Redeeming Our Sexuality Through Jesus Christ
WHAT OUR NAME MEANS:
Our name Fresno New Creation Ministries comes from 2 Corinthians 5:17 which says:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (NIV)
Sadly, for many Christians this idea is either a cliche or a mockery. A cliche because it is thrown around without understanding or with little evidence of life-change. Or a mockery because many of us say to God or ourselves, “If I’m a new creation why do I still struggle with the same things or to the same degree?”
Obviously when Paul uses this term he doesn’t throw it around lightly. Those of us who know Scripture and God’s power know that new creation means something profound even if we don’t fully grasp it. It doesn’t mean we’ve turned over a “new leaf’ or made a “fresh start”. It means something fundamental has changed in our nature.
The Old Testament promised that God would “pour out His Spirit on all people” (Joel 2:28-32) and give us nothing less than a “new heart” and put a “new spirit” in us (Eze 36:26-27). The Lord told Nicodemus that he had to be “born again” and explained that this was a spiritual birth (John 3:3, 5-8). He also told his followers that they must wait in Jerusalem until they were “baptized with the Holy Spirit”
These prophecies came to pass when Jesus’ first followers were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-40). The basic pattern has not changed since that day: a person hears the good news of Jesus Christ and puts their full trust in Him and God gives that person the gift of His Spirit (Acts 2:38-39; 10:44-48; 15:7-9).
For some of us our first experience with the Holy Spirit is sudden and dramatic. For others it is gradual and less dramatic. Some of us experience speaking in tongues, some of us don’t (though we believe it is available to all). The point is that when Jesus comes to live inside us, by the Spirit, our nature is changed (Rom 2:29; Gal 6:15). Without the Spirit of God coming to live inside us we cannot become Christians-we cannot belong to Christ (Rom 8:9; 1Co 12:13).
If you believe that Christ presently lives in you then the ongoing struggle with a sin issue can make you feel downright crazy! This throws some of us into a false trichotomy: #1) Either I’m not really saved (since I still struggle with constant sin). #2) Maybe I’m saved but this is as good as it gets, or #3) Maybe I’m saved but this sin of mine isn’t sin at all but just the way God made me.
We don’t believe it is #1 because saved people still sin (John 1:8-10; James 3:2; Prov 20:9). Nor do we believe it is #2 or that makes a majority of the New Testament a lie (Rom 7:24-25; 8:37; 16:20; 1Co 15:57; 2Co 2:14; John 5:4-5; Rev 12:10-11). We also don’t accept #3 or that makes promiscuity, alcoholism, homosexuality, materialism and hate all chargeable to God instead of sins chargeable to us (Gal 5:19-21).
We find that it is usually ignorance about the new birth/new creation. When many of us read Scripture we don’t read what it says but what we think it says. For instance many of us read 2 Corinthians 5:17 this way:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new completion has come …
Paul didn’t say we’d been newly completed but newly created. There’s a big difference. We must also remember that we are not created like an object or machine. In the case of an object (like a house) when it is newly created it is finished and ready to occupy (though we could argue it hasn’t been “broken in” yet by its new family). A machine, like a car, may be newly created (fresh off the assembly line) and it too would be a finished product. But you still wouldn’t necessarily drive it one hundred and twenty miles per hour for the first six hours.
Even things that are new creations usually have to settle, acclimate or be broken in somehow. They are not immediately complete (in other words, fully functional). But even if things were absolutely complete upon their creation this would still not be true of people. When people are created they are not complete (like a house or a car is); houses and cars are not living things that are created and then still have to grow-but people do. In other words, we are not created as adults, we are created as infants. We are fully created at birth but we still have to grow and develop.
This is what is missing for the vast majority of Christians today. Yes, we are new creations; or we were ten, twenty or thirty years ago. The question is: did we begin to grow in Christ from that point or did we stay babies? Scripture has a lot to say about this. We are told repeatedly not to remain infants but to grow up and mature (Eph 4:11-15; 1Co 13:11; 14:20; Heb 5:11-14).
Growing and maturing is not a matter of reading and memorizing the Bible. If it was then the Pharisees were mature indeed! Praying and going to worship services for many years doesn’t equal maturity either. If it did then many Hindus and Muslims are very mature as well.
No. Maturity is a result of relational growth. After becoming a new creation or receiving “the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4) we must then grow in that nature. We must “participate in the divine nature” (Pet 1:4) or “put on the new self” (Paul-Eph 4:24). This is how we tap into/grow/develop the new creation “baby” within us into the kingdom adult.
These are the means of living out of the new creation that we already are. Intimacy with Jesus and Scripture, working through the issues of our heart and enlisting the help of other walking partners along the way enable us to flesh out the life of the Spirit inside us. Doing all this with our broken sexual and relational selves (versus hiding or running from that part of us) leads to real transformation. The men and women who do this allow the new creation deposited in them to grow and become visible. Ultimately this is what glorifies God, draws others to him and validates the gospel.