If a person truly believes, he will repent, and the consequence is reconciliation with God. Our relationship to Him changes; it is entirely new. Our point of view, our world view, changes. We no longer look at life in the same way. Now we view everything from the perspective of God, His Word, and His Kingdom. We no longer look upon people as we did before.
Before our reconciliation we had a superficial view of Christ. Now we view Him as the Eternal Creator, Lord, Savior, and High Priest who lives in us by His Spirit and with whom we are now in fellowship. This has a tremendous impact on how we conduct our lives.
We understand that God is creating a new race beginning with Christ, the second Adam. A man in Christ is a new creation, not merely improved or reformed, but remade. Reconciliation is not just politely ignoring hostilities. It is the total removal of hostilities so there can be a relationship, a fellowship, between God and man that will produce sanctification leading to holiness and complete and total at-one-ment with the great God.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Separation and At-One-Ment
God always planned for our justification by faith. As for all who lived faithfully before Christ's human life, death, and resurrection, it is applied retroactively (Romans 4). Since God knew Adam and Eve would misuse the freedom of choice He gave them, leading to sin, He made provision for their justification (and ours) through the blood of Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world (Hebrews 9:26; I Peter 3:19-21; Revelation 13:8).
Martin G. Collins
Are You Justified?
Of keen interest in this context is the term “new” in verse 17. Paul had his choice of either of two words, kainos or neos, but he chose the one best suited to God's purpose here. He chose kainos, indicating newness in the sense of fresh existence. Neos means newness in the sense of renovation, for example, repairing something that already exists. In this context, God is describing a transformation in the inner man from carnality to spiritual thought and conduct. The new creation is not merely a repair job of the old, existing, carnal nature. It is a complete change to a nature, a heart, that had not been there before conversion.
The apostle nudges our thoughts to a parallel incident, when God created Adam in Genesis 1. Adam was an entity who did not exist before God acted. In this creation described in II Corinthians 5, though, God is not exercising His divine powers by creating an entirely new person, but He is fashioning a new heart, a new nature, that will produce righteousness, in contrast to the old nature that produced self-centered sin.
One by one, God is calling people out of Satan's worldly system and creating a Family Kingdom described in multiple locations throughout His Word. We have all borne the physical and character image of the sinner Adam; we are now being created in the spiritual image of the holy, righteous, and sinless Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:48-49). But know this: The new creation does not end with the spiritual creation of the sons of God. It carries on to include even a New Heaven and a New Earth.
The new creation begun by God with repentant and converted human beings is just the beginning of a massive creation that will surely follow because God has willed it as part of His plan (Isaiah 55:11). His Word provides an idea of what it entails, alerting God's children of the new creation that has begun in them and will expand indefinitely.
Isaiah 42:9 reads, “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”Isaiah 65:17 adds, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.” The prophet chose to use the Hebrew word hadas (“new”; Strong's 2319) that, as kainos in New Testament Greek, indicates “that which did not exist before.”
Isaiah 9:7 clinches the never-ending expansion of God's purpose:
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 66:22-23 contains even more exciting news:
“For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the LORD, “so shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath toanother, all flesh shall come before Me,” says the LORD.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Do Angels Live Forever?
Paul describes what happened to Abraham at his calling and must happen to us. Abraham's mind—and therefore his life—was so arrested and redirected by God's revelation of Himself that he responded dramatically, despite the realization that he could no longer live as he had for 70 years. He had to make changes, and some of them would be considerable and costly.
He could no longer live completely for himself. He no longer perceived people as he had all his life. He especially could no longer perceive his new God and Savior as He formerly had. A new man was being created from within, so he had to make a clean and permanent break from his old life. His life now had a new Object toward which he must walk. His life had a new direction, a new relationship, new desires, and new requirements to fulfill.
We must never forget that Abraham was a special case; he is the prototype who set a vivid, overall example for all his spiritual children to follow to some degree. There were bumps along the way; at times, he fell short of the ideal. Yet, on the whole, he did nothing less than set a superb example for all of us.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Six)
Paul uses very strong language here. Not one part of this system will be carried over into the World Tomorrow! The whole thing is unclean, something that contaminates and defiles, rendering unholy those who are touched by it (Haggai 2:10-14). The world is most dangerous to a Christian when it is not persecuting them. It seems friendly, tolerant, even producing good, but God says even then it is still unclean. It is God's judgment that counts.
John W. Ritenbaugh
This Is Not God's World
The apostle Paul is writing about the same thing that happened in Genesis 3. When Adam and Eve sinned, their perspective changed. They were moved away from God and began to look at the events and circumstances of life from a different point of view than they had before.
We know how this works. If we are standing beside someone and looking at an object, say, a tree, both are looking at it from the same perspective and see essentially the same thing. But if we step 20, 30, or 40 feet to one side, the perspective from which we now observe the tree begins to change. Now we see things that may not have been visible when we were side by side with the other person.
That is how it is with God. When we are one with Him, we look at things exactly as He does. When we are not in unity with Him, it is as though we have stepped away from Him, and we begin to see things from a different perspective.
This is the idea Paul refers to here. From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Now that we have been converted, we do not look upon others as Japanese, Chinese, Jewish, Russian—this stereotyping begins to fade into the background in terms of importance. To a converted person, the important thing now is whether the other person is converted or unconverted. All that has changed is our perspective, which has changed because we repented in faith. God gave us His Spirit, and a new point of view has entered our thinking.
Let us consider the phrase, "even though we have known Christ according to the flesh." Paul recounts from his own experience that there was a time when he looked upon Jesus Christ as the great Satan—the enemy of everything that was Judaic. Then he was converted, and his perspective of Christ became, "He is my Savior! He is the greatest thing that has ever happened to humanity!" Same Paul, different mind—his perspective changed.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Reconciliation and the Day of Atonement