For neither is circumcision anything nor uncircumcision, but a new creation is what matters (Gal. 6:15).
Be it ascending a Fourteener in the Rockies or overlooking the Grand Canyon, creation truly has the ability to inspire and bring about worship and reverence towards God. One can’t help but praise the Creator when watching thunderous storm clouds roll in or a serene flower blossoming in a field. While the creation may be marvelous and points God-ward (Rm. 1:20; Ps. 19), it’s actually old, passing away, and will eventually be discarded (1 Cor. 7:31; 2 Pet. 3:10). A new creation is what matters.
What is this new creation? Is it simply the world to come? Is it heaven? Often times when reading verses like Galatians 6:15 and seeing terms like “new creation,” we automatically insert our already-established religious concepts without ever asking the Lord, “What is this?” I’d like to explore this topic briefly to hopefully uplift everyone’s appreciation of the new creation.
So then if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, they have become new (2 Cor. 5:17).
The new creation is not merely something for the future. While it’s true that in eternity the Lord will literally make all things new (Rev. 21:5), He began the new creation project 2,000 years ago. So what did He create?
Abolishing in His flesh the law of the commandments in ordinances, that He might create the two in Himself into one new man, so making peace, and might reconcile both in one Body to God through the cross, having slain the enmity by it (Eph. 2:15-16).
In Christ’s death on the cross, He abolished the things of the old creation. As Christians, we are a people who don’t regard the things which are seen but the things that are unseen (2 Cor. 4:18). So when I say that He abolished the things of the old creation, this may not seem true presently or in your experience, but it’s nonetheless a spiritual fact. Thus, Paul could say with boldness that the world, old man, flesh, Satan, sin, and death have all been defeated and nullified on the cross (Gal. 6:14; Rm. 6:6; Heb. 2:14; Rm. 8:3; Jn. 5:24).
Not only did Christ terminate the old creation on the cross, He generated a new creation, the “one new man” (Eph. 2:15). Christ’s death and resurrection resulted in a new birth in the universe, the birth of the one new man. This new man is a corporate man, referring to the Body of Christ. We aren’t a new creation in the sense that the Lord is making us better people in the way of the reforming the old creation. Rather, He literally terminated our old man and put us into Himself (and He into us!). Now we are in Christ and Christ is in us (c.f. Jn. 14:20; 15:4; 17:23).
Divinity and Humanity
Before regeneration, we were mere humans with the human life and human nature. When Christ came inside, something drastic happened. We received the very life and nature of God (Jn. 3:16; 10:10; Col. 3:4; 2 Pet. 1:4). Now we’ve been united and mingled with God to become the many sons of God (1 Cor. 6:17; Jn. 1:12-13; Rm. 8:29).
The new creation isn’t new simply new temporally. The new creation is new because it’s saturated and permeated with the ever-new God (Hos. 14:8; 1 Jn. 4:16). It’s a matter of God living inside of us and us living inside of God.
Jesus – Forerunner of the New Creation
…the Word was God (Jn. 1:1b)
And the Word became flesh… (v.14a)
As the first man to be united with God, Jesus was the forerunner of the new creation. He existed as a sort of prototype of the new creation. Through His incarnation, God entered into man and mingled Himself with man. Through His resurrection, man entered fully into God (Acts 13:33; Rm. 1:4). Thus, He became the Firstborn:
Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers (Rm. 8:29).
Firstborn implies continuation or reproduction. The Lord went through all the experiences of human life, leaving us a pattern to follow (c.f. 1 Pet. 2:21). He’s now our “Forerunner, Jesus” (Heb. 6:20).
For details on the principles laid out as our Forerunner see: WWJD. The one principle I’ll mention here comes from John 5:19 –
The Son can do nothing from Himself except what He sees the Father doing, for whatever that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner.
The basic principle of the new creation is dependence, living by another life. We aren’t to imitate Jesus according to our flesh with the hopes of reforming our old man. We are to completely discard the old man and put on the new man Christ (Eph. 4:22, 24). He lived this dependent life upon the Father, and now we are to partake of Him and live because of Him (Jn. 6:57; Phil. 1:21).
…but a new creation is what matters. And as many as walk by this rule, peace be upon them and mercy (Galatians 6:15b-16a)…
Walk by the Spirit (5:16, 25).
The new creation is a rule, a principle by which we can walk. This principle has everything to do with living according to the the Spirit within. The new creation is new in the sense that it’s been saturated with God Himself as its new element. We must now walk by this God as the living and moving one within (c.f. Rm. 8:2; 1 Jn. 2:27).
The new creation came into existence in miniature at the incarnation of Christ. The new creation exploded at the resurrection to then include all the believers in Christ from then to now (2 Cor. 5:17). The new creation will eventually consummate at the coming of our Lord where He’ll make all things new (Rev. 21:5). Today we are commissioned to walk by the new creation as a rule. We are to live and walk according to the Spirit who has been joined to and mingled with our spirit within (c.f. Jn. 3:6; 1 Cor. 6:17).
This kind of walk and living is by definition mysterious:
The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it goes; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit (Jn. 3:8).
But the spiritual man discerns all things, but he himself is discerned by no one (1 Cor. 2:15).
I mention this matter of mystery because I’m afraid pastors all too often simplify the Christian life to just living as good, moral, giving, loving people, indistinguishable from charitable atheists or disciples of Confucius. The Christian life is a life in the new creation, living and walking according to the Spirit of God’s leading from within your human spirit.
May the Lord have mercy on us to give us a heart that’s desperate to obtain such a living!
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Romans 8:14).