A block away from the church I served in Detroit lived an old lady named Mrs. Sneed.  Mrs. Sneed didn't talk much.  Mrs. Sneed never smiled.  But Mrs. Sneed was active in her church, and she knew the doctrines! 


One day I'm walking down 25th Street, and here she comes.  "Hello, Mrs. Sneed, how are you?"  She stops, looks me up and down, takes a step backwards and says, "Trouble with you, you ain't sanctified!"  and walks on.  


As far as Sister Sneed was concerned, she was sanctified, and that set her apart from the rest of us unsanctified slobs.  But what was Sister Sneed talking about?  What did she mean when she said, "You ain't sanctified!"?


Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he/she is a new creation;

 the old has passed away, behold the new has come."

                                                            II Corinthians 5:17


….That's what it means to be sanctified.


Old Sister Sneed may not have been the best example of what it means to be sanctified.  She wasn't the most cheerful soul in the neighborhood.  But she had a point:


Are you sanctified, or aren't you?

Are you in Christ, or aren't you?

Are you a new creation, or are you the same old you?


So we look into ourselves to find out.  Of course we don't look so long that we become preoccupied with our spiritual condition.  We don't want to be taking our spiritual pulse every five minutes.  But we need to ask ourselves where we are in relation to this awesome promise --- "If any one is in Christ, that person is a new creation."  If we don't open our minds to this promise, we will miss out on something wonderful which God wants to give us.  Something that could make a huge difference in the way we think, in the way we live. 


Therefore if any one is in Christ he/she is a new creation;

the old has passed away, behold the new has come.


If I'm in Christ, if my spirit is joined to his Spirit, if I'm drinking in what he has to say ---and walking in it, I am a new creation.  God has brought me to life like I've never been alive before.  This transformation is not imaginary.  It is real. 


The old has passed away.  The old fears.  The old resentments.  The old obsessions.  The old habits.  The old lusts.  The old greed.  All the old stuff that held me in its power ---gone!


Behold the new has come.  The atmosphere of the coming glory that will one day rule this earth has already entered my being, opened my eyes, renewed my mind.  Given me a freedom I never had before.  Put a love in me that is not me, it's the Spirit of God himself.


The old has passed away.  All things have become new.  That's what it means to be sanctified.  And if you're sanctified, you are a new creation.  Because Jesus, alive from the dead, not only walks at your side, he lives in you!


That day on 25th Street when Sister Sneed looked me up and down and said, "You ain't sanctified!" I sure wasn't sanctified enough to come up with a good response.  I was stunned.  I didn't know what to say.


What I should have said was, "Okay, Sister Sneed, tell me what I gotta do to get sanctified."  Who knows what she would have said?  But the simple truth is that Jesus went up on that cross, broke through all the powers of darkness and rose to become our Lord, so that we could all be sanctified, now in this life!


Therefore if any one is in Christ he/she is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come.


Maybe God was speaking to me through old Mrs. Sneed that day.  Maybe, when she stood there and looked me up and down, she saw a man with his own agenda.  Maybe she saw a man who was full of himself.  


Because I'm only a new creature when I'm in Christ. When I'm in "me" it's the same old me….crowding out the new thing God is trying to put into me.  


This is why Jesus stresses how important it is to abide in him.  He's there for me.  But it's up to me to stay connected.  My job is to abide in him.


He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bares much fruit --- she it is that bears much fruit --- for apart from me you can do nothing. 

                                                            John 15:5


If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.

                                                            John 15:7-8


It's up to me to abide in him.  God cannot do that for me.  Many people seem to think that it's up to the Lord to keep us wrapped up in that warm feeling….to make us conscious, all the time, that he's really there.  But that's not how it works.  Abiding in the Lord has nothing to do with feelings.


"Do I feel his presence?  O yes!  It's wonderful!  I feel so good!  I have such peace!  I'm just warm and cozy all over!….. Wait a minute!  Its gone!  That feeling is gone!  Has he left me?  Where are you Lord??"


You don't abide in Christ with your feelings.  You abide in Christ with your faith. 


You take him at his word, and walk in that word.  You trust that he's with you, no matter how you feel.  If you're trying to do what you believe he wants you to do, if you're holding on to his promise to be with you, he's there!


And if he's there, and you're abiding in him, all the power of heaven surrounds you like a wall of fire.  The old has passed away.  Behold the new has come.  And now you can walk in God's will.  You can forgive, you can love your neighbor as you never could before.  You can loosen up and start being generous with what God has given you and, to your amazement, the more you give out, the more God pours in!


When old Sister Sneed pronounced me an unsanctified slob that day, maybe the Lord was telling me through Sister Sneed that it's up to me to stay sanctified, to abide in the Vine, to stay connected!


So here's what I've learned, and want to pass on to you, since that day when Sister Sneed ambushed me:  It's as true as the sun shines:


"Therefore, if any one is in Christ,

            he/she is a new creation;

                        the old has passed away,

                                    behold the new has come."


God has already done his part.  Any one reading these words can be in Christ, beginning now.  All you have to do is abandon yourself to him…..


"Here I am, Lord.  I'm yours!  Enter me.  Rule me.  Guide me.  Live in me." 


                        And he will, beginning now.


Our part is to keep the connection alive, to abide in him, just like that little branch abides in the Vine.  And to help us to abide in him, here are three things we can do every day, constantly, so we can live as new creations instead of as unsanctified slobs:


1.      Soak up his words.

2.      Call on his name.

3.      Walk in his light.


Soak up his words.  Many people have no idea of the power of those words of Jesus.  They are words like no other words ever spoken on this planet.  They will still be here when heaven and earth have passed away.  God has preserved them to us down through 20 centuries in countless languages.  All we have to do is soak them up until they become part of us. 


The Lord's Prayer.  The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, 7). The parables, especially the Parable of the Sower.  Jesus' promises.  His warnings.  Start drinking them in, until they are part of you.  Memorize some of them.


It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail.  The words that I have spoken to you, they are Spirit and they are life.

                                                            John 6:63


Call on his name. 


And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

                                                            Acts 2:21


When you call on his name, you are coming into his presence.  He is there.  And he is there, not only as your Lord, but as your Friend.  So talk to him!  "Lord Jesus!"  When you speak those words he is right there. 


You're alone in an elevator.  You're walking down the street.  You're driving alone in your car.  Call on his name.  If someone should catch you speaking the name, "Jesus" they might think you're crazy.  But you're not crazy.  You're a new creation!  Don't worry about it!


Walk in his light.  He will give you light.  He will make you aware of the good thing to do, the right thing to say.  How to get rid of that grudge.  When to hold your peace.  You are getting light.  So walk in it!  And as you do, you are abiding in him.  You are a new creation. 


Picture old Sister Sneed standing before you right now.  She looks you up and down and asks you, "Are you sanctified?"


Don't be afraid to answer, "Yes I am, Mrs. Sneed.  May God be praised!"


Move forward from this moment as a person who is abiding in Christ….


…soaking up his words,

…calling on his name,

…walking in his light.


"Therefore, if any one is in Christ,

            he/she is a new creation;

                        the old has passed away,

                                    behold the new has come."