Flipping a Switch?

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

As much as we wish that once we decide to become a Christian, our old desires would automatically vanish, it just isn’t so. We have much work to do. The only difference is, we have a powerful Helper now to guide us and strengthen us.

We are still in our sinful flesh and thus our carnal desires are still present. But as we turn to Christ, we are to put away—or diminish—the rule of sin over our daily lives. We now have access to the Holy Spirit and it is He who will direct us to become more Christ-like if we allow Him to do so.

And that remains the challenge for every believer.

Are we truly willing to relinquish control over our lives and submit to God’s will? Paul writes in our study verse “the new has come”, but it does not mean our self-will to do evil is abated. Yes, the Holy Spirit indeed dwells among all true believers, but so does our carnal state, and so for many Christians, the inner war rages on. It rages on because we are truly not ready to give up the world and the carnal pleasures we have known. We’re not quite ready to “take up our cross daily” and follow Jesus.

Colossians 1:21 reminds us that we were once hostile to God before coming to Christ. We thrived in doing evil, alienated from the will of God for our lives. But when we proclaim our desire to follow Jesus, the influence of the Holy Spirit becomes present within us, giving us access to the very mind of Christ. We become a new creation, a new creation that has to deal with the old habits.

And unless this new believer is willing to cooperate with the Lord’s work in his life for this transformation to occur, his sanctification will not occur.

This progressive process of sanctification is how we develop Christian character. It is a way of maturing our faith, conforming to the very image of Christ (Romans 8:29). This sanctification process is what produces the holiness in us—if we allow it to happen. We must set our minds on things eternal, instead of things temporal for sanctification to begin (Romans 12:2).

So, it’s not about flipping a switch and believing a miracle will happen and that only pure thoughts will inhabit a new believer the moment they accept Jesus as Lord. Christians new and old are challenged daily to let go of past behaviors with new ones that emulate Christ. To not do so keeps one from true fellowship with God.

Victory is indeed possible, but only for those willing to embrace God’s discipline. Victory is found in the rubble of our defeated, worldly lives and that is where we will find God.