Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:15-19
Tonight we are going to talk about what this NEW BIRTH means.
I. FIRST: IT CHANGES THE WAY WE LIVE
15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
The very essence of sin is selfishness. People are under the illusion that you have to steal, kill or destroy to be a sinner. There are wicked, evil people in our world who kill, steal and destroy but the essence of evil and sin is our selfishness. The children we counsel in our churches have not committed in great evil but they are selfish and they can see this with the help of scripture and the Holy Spirit. The verse I use in counseling with children is Isaiah 53:6, All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. Our basic problem is that we want things our way. This selfish desire of wanting our way causes churches to split, marriages to end in divorce and nations to war against other nations.
We are obsessed with ourselves and we do not think about pleasing Christ or helping others. But Jesus changes all of this: He makes us a new creature. At one time, Paul was selfish. He was not concerned about pleasing Christ or helping others. He took part in the death of a good man, a very good man. Jesus Christ changed Paul and made him a new creature. Paul says in verse 9, “So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please Him.” Paul had always lived for himself until he met Jesus. Christ made him a totally new creation by giving him a desire to live for God and to serve others.
If this were
II. SECONDLY: IT CHANGES THE WAY WE THINK
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!
At one time Paul was motivated by anger and hate which caused him to be hard on others. He was a strict Pharisee and he judged others accordingly by the letter of the law. He evaluated people from the human point of view. Obviously he judged Jesus strictly from a fleshly point of view. Most folks don’t believe that Paul actually encountered Jesus. He may have witnessed his crucifixion but as far as meeting and conversing with Jesus, most scholars don’t think this happened.
Then Christ made Paul a new creature, it changed the way he evaluated others. My mother was fond of saying, “You can’t judge a book by looking at the cover.” This is the problem, we judge people by looking at what’s on the outside. In John 8:15, Jesus said to the JRL, “You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone.” The JEV would read, “You judge according to your own carnal standard, I do not judge anyone in this manner.” Jesus is more than qualified to Judge but He does not judge the way the world judges. The world looks on the outside, at the appearance while Jesus had the unique ability to look at the heart and the motive.
By worldly standards; Paul was a dismal failure. He was not wealthy. It was not tall, dark and handsome. Well, it may have been dark. He had a prison record. Matter of fact, he spent more time in jail than out the last few years of his life. How do I rate Paul? High, very high but I’m not judging him on a carnal standard.
The same is true with Jesus: He was a poor Jewish Carpenter, He never owed a home, never attended a college or university, never held a political office, never wrote a book and never traveled more than 200 miles from the place of His birth. By the world’s standards, He was a poor Galilean Philosopher and Teacher, a revolutionary at best but this is not how I judge Him.
If you are a new creature: Christ has changed the way you evaluate others.
III. THIRD: IT CHANGES OUR ATTITUDE
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him.
Before conversion, Paul was a Pharisee and he definitely believed in works. The Pharisees were not as big of a hypocrite as the Sadduccees. The Pharisees believed in the inspiration of the law and the prophets, they believed in angels, and the resurrection. The Sadduccees were more political than spiritual. They accepted only the Torah and basically believed in annihilation. The Pharisees were proud, very proud and they put great stock is tithing, alms, prayers, rituals, fasting and other works. They believed that love must be earned and they had no concept of grace.
When Paul meet Jesus, the Pharisee died and a new person was resurrected in his place. It was Paul who figured out the age old mystery that Salvation is by grace, it is a gift to be received, not a reward to be achieved. Paul realized as expressed in verse 18, “All of this is a gift from God.”
In our culture, most folks believe in God and heaven. Most folks express some desire to go to heaven but they have no desire to repent of their sins or to even acknowledge their sins. In the FAITH presentation of the gospel, the key question is: “In your personal opinion, what do you understand it takes to go to heaven.” After you ask the question, you are to listen for one of two answers:  A faith answer or  Works answer. Nine times out of ten, you will get a works answer. My question was: “How in the world can people grow up in the bible belt and not understand GRACE? The answer is simple: they have never been born again. Grace is like being a grandparent, you can’t understand it until you experience it.
I will tell you something just as disturbing as the works view of salvation in the world and that is the great numbers of folks within the church who have no clue what grace is about. Too many people think that God’s love and forgiveness must be earned. Max Lucado help me to understand that Grace and Gratitude go together. We have far too many baptist who are not grateful and that tells me that they have not experienced grace.
Christ changed Paul’s attitude: He went from prideful bookkeeping to graceful thanksgiving.