It Is Not IPosted: June 18, 2012
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Galatians 2:20
It is no longer I who live. “I” is the old me. “I” is the person who is slave to deceitful desires (Eph 4). “I” is the old self (Eph 4). “I” is the one who loves the world and hates God (Rom 1). “I” is the one greedy for selfish gain (Ps 10). “I” is the one darkened in understanding (Eph 4). “I” is the one alienated from the life of God (Eph 4). “I” is the one who is callous and given over to sensuality (Eph 4).
And that person is dead.
There is nothing more dramatic than becoming a follower of Christ (see previous blog post). You are not simply improved; you are made new. You are born again – a completely new creation (2 Cor).
An event in the life of one of our early church fathers captivates me and illustrates this point beautifully.
Augustine of Hippo lived in the 4th century A.D. and is easily one of the most important theologians to have ever lived. The scope of his work is so wide and so deep that the importance of his ministry is still felt today, even though we don’t realize we are under his influence. But guess what? He wasn’t born a Christian (he had to be born again for that). Prior to his conversion, he was a sex addict. Before coming to the realization of who Christ is, Augustine was far from a saint – he was a slave to an insatiable appetite. And after his conversion in Milan, when Augustine returned home to his native Africa, he soon saw a familiar face in the neighborhood….
…His favorite mistress. With whom he had sinned continuously in his previous life. A fascinating interaction occurred between them that day. Imagine the tension:
What a precarious moment! What a temptation! The brand new faith of a brand new person tested against the weight of his past. Augustine did the best thing he knew to do, as tradition tells it: he turned away from her, trying to avoid her eye. But she saw him anyway. And she called out, “Augustine! Augustine! It is I!”
Augustine stopped, and turned to face her. Whether he looked her in the eye and at what distance they stood from each other, we do not know. But we do know what he said next.
“Yes. But it is not I.”
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”