 days of sobriety will turn into 47. Perhaps it's when your kids start driving you bananas and you promise yourself you won't yell this time. It's possible you dread paying those monthly bills and having to find out whether or not this was the month you fulfilled your promise to live on a budget. There are so many habits, personality quirks, or lifestyle patterns that we know need to change, but for some reason we keep falling back into them.
It's enough to make a person question the declaration that Jesus makes His believers into new creations.
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
As fabulous as that promise sounds, we often have trouble buying it because we, like Anthony in the A Lady of Esteem, still struggle with some of the same old sins, the same old urgings, the same old temptations.
If we're still struggling, how can we be new?
One of the things I've always been told when studying the Bible is when you come across a therefore, ask what it's there for. Go back a few verses and make sure you're getting a full picture.
In this case, going back a single verse gives us a great insight into how we can be new and still struggle at the same time.
"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ this way, we do so no longer." 2 Corinthians 5:16
Jesus is in the soul-saving business.
He isn't looking at things like the world does. He's checking out the inner workings. (1 Samuel 16:7) And while you may still be struggling with that habit you really wish God would just take away, the very fact that you're struggling is proof that God has changed your heart. Chances are you didn't have a problem with the habit when you first started off else you wouldn't have started in the first place. If that's the case, why struggle now?
And God knows whether or not you truly want to quit smoking or if it's just lip service you're giving your family so they think you want to quit. God knows if you're really trying to adjust your way of thinking about a topic or if you secretly enjoy viewing things the same way the world does. God knows we will never attain perfection this side of Heaven, so He's looking for hearts that are committed and driven to getting closer to Him.
Therefore you are a new creation.
Sometimes the hardest part of living out this verse is not letting the new things come but letting the old things pass away.
If you find yourself living in the murky mire of forgiven sin, read the rest of the section, 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. Remember that your sin is paid for, placed on the shoulders of a sinless Christ, so that you might become righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Christ didn't die for you to waste away in the guilt of all you've done wrong.
He died so that you could live in a new way that was glorifying to Jesus Christ, grateful that He saved you, not depressed that you failed Him. (2 Corinthians 5:15)
Live free today for you are a new creation.
For more information including links to Bible passages and studies as well as group discussion questions, visit the Dig Deeper Devotionals page.