“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17.
It scares me when someone tells me they are a Christian, but there has never been evidence of a change in who they are. Christians are not broken vessels that God has somehow glued back together. As the verse above states, they are new creatures. Salvation in Christ is a new birth, just as Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3.
Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Christ. Some sanctification occurs at salvation, and it continues until we enter the pearly gates. A Christian will shed sins and wrong heart attitudes as time passes while the Holy Spirit deals with them in everyday life. When someone claims Christianity, and there is no evidence of a change of heart, that person desperately needs some soul searching. The hope they have may be false hope.
This week, we will look at some New Testament characters and the transformation of who they are.
The Bible tells us of a man possessed by a demon. He was a wild man with supernatural strength – “Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.”
Imagine the chills that went up and down many a spine as this man cried from the tombs. Imagine the pounding of hearts as large, muscular men put the best of shackles on him, only to see him rip through them like paper.
Then Christ enters the scene, removes the demons, and saves the man’s soul. There is an immediate difference. The Bible tells us that people found him “sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind.” The change was so drastic and sudden that the people who had seen him rip through shackles and heard him scream into the darkness were afraid of his newfound calmness. You can find this story of a wild man turned quiet disciple in Mark 5:1-20.
John is known as the Apostle of love. The most famous verse about God’s love, John 3:16, is found in John’s gospel. The epistle of 1 John talks extensively about love. The book tells us that God is love. In 1 John’s five chapters, the word “love” appears thirty-three times.
John, the Apostle of love, once had a vindictive side in him, void of love. Luke 9:51-56 tells the story of a village in Samaria that refuses to receive Christ. John and his brother James ask Jesus if they should call fire down from heaven and consume the people of the village.
We can see that John’s heart changed from violent vengeance to love. The blood of Jesus Christ is the only means by which this can happen. John’s sanctification is in front of our eyes as we read the gospels.
We read of Saul (later Paul the Apostle) on a bloodthirsty mission to Syria to gather up Christians and bring them back for prison and execution as Acts chapter 9 opens. He meets Jesus on the road to Damascus, and salvation comes to Saul. Saul’s change is so drastic that God changes his name to Paul. The man whose heart wanted nothing less than to eliminate Christianity, God will end up using to write about half the New Testament. A massive change of heart indeed. A change of heart brought by the saving blood of Christ.
Christian, how much has your heart changed?
If there has not been a change, why is that?
Could it be that you have false hope? Is your “salvation” based on a prayer you once said, or did someone tell you, “You are now saved!”?
On what are you basing your salvation? Imagine standing before God, and He asks you, “Why should I let you into heaven?”
The first thing that comes to mind is probably what you hang your salvation on. Is your answer, “Because I was baptized.” or “I am a pretty good person.” or “I went to church all the time.” or “I never killed or raped anyone.”
If your answer is anything but the blood of Christ, salvation is not yours. Romans 5:9, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” 1 Peter 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
If you are a Christian, have you noticed anything change? After all, you are a new creature.
Preacher Tim Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. His weekly column “Preacher’s Point” may be found at: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com