“The old has passed away, Behold, the new has come”
Today I’d like us to focus on 2 Corinthians 5, verse 17. The verse reads as follows; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” There are several versions of the bible, including the King James, that translate that as saying, “Behold, ALL things are become new.” That’s not accurate however, because the word “all” is simply not in the original text.
No matter how insignificant it may seem to someone, adding words to what God has said, or using words that change the meaning of God’s word, is always dangerous. The principle is stated very plainly in Proverbs 30, verse 6; “Do not add to His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar.” It wouldn’t be good, to be found a liar concerning God’s word.
Now, besides the fact that the word “all” is an addition to the original text, is there any other harm in that word being there? Does the meaning of the verse change? Is there any difference between saying; “Behold, the new has come”, or “the new has emerged”, and saying “Behold, all things are new”?
Remember, the scripture is talking about being born again spiritually. Romans 6, verse 4 says; “Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism, into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” So then, the “new” that has emerged, is the new spiritual life, that is born through baptism.
Verse 6 says; “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” Now there’s some figurative expressions in this verse. For instance; “Our old man”, which by the way is generic, it means man or woman; So then, that phrase “the old man” doesn’t mean the actual person that we are has been crucified. If it did, we wouldn’t be here. But what is crucified, or put to death, is our old behavior. The behavior that was contrary to God’s word.
And then the phrase, “the body of sin”, that’s figurative too. Our body hasn’t been done away with, has it? What is “do away with”, is our willingness, to allow our body to be led by the desires of the flesh. “The body of sin” is really the lust of the flesh. We’re going to “do away” with the fulfillment of those fleshly lusts, and we’re going to start behaving differently. Our behavior is going to be led by the Spirit of God, by the WORDS that the Spirit has left for us to follow.
Romans 12, verse 1 says; “I urge you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, your spiritual service of worship.”
Romans 6, verse 13 says; “And do not go on presenting your members to sin, as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to GOD, as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
Now, when the scripture says that the body of sin “might be done away with”, it doesn’t mean that everything we did while living according to the flesh, has disappeared, or has ceased to exist. It means that we don’t CONTINUE living like that. It means, that way of life, is done away with. But what we previously did, still remains a fact, and a reality.
How would you like it, if you were a happily married person, with lovely children, a great family life, and then you became a Christian. And you go home from being baptized at the church building, and your whole family is gone, because that’s all been done away with? You wouldn’t like that very much would you? And it’s kind of ridiculous to even think that could happen, right?
Consider this scenario.. Imagine that someone drank a lot of alcohol throughout his or her life, and then as a result, they develop health problems, maybe liver problems. Imagine that person then becomes a Christian, and vows never to drink alcohol again. They then become a “new creation”. That old behavior is done away with, and a new spiritually minded person emerges. They’re forgiven by God, for the old lifestyle they once lived. But, they still have the health problems that were the result of the drinking, don’t they? So then “all things” have not become new. Their health hasn’t become new.
Now imagine this. A man becomes a father, and has children. He never gets married, he never even enters into a serious relationship, but he fathers children anyway. At some point after that, he’s born again, he becomes a Christian. “The old has passed away, behold the new has emerged”. He’s now forgiven of his sinful conduct, BUT, he’s still a father, isn’t he? The fact that he’s a father, hasn’t passed away. Just like the family man; His family isn’t done away with.
Those examples make it pretty obvious, that when the new creation emerges, some things still remain the same, right? No one would argue with the conclusions, that the family man still has a family, and the man with liver problems, still has those liver problems, and the unmarried father, is still a father. But now here’s another example, and you be the judge as to what the rational conclusion would be..
A man gets married, becomes a father, as has children. Then he develops a drinking problem, and his liver is damaged. His wife harps on him constantly to stop drinking, and their relationship suffers, and he can’t stand the fighting any more, and he divorces her, basically because of his own drinking problem. A few years later, he learns about salvation, he obeys the gospel, he’s born again, he’s forgiven of his old sinful behavior, that behavior is done away with, and righteous behavior emerges.
Now, even though he’s been raised “a new creation”, he’s still a father, and he still has liver damage. But here’s the question; Is he still a man who has divorced his wife without just cause? Or has that divorce been done away with, and is he now eligible to marry another woman?
His fatherhood hasn’t been done away with, and his liver condition hasn’t been done away with, but has his divorce been done away with? What’s the rational conclusion? If we view this situation logically, and rationally, how can his divorce be done away with, if those other two things obviously haven’t been done away with?
“All things” have not become new, have they? “All things” have not passed away, have they?
I want to go back to that phrase in Romans 6, verse 6, where it says; “..That the body of sin might be done away with.” The words “done away with”, come from one word that means.. “to render something inactive, or idle, or inoperative. To make it of no effect.” So then, the “body of sin”, which is our past sinful behavior, is now inactive, and inoperative. We’re not led by the flesh anymore, and therefore the old sinful lusts, are made of “no effect”.
Romans 6, verse 12 says; “Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it’s lusts.”
So then, once again, it is the fleshly lusts, that have “passed away”, so to speak, and have been rendered inactive, and inoperative, and they are made of no effect to us. And the new that has emerged, is the new desire, and willingness, to be led by the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Now I know that for someone who is in the position of wanting to get married, but is not scripturally divorced from a previous marriage, this kind of logical and rational treatment of God’s word, isn’t very popular. People in that situation tend to think with their emotions, and not by reasoning with God’s word. And they’ll say; That’s not the way to interpret the bible. But yet, that is exactly how the word of God is presented to us in the bible. It’s presented to us reasonably and rationally.
The word translated as “therefore” is used 502 times in the new testament. And by using that word, God is demanding that a logical conclusion is to be reached, based upon what has been said. Therefore, that is the ONLY way for us to interpret the bible, because that is the very way that God has chosen to present His word to us.
But let me just approach the subject of a previous divorce being done away with, in a different manner. We’ll still have to use our reasoning, but let’s use different bible teachings than we’ve used already.
You may have someone approach you about this subject, so that’s why we need to consider this, because we need to be able to give a biblical answer to the question.
Jesus states a very clear fact in Mathew 19, verse 9, concerning divorce and remarriage. He says; “And I say to you; Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman, commits adultery. And he that marries her that is divorced, commits adultery.”
Now why is that? Why would you be committing adultery, if you marry another woman, after you have divorced a wife, for a reason other than sexual immorality? And why does someone else become guilty of adultery, if they marry a woman who has been divorced, for a reason other than sexual immorality?
The reason is, that the man and woman who have divorced for reasons other than adultery, are in fact, still married to one another, in God’s eyes. And the reason that they are still married, in God’s eyes, is because of what Jesus had just stated, in verse 6. In verse 6, Jesus quotes Genesis 2, verse 24; “For this cause (for the cause of being joined together, or married) A man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
And then Jesus says; “Consequently, they are no longer two, but one flesh.” And here’s the part that explains why the divorced couple are actually still married in God’s eyes; Jesus says; “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder”, or “let not man separate”. It’s really a matter of having the authority to do something. What God is saying, is that man has no authority to separate what God has joined together, except it be when sexual immorality has taken place.
When man hasn’t been given the authority from God to do something, it can’t be done by man. It’s not just a matter of being right or wrong, it’s a matter of having the ability to do something. If God hasn’t given you the authority to separate what He has joined together, then you have no ability to do so either.
When Jesus said, “Let not man separate”, He was really declaring a law! It’s like when God said “Let there be light”, and there was light. God wasn’t offering a choice, He was declaring the way it was to be. That’s exactly what God was declaring when Jesus said, “Let not man separate”. That’s the way it was going to be! Man has neither the authority, nor the ability, to separate that which God has joined together.
It’s just like the seven sons of the Jewish priest named Sceva, from Acts chapter 19. They were trying to cast out evil spirits by naming the name of Jesus. But in verse 15, the evil spirit said to them; “I recognize Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” And verse 16 says; “And the man in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them, and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”
Those men had not been given the authority from God, to cast out evil spirits, and therefore, they had no ability to do it. And so they were overcome by the evil spirits. You might say, the thing those men had no authority over, had authority over them.
So then here’s the parallel you can draw from that. God has given man the authority to divorce for only one reason. And that reason is sexual immorality. Therefore, if a man or woman should divorce for that reason, then God will separate what He had previously joined together. Otherwise, if a man or woman should divorce for any other reason, they’re union is NOT separated by God, and the marriage is still binding. The only other case in which God does separate the marriage union, is on account of the death of one of the partners. Then God separates the union. But keep in mind, that in either case, it is GOD who does the separating, not man!
Therefore, when a man or woman does NOT have the authority to end a marriage, that marriage has the authority over them, and they remain married, whether they physically separate themselves from each other, or not.
And so you can clearly see, why a person would be guilty of adultery, if they divorce for an unauthorized reason, and marry another. It’s because that man and woman are still married to each other. God has not separated their union.
In conclusion then, consider these scenarios..
A man marries a woman, and neither one of them are Christians. The man obeys the gospel and is “born again”. When he arises out of the water of baptism as a new creation, is he still married, or has his marriage been nullified, by God? Well, you’d probably say; Of course he’s still married. If he was married before he became a Christian, he’s obviously still married after he becomes a Christian. I agree 100%.
Here’s the next scenario.. A man marries a woman, and neither one of them are Christians. The couple then divorces, but not because of sexual immorality. But since neither one of them has the authority from God to end their marriage, they therefore CANNOT end it. Unless you’re authorized by God, to end your marriage, your marriage continues, and it has authority over you. “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
A few years down the road, this man becomes a Christian. Here’s the question; When he arises out of baptism, a new creation, is he still married, or has his marriage been nullified? If he was married before he became a Christian, wouldn’t he still be married after he became a Christian?
Because of everything we’ve considered here, I believe the answer would be, that the man is still married, even after he becomes a Christian. Therefore that man would not be able to marry another, and have God’s approval. He could be reconciled to his wife, but he couldn’t marry another, or he’d be guilty of adultery.