2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Devotional Thoughts

By Gary Wilkerson

In the book 1 Corinthians, Paul was responding to a letter he had received from a Corinthian family of Christians who had reported some problems in the church.

Part of his letter says, “But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Corinthians 8:7-9, ESV). 

Many commentaries pronounce that this chapter is where strong Christians are having to placate weak Christians, and that interpretation implies Paul should be saying to these weak Christians, “Come on, guys, grow up. Start eating meat sacrificed to idols. It’s no big thing. Go into the bars and temples. Spend your time with these different things. It’s okay for you. Get with it!”

That is actually the opposite of what Paul is saying.

Because of their former associations, some believers are not going to be able to accept or do the same kinds of things that don’t bother certain Christians. In other words, these ‘weak’ believers used to go to these bars. They used to go to these clubs. They used to engage in those kinds of sexual activities. They used to compromise with all these things.

Now all of a sudden, there’s something in their heart that says, “Man, that’s my former life. I can’t go back.” They understand the Word of the Lord when it says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and points out that a person who returns to his past poor choices is like a dog going back to its own vomit (see Proverbs 26:11).

They truly grasp the prayer “Oh God, keep my conscience pure.”

This is not works-based faith. This is not me earning my salvation by trying to behave like a good, moral Christian. This has far less to do with morality than it has to do with honoring the righteousness of Christ that is freely given to us. Paul wanted Christ-followers to be people who have a tender conscience and a soft heart toward the Word of the Lord. We are called to honor Christ in every part of our lives.