All Things New

One of the most incredible passages of Scripture, and one to which I return often, is Revelation 21. It is the story of the consummation of redemption history, of the bride of Christ descending from heaven – walking down the aisle, as it were – for her marriage to the “Lamb who was slain.” The imagery is rich and profound, bursting with anticipation of the new creation, of the world made right, and of the end of the tyrannical reign of sin and death.

In verse 6, the unseen God shouts from his glorious throne, “Behold! I am making all things new!” A proclamation. A promise. God is making all things new. The mountains and rivers will be made new. Not different mountains and rivers; the same, but renewed. Purified. Cleansed.

The same is true for us. There will not be different people; there will be the same people, but we will be renewed, purified, cleansed, redeemed, comforted. This is what awaits us in Christ. But you don’t have to wait for it to happen all at once in heaven. This is what God is up to right now. God is making a new you, and he is doing it through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit today.

Your true self is determined by Christ, and in Christ there is no sin.
As the apostle Paul wrote, “If you are in Christ, then you are a new creation.” You are a new you. The new you, what some call the “true self,” is found in Christ. As I have struggled with sin, one of the things that has helped me is to understand that my true self is determined by Christ, and in Christ there is no sin. So any sin that is in my life now is not a part of the new me, the true me, the me that will experience life forever with God. This is why God later proclaims from the throne in Revelation 21:8, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” There will be no sin in God’s new creation, and so long as we cling to our sin, identify ourselves by it, and refuse to be made new in Christ, we will not experience the goodness and beauty of what God has planned for humanity. God can’t let false, sin-defined selves into a true, sin-forgotten creation. If he did, he would only be inviting death, pain, sorrow, and destruction back into the world he has sacrificed so much in order to make new, pure, and perfect.

What this means for us is that we can look at all of our sin – our cowardice, our rage, our lies, our lust – and say, “That’s not me. Take it, God.” It means that we don’t have to justify ourselves, our choices, or our sins. We can say, “God, I’m sorry. That’s not who I really am in you. That’s not compatible with what you’re doing in my life. That’s not who you are remaking me to be. I repent. Please forgive me.” And God is faithful to forgive all of our sins.

The fullness of our true selves lies before us, to be fully unveiled as we descend from heaven together as one bride, made gloriously new for Christ Jesus. But our true selves are also being slowly uncovered, haltingly realized today through the tedious, sometimes painful, work of the Holy Spirit. “You are not your sin,” he whispers. None of it will last. Because of what Jesus has done, none of it can cling to you forever. So let go. Let God take it. Be forgiven. Be made new.

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