(17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV
Dear Father in heaven, open our hearts to see what is good in our lives. May the light in our hearts shine clearly so that we see, recognize, and live in accordance with what comes from eternity and belongs to our true nature, brought to us through Christ. Keep us from being blinded and deafened by experiences that will pass by. Help us to rise above them even in suffering and to wait patiently for what is becoming new and perfect. Praise to your name that we too can say, "The old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" Amen.
The context of the words of 2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV
Second Corinthians 5:11–21 describes an appeal to those in Corinth who know Paul. It's important they understand he is not crazy for continuing to preach the gospel, even though it leads to so much suffering for him. Christ's love compels Paul to continue to tell all people that they be reconciled to God through faith in Christ, just as he was. In Christ, God is not counting people's sins against them, but instead giving them credit for Christ's righteous life. As Christ's ambassador, Paul begged all people to be reconciled to God through faith in Christ.
Why does Paul endure so much suffering for preaching about Christ? He continues here his discussion of eternity, comparing our earthly bodies to living in a tent. Paul would rather live in the eternal body God has prepared for those who trust in Christ, free from the groaning and burden that afflicts everyone here. With that to look forward to, he preaches with courage that all in Christ are new creations. In Christ, God is reconciling people to Himself, not counting their sin against them. Paul implores everyone to be reconciled to God in this way through faith in Christ.
Meaning of the words
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"
Paul has written that Christ's death for sin has changed the way he regards people. Instead of looking at each person as a mere human being, he must view those who are in Christ as something entirely different. Those who are "in Christ" are those who have faith in Him, credited with Christ's righteous life, and their sin forgiven by Christ's death in their place. Such people are new creatures. Those "in Christ" have become something they were not before. Their identity has changed from being the fallen version of themselves, to being associated with the righteousness of Christ. That's who they are now.
In fact, the old version of a Christian, who they were before they were "in Christ," is not recoverable. The old is gone, Paul writes. The new has come. All the old dreams and ideas and agendas and purposes have ceased to exist and have been replaced by Christ's ideas and agendas and purposes in an entirely new creature called "Christian".
Paul's words are true in another way. The old way of humanity is also gone. The old way of the law is also gone. Christ is the long-promised new Covenant that makes it possible for men and women to be made new once and for all, and for eternity, with no possibility of returning to the old.