UNDERSTANDING THE NEW CREATION
The Lord Jesus in John 13:34, gave to His disciples “a new commandment”. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” The new commandment was that His followers love one another in the manner that He loved them. It meant that the Lord used His manner of loving His disciples as an example that they should follow, in loving one another. In other words, we are to love as the Lord loves.
When the Lord Jesus walked on the earth, He was approached by a lawyer, who asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Mathew 23:36)
The Lord answered him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (vs 37-40)
So that even under the Law, God commanded that men love God as well as one another. In the case of loving their fellow men, the measure was according to how they loved themselves. In this new commandment, the measure is as Christ loved.
That scripture shows that for those who makes Jesus, Lord of their lives, the Spirit of God sheds abroad the love of God, in their hearts. (Romans 5:5) The love of God, refers to the God kind of love. In other words, the word “love” so often used, does not always refer to the same thing. The quality or kind of love, comes from the nature that produces it. Human nature produces a love that reflects the nature of man.
Concerning the love produced by this world, the Lord said: “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?” (Matthew 5:46, 47) He called it love. Yet, His disciples were not to love in that manner. They were to produce a different kind of love. So that there are different kinds of love. The Lord then said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” People often wonder about that call to be “perfect” as Our “Father which is in heaven is perfect.” But the Lord was speaking in the context of loving as Our Heavenly Father loves.
The Lord had earlier said, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
If we so do, we would be acting as children of our “Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44, 45) If we walk in love as Our Heavenly Father, we walk in His perfection..
Again, according to Romans, the love of God that is shed abroad by the Spirit of God, in the hearts of those under the Lordship of Christ is the kind of love produced by the nature of God. That nature comes to reside in the heart (spirit) of the man who becomes a child of God, by accepting and confessing Christ as Lord. The words “shed abroad” paints a picture of a commodity that is well distributed by the Spirit of God in the heart of man and is therefore NOT in scarce supply.
All in all, it points to the followers of Christ having a nature, a commodity (the love of God) and a capability that is unique to the followers of Christ that allow them to love in a unique manner, that is, as Christ loves. This makes the term “new creature” found in 2 Corinthians 5:17, better understood. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
It sheds light on the word “new”. In other words, when those in Christ are referred to as new creations, exactly what is meant by “new”? How new is new?
What the scripture shows, is that the new creation is just that – a new creation. God is not using words carelessly or idly. The scripture goes as far as showing that the general human race came from Adam. But that God sent Christ, who is referred to as the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45) to begin another creation. Therefore, on the earth there are two creations. One that came from the first Adam of the book of Genesis and the second that came from Christ, the last Adam. When God made the first Adam, he gave him a body that was without sin. He faced the tempter before he had any children. He yielded to the temptation and his nature became corrupted. That corrupt nature was passed on to all of his children, which is the entire human race. (“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
God, in the fullness of time, sent Christ, the last Adam. Like the first Adam, he faced the tempter. Unlike the first Adam, he did not sin. He walked in love according to his divine nature, a new kind of love to which the children of the first Adam was unaccustomed and incapable. He walked according to a plan devised by God, to free the children of the first Adam from their corrupt nature, if they would receive Him. That involved His death and resurrection. The result is a new creation which temporarily (until the resurrection) retains the body of the first Adam.
The creation otherwise is different, new, and has a new nature that allows it to walk and love as Christ loves. The Lord intends to show off that love to the first creation. It is that display of his love that He had in mind when He said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35) The “all men” referred to are the men of the first Adam. It is one creation observing another.
The followers of Christ are not just different. They are new. An original creation. They are often persecuted by the first creation who cannot understand the difference. The followers of Christ are as different from the followers of the first Adam, just as Christ was different from them. They persecuted him and the present persecution remains the persecution of those who are like Christ. It is a clash of natures. A clash of two civilisations that reside in the same time and space.
The primary way in which the new nature shows itself is by loving as Christ loved. That according to the Lord, is the mark of the new creation. The world may be able to imitate a number of other things associated with Christianity, including miracles produced by devils. They have the ability to produce a form of godliness (2 Timothy 3:5). No wonder there would be those at the judgement claiming to have done wonderful works in the name of the Lord, which the Lord never knew as His disciples. (Matthew 7:22) The one thing that CANNOT be reproduced by the world is His love. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”.