OLD CRITTERS VRS. NEW CREATURES
“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things become new” – 2 Cor. 5:17
Throughout my Christian life I have seen the truth of First Corinthians 5:17 begin to be demonstrated immediately by people after they have experienced the new birth. Old time preachers used to say of salvation, and consistent with the teaching in this verse, that “salvation turns old critters into new creatures.” That’s what salvation is supposed to do, and that’s what it does do – when it’s real.
The “new creature” produced at the time of salvation doesn’t outwardly manifest all its spiritual newness immediately or overnight. But this process does begin immediately and overnight. There will be some noticeable changes, varying in type and number, right away; sometimes, really radical ones. The Bible tells us that there definitely are “things that accompany salvation” (Heb. 6:9).
I’ve seen countless examples of people who were instantaneously delivered from addictions they’d had for years. I’ve seen people who’d been mean all their lives become kind, crooked people become honest and sensual-minded people become spiritually-minded people. I’ve seen unsaved couples, headed for the divorce court on Monday who got saved the previous Sunday and from that day forward, and for decades now, have lived together happily as dedicated Christians. I could fill page after page with examples like these that I have personally witnessed.
A Christian will be in a learning, growing and spiritually maturing process all their lives. But this process doesn’t begin, as it were, ten or twenty years after they are saved. Old critters who get saved begin to sound, look and act something like new creatures to themselves and to others, as soon as they experience the new birth.
There some changes that new believers will want to make, and will make, in their lifestyles as soon as they are saved. There are plenty of illustrations of this cited throughout the New Testament. Consider the changes that took place in the case of the demoniac of Gadara (Mark 5:1-20), Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-39), the three thousand on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:37-47), those saved in the City of Ephesus (Acts 19:18-20) and the Apostle Paul (Acts 26:1-23), etc., etc., etc.
Old time Christians used to say that when people get saved, God changes their wanters and they begin to want certain things in their lives that they didn’t want before salvation, and to not want some things in their lives that they did want in them before they were saved. For example, they will begin to “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matt. 5:6). “As new born babes,” they will, “desire the sincere milk of the Word” (1 Pet. 2:2). There is something unscriptural about, and terribly amiss with, “critter-like” professed Christians who, have made a profession of faith, but have no interest in going to church, let alone following after holiness inn their lives.
This “wanter” change that takes place when people get saved happens for two reasons: First, it happens because, at the time of their salvation, they have God the Father’s nature, which is a holy nature, imparted to them (2 Pet. 1:4). From the point of salvation they have this something within them that is inclined towards, and wants, to live a life of obedience and holiness before God. Secondly, a new Christian’s wanter is changed because, at the time of the new birth they are immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Who begins immediately to work in them with the objective of provoking and producing holiness in their lives (Phil. 2:13).
Understanding God’s desire for holiness in the lives of believers is fundamental to understanding why old critters have to become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It has been God’s plan, since the “foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” God has commanded holiness from all of His children: "But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 15, 16).
The fact is, that, where there is no desire for holiness and no demonstration of holiness there are no new creatures; just old critters; old unregenerate, as spiritually lost as can be, critters who have never been born of, and are not indwelt by, the Holy Spirit of God. These old critters that have never become new creatures, fill pews and pulpits throughout our country today. And unless they admit what they really are and exercise “repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21) they will be among those who fill up hell when they die.
The Bible says, “It is now high time to awake our of sleep” (Rom. 13:11). It’s high time for Christians to stop staying in churches, and stop putting up with pastors, who deny in either word or deed, the truth of 2 Cor. 5:17. It’s time for professed believers to heed the words of 2 Cor. 13:5: “Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith;” and do this in light of whatever their attitude towards holiness is. It’s time for believers who know that the Spirit of God bears witness with their spirit, and that they are children of God” (Rom. 8:`16) to be renewed in the spirit of their minds, and “put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24).