In his letters the apostle Paul said that the person who receives the gift of faith becomes a new "creation" ( a new person). How does he understand this change or transformation? How exactly does the person become this "new creation" ?
The Bible doesn't discuss people receiving a gift of faith. There is one mention of a gift of the Spirit that involved faith (I Corinthians 12:9), but these gifts were not given to all Christians nor were these gifts required to be a Christian. Later, Paul states that these special gifts would end (I Corinthians 13:8-10).
If we want to understand what the new creation is and how to obtain it, we need to examine the passages where it is mentioned. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation" (II Corinthians 5:17-19). Thus, we learn that a person is a new creation when he is in Christ. "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation" (Galatians 6:14-15).
So how does a person get into Christ? "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27). When a person acts through faith and are baptized they enter into Christ. Paul also connects the new creation or new life to baptism in his letter to the Romans. "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). Therefore this change comes about at the time of baptism.
What has changed? The major change is that "old things have passed away." This is a reference to a person's old manner of life. "If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:21-24). Therefore it is a conscience change in behavior, sought because a person's sins have been removed. "But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all" (Colossians 3:8-11).
Peter also talks of this. "Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles--when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries" (I Peter 4:1-3). Therefore, being a new creation our attitude toward sin changes. Where once we might not have cared whether we sinned or not, now we strive not to sin. After all, why would a person who had his sins washed away (Acts 22:16) wish to wallow in the filth again?
And it is not just the removal of sin. Being a new creation of God, we strive to do God's will. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).