What does it mean to be a "new creation"? (See 2 Corinthians 5:17 - "If anyone is in Christ he/she is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come.") Are those words literal or merely figurative?
(Read also Romans 8:28-39; esp. 28-30)
"For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son ..."
God's purpose for you and I is that we would be conformed to the likeness (image) of His Son. That is why He predestined us, called us, and justified us. His purpose in all of it was that we "be conformed to the likeness of His Son". This purpose holds out bright hope for tomorrow (see verses 31-39), but also hope for today.
So in what way is God conforming us to the likeness of His Son today?
I think it is helpful here to distinguish between what theologians call the "broad image of God" and the "narrow image of God". The "broad image of God" is the result of creation. All human beings are created in the image of God. However, the "narrow image of God" is something only believers in Jesus receive through the Holy Spirit's work.
The "narrow image of God" relates to God's character; His goodness, His love, His mercy, His compassion, His heart, etc. These things are sometimes called God's "communicable attributes". These "communicable attributes" define the way we are being conformed to the likeness of God's Son in accordance with God's purpose.
The Bible actually uses lots of different metaphors to describe this purpose: "born again", "new creation", "new heart (heart of flesh vs. heart of stone)", etc. But all of them mean the same thing. They are speaking of the reality that the Holy Spirit (third person of the triune God) comes to live in everyone who places true faith in Jesus and that the Holy Spirit is at work in us to make us completely new! Therefore, these words are not merely figurative, they are very literal. Each metaphor is a means to describe the mystery of sanctification (the process by which God is making us new/holy).
If that is true, then why do we not see more evidence of it in our lives?
That will have to be a question for another day. For now, I invite you to reflect on what has been written (in God's word and in my blog), and to share your own thoughts about why we do not see more evidence of the Holy Spirit's work in our lives. I very much look forward to hearing your thoughts ...