That transformation which occurs when one becomes a Christian is so remarkable. The apostle Paul emphasized this to those new Christians in Corinth. In his second letter to that church he spoke of all he was in Judaism before becoming a follower of Jesus. No one excelled his credentials, yet he gave it all up. He reminded them of this truth and then applied this transformation to all Christians. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
What Was Old and Passed Away?
In Judaism, there were those who boasted in their appearance and lived for themselves (2 Cor. 5:12, 14). All that mattered to them was the fleshly honors they had attained (v. 16), but Paul said that having become a Christian none of these mattered at all.
The old guilt of sin had passed away. Under that Old Testament law, every year there was that Day of Atonement (modern Jews call it Yom Kippur) when God remembered the nation’s sins, and His displeasure was “satisfied” by the offering of animal sacrifices. It was a religion which easily created guilt for there was no real forgiveness. When one becomes a Christian God “remembers their sins no more” (Jer. 31:34).
The old system of being God’s chosen people had passed away. God have given the Old Testament, but it was only to the Jews (Rom. 3:1-2), and the rest of mankind were thereby separated from the promises and blessings of that system. Paul turned his back on all that when he learned of God’s new religion where there is no distinction between Jews and Greeks (Gal. 3:28). Under that old covenant one was born into a relationship with God (whether one wanted it or not), but in God’s new plan one makes his own choice to be born again into God’s family (John 3:3-5).
What Has Become New?
Under the New Testament all of this had changed. There is now freedom of choice. The old law was a yoke of bondage (Acts 15:10), but Jesus’ new law is easy and light (Matt. 11:30). There is now eternal forgiveness—God no longer remembers our sins because Christ has become our eternal, atoning sacrifice. There is now a new relationship with God—Jesus’ model prayer begins, “Our Father who is in heaven.” John said it this way, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).
What has become new? Paul’s answer is “all things have become new.” Paul gave up everything to embrace Christianity. Consider this question. What have you given up to become a follower of Jesus?