As I look out my window, I see a snow covered ground, and where their is no snow, I see dead grass or bare earth. The trees are stripped to their bare limbs, leaves absent. It’s winter.
But in just a few short months, spring will arrive, and with it, new grass, new leaves, new flowers, new life growing up from the ground.
Sometimes I feel snow-covered; in need of a melting away of the heaviness and burdens, and a starting afresh.
Maybe you’ve felt that way at times, too?
Like the old dirt is just hanging on. Like the snow of cold winters past just won’t melt away. Heartache, shame, old habits, past mistakes, fears, negative thoughts, just won’t be shed.
In this series on identity, we’ve been discovering who we are in Christ, and how to live as who we are in Him. From Colossians 3:1-5, we learned we are free and we are secure.
Now, let’s take a look at Colossians 3 again, and again discover another part of our identity in Christ:
We read in earlier verses that we have been raised with Christ, that our sinful self has died, and that Christ is now our life, and our life is hidden with Him.
We are new.
When we trust in Jesus as our Savior, we are made new in Him. Jesus describes this in John 3 as being born again. Born of water - a repenting of sin - and of the Spirit - being purified and transformed by His power.
We stand before God as though we have never sinned. Not because He just pretends we haven’t or ignores our sin. But because Jesus’ shed blood has washed us clean of our sin. Our sin has been cast into the sea, to be remembered by God no more. He has blotted them out, and He has given us new life in Christ.
We are no longer sinners separated from God. We are now new, blemish-free, and whole in Christ, reconciled to God.
We see throughout Scripture many contrasts between the old life of separation from God, and the new life we now have in Christ.
We went from being dead to being alive. (Ephesians 2:1-5)
We went from being far away from God to being brought near to God. (Ephesians 2:13)
We went from living in darkness to living in light. (Ephesians 5:8)
We went from not having an identity to being named God’s people. (1 Peter 2:10)
We went from wandering and lostness to being guided and led by Jesus. (1 Peter 2:25)
We went from being alienated from God to being reconciled to God. (Colossians 1:21-23)
This is who we are as new people in Christ.
The passage from Colossians doesn’t tell us “do this and don’t do that, be good, do what’s right, stop sinning, and only then will you be new.” It tells us we are new in Christ, because of Christ, and out of this newness we are to live as Christ-followers, reflecting His character.
Since we have been made new, we are called to let go of the old. To get rid of it. We used to live this way. But it’s not who we are anymore. It is the old. It has passed.
Yes, we still make mistakes and do wrong, but that doesn’t define you nor does it mark up and mess up the new you in Christ. For you are constantly being renewed.
Satan likes us to forget who we are in Christ, so that we’ll slip the skin of the old self back on. But forgetting who we are doesn’t change who we are. It makes it difficult to live as who we are. And that’s what Satan wants. He wants to make it hard for us to live as who we are in Christ, because when we are living in our true identity, we are living in the victory already won.
That is why we must continually be renewed. We are new; we have been transformed and given new life. We needn’t fear losing this newness in Christ and being condemned to the punishment the old self deserves. But we do live in a fallen world. We do battle against temptation. We do struggle with old habits and thought patterns. We do face fears and shame. So we are new, and so we are “being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
I think that is such a beautiful and reassuring promise. To know that Jesus didn’t just make us new, but He keeps us new. He keeps us living in the newness of Him. He reminds us of who we are in Him and the life He has called us to live.
Colossians 3:10 says our new self is “being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” The New Living Translation uses the wording “be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him.”
The renewing takes place through our deepening relationship with Jesus; a knowing Him more and more. As we come to know Jesus more, we reflect His image. The new life He has given us is lived out in Christ-like attitudes and actions. We are constantly learning and constantly growing.
In Ephesians 4 we read the same teaching:
One of the biggest ways Satan likes to trick us into forgetting our newness, is to constantly remind us of the old. He throws shame upon us. He heaps guilt upon us. Remember that sin? Remember what you said? Remember how you acted?
We may not be engaging in the sins of the past, but we are still living as if they are a part of us. The old self is corrupted by lust and deception. When we live as if that is still who we are now, we are not living in the power of God over sin, and we are not living in the truth of Christ. We will still feel defeated by sin.
Our new nature is created to be like God. It is His image in us. Truly righteous and holy: Right with God and whole in Him. That is victory over sin. We needn’t live in shame and guilt. The old is not who we are anymore.
In Christ, we are new. By His Spirit, we are being renewed.