This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
There’s a part of this verse that I believe is a crucial hinge upon which the door swings.
“Anyone who belongs to Christ…”
And what a question that can cause us to ponder, right? Someone “belonging” to Christ —
We might ask ourselves,
“What does that look like?”
“How does one become one that belongs to Christ?”
“Is is belong like a possession — once bought and possessed, can we be thrown away when no longer of use to Him (like a used paper towel), or when we’ve been all used up (like the remains of an apple that had been eaten down to its core)?”
Do you (like me sometimes) ask such questions when you read the Word of God? Or are you too afraid (like me sometimes) that you might get the answer wrong or get chastised for not knowing something already? I can encourage you by assuring you that it isn’t about mental assent or stacking up knowledge “about” God, but is about drawing closer to Him and He closer to you.
Examining the Word of God closely brings up many questions when it isn’t just academic or religious practice –but is a hunger and thirst for truth and seeking revelation of Alimighty God to His people. I hope that is how you come to the Word of God — with expectation for it to either reveal Him even more clearly as the faithful and true Living God who abides in His people, or to clearly show itself as foolish, false, and worthless for application or understanding. Because there is truly no middle ground to be found between those two. It is either the Living Word of God given to us to believe, trust, follow and obey — or it is a divisive and destructive book filled with the worst kind of judgemental hypocrisy pitting one man against another and promising a fate worse than death to those who don’t “join the club”.
And there is no lie in saying that people throughout history have used it both ways. There is no denying that when men want to further their own political or personal agendas, that they can quickly cut out a portion from this book and twist it to fit their purposes and lead many down the broad path to destruction. But there is also no denying that once evil and wicked and vile and selfish men have seemingly encountered something in this Good News of Jesus Christ and surrendered their old ways to live in a new way that has a sweet new smell of things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness faithfulness, and self control.
And there may be two men sharing the same church pew, hearing the same sermon week after week, sounding the same well timed Amen during the sermon, and serving on the same elder or deacon board, and one might just be seeking to manipulate his membership for his own benefit in this life — while the other is truly bought, possessed, used by God, sharing in the sufferings of Christ today and longing for the blessings yet to come.
So we cannot judge by the flesh, by the visible efforts or outward displays of religion. There are many men considered great, knowledgeable teachers of the Word of God that I fear are nothing more than Professors — and I do not mean that word simply in its academic form as a scholarly teacher — but as in the comparison that “the prince of preachers”, Charles Spurgeon, makes between “professors” and “possessors”.
Merely Professor, Not Possessor. If, O my reader! thou art merely a professor, and not a possessor of the faith that is in Christ Jesus, the following lines are a true sketch of thine end.
You are a respectable attendant at a place of worship; you go because others go, not because your heart is right with God. This is your beginning. I will suppose that for the next twenty or thirty years you will be spared to go on as you do now, professing religion by an outward attendance upon the means of grace, but having no heart in the matter.
Tread softly, for I must show you the deathbed of such a one as yourself. Let us gaze upon him gently. A clammy sweat is on his brow, and he wakes up crying, “O God, it is hard to die. Did you send for my minister?” “Yes, he is coming.” The minister comes. “Sir, I fear that I am dying!” “Have you any hope?” “I cannot say that I have. I fear to stand before my God; oh! pray for me.”
The prayer is offered for him with sincere earnestness, and the way of salvation is for the ten-thousandth time put before him, but before he has grasped the rope, I see him sink. I may put my finger upon those cold eyelids, for they will never see anything here again.
But where is the man, and where are the man’s true eyes? It is written, “In hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment.” Ah! why did he not lift up his eyes before? Because he was so accustomed to hear the gospel that his soul slept under it. Alas! if you should lift up your eyes there, how bitter will be your wailings.
Let the Saviour’s own words reveal the woe: “Father Abraham, send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24). There is a frightful meaning in those words. May you never have to spell it out by the red light of Jehovah’s wrath!
Merely Professor, Not Possessor, by Charles H Spurgeon (1834-1892).
Yes, shouldn’t we at some point ask of the only one who knows the truth about our deceitful hearts, “Am I yours, Lord? Have you truly bought me and paid for me with the blood of your own son? Did you truly know me even before I was in my mother’s womb, and choose me before the dragons of the heavens and the earth, and love me even in the midst of my sinful rebellion, and pluck me out of the fire to be your s, to send me out with a calling and a purpose that will echo in the halls of eternity? Is that really true of this broken and humble man that cries out to you in surrender and hope, Lord?”
And won’t the answer be made clear if we will be still and know that He is God?
If you are truly surrendered, if you are truly bought by the Blood, if you are truly a new creation filled by the Holy Spirit of God, then come boldly into the throne room of grace wearing your white robes and do not go back into your old ways of sin and death, confess your sins and receive forgiveness and walk in newness of life.
For my TLDR; and KJV folks:
Be ye holy as your father in heaven is holy, ye who indeed belong to Him, ye who have tested yourselves to find that ye are indeed “in the faith”. And is is not of your own doing, but is by the power of this free gift of God’s grace, so that none may boast, or compare, or look down upon another, but only wonder in awe at the mercies of God.