Have you ever been to a school reunion? When we meet classmates we haven’t seen for a long time, we are often in for a surprise. The star football player no longer looks like an athlete. And the quietest kid in class is now confident and outgoing.
Your friends may notice that you have changed as well. You may look or talk differently. You might not like to do the things you once did. Most of us aren’t the same persons we were when we were young. And that’s a good thing!
Scripture talks a great deal about who we were and who we become in Christ. When we are born again, we undergo a radical spiritual transformation. God gives us a new identity. At the moment of redemption, our sins are paid in full, covered by the blood of Jesus. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). We are transformed into a new person, made holy in the eyes of God.
Some people have a long history with religion, but they don’t experience much change. By contrast, when you place your faith in Jesus, you are made new! You will not and cannot stay the same. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17). The Holy Spirit now indwells you. And that gives you a whole different way of approaching life.
In the book of Colossians, the Apostle Paul is encouraging the believers to recognize who they are in Christ and to start behaving as the sons and daughters of God. Paul likens this shift—from who we were to who we are in Christ—to the act of putting on new clothes. We are to take off our old self and our old behaviors and “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Col. 3:10).
Our identity shapes our behavior, including the way we talk, walk, and interact. This new you comes with a radically different set of attitudes (Col. 3:8). What an encouragement it is to embrace the identity of one who has been chosen by God, “holy and dearly loved” (Col 3:12). While religion can help people modify their outward appearance or behavior, only a living, breathing relationship with Jesus transforms us from the inside out. In Christ we are made new. We are His holy creation, set apart and sanctified for God’s purpose.