Sermon for January 3, 2021


2 Corinthians 5:14-20

The definition of re-creation is commonly done in two types of transitive verbs.  One defines re-creation as refresh while another defines it as to create again.[1] While these definitions on the surface appear similar, their applications are quite different.  If something is refreshed it simply would mean the same thing but simply updated.  Think of it as redoing your bathroom or kitchen by simply repainting them, same items just a new look.  To recreate means quite a bit more.  It means that it is a complete remodel, taking out cabinets or walls or fixtures and making it all new in the same space.  It is the second instance that we must understand when we come to today’s Scripture passage:

2 Corinthians 5:14–20 New Living Translation

14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us.* Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.* 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!*

18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

*(Italics are mine)

It is the second definition of re-creation that Paul intends, and this is more than evident in the original Greek. 

5:17  ὥστε εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ καινὴ κτίσις* τὰ ἀρχαῖα παρῆλθεν ἰδοὺ γέγονεν καινά

*(Boldface mine)

καινὴ- new-as respects form, recently made, fresh, recent, unused, unworn[2]

κτίσις- of individual things and beings, a creature, a creation[3]

This means we must go back to Genesis and look at God’s original creations, Adam and Eve.  It is from these two, the Bible explains, we come to be who we are today.  It is that crafty serpent that we need to focus on.

In the Ancient Near East, mainly the Egyptians and Mesopotamia, the worship of snakes was widely celebrated.  The first 18 chapters of Genesis is widely considered by most all of the biblical scholars as pre-history, meaning the author was not present when these events happened, they are just recording the stories that have been handed down to them.  That means that the author(s) of the first 18 chapters are firmly living at a time where the surrounding cultures and nations are already firmly established.  With that being the possible case, we must look at the possibility of the allegorical aspects found in the early chapters of Genesis.

The Crafty Serpant?

וְהַנָּחָשׁ֙  הָיָ֣ה  עָר֔וּם  מִכֹּל֙  חַיַּ֣ת  הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה  אֲשֶׁ֥ר  עָשָׂ֖ה  יְהוָ֣ה  אֱלֹהִ֑ים  וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙  אֶל־  הָ֣אִשָּׁ֔ה  אַ֚ף  כִּֽי־  אָמַ֣ר  אֱלֹהִ֔ים  לֹ֣א  תֹֽאכְל֔וּ  מִכֹּ֖ל  עֵ֥ץ  הַגָּֽן׃*

*(Boldface and underline are mine)

Now the serpent was more cunning…it is interesting that the Hebrew word here is translated into English as cunning or crafty: (עָר֔וּם) arum!

Let us follow the course of the word arum through the story:

  • the humans are arum but are not ashamed.
  • the serpent is very arum, but with no mention of shame.
  • then, their eyes were opened and they knew that they were arum.
  • They sew fig leaves together (to hide?)
  • God walks in the garden looking and calling.
  • The human replies, “I was afraid because I am arum” (note: the human is not ashamed, but frightened)
  • God said, “who told you that you were arum“… and the man blames the woman and she blames the serpent.[4]

What does this all mean?  It means that the serpent is human worldly wisdom.  We recognize this world as it is because this is the way people, who are arum, act. We cannot disentangle ourselves from our participation in the world as we have made it by seeing ourselves as it, worldly.

This is the only place in the Hebrew Bible that “arum” is given a negative definition.  Why?  Well, pure “arum” is from God, impure “arum” is from the world.  Knowing this, it clears up some confusion found later in the Bible.  Look at Numbers 21:4-9:

4 Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea[a] to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, 5 and they began to speak against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!”

6 So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. 7 Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people.

8 Then the Lord told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” 9 So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed!

Again, look deeply into this story, it is about human understanding and opinion at conflict with God!  Even this event eventually was twisted by the people:

2 Kings 18:

1 In the third year of the reign of Hoshea son of Elah over Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz became king of Judah. 2He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abi, the daughter of Zechariah. 3And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. 4 He removed the high places, shattered the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He also demolished the bronze snake called Nehushtan that Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had burned incense to it.

Thus, the Spiritually filled individuals continued this idea into the New Testament:

John 3:

5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh is born of flesh, but spirit is born of the Spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The wind blows where it wishes. You hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”9“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.10“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and you do not understand these things? 11Truly, truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, and yet you people do not accept our testimony.12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven— the Son of Man. 14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.

You (with worldly wisdom) teach Israel these things, but I (Jesus, God incarnate and full of the Spirit) say this.

Therefore, we need to be reborn, remade, re-created.  We need to get back to the “arum” before the fall of man.

Proverbs 3:5-6 New Living Translation

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Man came up with some creative things in this world.  Murder (Cain and Abel), jealousy, gossip, slander, idolatry, hostility, outbursts of anger, selfishness, oppression of people (gender and race), drunkenness, and lustful pleasures.  It should be to no one’s surprise that the oldest occupation besides farming is prostitution.  How do we get away from these?  We must let all control go back to God and become a new creation…recreated!

Paul knew this well!  Just look here:

                Galatians 6:11-17 New Living Translation

11 Notice what large letters I use as I write these closing words in my own handwriting.12 Those who are trying to force you to be circumcised want to look good to others. They don’t want to be persecuted for teaching that the cross of Christ alone can save. 13 And even those who advocate circumcision don’t keep the whole law themselves. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast about it and claim you as their disciples.14 As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. 15 It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.

Become a new creation now:

                Revelation 21:3-8 New Living Translation

3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. 7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. 8 “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

The New Creation is Life with God.  The old creation remains dead, and if they do not return to God before we die in this life, there is not a second chance.  Jesus is that second chance.  Emmanuel, God with us began with Jesus.  His sacrifice gave us a choice and hope.  But God is with us this very day, even though Jesus is at the right hand of the Father.  The Holy Spirit is traversing this earth right now!  God is with His creation!  We need not to be terrified, we need not need to understand it as human reasoning does not see a need for God, we just need to see that the world we are in is incredibly flawed!  Human thinking has not made it any better, actually worse.  What we should desire is a clean slate, a reset button, a restart, to begin anew!  We should understand that it begins right here, right now, not when we die!

Closing comments:

Have you ever heard someone say about someone, even Christians, “Oh, that’s just so and so, that is just the way he/she/they are!”  If the way they are causes pain, does not have control of their mind or their tongue, is always argumentative, always finding flaws in everyone and everything, is that then okay?  NO, IT IS NOT!  Again, as I used Paul’s words in Galatians 6, look what preceded it:

Galatians 5:16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

[1] “Recreate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam Accessed 30 Dec. 2020.

[2] “G2537 – kainos – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NLT).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 30 Dec, 2020.

[3] “G2937 – ktisis – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NLT).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 30 Dec, 2020.


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