On Being a New Creation
Sep 08, 2010
As I was finishing up the first draft of the book on Galatians, I was reading Paul's final words in Gal. 6:15,
(15) For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a NEW CREATION.
He was speaking of physical circumcision itself as a rite of passage into the covenant relationship with God. He was also speaking of the way the Jews divided the world into two groups, so it was also an ethnic statement. Paul says that the only thing that matters is being a "new creation." He mentioned this again in 2 Cor. 5:17, saying,
(17) Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature [creation]; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
In Ephesians 2:15, Paul expresses it by saying that God had made the two groups into "one new man." This, he said, broke down the dividing wall between them, creating peace.
It is a New Creation Man, not an old man renewed. A New Creation is not a revived old man. It is not Ishmael made spiritual. It is not the old Jerusalem rebuilt. It is a new creation. Furthermore, "old things passed away." The old man must die, for he was condemned at the beginning. Ishmael must be cast out. Jerusalem must be destroyed like a potter's vessel. All of these entities must pass away to make way for a "new creation."
Christ in you is the new creation, begotten by the Father. Isaac is the new creation, born by promise in a supernatural way. The New Jerusalem comes down from heaven and does not have its origin in the earth. These are the permanent things that God is establishing.
In the context of Paul's letter to the Galatians, we see the specific relevance of his concluding remark. He had been discussing Hagar-Jerusalem and her children, the Ishmaelite Jews. The Judaizers were attempting to keep the old man alive, thinking that with a little help from Jesus, he could have immortality. They were attempting to convince Hagar to stay in Abraham's house to be the one bringing forth the promises seed. They were attempting to baptize Ishmael as the chosen one.
Paul makes it clear that this is not the proper way to interpret Scripture.
Even as Adam had his fleshly household, so also does the Last Adam have His household of faith. There are two different fathers involved here. To claim Adam as your father is to identify with a dying man. Paul had two "I's" in Romans 6. The Adamic "I" was the old man that sins and is dying. The "I" that is Christ in you is the new man that cannot sin and cannot die.
The real question is this: Who are you? Who do you identify as your father? Show me your Birth Certificate, and I will tell you your destiny.
Paul also says that our "hope" is "the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23). This is not the redemption of the old Adamic man of flesh. Paul does not speak of redeeming the flesh, but of the body. The term "flesh" has a double meaning. It can mean physical flesh, or it can mean the motives and actions that proceed from the old Adamic man, the sinner. This can be a little confusing at times, but when we understand these two meanings, we can then see what Paul means by its context.
Paul makes it clear that there is a resurrection from the dead. He devotes an entire chapter to this in 1 Corinthians 15. He proves the resurrection by the fact of Jesus' resurrection (15:12-16). Paul was not speaking allegorically in this chapter, although that too is a valid idea in its own context. But the allegorical application is in Romans 6, where he deals with baptism as a symbol of death and resurrection. But baptism is not literal death, nor is it literal resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15 is all about a literal and physical resurrection, patterned after Jesus' own resurrection. But what is it that is raised? In verse 35 Paul repeats the question that his detractors had often asked him,
(35) But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?"
Paul then shows that these skeptics were wrong in thinking that it was the same old body that was being raised. It is not the old Adamic man that is raised. No, it is raised a new creation, an entirely new entity. "But God gives it a body just as He wished." Like grain that is sown, the old seed must die to bring forth life. Like the stars in heaven, each new body differs in glory.
(44) It is sown a natural [psuchikos, "soulish"] body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural [psuchikos, "soulish"] body, there is also a spiritual body.
Adam was made a living SOUL. The soul is fleshly, and it has a "natural" body. But "the Last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (vs. 45). He had a physical body, but in the end He was no longer limited by the physical realm. All authority was given to him in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28:18), and so He had full authority in both realms.
Yet Ezekiel's law (44:19) says that to minister on earth, He and the Melchizedek priests under Him would have to "change clothing" and put on physical bodies while ministering to the people on earth (the "outer court" realm). So Jesus never appeared to His disciples as a spirit but with a body. In Luke 24:39 Jesus appeared to them and frightened them, because they thought He was a ghost (spirit). He then told them,
(39) See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.
We are the body of Christ. That body will do as the Head does. In the resurrection, the body that is raised is the new creation man not descended from Adam, but conceived by the Holy Spirit even as Jesus was conceived in Mary. At the birth of this "Manchild," it will come into "manifestation" for all to see. The law of Ezekiel will apply to us as well as to Jesus, and as we "reign on the earth" (Rev. 5:10), it will not be as ghosts but with physical bodies that are spiritual in nature.
The ancient Greeks saw matter and spirit as two opposing things. Matter was evil, and spirit was good. They were totally incompatible. But Scripture shows that matter was pronounced "very good" (Gen. 1:31). Matter is not the problem, and so a physical body is not the problem either. The problem is "flesh," the condition of Adam after his sin.
The purpose of creation will be fulfilled. Matter, including the body, will manifest the glory of God as it was intended to do from the beginning. This is the New Creation Man, impregnated by the Holy Spirit, maturing in us today, birthed as a complete body at the fulfillment of Tabernacles, and manifested to the rest of the world in order to put all things under His feet.