Our culture chases novelty—the next unusual thing. Novelty can quickly disappear as we become familiar with those things. Newness however is the principle that makes things new. Rather than pursuing the novel, Scripture offers us a continual renewing. We are to put off the old and put on the new and so be constantly renewed. Our thoughts can turn naturally to new things at the beginning of another year. Yet this is a daily and constant renewal that should never grow old, and we ought never to grow tired of. We need constant renewing because there is a principle of remaining corruption within.
The apostle Paul speaks of newness of life as an ongoing principle in those who have experienced the new birth (Romans 6:4). John Brown of Wamphray explains more of what it means to walk in newness of life in the following updated extract.
1. New Life Means Ongoing Newness of life
Justification by faith in Christ Jesus through the imputed righteousness of Christ, is so far from being an enemy to holiness and sanctification, that it is always accompanied by them. Justification and sanctification go hand in hand. Such are said to be so dead to sin they cannot live unto it and are also said to walk in newness of life.
2. Newness of life is opposed to dying corruption
This sanctification, renovation or regeneration includes two things. The rooting out, mortifying and killing of the old man of sin and corruption, and the reviving, quickening and growth of the new man of grace. We hear therefore of their being dead and buried with Christ and also of their rising to newness of life.
Corruption in the regenerate is not quite extinct and killed entirely, there is still something of it remaining in the best which constantly troubles them. Yet corruption has received deadly wounds, and is, as it were, is in the death throes. It is dying and will never be able to recover its former strength and vivacity. It is like a dead man in his grave that will not come back. We are said to be baptized into his death, that is to say, our corruption is dying, having received its death stroke. Not only so, but also, we are buried with Him, and so corruption is rotting away, and shall never revive, and return to its former state and strength.
3. Newness of life Comes from Christ not ourselves
We are commanded to put our corruptions to death. This is not brought about from any influence from, or strength or efficacy in ourselves but all only from Christ. Therefore, we are baptized into His death, and buried with Him into death.
We cannot partake of any influences from the Lord Jesus to get corruptions put to death and the new man growing until we are united to Christ and made one with him by faith. All our communion flows from union. Therefore, before we can be baptised into His death and buried with Him by baptism, we must first be baptised into Himself. As many of us as are baptised into Christ, are baptized into His death.
Believers are really united to Christ as members are to the head (Ephesians 4:15), the wife to the husband (Ephesians 5:32) and as branches to the stock (John 15:4). Communion of life necessarily flows from this union, together with strength and partaking of the benefits of His mediation in His death, burial, and resurrection. None who ever have fled to Christ, and are united to Him by faith, shall lack these necessities. As many of us, as are baptised into Christ, are baptised into His death.
4. Newness of life comes from the resurrection of Christ
The resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has influence in the pardoning of our sins and justification. But it also has influence in killing sin and delivering His own from its power in sanctification. Christ is a representative person in all He did, therefore it is said, that just as He was raised from the dead, so we might walk in newness of life.
All that have fled to Christ by faith are by this made partakers of the fruits and effects of His resurrection. They are brought out of the old state of death under sin’s tyranny and dominion and are renewed, having a new life, new principles, new operations, new designs, and new fruits—all things are now new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christ was raised from the dead, so they walk in newness of life.
5. Newness of life requires constant growth
This life which believers in Christ have received through enlivening influence from Him, is not an idle, fruitless life, without fruits of holiness. Rather, it is an active stirring principle, setting folk on work constantly. In this life believers can never attain perfection but are still advancing and growing in grace.
Therefore, they walk in newness of life, and grace is living at their heart roots. Thus, all their doings now smell of life and flow from life, except when temptation and corruption is swaying them downward and God’s restraining and strengthening grace is withdrawn.
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