Were you you when you were converted to Christianity? Or, asking about the same idea from a different angle: Are you you subsequent to your conversion? Every Christian should answer with a resolute “Yes!” and “No!” That’s the Bible’s answer. As such, it is an ancient, unequivocal answer bearing not one iota of influence from postmodern sentiments about truth. So what does this answer mean? How does it make sense? Let’s take our cue from Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Here, the Apostle declares that anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. “New creation” is a better translation than “new creature” because it taps more cleanly into Scripture’s teaching on the cosmic nature of Christ’s saving work. For innumerable reasons, Christians can’t wait for Jesus to return, not least because He will usher in a new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is the unbroken ethic and the unending ethos of life (2 Peter 3:13). We who are “new” creations long for the eternal day when we and the world itself will feel the full effects of what Jesus has accomplished (Romans 8:20-23). As new creations, we long for the new creation!
When Scripture employs the term “new” in these contexts, the word indicates not something which has never existed, but the re-creation or renewal of that something. When Christ returns, He will not scrap the world and replace it with something unrecognizable as the world. Rather, the temporary, fallen condition of the world will pass away fully to make room for the new condition of permanent, pervasive righteousness (1 John 2:16-19).
This same essential change happens in the world of the Christian heart, and is felt with increasing intensity (2 Corinthians 3:18). If you are a Christian, you know what it is to have a decreasing craving for particular sins which once had your heart in a stranglehold. Those old desires have been replaced and are continually beaten back by the sheer force of love for the risen Christ. Now, though you do it imperfectly, your highest and deepest desire is to serve your Savior (Romans 12:1-2). One day, you will do it perfectly! Your present love for Christ will blossom unbound by sin within you and unchallenged by sin around you, because sin will be forever banished from both worlds. The stirrings of your heart will match your surroundings, and you’ll be surrounded by a countless number of new creations experiencing the eternal spring of the new creation.
The Lord wants us to long for this new day, so much so that He’s given us songs to sing about it. The “new song” Psalms point us with particular exuberance to the coming of Christ. Psalms 40, 96 and 98 are among them. These songs of salvation are prophecies put to music, and they stand in Scriptural harmony with passages including Isaiah 42:10, 65:17 and Revelation 14:3. New creations are to sing from joyfully expectant new hearts (Ezekiel 36:26) these new songs about the new creation, all to the praise of Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 9:15), the One who makes all things new (Revelation 21:5).
Back to the confusing questions with which we started. If the Lord has converted you, He did not scrap you and replace you with someone unrecognizable as you. You did not become someone else, but you are a new you! If you came to Christ later in your life, perhaps family members or friends who knew you prior to conversion have said to you since: “I don’t even know who you are.” Sometimes that statement is meant to sting, but it testifies to the reality of Christ’s renewing work within you. You are you, but you are not you any longer. You can say with the Apostle Paul: “I am crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, emphasis mine).
The new you is the real you – and the real you and the rest of your family in Christ are leading creation toward the day when it, too, will be new. You can hardly wait, can you?