God tells us that all who believe the gospel have become a new creation in Christ. This is a promise from our heavenly Father, who cannot lie. If your faith is in Christ, God sees you right now as a new creation born of God, in Christ, in the Spirit.
Therefore from now on we recognize/regard no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Cor 5:16-19 NAS
The flesh is the old creation, a product of flesh, blood, and the will of man, Adam. The flesh has not been redeemed, born-again, or saved by God, nor can we. The new creation is of Christ, in the Spirit, born of God.
Who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:13 NAS
Think about what it means to not recognize or regard ourselves and other believers in the flesh, in the old creation. If we do not recognize ourselves according to the flesh, how do we recognize each other? By faith, in the Spirit, as God’s new creation. The old creation was born of Adam with an inherited sin nature and died on the cross with Christ in God’s eyes. The old creation is forever dead to God, and he calls us to agree. The new creation is born of Christ and forever alive in the Spirit specifically because of Christ’s righteousness that has been imputed to us.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor 5:21 NAS
If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. Rom 8:10 NAS
The primary reason we no longer recognize each other in the flesh, is because God no longer recognizes us in the flesh, the old creation that was crucified and died with Christ. He sees us solely in the eternal new creation He has made us in Christ.
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." Gal 2:20 NAS
2 Cor 5:16-19 tells us that we once knew Christ according to the flesh, but we no longer do. We are called to walk in and recognize Jesus, ourselves, and all other believers in the unseen Spirit, in the eternal new creation and no longer in the temporal flesh.
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Cor 4:18 NAS
Since we cannot see the new creation in the mirror by sight with our eyes of flesh, we are called to walk by faith and not by sight.
For we walk by faith, not by sight 2 Cor 5:7 NAS
Without faith, it is impossible to please God. We please God most when we believe His word.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Heb 11:6 NAS
This is why when Jesus returns; He will be looking for our faith in who God states we are in Him.
"I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8 NAS
As Adam was the firstborn of the old creation, Jesus who has existed for all eternity as God, is also a firstborn, of the new creation that God has made.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified (made righteous); and these whom He justified (made righteous), He also glorified. Rom 8:29-30 NAS
As the old creation, we were sinners because we were born under Adam. As a new creation, we are righteous because we were born under Jesus.
For as through the one man's (Adam)disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One (Jesus the 2nd Adam) the many will be made righteous. Rom 5:19 NAS
In the old creation, we were born under the line of the first Adam, in his fallen image.
When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. Gen 5:3 NAS
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. King David in Psalm 51:5
In the new creation, we are born under the 2nd Adam, as Jesus is also called. We inherit His righteousness when we are born again. This is when God sees the old creation crucified and dead forever on the cross and the new creation alive forever in the Spirit. We are called to walk by faith in what is unseen and agree with God. Therefore, we are to see ourselves and other believers as righteous in Christ, in the Spirit, the new creation that is created in the very image of God.
Paul Recognized Believers in the Spirit
This is something we see Paul do through-out his ministry; the verse we are discussing was written by him. He knew we have a choice to walk in the new creation or the old and he intimately knew the struggle between the old and new we all experience. He revealed his struggle in Romans 7. This struggle is why we need to see ourselves and others in the eternal new creation, encouraging and building one another up in the faith.
When Paul wrote the Corinthians, they were caught up in sin, including sexual sin, which means they were walking in the flesh and not in the Spirit. But, he still called them Saints, (sanctified set-apart ones). He never once called them sinners, even though there was plenty of opportunities to do so. He recognized them in the Spirit, the new creation. He knew that when a person was caught up in sin, they were walking in the flesh, seeing themselves in the old creation. Sin is always of the flesh and never of the Spirit. Paul would draw them back into the Spirit by reminding them of their identity in Christ as the new creation by saying “don’t you know you will judge angels, you are a child of God, you are a co-heir with Christ, etc. He would always encourage them in their faith in God’s promises, no matter how dim the embers might be.
God calls all believers to recognize and regard ourselves and other believers in the new creation, our born-again Spirit because this where the fruits of the Spirit supernaturally overcome and replace the works of the flesh. According to the Bible, the only way to defeat the lusts of the flesh is to see the flesh as dead and walk by the Spirit.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Gal 5:16 NAS
Therefore, we agree with God that we are a new creation, the new has come, and the old has passed away, is dead. When we agree with God, we can walk together with God and doing the living works of the Spirit He is calling us to do. By recognizing ourselves and others in the unseen, eternal new creation, in the Spirit, we work together to foster faith in God’s promises. We buildup each other’s faith. The more we see ourselves in the Spirit, we will walk in the Spirit, and the fruits of the Spirit will manifest supernaturally in our life as Christ flows through us. The fruits of the Spirit overwhelm and defeat the lusts of the flesh in our life, and we become the living example of Christ God wants us to be.
God’s whole goal is that we work with Him to lead more to a saving knowledge of Christ. It is only in the Spirit; in Christ, we overcome the desires of the flesh and can love those who hate us and pray for those who persecute us. When people see our good works done in Christ's name, they can see our faith and glorify God. It is this kindness, the kindness of God, that leads men to repentance, to change their mind and believe the gospel.Many more New Covenant Bible Studies HERE. Jesus poured out His blood for the New Covenant of grace and truth, replacing the Old Covenant law of Moses. Believers are exclusively under the New Covenant, the last will and testament of Jesus that began after the cross.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20