“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
I thoroughly enjoy the way the NIV translated verse 17 in this passage. Other versions say something like, “If anyone is in Christ, he (or she) is a new creation.” While this works, both with the larger idea justification and the point in Paul’s letter, the NIV translation captures the phrasing of the original language very well and points to a more important truth about God’s kingdom on earth.
Paul is describing, not just a new person, but a completely new created order. Those who join this new creation are new creatures to be sure. However, the focus of this passage is on God and his actions. He is the one who initiated reconciliation. He is the one who does not count people’s sins against them. He is the one who entrusted the message of reconciliation to us.
This is what the new created order looks like: God reconciling people to himself, not counting sins against them. God dwelling with humanity because his righteousness makes them righteous and worthy to be in his presence.
Basically, God, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, has offered me and everyone on earth a free pass on everything we’ve ever done wrong. If you reconcile with him, your sins aren’t counted against you. Now this isn’t a free pass to keep sinning, because those who reconcile with God won’t continue in sin. But if you reconcile with God, you’re all set. This is the new creation. The old has gone, the new has come; and now, if you are a part of the new creation, God has entrusted you to spread the word! Let everyone know God is giving out free passes!