Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

Some wonder about this scripture for they can look at their own lives and see, in fact, that very little has changed. The Lord shows us how all the old things can pass away and everything can become new. “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:15). If the new man has the new mind (repentance) in not living for himself at all, then all of the old has passed away. If the new man has the new mind in turning to live only for the one who died for him, then truly everything has become new. If we lose our life for Christ and the gospel (Mark 8:25), deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Christ (Luke 9:23, 24), and forsake all that we have (Luke 14:33), surely the old will have passed away and everything will become new. We have clear examples of prophets and apostles who, without question, lived for God and not for themselves in any way, like Moses and the other prophets, and Paul and the other apostles. Jesus did literally nothing of himself, but what he heard and saw from the Father—who is our chief example to follow. Truly, if we determine to walk in Jesus steps, live only for the Creator, everything will certainly become new, and the old will all be passed away.

So, who lives in the new man?

The new man no longer is willing to serve men, as he did before, for he has been bought with a price and commanded “be not ye the servants of men” (1 Cor. 7:23). If indeed he heeds the admonition, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10), he does so, not because of his own desires, but because his Master has commanded him to do so. When he serves his earthly master, he no longer does so to get his favor or to get a raise. He does so “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Eph. 6:6-7).

The life he now lives is really not his living for himself, but living to serve Christ who lives in him (Gal. 2:20), for he truly is living only for Christ. The new man follows his one Master’s example who said, “…Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19). He no longer receives (accepts) honor from men, but receives honor from God only (John 5:44), like his Master (John 5:41). He no longer receives (accepts) any praise at all from men, but any praise he does receive is from God only (Rom. 2:28-29). It is no wonder he states that for all those with the new mind (repentance), all of the old has passed away and all has become new for they have crucified the old man and risen with Christ to walk in the new life.

The New Man Turns from the World in Order to Serve God Only

The new man discerns between the material world and the souls who are living in the world.  He turns from the souls who are in the world to serve God.  He turns to follow his Master who did nothing of himself (John 5:19).  God commands his children to love all of the souls in the world, whether our neighbors or our enemies (Matt. 5:44).  Though we are commanded to love our neighbor, we are also admonished not to be his friend. “… know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).  Though the new man is to love the (souls in the) world, he is not to have fellowship, communion or concord with them. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Cor. 6:14-16).  We are to come out from among them and be separate from them (2 Cor. 6:17).  We are to love the souls in the world by doing good to them when we have opportunity, praying for them (Matt. 5:44) and feeding and clothing them when they are in need (Rom. 12:20).  The new man is informed of what needs are: “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:8).  If our enemy or someone in the world has needs, we love our neighbor as ourselves by supplying his needs.  He does not fellowship, commune or have concord with the souls in the world, but in that sense he comes out and is separate from them.

The new man also turns from the material world.  Jesus admonished the Jews that “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13).  The Pharisees knew what mammon was and mocked him, for they knew they loved mammon because they coveted the material things of this world – which is mammon. (Luke 16:14).  Jesus then stated plainly that we must not esteem what the world highly esteems.  “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).  If we are like God, then what is highly esteemed among men will be abomination to us also. He directs the new man not to love the world.  “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17).  He directs the new man: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2).  The Christians who were faithful to their Creator were those who did not “mind earthly things” (Phil. 3:19).

Paul Crucified His Old Man

Paul is our example of having crucified the old man.  He testified, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” (Gal. 2:20).

This crucifixion was a crucifixion to the world.  He said, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).

This death to the world was a death to the rudiments of the world and the ordinances made by men of the world.  He asks the Colossians (who had been crucified to the world), “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?” (Col. 2:20-21).

The old man walked like the rest of the world (Eph. 2:2-3) and loved the world and the things of the world the same way the world does (1 John 2:15-17).  The new man has responded to the first gospel sermon: “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40).

The new man has agreed to fulfill his part of the covenant:  “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:17-18).

Paul had done this.  He testified, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil. 3:5-9).

Children of God During the Old Testament Era

During Old Testament times, only a few were God’s spiritual children in His world (Psa. 14:3). In Jesus’ time, a few were spiritual children of Abraham (John 8:23), and we see that the apostles were walking in the steps of Abraham under the Old Law (John 8:39).  God’s spiritual children were scattered abroad during the Old Testament era (John 11:51-52).

There was a spiritual birth and death in Old Testament times.  All men were born alive to God during the Old Testament and New Testament periods (Rom. 7:7-9).  Adam and Eve were the first ones to die spiritually after they sinned (Gen 2:17).  In the Old Testament period all men died the same spiritual death we see in Rom. 5:12-14.  He gives the reason why all have died and simply testifies that all have sinned (Rom. 5:12).  All have sinned and thus have died spiritually (Rom. 3:23).  Men could be born again in the Old Testament period (Psa. 14:3).  Notice that Daniel came alive to God one day when, for the first time, God began to listen to his prayers (Dan. 12:10).  During that time God did not accept those who had turned away from His law (Pro. 28:9).  Even those once alive were rejected when they turned to sin (Isa. 59:1-2).  In Old Testament times the sinners were dead to God but the righteous were alive to God (Eze. 18:5-9).  It was during the Old Testament era that Paul died spiritually (Rom. 7:7-9).  There are two births in New Testament times (John 1:10-13).  The Old Testament birth is still a real birth (Dan. 10:12).  Daniel and many others came alive to God after they sinned and died spiritually.  The apostles were alive to God before the cross (Matt. 13:16).

The Lord gives many examples of those who were alive to Him before they came into the kingdom.  Cornelius was alive to God and his prayers and alms were accepted before he was in the kingdom (Acts 10:1-3).  He could not enter heaven without being in Christ, in the kingdom (Eph. 2:11-13).  Paul saw Christ and talked to Christ before he was converted (Acts 9:3-6), and he saw a vision before he was in the kingdom (Acts 9:12).  The Ethiopian Eunuch was chosen before he heard the gospel (Acts 8:26-29).  God opened Lydia’s heart before she was in the kingdom (Acts 16:14).  God knew many of the Corinthians before they heard His word (Acts 18:9-10).  God continues to seek those who understand and are seeking Him (Psa. 53:2).  God is the one who decides who will be become his children, and they are “. . . born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12, 13).  This is not to say that man has no part.  God responds to “. . . as many as received him. . .” and gives them “. . . power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12-13).

Entrance to The Kingdom

Jesus gave Peter the keys to open the doors of this kingdom.  Those who believe that the kingdom has not come believe Jesus gave Peter some keys that were of no value to Peter at all.  Keys open doors.  If the kingdom did not come, there were no doors for Peter to open with those keys.  Jesus gift to Peter would have been a vanity.  But Peter did open the doors to the kingdom on the day of Pentecost.  One of the keys that opened the door to the kingdom was of humility–a spiritual key.

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven  (Matt. 18:3-4).

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Pet. 5:5).  Those he opposes are not able to enter into the kingdom.

The question is, who are the spiritual children, and how did they get to become spiritual children?  Jesus showed Nicodemas how to enter this kingdom.  First Jesus said “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  We noted that the kingdom can not even be seen without a spiritual birth. How can we enter it?  “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).  Many different interpretations have been given to this vision.  They cannot all be correct.  Jesus explained that this birth is not a physical birth but a spiritual birth. (John 3:5-8).  Generally speaking, a physical birth puts a person into the physical nation in which he is born.  It is understandable that a spiritual birth would put a person into God’s spiritual kingdom.  This sounds easy enough.  Why would we need to strive to enter it?  The reason is that there are other requirements to get into the kingdom besides seeking.  “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3).  Not even these apostles were able to enter the kingdom of heaven unless they were converted and became as little children.  How were they to become ‘as little children?’  The next verse tells us: “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:4).  Humility is not easy to gain!  Humility is one of the things that men must ‘strive’ for, if they are going to enter the kingdom.  Entering the kingdom of God is to be born into it to, and thus to become alive to God by a spiritual birth.  Those who are alive to God are spiritual children.