A New Creation in Christ | September 26th, 2022
If you live in Texas like I do where it’s hot and humid during the summer months, you’ll see plenty of little green lizards this time of year. They are called anoles (pronounced “ah-no-lee”). The other day, I noticed one shedding its skin. I never knew this, but they grow continuously throughout their lives. Because their skin doesn’t grow along with them, they have to regularly shed their old skin.
The moment we decide to follow Jesus Christ is the moment we start our journey of growth to become more like Him. We are made as a new creation in Christ, shedding our old self.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
The Greek word translated as “new” in this verse is kainos which means “something just made, unlike anything else in existence.” God does not simply clean up our old self. He makes us entirely new! It does not matter what type of background we came from or the kind of sin in which we were involved before we gave our life to Christ. We are now a completely new creation!
The “old” refers to everything that is part of our earthly nature – pride, love of sin, selfishness, worldly passions, unhealthy habits, and ungodly ways of thinking. Only through Christ can we shed the old nature within us. When we are in Christ, united with Him, we are given a new nature with a new heart and new eyes to see things with a godly perspective.
Once we become a new creation, does this mean we will never sin anymore? No, because we are still in our earthly bodies in a sinful, fallen world. But as we grow in our knowledge of who God is, we also naturally grow in our love for Him and are motivated to be obedient to Him.
Renewed in Our Mind
We are no longer dominated by our sinful nature because we have the power of the Holy Spirit who is now dwelling inside of us. We delight in the things that God loves and detest the things of the world that draw us away from Him. Like the skin of the anole, we begin the slow process of shedding our old self, becoming renewed in our mind to be more like Christ as we grow.
Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
Becoming renewed in our mind means we are interpreting life through the lens of God’s Word rather than through the lens of experience, trauma, deep wounds, preferences, or others’ opinions. That’s why it is so important for us to be reading our Bible so we can know the truth. As we change and grow, we find that the characteristics of Christ naturally start to show through us. These are called the “fruit of the Spirit.”
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25
These nine characteristics are produced by the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us. Just like an apple on a tree needs time to grow, the fruit of the Spirit will not ripen overnight. A gardener will fertilize, water, and battle weeds and pests in order to harvest healthy fruit. Our sin nature and fleshly desires are a constant battle for us as well, but we have the Holy Spirit and the sword of the Spirit, God’s Word, to help us fight against them. When we see the fruit of the Spirit coming through, it is evidence that our character is becoming more like Christ.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18
It’s tempting to want to steer the focus away from Christ and onto ourselves thinking, if we could only gain more self-knowledge about our personality traits, motivations, fears, sin patterns, and what makes us tick we would attain greater spiritual growth.
One such method of doing this has slithered its way into the church during the past few years. It is called the Enneagram and is surging in its popularity, being fully embraced by many evangelicals. It is described as a revolutionary tool for understanding yourself, finding wholeness, helping you see yourself with astonishing clarity, and becoming your best self so you can experience the transformation you long for. (source: yourenneagramcoach.com)
Sounds pretty good! What’s so wrong with that? The Enneagram is about being self-focused. A natural result of knowing God and being obedient to Him is that we become less and less while He becomes greater and greater so we reflect more of Christ, not more of our own greatness because we think we’ve figured ourselves out.
He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30
The Enneagram’s promise to transform us is in direct contradiction to God’s promise in which transformation comes by His power alone. He has given us everything we need.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3
Satan loves to mimic God. He doesn’t have the slightest speck of originality so he makes counterfeit copies full of deception using what God has designed to try to confuse and pull people away from God. Just look at how he uses the Enneagram to do that…
Like the nine fruit of the spirit, there are nine personality types, or as New Ager and co-founder of the Enneagram Institute, Russ Hudson, clarified: “Type isn’t a ‘type’ of person, but a path to God.”
The Bible says there is only one path to God and that is through Jesus Christ alone:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
In the Enneagram system, these nine have also been labeled as “prides.” God hates pride because it separates us from Him. Pride causes us to focus on ourselves and not on God.
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. Psalm 10:4
If you do a little research into the Enneagram, you’ll find its roots and it will all start to make more sense…
Claudio Naranjo, credited with revealing the Enneagram’s personality types, says that he received most of the information for the types through “automatic writing.” This is a form of spirit contact in which a person opens themselves up to a channel of communication from a supernatural source by allowing that source to move the hand and/or dictate the words. It is not of God, so we know this is demonic.
God Defines Our Identity
The way we get to know and understand ourselves is through Christ, not through self-reflection. Being a new creation liberates us from the bondage of endless introspection which is clearly idolatry of self, a part of our old sin nature. God is the One who gets to define our identity, not us. He knows us far better than we could ever know ourselves. He tells us that in His Word which is sufficient!
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all. Psalm 139:1-4
Even if the Enneagram had scientific evidence to support its claims of validity (which it does not), it is not a “tool” for followers of Christ to use because God has not set it apart as a holy source of truth for us on which to rely.
The Apostle Paul warned the church at Colossae: See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8
The Gift of Spiritual Discernment
How do we increase our spiritual discernment so we can be aware of deceptive teaching? The word discern is translated to the Greek word anakrino meaning “to distinguish; to separate out by diligent search; to examine.” The best way to gain discernment is by searching and examining the Scriptures. It is filled with God’s wisdom! Discernment is a gift that comes only after we are a new creation because it is given to us by the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit, the things of God are foolishness.
The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14
It is a constant battle we face against the spiritual forces of evil in this dark world. Satan wants to keep us distracted so we are ignorant of his schemes by not being in the Word, the ultimate truth and our greatest weapon to fight against deception.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Ephesians 4:14
Knowing Who We Are
The world’s solution for greater clarity, healing, meaningful relationships, freedom, and personal empowerment is to look within and know yourself. God tells us we are sinners in need of His forgiveness. There is no one good, no matter how hard we work on improving ourselves. We all fall short of His standard of perfection.
God’s solution is to put our prideful self aside and humbly come before Him with all of our brokenness. Then, admit we are a sinner in desperate need of a Savior so we can experience true healing and freedom through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10
Once we are forgiven of our sin, we are righteous and holy in God’s sight. We are a new creation in Christ. We are loved beyond measure and saved by His grace through faith for all eternity. That is who we are.
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