But Mr. (or Mrs.) “New Creation” HASN’T Passed Away – Stop Abusing 2 Cor. 5:17: The “Debunk” Series – Part 7

RevAllWet10by Standerinfamilycourt

Therefore from now on we recognize 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.   Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…
2 Corinthians 5:16-18

This is our final installment of the “Debunk / Stop Abusing” Series.   Hopefully we’ve taught you, dear reader, how to systematically examine any scripture and discern when someone is twisting it for their own misguided purposes.    Most Christians who misapply God’s word are parroting someone else, and don’t actually know any better.   Fewer and fewer of today’s evangelicals even read the bible for themselves on a regular basis, much less study it deeply, so they are prone to absorbing popular heresies.   To be sure, there are abused scriptures that deal with endless topics besides marriage and divorce (some of which are also heaven-or-hell matters), so this is an invaluable skill to become proficient in.

In sharp contrast to the contemporary caricature of a “new creation in Christ”,  here’s a portrait actually more like what Paul had in mind as he penned this portion of his second epistle to the church at Corinth:

And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich.  Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature.   So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.   When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”   And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.   When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”   Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”   And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  –  Luke 19:2-10

So…let’s see if our new life in Christ transforms a sinful relationship with somebody else’s one-flesh spouse into a sanctified one, and excuses us from reconciling with or making restitution to those we have wronged before our conversion. What is a one-flesh spouse?   Does becoming a new creation in Christ make one-flesh two again, contrary to what Jesus declared–since man’s civil paper does not?    We began this series of blogs by first establishing Jesus Christ’s core truth in Matthew 19:6 about the lifelong indissolubility of the covenant marriage of our youth, and rigorously applying each of the five basic principles of sound hermeneutics to that scripture passage:  Content, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation.    If you missed that installment, please start there.

The Principle of CONTENT
As we did with our core truth in Matthew 19:6, we will take 2 Cor. 5:17  back to the original Greek manuscript and literal syntax to strip away any bias about what it actually says on the surface.     We will rely on the Greek interlinear text tools and the literal syntax for our analysis of content, in order to detect any translation bias that may have occurred in your favorite bible version in more contemporary times. One very useful technique for detecting any possible tampering with word translation or manuscript choice versus the version in our hands (in this case, NASB) is to bring up the passage in a mix of versions, being sure to include some versions based on the Antioch manuscripts (such as KJV).   In this case, we are pleased find no material difference between the translations in the two interlinear tools, so we’ll present the more understandable biblehub.com version: 2Cor5_17 For the curious, however, the link to scripture4all.org’s version is here.

 The very first thing to notice about this text concerning  “old things” passing away (and everything becoming new) is that it is entirely conditioned on being [remaining / abiding] in Christ.   But what does it actually mean to be in Christ?    Are those “old things” external things or are they internal things?   If we do not fully graft-in to begin with, or if we later pull away,  can we then claim that all things have been made new?    This conditional phrase argues that we cannot!

Once again the dry topic of verb tenses becomes very important to accurately understanding the passage, so we will again have to suffer through that discussion.      There are five verbs in this passage, including two forms of “is” that are only implied, that is, we can’t see their tense (was, is now, is becoming, continuing to be, etc.) including whether they are in the active or passive voice, because they are merged with either a preposition or with an adjective.

ἐν          Χριστῷ,
[is] in   Christ ,

Here, we may need to jump to the COMPARISON principle where we look at similar verses in which Paul and others spoke in the New Testament of being in Christ.   To properly discern whether this is referring to a sort of completed transaction of external cleansing (similar to taking one’s suit to the dry cleaners), or whether it is a continuous abiding, makes an enormous difference in the understanding of what Paul was saying, because the latter would shift the transformation from external to internal. καινὴ [he is] a new…      it seems reasonable here to place this verb in the present tense, since it is associated with an adjective, new.

The other three verbs are: “passed away”  παρῆλθεν (parēlthen) , “behold” ἰδοὺ (Idou), and “emerged”, become new  γέγονεν  (geogonen).  Did the “old things” pass away suddenly and in a single transaction?   Did they pass away gradually but in the past?    The verb tense used by Paul here is aorist indicative active.    In the indicative mood the aorist tense denotes action that occurred in the past time, often translated like the English simple past tense, but it is a misnomer to thus imply that, in every instance, the action only happened at one point of time.  This can be true, but it is often dependent on other factors such as the meaning of the verb, other words in the context, etc.   (source: www.ntgreek.org/learn).
The past tense is strongly supported here, and is consistent with the Young’s Literal Translation rendering.   However, the root verb is parerchomai, meaning to pass by, to come to.

It’s also helpful to zero in on the literal meaning of “old things” (archaios ἀρχαῖα),  actually meaning ancient things from which we get the word “archaic”.
(We don’t know of anyone who would get saved and call the marriage of their youth “ancient” or “archaic”  –  though we can think of many other “a”-words that get applied in the culture today).    Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines it:  ἀρχαῖος, ἀρχαῖα, ἀρχαῖον “(from ἀρχή beginning, hence) properly, that has been from the beginning, original, primeval, old, ancient, used of men, things, times, conditions.” Accordingly, “old things”  seems to be referring to mindsets, predispositions, proclivities, etc. , not to relationships and commitments, nor to vows.

Since these things are not of a nature that can pass away in a single transaction, it seems more reasonable to conclude that these old things passed away over a period of time in the past.   This understanding would also be consistent with the other main verb,  “emerged”, become new  γέγονεν  (geogonen).   This verb is in the perfect indicative active tense.   The basic thought of the perfect tense is that the progress of an action has been completed and the results of the action are continuing on,  full effect.   In other words, the progress of the action has reached its culmination and the finished results are now in existence. Unlike the English perfect, which indicates a completed past action, the Greek perfect tense indicates the continuation and present state of a completed past action.

Once again, we see that this verse cannot be referring to externals, as though one takes a dirty suit to the cleaners and picks it up cleaned and pressed.   This scripture is clearly dealing with internal attitudes and affections, the ongoing fruit of the completed process of having become a disciple.   This is not a transaction, but a completed process.   

Not too much needs to be said about the verb, behold (idou).   It’s in the aorist imperative active voice, as one would expect for a command.    All that remains is a bit of elaboration on the noun, κτίσις  (ktisis)  meaning “created being” (or in this case, newly-created being).    And the Christ that he / she is in?       Χριστός,  Christos – literally “the Anointed One,” the Christ (Hebrew, “Messiah“) from the root word,  xríō, “anoint with olive oil”. Summing up the analysis, this verse is describing the transformation that has taken place inside a person, but only if they are truly in Christ, the old propensities and inward iniquities have given way to the mind and nature of Christ.   This is in keeping with what the Lord described in the Sermon on the Mount, where externals no longer substituted for righteousness, but obedience now is to come from the heart, which is at the heart of the Messianic Covenant.

The Principle of CONTEXT:
It’s always important to look at the surrounding verses to make sure our interpretation is consistent with the larger context.

As we’ve seen from previous posts in this series, notably 1 Corinthians 7,  the popular understanding can be in severe conflict with the overall message of the chapter, and with the strong, clear statement that ends the chapter.   In 2 Corinthians, chapters 4 and 5, Paul is laboring to fix the disciples’ eyes on the eternal.  He tells the church that even if the gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing because the god of this age has blinded minds.   He says that our treasure is held in jars of clay to show that the all-surpassing power is from God and not from men, speaking of the crushing trials, tribulations and persecutions, dying to self as Jesus died to self so that the life of Christ can come about in others.    Paul reminds that while externally it may seem we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day-by-day, for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a far greater glory in eternity.    He urges his readers to fix their eyes not on what is seen which is temporary, but on what is unseen which is eternal.  He then speaks of our body, calling it an earthly tent which is being destroyed, but we have a heavenly body awaiting that is not made with human hands.   Until we achieve it, we are going to have an inward longing (groaning).

Importantly, Paul reminds that we have been given the Holy Spirit as a deposit toward that heavenly covering, guaranteeing what is to come.   We live by faith and not by sight, and we will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive according the things we’ve done, good or bad, while occupying our earthly bodies.   He speaks of the fear of the Lord which compels us to try and persuade others, and of no longer living for ourselves but for Christ who died for us and was raised to life.    These were the thoughts that preceded the notion that if we are in Christ in this way, we are a new creation, and this is what has driven out the former things from within us.

Very importantly, the very next thing Paul says is that we are charged with a ministry of reconciliation, and given a message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).   We are told that we are Christ’s ambassadors.   That is, we are ambassadors of the Bridegroom who said on three separate occasions, “everyone who marries a divorced person enters into an ongoing state of adultery.”  [Matt. 5:32b; Matt. 19:9b;  Luke 16:18].   It seems that any ambassador carrying around such a civil-only “remarriage” is carrying around excess baggage that impedes from this ambassadorship, and in fact makes it impossible to even head in the direction of the assignment, while at the same time actually misrepresenting the Bridegroom.    Indeed, in one 1990  Barna Group survey of professing believers, 90% of the divorced and remarried admitted that their family destruction came after their conversion, and not before.  

It seems the popular evangelical application of 2 Corinthian 5:17 to absolve an abandoned covenant marriage vow for that which Jesus repeatedly called adultery could not be more out of context with these two chapters.    It seems the ministry of reconciliation should begin with the only person on the face of the earth that God has joined us to as one-flesh, and to the covenant children and grandchildren of that union.

The Principle of CULTURE:
Remarriage apologists are fond of coupling this passage with their (jaundiced) version of 1 Corinthians 7, reflecting today’s culture of the apostate church promoting serial polygamy under the heavy influence of unilateral divorce laws.     (See our two previous discussions of 1 Corinthians 7,  here and here.)

We’d argue that the much better linking is actually with 1 Corinthians 6, because that passage so completely captures the culture Paul was speaking into.   This was a culture where it was illegal to commit adultery with someone’s wife, but prostitution was not only legal but encouraged by the culture.   The city was the home of the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and reportedly over 1,000 temple prostitutes.   Paul was very blunt in stating in verse 16 that our union with Christ should preclude union with anyone we aren’t one-flesh with by God’s supernatural joining, precisely because Christ is being involuntarily made a party to the immorality.    This reasoning makes the contemporary evangelical mishandling of 1 Corinthians 7 the very antithesis of what Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 6.

Indeed, what makes us a new creation in Christ is this union with Him, whereby we no longer live, but crucified with Him,  Christ lives in us; and the life which we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God. Because of this, rather than use the Greek sarx mia as Jesus did when speaking of divine and permanent one-flesh joining, Paul spoke of the natural and carnal hen soma, when referring in 1 Cor. 6:16 to the immoral and transitory transaction of the flesh which is devoid of God’s voluntary participation.    Addressing the saints (the born-again who profess Christ), Paul warns them not to be deceived by what their sex-saturated culture was telling them,  that adultery, fornication, sodomy, idolatry and several other apostate sins, if not repented by ceasing them, will cost them their inheritance in the kingdom of God.    He goes on to commend them “and such were some of you…”  but as a consequence following their becoming a new creation in Christ, these old proclivities had passed away, replaced by the character of Christ – they had been washed, sanctified, and justified.    He could certainly not say that about someone who did not also crucify their immoral partnerships and reconcile their sacred, consecrated relationships out of reverence for their new relationship with Christ.

The Principle of COMPARISON:
By this fourth basic principle of sound hermeneutics, scripture interprets scripture, with the clearest passages helping to answer any ambiguity remaining after an honest analysis of CONTENT, CONTEXT and CULTURE.   Since  God’s word tells us that all scripture is God-breathed, that is,  equally inspired by the Holy Spirit, then if its seems that one scripture contradicts another, it’s a sign of bias or that the analysis is not complete enough.   In other words, we don’t just run with it as the “Reverend All-Wets” of our day are all too prone to do, but we keep studying until the conflict is resolved.

Part 1 of our series, on Matthew 19:6 built a strong case for this verse (and its counterpart verse, Mark 10:8-9 from the same historical occasion) being the cornerstone verse for this comparison, but as also shown, there are many others.

Matthew 19:6 / Mark 10:8-9  –  established by the divine, instantaneous act the irrevocable reality of the one-flesh relationship, and its permanent inseverability by any act of man.   What came directly out of the mouth of Jesus Christ is in direct conflict with attempts to interpret 2 Corinthians 5:17 as “biblical evidence” that coming to Christ  dissolves a pre-salvation covenant or validates as holy matrimony a remarriage undertaken in adultery (i.e. any situation where there is living, estranged first spouse).   The only instance where this ear-tickling evangelical presumption would actually be the case is where the first spouse was actually the spouse of another, making that first marriage non-covenant.   (This is actually what happened with Ronald and Nancy Reagan due to the fact that the Gipper’s first civil-only marriage with Jane Wyman was a case of legalized adultery that was never recognized in God’s courthouse.)  

Psalm 103
This magnificent psalm is sort of the “trail mix” psalm in the hands of those who wish to believe that God “forgives” and “cleanses” marriages undertaken and divorced while not yet born again, excusing the disciple from reconciling that marriage and freeing them to marry another person (often, the estranged spouse of another).    Verse 3 assures us He pardons all our iniquities   עֲוֹנֵ֑כִי     ă·wō·nê·ḵî   (forsaken wrongdoing).    Verse 5 says He satisfies our years with good things, which they take as “proof” of God’s “blessing” on the remarriage.  Verse 8 tells us the Lord is compassionate and gracious.   Verse 10 says He does not deal with us according to our sins nor rewards us according to our iniquities.  Verse 12 assures us that as far as the east is from the west, He has removed our transgressions פְּשָׁעֵֽינוּ׃  pə·šā·‘ê·nū    (from the root word pasha, meaning revolt or rebellion)  from us.   Verse 14, He is mindful that we are but dust.   The image must be of David gadding about the countryside, picking up and discarding wives and concubines as readily as he changed his sandals, and still being called a “man after God’s own heart”.    However,  that’s a bit of an incomplete picture without the counterbalancing accounts of David’s journey, such as his chastisement to repentance, and his isolation at the end of his life.

At the same time, verses 11, 13 and 17  all say these things are for those who fear him.   Verse 18:  To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them.    This was written centuries before there was a Savior, so these precepts included daily animal sacrifice as atonement for willful sin.   Since we no longer have that means of atonement, all we have is abiding in Christ, which entails obeying Him.   Is a first (covenant) marriage wrong-doing, so that it must be forsaken, or is the subsequent one, which Jesus repeatedly called adulterous, the true wrong-doing that must be forsaken?    Which marriage reflects revolt and rebellion against God’s precepts, and indeed reflects the lack of the fear of God? 12524355_1297370276945019_62108117333624254_n

Here are additional verses shedding light on what it is to be in Christ, without which we are the same old carnal person and nothing is made new:

John 3:5-7
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

John 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.

Matthew 5:27-32 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’;  but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.   If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.  “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’;  but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit [ongoing] adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits [ongoing] adultery.

Matthew 7:21-23
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.   Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

1 Corinthians 6:15-20
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?  Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?  May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.”  But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.   Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus who walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh…. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,  because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

 

Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,

 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.

. 2 Corinthians 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 4:22-24
that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

2 Corinthians 13:5
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

 

The Principle of CONSULTATION:
It is clear from all the commentary on this passage that the transformation spoken of here is of internal constitution, not external choices and circumstances, and certainly not of forsaken covenants joined by God.

Justin Martyr (First Apology; ca 155 A.D.)
As many are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to live accordingly, are instructed to entreat God with fasting…then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we ourselves were…For Christ also said :”‘Unless you be born-again, you cannot see the kingdom of God”.

Tertullian ( ) They who are about to enter baptism ought to pray with repeated prayer, fasts, and bendings of the knee, and vigils all the night through, and with the confession of all bygone sins, that they may express the meaning of the baptism of John.

Didache (ca. 100 A.D.): But before the baptism, let the baptizer fast, and also the baptized, and what ever others can; but thou shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.

Irenaeus , Against Heresies ca. 180 A.D. We are lepers in sin, we are made clean by means of the sacred water and invocation of the Lord, from our old transgression; being spiritually regenerate as new born babes, even as the Lord has declared “except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. A wealth of additional quotes concerning regeneration in Christ are available for further study at this link:  http://www.bible.ca/H-baptism.htm

5:16-21 The renewed man acts upon new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company. The believer is created anew; his heart is not merely set right, but a new heart is given him. He is the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Though the same as a man, he is changed in his character and conduct. These words must and do mean more than an outward reformation. The man who formerly saw no beauty in the Saviour that he should desire him, now loves him above all things. The heart of the unregenerate is filled with enmity against God, and God is justly offended with him. Yet there may be reconciliation. Our offended God has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ. By the inspiration of God, the Scriptures were written, which are the word of reconciliation; showing that peace has been made by the cross, and how we may be interested therein. Though God cannot lose by the quarrel, nor gain by the peace, yet he beseeches sinners to lay aside their enmity, and accept the salvation he offers. Christ knew no sin. He was made Sin; not a sinner, but Sin, a Sin-offering, a Sacrifice for sin. The end and design of all this was, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, might be justified freely by the grace of God through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Can any lose, labour, or suffer too much for Him, who gave his beloved Son to be the Sacrifice for their sins, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him?

Therefore if any man be in Christ – The phrase to “be in Christ,” evidently means to be united to Christ by faith; or to be in him as the branch is in the vine – that is, so united to the vine, or so in it, as to derive all its nourishment and support from it, and to be sustained entirely by it. John 15:2, “every branch in me.” John 15:4, “abide in me, and I in you.”

2 Corinthians 5:17. Εἰ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, if any one be in Christ) so as to live in Christ. If any one of those who now hear us, etc. Observe the mutual relation, we in Christ in this passage, and God in Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:19; Christ, therefore, is the Mediator and Reconciler between us and God.—καινὴ κτίσις, a new creature) Not only is the Christian himself something new; but as he knows Christ Himself, not according to the flesh, but according to the power of His life and resurrection, so he contemplates and estimates himself and all things according to that new condition. Concerning this subject, see Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10.—τὰ ἀρχαῖα, old things) This term implies some degree of contempt. See Gregor. Thaum. Paneg. cum annot., p. 122, 240.—παòρῆλθεν, are passed away) Spontaneously, like snow in early spring.—ἰδοὺ, behold) used to point out something before us.

Verse 17.Therefore. If even a human, personal, external knowledge of Christ is henceforth of no significance, it follows that there must have been a total change in all relations towards him. The historic fact of such a changed relationship is indicated clearly in John 20:17. Mary Magdalene was there lovingly taught that a “recognition of Christ after the flesh,” i.e. as merely a human friend, was to be a thing of the past. In Christ; i.e. a Christian. For perfect faith attains to mystic union with Christ. A new creature; rather, a new creation (Galatians 6:15).   The phrase is borrowed from the rabbis who used it to express the condition of a proselyte. But the meaning is not mere Jewish arrogance and exclusiveness, but the deep truth of spiritual regeneration and the new birth (John 3:3; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:23, 24; Colossians 3:3, etc.). Old things; literally, the ancient things, all that belongs to the old Adam. Behold. The word expresses the writer’s vivid realization of the truth he is uttering.  All things. The whole sphere of being, and therewith the whole aim and character of life. The clause illustrates the “new creation.”

2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore — Since all Christ’s true disciples do thus live to him, and not to themselves, and only know him in a spiritual manner; if any man be in Christ — By living faith and the indwelling of his Spirit; if any man have an interest in and union with him; he is a new creature Καινη κτισις, there is a new creation, in the soul of that man. His understanding is enlightened, his judgment corrected, and he has new ideas and conceptions of things. His conscience is informed, awakened, and purged from guilt by the blood of Jesus, Hebrews 9:14. His will is subjected to the will of God, his affections drawn from earth to heaven, and his dispositions, words, and actions, his cares, labours, and pursuits, are all changed. Old things are passed away — All old principles and practices; behold — The present, visible, undeniable change! all things are become new — He has new life, namely, a spiritual and divine life; new spiritual senses, new faculties, new desires and designs, hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, passions and appetites. His whole tenor of action and conversation is new, and he lives as it were in a new world. God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, angels, men, sinners, saints, and the whole creation — heaven, earth, and all therein, appear in a new light, and stand related to him in a new manner, since he was created anew in Christ Jesus.

New Testament Church Source Another common justification is the statement by Paul regarding all things becoming new in Christ. “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). This is interpreted by some to mean that if a person is in an adulterous relationship (a second “marriage”) when they come to the Lord, “all things are new” and the one they are with is their legitimate wife or husband from this point forward. If marriage were a Christian institution, perhaps this argument could have some validity. However, in the passages pertaining to marriage, there is no mention of faith before God being a factor. If a man and woman “leave and cleave,” God considers them one whether they are Christians or not. The Amplified Bible translation of this passage may help us: “Therefore if any person is [engrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, Amplified Bible) This brings out the truth that the “new creation” refers to the interior of a person, not his exterior circumstances, such as his marital situation. Becoming a Christian is not an opportunity to get a new wife or husband, nor does a couple need to be married again because they were not Christians at their original ceremony. If a couple is in adultery when either or both turn to the Lord, the only way to be free from this sin is to repent and forsake the adulterous relationship. Yes, all things are new in the sense that I am now a new creation in Christ Jesus, but this does not make another person my lawful wife or husband in Christ if they were not they were not before.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

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