As we consider the idea of being made “new”, we actually have to go back to the beginning. In the first chapters of Genesis, we see God creating and designing everything; from the earth to the animals to the sky and even the solar system. God created everything that exists from the largest elements of the solar system to the smallest microfibers and atoms, God created it all. We know from reading Genesis that not only did God create, but He created everything and said it was good, without fault or error. God’s design in a small way resembled Himself. When He created Adam and Eve (in Hebrew their names mean “Human” and “Life”) they were created in His image and given the priestly task of stewarding a holy place called the Garden of Eden. This place is holy because God is present in it (Gen. 3:8), just as we see the Holy of Holies is holy because God is in it, not only that but it is also the geographic location of where heaven and earth meet (we learn more about the Garden of Eden in Ezekiel 17:22, 20:40, 28:13-14 and 40:2).
Interestingly, the garden’s description is very similar to the design God gave the Israelites for building the temple and we find that this later temple is actually something that stood as a symbol and pointed back to the Garden of Eden. Just as the Tabernacle became more holy and reverent as you moved closer to the center, so is the garden. The garden is a place described as Eden, in the middle of Eden is the garden, and in the middle of the garden is the tree of life. It is in the garden that God calls Adam and Eve to “work and keep” the garden (Gen. 2:15). These are the same words given to the priests who work in God’s temple. So, we have this powerful image of the first man and the first woman, commissioned by God to be His first priests in a place where heaven meets earth and is Holy because God is present there. Not only that, but they are the ones who oversee creation, thus standing before God as representatives of creation. They are also made in the image of God and represent God to all of creation.
So, what does this have to do with being “Made New”? If we continue to read the story of Adam and Eve, we soon see that they fall short. They choose to disobey God for the purpose of becoming god over their own lives. This is catastrophic as it leads to sin entering the world and Adam and Eve being kicked out of the garden of Eden. They are no longer able to function as God created them to function. They are no longer able to do the work that God created them to do because they cannot enter the garden. We see a dichotomy built between God and people, one that has eternal ramifications. So, when we consider what it means to be “Made New,” we have to understand that it is a new life, a new status, a new perception on life, and a new purpose, all of which is to enter back into the royal priesthood of God. God has called us to “work and keep.” We are to work at building a relationship with Him by accepting His free gift, breaking the dichotomy between us and Him. We are to work at sharing this good news of new life with all who are lost and helping them to see the truth and then building them up by pointing them to God. We are called to keep the commandments of God’s word and not to drift. Ultimately, if we are going to talk about being made new, we need to understand that this is not simply Christian vs unchristian. This is God sending His son to die on the cross in order to save us (a people who abandoned Him) and to restore our priesthood in His kingdom.
7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.