This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (NLT)
It seems that once we sign up to follow Jesus, once we embrace him as the one who gets us right with God, we become new people. Sounds good, but how true to life is it? We don’t see all those who become followers of Jesus immediately shrugging off besetting sins and becoming models of holiness. Old habits die hard.
So in what sense are we new people when we are deeply aware of the lack of newness in so many areas of life? One aspect is that if we belong to Jesus we relate to God on the basis of grace and mercy rather than keeping all the rules. We are new covenant people.
Another aspect is that we are those whose genuine intent is to please God and follow Jesus. We may not always get it right, we stumble and fall. And yet we are headed in generally the right direction. We make a mess of our discipleship but that doesn’t mean we are not disciples. It means we are messy disciples.
The new way of life sometimes blossoms into practice. At other times it mingles with the old way. And sometimes, sadly, it seems absent. Recognising this saves us from wallowing in guilt and shame that we are not suddenly brand new individuals immune to sin. But it also saves us from lazy complacency: we have the Spirit of God who points us in a new direction. We are to seek to make progress while also understanding that progress can be slow.