In the old King James Version, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that you are a “new creature”. The New King James uses the term “new creation” instead to match modern usage so that it doesn’t sound like you’re out of The SuperApe Who Squished Las Vegas, Attack of the Undead Spaghetti, The Demonic Dogs of Dumpview Drive or some other weird movie. (Actually, I made up those titles, but you get the idea.)
But here are some questions. How can you really be a new creation? Isn’t your name the same as it was before? Wasn’t your body the same 5 minutes before you received Jesus and 5 minutes later? You didn’t get a brain transplant, did you? How can the Bible assert that you became a new person?
The answer is that the real you, your spirit, was reborn. Your body was not born again. Your mind was not born again. Your emotions and your memories were not born again. But the real you became a new person. You were “born of the Spirit”.
Everyone is a spirit because everyone is made in God’s image and God is a spirit. You have a soul and you live in a body. But your outward body is not the real you. You will leave your outward body here to rot in the ground, but the real you will go to heaven if you have received Jesus. (The real you will go to hell if you never receive Him.) So the real you can exist without a body. But if you lose your body, your right to live on planet earth is revoked. (Contrary to modern ideas, no one hangs around here as a ghost. So-called ghosts are nothing more than evil spirits who sometimes impersonate dead people and impress the gullible with their supernatural knowledge of certain events they’ve been around to see.) No spirit being ever ceases to exist. You just relocate! And the day will come where Christians will receive new bodies that are no longer subject to death or corruption. However, you’ll be recognizable even before then – Lazarus and the rich man recognized each other.
It amazes me, in light of 2 Corinthians 5:17, that Christians can make ridiculous statements such as, “Christians aren’t any different from anyone else, just forgiven.” “Christians are just sinners saved by grace.” “We all have the old man still living inside us along with the new man.” Excuse me!!! Christians are new creations, created in God’s image in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 5:24). We are a royal priesthood, a holy nation. We are now saints, not sinners. We were sinners, but now we’re the righteousness of God in Christ! That’s right, you don’t just have righteousness – you’re so righteous that you are righteousness, baby! I didn’t come up with that; 2 Corinthians 5:21 did, so don’t blame me if it seems too farfetched for you!
The old man has passed away, replaced by the new man. We have to renew our minds to the new man’s ways and cast off the ways of the old man, but you aren’t Jekyll and Hyde living in the same body. You are a brand new person on the inside, alive to God. Your dead spirit, which tended only to want to sin, has been replaced with a live spirit that wants to serve and please God. Your new spirit does not have a sin nature like your old spirit did! It’s natural for a believer to believe, just as it is natural for a sinner to sin. It’s unnatural for you to sin now. If you sin, it’s because you yielded to the flesh or sided in with a mind that hasn’t been renewed with the Word of God. The real you does not want to sin!!
The Christian is spiritually alive; the sinner is spiritually dead. That is why no amount of good works, church attendance, giving, etc., can save a sinner. None of these things can breathe life into a spiritual corpse. A sinner must be born again and thus become spiritually alive in order to be saved. You don’t wait for eternal life; you have it the second you receive Jesus. Those who have life get to be with Jesus in heaven; those without life don’t get to be there. It’s that simple. You’re either dead or alive. Without Jesus you’re dead; with Him you’re alive.
Some have misconstrued 1 Peter 2:24 as saying that your spirit is “healed” when you receive Jesus, but that would contradict other verses about getting a new spirit. No, 1 Peter 2:24 is talking about physical healing, not “spiritual” healing, which you don’t need if you’re a born again, righteous spirit! Something dead needs resurrection, not healing!