Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
Augustine of Hippo (354-430) Is generally reckoned as one of the greatest theologians the church has ever produced. Another remarkable thing about him is the radical transformation of his life when the Lord opened his heart to the Gospel and he responded in repentance and faith.
Augustine was a promiscuous young man and was known by the local prostitutes of his time. A story is told about him walking down a street and a prostitute called out to him, “Augustine it is I!” Augustine took flight with the woman in pursuit of him crying out the same words, “Augustine it is I.”
The story concludes with Augustine shouting back to her, “It is you but it is not I.” Augustine demonstrated by that story the biblical teaching in our verse for today. When someone becomes a follower of Jesus their entire outlook on life is remarkably changed by the Lord. This is what the biblical word “repentance” means. The person has a revolution in their thinking. The things they once loved they now despise, and the things they now love they once despised.
In the small letter “1 John”—at the end of the New Testament—there is great emphasis on the idea that Christians learn to put off sinful manners and commence practicing what is holy and right in God’s eyes.
As our verse today says, “the old has gone”—meaning that whatever displeases God is removed from our daily living. What Augustine meant by what he said is that the old Augustine with all his evil habits has disappeared and a new man has emerged.
When the Lord regenerates a person He implants in them a desire for holy living. Their minds are renewed (Romans 12:2). In Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV) we read,
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life,
to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self,
created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Call to mind that when you seek to live a holy life—pleasing to the Lord—God works alongside you to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ. It is written in Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV)
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—
not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—
continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,
for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
Take heart—if you have been overcome in some sin or another—and when temptation strikes you, as it apparently did that day with Augustine, learn to say, “It is not I.”