December 14, 2008
There is a word that is not used much today in local churches. It is the word “conversion.” I do not understand why this is the case. Jesus Christ used it with His disciples. Christ’s disciples were having a discussion among them as to which of them would be greatest in the kingdom (Luke 9:46). Our Lord’s answer is found in Matthew 18 and involved an illustration and an important truth. Jesus called a little child to Him and set the child before the disciples and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:3). One who enters the kingdom is one who has been converted.
To be converted means “to be changed.” It implies changing from one life into another. David wrote, “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You” (Psalm 51:13). Peter used a similar word in the book of Acts when he extended this invitation to the Jews, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
Christians are sinners who have been changed. This change has everything to do with being baptized into Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, “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). In Christ we instantly change from being part of an old creation to becoming part of a new creation. We are converted from sinners to saints. Just as the color of cloth is changed when it is submerged into dye, those who are submerged into Christ are changed forever. New things come and old things go!
“Old things” does not refer to the old sins that plagued us in the past. As long as we remain in this body of flesh, we will possess both the temptation and the capacity to sin. The sin nature resides in our physical bodies. Paul wrote, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” (Romans 7:18; see also James 1:13-15, James 4:1-2). John wrote: “If we say that we have no sin, we make God a liar and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
The “old things” refers to the characteristics that linked us with the old Adam. We are all born connected to him (1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:12). When we receive Christ, the Holy Spirit places us into the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ who breathed into us the breath of life (1 Corinthians 15:45). When we are joined to this Adam, His characteristics become ours.
- In the first Adam we had an old human nature connected to our physical birth. In the last Adam we receive His nature from a new birth.
- In the first Adam we had an old righteousness that is condemned by God’s law. In the last Adam we receive His righteousness written in on our account that meets the demands of the law.
- In the first Adam we had an old relationship connected to the realm of Satan as children of darkness. In the last Adam we received His relationship to the Father. He is the Son of God, therefore we become children of God.
- In the first Adam we had human distinctions that separated us from one another. In the last Adam those barriers are broken down.
- In the first Adam we were citizens of old planet earth. In the last Adam we are citizens of heaven.
In the first Adam we were imprisoned in an old physical body that is ordained to die and to perish. In the last Adam are destined to receive a new body just like the body that Christ has, designed by God to live forever.
- In the first Adam we were slaves to sin and fated to spend forever in a place called hell. In the last Adam we become servant kings destined to reign with Christ in His heavenly kingdom.