Like the physical identity described by the ID you would have pulled from a wallet or purse and the one I carry around at work, we also have spiritual identities that describe who we are and what we possess in the spiritual realm. I’m sure you’ve seen the ads on TV and in magazines for weight loss products with the “before and after” pictures of the person who lost a whole bunch of pounds in a short amount of time and now looks great. Well, the Bible contains several “before and after” contrasts of who we were before and who we are after being “in Christ.”
Here’s a sample gallery of some of those “photos.” You were dead but now alive, were lost and now found (Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. Those are wonderful pictures, but the most disturbing one is found in . It also shows the two pictures –and we all are found in one or the other of them. On the one side are children of God, and on the other are children of the Devil!); were dead in sin but now alive to God ( ); were in darkness, now in the light ( ). In , there’s an exceptionally unflattering set of photos. On the left, in the “before” photo, there are the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers, swindlers. The photo on the right side shows a person who has undergone an amazing transformation; it’s a photo of us with our new identity. We are now washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord
When Christ is invited into a person’s heart, a metamorphosis begins to take place. God refers to it as becoming a new creation in Christ. It’s like the caterpillar changing into a butterfly.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
“The old has gone” is talking about the person who stood condemned under the law –dead in his sins. God doesn’t count our sins against us anymore because Jesus took them off of us –every single one of them– “He became sin for us.” And He paid for each and every one of them –in full– leaving no remaining balance to be paid. “The new has come” describes a new person; one who is in good standing with God –righteous! That’s when God put His own Son’s righteousness (His goodness) on us. He gave you and me a brand new identity! We have “become the righteousness of God.”
The butterfly isn’t a caterpillar with wings; it is a new being with a new identity. The caterpillar was known for crawling on the earth with its many feet and eating leaves. The butterfly is known for being able to fly in the air –on wings of beauty and drinking nectar from flowers. That old being is gone and so is its identity. The caterpillar had no part in that process of change; its Creator did it all. And so the butterfly can never be a caterpillar again because God did away with the old creation and made a new creation. That same process of change occurs to every person who is “in Christ.”
From God’s view point, that change from being “out of Christ” (dead) to being “in Christ” (alive) took place instantly. But it takes much longer for a Christian to learn about it –and even longer for him to accept what he has become. Our old identity was very dependent on how our attitudes and actions measured up on God’s standard of good and bad works. But our new identity is not based on us –it’s based on Him –His grace –His acceptance.