One of the greatest paradoxes for Christians is that we still sin. Unfortunately, we all can be labeled a “hypocrite”, even when we’re trying really hard not to. This battle with sin creates an inward tension for us as believers. We want to be holy and follow God, and yet, we sin. We say hurtful things. We become worried about worldly stuff. We think impure thoughts. We create idols out of our kids. We have an identity crisis. We get our priorities out of whack.
And we sin.
We have been born with a sinful nature.
Then at this troubling moment, we see Paul jump in to offer a word of encouragement. Please read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. He is speaking to the Corinthian culture, which runs amok with power idols, control freaks, and jealous neighbors (sounds like my neck of the woods). Everyone is trying to keep up with the Joneses’. And if you couldn’t…you were looked down upon. It is at this moment, Paul offers hope by saying,
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.
Did you hear that? We don’t judge people based on their outward looks, haircuts, clothes, tattoos, or social status. It doesn’t matter how many credentials are listed behind their name. We don’t need to frown upon someone because of where they’re from or who they know. It doesn’t matter in God’s economy. Paul is reminding the Corinthians that we should never, ever be shocked by sin. If we’re real honest…sin is the one thing we all have in common.
I’m not suggesting that sin is our “get out of jail” free card. This doesn’t mean we should desire to keep sinning. As believers, the Holy Spirit resides within us and thank God, we are a work in progress. And on some days, I feel like I’m going backward rather than foward. I have to remind myself that I’m on a slooooow incline. But what this does mean is that that the deliverance we all long for from this bent toward sinning will one day be gone.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Cor. 5:17
God promises He is making all things new. We will be spiritually and morally new. We will be physically and bodily new. Creation itself will be new. Our relationship with God will be new. Everything will be made perfect and pain-free. It is a day we all longingly await!
However, I also love that this verse is in the past tense. The work has already been done. The old order of sin binding us to the law has been broken. We are new creations in Christ. But does anyone besides myself find this somewhat troubling? Do I live like I believe that I have been made new? Do I truly believe Jesus can change me? And even more so, do I believe Jesus can change all the testy people around me?
You know…the homeless person who holds out a can every time you drive down the street and the drunk uncle everyone in family pokes fun at. The crazy person who made headlines on the news, and the old friend you still hold a grudge towards. And what about the rebellious teen who doesn’t obey your rules, or the spouse who rejected you. Do you think God can change them? Or have you walked away, given up, or stopped believing anything is possible?
The truth is– Jesus changes everything. He changes our view of others and ourselves, no longer using sin and achievement as bookends. It’s all possible because of God (v. 18). We don’t have to figure out how it will be accomplished. Only entrust Him to use us as His vessel. That’s why He calls you “His ambassador.”
Do you enjoy the adventure of sharing Jesus with others? Or, do you find it a bit of a struggle? What gets in your way? What are some common excuses?