BUILDING A NEW PERSON
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
I would like us for a moment to think about the people who will inhabit the new earth. There are two classes of people who will live on the new earth, which I call “the new world of righteousness.” First let me mention that although human activity will continue in the same pattern it always has, there will be no flesh and blood people in the new world of righteousness. The adamic creation was finished on the cross of Calvary. It has served its purpose while God is preparing the people who will inhabit His new world. But, as I said, life will continue as usual in the new world:
Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. (Isaiah 65:17)
They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
There will be two classes of people living on the new earth:
- There are the governing priests. They compose the new Jerusalem.
- There will be a much larger population—the “sheep” who have been saved from the nations. They are the inheritance of God’s priests, of whom the Lord Jesus Christ is the High Priest, one might say.
I believe those saved from the nations will have access to the River of Life and the Tree of Life so they may be renewed from time to time in eternal life. But they will not have been born again. Christ will not be formed in them. Being born again and having Christ formed in us and dwelling in us is the mark of the Royal Priesthood.
The royal priests who will govern the nations of saved people, and the rest of God’s creation, will be the source of the River of Life and will be outgrowths of the Tree of Life, because the Throne of God will be in them. They are the eternal dwelling place of God, with the Lord Jesus Christ being the chief Cornerstone of the Father’s House. The governing priests will be rooms in that House.
The Kingdom of God is the inheritance of the sheep, the saved of the nations.
Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)
The saved of the nations are citizens, we might say, of the Kingdom. The Kingdom proper is the Royal Priesthood, the new Jerusalem.
Now I will describe the members of the Christian Church, the Royal Priesthood. They are charged with the oversight, blessing, judging, teaching, and governing of the people who have been saved from the nations. They will ensure that righteousness, love, peace, and joy prevail for eternity throughout God’s creation. The Lord Jesus Christ is their Head.
The title of this article is “Building a New Person.” I am referring to the transition that must take place in each member of the Church, the Body of Christ, before he or she is a member of the governing priesthood.
First, the candidate must be born again. This means his original personality must begin to diminish while the divine nature of Jesus Christ that has been sown in him must begin to increase. When the new person is complete, the old person will be seen no longer. There is a new creation.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (II Corinthians 5:17)
I think most of us would agree that when we first receive Christ, the old has gone and the new has come, in God’s mind. But it requires a period of time before the new person actually comes forth and can be seen. Assuming what I have written so far is true, we can see that our Christian life consists of putting off the old man and putting on the new man.
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9,10)
Notice that it is our responsibility to take off the old man and put on the new man. God does not do it all for us, but we need the help of Christ if we are to do our part effectively.
Notice also the expression which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. God created man in His image, in the timeless vision of God. Our old man does not always show the character of God in his behavior. The new man always portrays the character of God in his behavior.
We see then that part of the program of building a new person consists of us confessing and turning away from our sin, as Jesus helps us. No person who does not submit to the cleansing work of the Spirit of God is a candidate for membership in the royal priesthood. He or she will not enter the Kingdom, as Paul taught us.
Don’t you think the need for Christians to repent and turn from their sins should be preached more widely than it is? I do!
However it is not just a matter of repenting and turning from our sins, as basic as that is for membership in the priesthood. The transition from the old person to the new person is more profound than that. The transition consists of:
- The crucifixion of the old person.
- The coming forth of the nature of Christ in us.
- The coming of the Father and Christ to make our transformed inner nature their eternal dwelling.
We must build a new person. The former person simply cannot enter the Kingdom of God!
Each time the Spirit of God points out something in our behavior that is not of the image of God, we are to confess it immediately and tell the Lord that by His help we never, never will practice that unclean behavior again—no, not for eternity. It is an eternal judgment.
We thus have passed the Judgment Seat of Christ concerning this particular sin. We have washed our robe in the blood of the Lamb by confessing and renouncing our sin. In addition, as we have washed our robe, we are given in the spirit realm to eat of the flesh of Christ and to drink His blood. This is the hidden manna. This is our resurrection life. By taking this action every time a sin is pointed out to us, we are learning to live by the Life of Jesus Christ.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)
Also, there is a legal aspect involved in building the new person. The Apostle Paul got into an argument with the leaders of the new Christian Church. These men had been with Jesus, and Paul had not. This put Paul at a disadvantage, but Paul had an answer for them that they may not have understood at the time. The issue was that of keeping circumcision as part of the Christian salvation. In fact, numerous Christians of our day are still obligating themselves to keep at least part of the Law of Moses. They do not understand that the Law of Moses governs the old person, and the old person is to be counted as dead, if we are seeking to build the new person.
When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. (Galatians 2:11,12)
We who are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners” know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! (Galatians 2:15-17)
Paul is saying that he is considered righteous because of his faith in Jesus Christ. But that does not mean he is free to sin. We of today often teach that because we are righteous by means of believing in Christ, we are free to sin.
But that is not the correct conclusion. Paul gives the true resolution as follows:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
The above passage explains how it can be that we no longer are under the authority of any part of the Law of Moses, and yet are not free to sin as we please. Our old person has been crucified with Christ. We through Christ are to turn away from the sinful nature of the old man. Our new person lives by the Life of Christ, just as Christ lives by the Life of the Father. The new person thinks what Christ is thinking. The new person says what Christ is saying. The new person does what Christ is doing. The new person lives by the Life of Christ, and our new life does not sin.
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (I John 3:9)
The transition from the old person to the new person is to be the guiding goal and motivation of every aspect of our life. This is how we become a new person in Christ. This is how we become a part of the new Jerusalem.
We live by faith in the Son of God. We discard thoughts of unbelief, with the Lord’s help. We speak words of faith, in Jesus’ name. Everything we do, we do in faith in Christ. In short, the new person lives by faith.
I suppose our main problem in the transition from the old person to the new person is the crucifixion of the old person. We must take the attitude that the first person, with his sinful, self-seeking ways is be done away with. When this is our attitude, God sends various crosses and prisons to help us get rid of the old person. Our most intense desires are deferred, perhaps for our entire life. This doesn’t matter, or shouldn’t matter, because we have placed all of our treasures in Heaven. Jesus will keep them safe for us, so when we die we will have them again—that is, if they will bring us righteousness, love, joy, and peace. Sometimes we must remain in unpleasant circumstances for a season. We cannot escape without breaking God’s laws.
In some instances, God gives us a vision of what He has in store for us. We may think we understand the vision, but we probably do not. In any case, it may be a long while before the vision is fulfilled. It is in the period of time between the giving of the vision and its fulfillment that the saints are made.
If we are to successfully make the transition from the old person to the new person, we must fix our eyes on the goal, on the reward for this travail. In Second Corinthians, the Apostle Paul tells us of the numerous afflictions that he suffered. In fact, he went about with the sentence of death in himself, that he should not trust in himself but in God who raises the dead.
Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (II Corinthians 2:9)
We must learn to focus our eyes on the time when Jesus returns, raises us from the dead, and catches us up to Himself. Contrary to the current understanding, not everyone who makes a profession of faith in Christ will be raised in this first resurrection. It is for the priests who are to return with Christ and govern the nations of the earth. Those who will be forever with Jesus are called, chosen, and faithful.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (I Thessalonians 4:16)
So we see that the Law of Moses is like a slave who brings us to the school of Christ. We do not look to the Law to see whether we are doing something that is not in accordance with God’s image, we look directly to the Lord Jesus. When the new person is convicted of sin, he confesses his sin to Christ and asks for wisdom and strength to never sin again. Then he presses forward joyfully in Christ, knowing he has been forgiven and will receive strength to resist if he is tempted again along the lines of that which he has confessed and renounced.
Concerning the transition from Moses to the new covenant, I might add that every one of the Ten Commandments is expressed in a higher manner as we serve God under the new covenant. Not committing adultery is expanded to not looking on a woman to lust after her. Not bowing down to idols or worshiping them is expressed in a higher manner, as we are commanded to put all relationships, things, and circumstances, all of our treasures, in Heaven, grasping none of them. The commandment to set aside our work routine on Saturday and pay attention to God on that day is expressed in a much higher form as we set aside our entire life all day and night every day of the week. We seek to think Christ’s thoughts, to speak as Christ is speaking, and to do as Christ is doing at all times. We continually are to present our body as a living sacrifice.
We must make every effort to set our heart and mind on things above. The Lord Jesus will help us with this. Also, we do well to pray every day to be filled to the measure of all the Fullness of God, to be His dwelling place.
And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)
Let the prophets judge.
(“Building a New Person”, 3897-1, proofed 20210917)