A New Creation, Not Yet Perfect
“The believer is a new man, a new creation, but he is a new
man not yet made perfect,” observes John Murray.
The born again believer still has to deal with indwelling
sin. He still sins even though he is growing in Christ likeness and is the
subject of the progressive sanctification of the Holy Spirit.
The believer is being transfigured into the image of the
Lord Jesus Christ from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18).
The emphasis the apostle Paul makes in Romans 6:14, 17,
18-20 is there has been a radical change in the believer’s relationship to sin.
It is true that the believer still sins, but he is no longer a slave to sin.
Sin no longer reigns as in the condition of the old man, the unregenerate
person. Romans 7:14-25 teaches us that sin still remains in the believer’s
mind, affections, and will. Slavery to sin is broken. But as Romans 6:6,
Ephesians 4:20-24, and Colossians 3:9-10 brings out the struggle in the heart of
the very believer.
Herman Bavink said, “The spiritual struggle which the
believers must conduct is between the flesh and the spirit, between the old and
the new man, between the sin which continues to dwell in the believers and the
spiritual principle of life which has been planted in their hearts.”
If the old nature has been “crucified” and “laid aside,”
how can one say the believer still has an old nature?
Christ’s death took the form of a Roman crucifixion. The
apostle Paul says the believer is "crucified with Christ" and is "dead" as a
result of this action just as Christ after His crucifixion. Just as Christ was
definitely dead so is the believer in his vital union with Christ is dead to
sin. "For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but
the life he lives, he lives to God" (Romans 6:10 NET).
But the finality of death is not the only thing Paul stresses about our
relationship with Christ. Drawing on the symbolism of baptism by immersion in
water Paul says, "Therefore we have been buried with him
through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the
dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life"
(Romans 6:4 NET). It is not a physical death and burial in regard to the
believer, but forensic and positional. Paul has in mind our new position in a
vital union with Christ. This is an act of God. We have a new relationship with
Him. We have been placed in a new unchanging position. This is the way we exist
in God's sight. We are no figment in His imagination. This is the greatest of
Believers are to "consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ
Jesus" because this is the great reality of our spiritual lives (6:10).
This status or position before God has vital significance and power in our
daily life. We draw power and resources from this unchanging position.
Paul is describing the whole man and the change in our
relationship. We have a new position. The contrast Paul is bringing out in
these passages is not a change in our nature, but a change in relationship. Our
old man is the old unregenerate self. The new person is the new regenerate
Because of this spiritual regeneration brought about by the
Holy Spirit in our hearts, we are new creatures in Christ. As a result we have
a new relationship with Christ and a new position before God the Father.
It is the believer’s responsibility to cooperate with the
Holy Spirit in obeying the Word of God and overcoming temptation.
The true believer knows he needs Christ everyday. He knows
he must guard and keep his heart everyday until he sees Christ is glory. When
he sins he flees to Christ, His advocate. God had begun a new work in the
believer, but that work is not yet perfect.
The Christian lives in both Romans chapters seven and
eight. The Christian life is an increasing dynamic repentance and faith in
Jesus Christ. Everyday we increasingly depend upon the blood and the
righteousness of Jesus Christ to cover all our sins. We love Him more and more
Our sense of repentance deepens as we discover more sins
that need to be put to death. Like the apostle Paul, we cry out daily in our
mourning, “I am carnal.” But daily we also rejoice in the great truth, “There
is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We die to sin daily,
and we live to righteousness daily. By the inner working of the Holy Spirit, we
“put to death the deeds of the body that we might live.” This is daily
responsibility. Daily the inner man or “self” is being renewed day by day.
Romans 7:14-8:4 is the inner battle against remaining sin
and imperfect obedience to God’s Word. It is the work of the Holy Spirit
leading the believer into deeper repentance, increased holiness, and a greater
dependence upon the finished work of Jesus Christ.
There will be a day when repentance will be no more, but
that day has not arrived. Until that day arrives, we need to deepen our
repentance and increase our faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
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