I want you to look with me at Colossians chapter 3 tonight, and we’re going to look at some practical things here in the third chapter, beginning with the ninth verse. We’ve entitled this particular section “Putting on the New Man,” Putting on the New Man. And this is such a practical section, I don’t want you to get too bogged down in theology. I want you to just enjoy the practicality of it, and see if there aren’t some very basic things here that are going to make a difference in your life when you respond to them.
You know, if you were a soldier , or a bus driver, or a baseball player, or a football player, or a market clerk, or a policeman, or whatever, you have to dress the part. You notice in all of those professions that the people who are in the professions wear a certain kind of uniform. If you happen to be a mailman or whatever, you have to have that kind of uniform. If you happen to be a banker, you have a pinstriped suit, and a button-down collar, and a briefcase, and look the part. And you could even get away with not being very adequate if you look the part in many cases.
But looking the part is an important area in our society. We are a uniformed society – maybe not like Red China where everybody looks exactly the same – but we have managed to sort of separate people, and they dress according to their role in life. You can just about tell a person by the kind of clothes they wear on a daily basis. If you see them going off to work, you get a pretty good idea of what they do.
And what we wear is important relative to what we are. And this is precisely Paul’s point in Colossians chapter 3. In the spiritual sense, you need to dress yourself spiritually to meet your identity spiritually. That’s his point right here, it’s pretty simple. If you’re a Christian, you ought to dress the part. A new man should wear new clothes, and he’s not talking about a Christine uniform, and he’s not talking about a certain kind of a T-shirt that says “Jesus Saves” on the back, or bumper stickers; that isn’t the idea. But he’s talking about the spiritual garb that you wear, the style of life, how to accommodate your identity. If you’re a new creature in Christ, there are some clothes that go along with that.
We used to live in Downey when I was a kid, and my dad was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Downey. And Downey in those days was still developing, and it wasn’t all built up like it is now, and it was a lot of orchards in some areas. But there was one man who pretty well owned the city. He had subdivided his property and sold it all off, bits and pieces, and he made a lot of money, and he was an extremely wealthy man. He owned the country club in town where folks played golf.
And one day he was out on his country club and he had on some pretty scruffy looking clothes, some pretty shabby things, and one of the guards on the golf course came out and took him, and put him in a car, and hauled him down to the police, and they put him in jail for vagrancy. And I’ll never forget it, because it was a big deal in that town because he owned the place. But because of the way he was dressed, they assumed that he was a vagrant just meandering around the golf course. Well, needless to say, that guard moved to another town and another job. His career was over, because he owned the country club. But he didn’t dress the part, and it was very difficult to tell.
And I’m afraid in the Christian life that there are a lot of people who might get arrested for impersonating a Christian or for trespassing on Christian property, because they really don’t dress the part. Even that old favorite garment of the old life that you want to hang onto so much has got to go. From the spiritual standpoint, it kind of goes like this: when you were saved, when you gave your life to Jesus Christ, when you believed and He redeemed you, your old man died. Your old man died, and you were born again. You were born a new man, and the new man doesn’t want to wear the old man’s clothes, that’s the idea. You don’t want to put on the filthy rags that you used to wear, you want to put on the new robe.
You remember I told you that when a believer was baptized in the early church, it was customary that he was baptized, his old clothes were thrown away, and he was given as a gift from the believing community a new white robe as a symbol of his new identity. And that kind of carries over here in Paul’s thinking as he sees us dying with Christ and rising in new life. He sees the discarding of the old clothes and the old garments, and the putting on of a brand new kind of wardrobe, a brand new lifestyle to accommodate our new life.
Now we need to define some terms here, because it’s very important. You’ll notice in verse 9 the term “the old man,” and in verse 10, the term “the new man;” the old man and the new man. Now these have provided a theological discussion that has run through the ages: What is the old man, and what is the new man? Do we still have the old man, or do we just have the new man? Are we a combination of the old man and the new man, and fighting along with each other, trying to give the more acquiescence to the new man? Just exactly how do these things come together in a simple theological sense?
Well, let me see if I can help you to understand this. When you became a Christian, you ceased to be an old man and you became a new man. If any man be in Christ he is a new creation. You aren’t an old man any more, you don’t have an old man any more; you are a new man. There aren’t two of you, there’s only one of you, and that’s the one new man. And the practices which were normal to the old man are all of a sudden abnormal to the new man; they just don’t fit, they’re incongruous, they are out of sync. And so this section of Colossians is simply saying this: since you are a new man, dress like one. And I’ve called this section “the spiritual put-on,” because that’s really what it is. You’re putting on clothes, or a lifestyle, to match the life that is in you. If you have the risen life, as indicated in verses 1 to 4, if you possess eternal life, then there ought to be an outward manifestation, there ought to be a style of life that accommodates the reality of that internal life.
Now you’ve seen new men in old clothes, haven’t you? You’ve seen Christian people who are new men, but who wear the rags of their former life, who go around doing the things they used to do. And those things are abnormal. Those things are to be put aside; those things are to be discarded. When you died – and by that I mean the moment you believe in Christ by a divine miracle, your old life dies, and you rise to new life, and you become a new man. You then respond by throwing away the old clothes, putting on the new ones. So you can see there is a negative and a positive. The negative is “get rid of the old,” the positive is “put on the new.” And that’s exactly what Paul is saying here.
“Get rid of the old” is what we saw in our last study in verses 5 to 9a. “Kill the members that are on the earth such as fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil desire, covetousness,” and he goes on to talk about these kinds of things that characterize your former life. “Put away” – verse 8 – “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, dirty talk out of your mouth, and stop lying to each other.” In other words, as a new man, there are some things you throw away, some things you junk, some things you kill, some things you discard.
And then in the positive, beginning in verse 9, there are some things you put on. “Seeing that you have put off the old man, and put on the new man, then do this.” verse 12: “Put on therefore,” and he goes starting to list the things you need to put on. So Paul is really calling the Christian, and particularly the Colossians here, to sever their allegiance to the old order of life.
Now we don’t need to say too much about this really, because you understand that. You know as a Christian that that’s exactly what is asked of you. The old life is condemned, the old life has been crucified, the old life has been done away with, the old life is gone; it isn’t there any more, it isn’t around any more. In fact, in Romans 6:6 you have this statement: “Knowing this,” – we can be confident of it – “that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin” – which is synonymous with the old man – “might be destroyed.” In other words, that old man is dead, destroyed, gone, removed. It isn’t around, it’s gone.
In Romans 7, he says, “A woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if the husband dies, she’s free.” And the idea is that your former husband, the former thing you served, your former marriage partner’s sin, and the old man has died, and you’re a new man. You’re wed to a new life, a new energy, which is divine.
So he is saying, “Since you are a new man, act like it. Since you’ve entered a new world, act like it. Since you’re members of a new humanity alive to God, act like it. Leave the old habits, the old selfishness that belonged to the old man, the old Adamic nature, if you will; and take on the new habits of selflessness, which belong to the new Adam who is Christ.
Now what we’re seeing here then is just that old, same old story of a divine and dramatic transformation that takes place in the life of a believer. A tremendous transformation occurs. You die. “I am” – said Paul – “crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live.” In other words, one eye dies, another eye lives; a new man substituting for the old man. And so every Christian is a new man. You’re a new man. You’re a new creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17 as I mentioned. The old is crucified, the new demands a new lifestyle. And, first, as we said, it’s negative; and second, it’s positive.
Now as we look at the positive, we’re going to look at verses 9 through 17. And we’ll cover this, not all tonight. But 9 through 17 gives some basic principles for putting on the clothes that belong to the new man. And if you want a synonym for the clothes, it’s lifestyle, it’s lifestyle. If you want another one, it’s behavior. A new man demands new clothes, or a new lifestyle, or a new kind of behavior.
Now let’s look at it. And there are several thoughts here; and I don’t want to give them all to you tonight, or you’ll just get boggled in them. But there are some areas of truth in which this new lifestyle really has to be defined, and Paul does that. But let me begin by giving you the first one. Paul starts in verses 9 and 10 with the position of the new man.
Now the whole idea of putting on the new man is predicated on who the new man is. If you are a Christian, dress like one. Well, you’ve got to start with the identity of the believer. Look at verse 9, starting with the second phrase there, “seeing” – and we stopped at the end of that first phrase last time. You could put a period after another and start a sentence here. “Seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new man,” – stop there.
“Seeing that you have put off the old man and you have put on the new man, do this.” That’s his point. So the first thing he does is describe this tremendous transformation as the basis for the exhortation that will begin in verse 12. It is essential that a Christian understands that the reason he is to change his lifestyle is because God has changed his life. God has changed him and transformed him; and a new life demands a new lifestyle.
Now you could translate verse 9 this way: “Since, since you have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new man.” It’s a stated fact; it has been done. You’re just a brand new man; and since you are, there ought to be a change in the lifestyle.
Now just to give you a little contextual connection here, he gives the negative aspects of what you put off in verses 5 to 9, the positive aspects of what you put on in verses 9 to 17; and in verses 9 and 10, I just read you, there is a little bridge. In other words, the first five puts this off, and this, and this, and this, and this, since you are a new man. And then the second comes like this: “Since you are a new man, put on this, and this, and this, and this,” so that this little section becomes a bridge between the put off and the put on. It ties the old to the new. It gives a way from the old life to the new life across a chasm that could never be crossed, except that Jesus has made you a new creature. Since you are new, since you are redeemed, since you are a new creature, since you are a new man, put this off, put this on.
Now let me look again at that term “the old man” in verse 9. What do you mean “put off the old man with his deeds”? You have already done it, since you’ve done it, and since you’ve put on the new man? What is this old man? Well, let me describe him to you. Romans 6:6 I just read: “The old man is crucified. The old man is crucified.” Let me give you a second one. Look at Ephesians 4:22, and I’m going to show you what the old man is by giving you some Scripture here. Ephesians 4:22, “That you put off concerning the former lifestyle, the old man which is corrupt.”
Alright. Now we have learned two things about the old man. The old man is crucified. Secondly, the old man is – what? – corrupt. So whatever this old man is, it’s crucified and corrupt. You say, “Well what is it that was corrupt in us? It was our Adamic nature, wasn’t it? It was our sin nature. It was our inherited, unregenerate self. And at conversion it was killed. It is dead; it is gone.
People say to me so very often, “Don’t you believe that a Christian has a new man and an old man?” and I always say, “No. Because the old man that was corrupt has been crucified, and is dead, and you are a new man.” The old man – now listen to me – the old man is the unregenerated self. The old man is that which was replaced by the regenerated man. If you have a new man and an old man, then you have a regenerated part and an unregenerated part. In other words, you’re half saved and half lost. That doesn’t make it, does it? Because it says in Colossians 2:10, “In Christ, you are” – what? – “complete.”
Is salvation whole? Is it total? Are you a new creation? Yes. So you’re not half regenerated and half unregenerated. You’re not a new regenerate man and an old unregenerate man warring against each other. There’s a war in there, but it isn’t between the old creature and the new creature, because you’re just a new creature. We don’t have a new man and an old man; you can’t be regenerated and unregenerated at the same time. The old man then is the unregenerate self.
Now what is the new man? Well, the new man is the regenerated self, the saved self. By regenerate, we mean born again, the redeemed self, the new self that’s been created in Christ Jesus, the converted identity. You’re a brand new creature; that’s the new man.
Thomas Goodwin has a beautiful statement. He says this: “There are but two men, there are but two men seen standing before God: Adam and Jesus Christ. And these two men have all other men hanging at their belts.” End quote. These two men have all other men hanging at their belts. You’re either in Adam or you’re in Christ, right? You’re either an old man or a new man. You’re either unsaved or you’re saved. And the great contrast: look with me for a minute at Romans 5. We’ll just have some wanderings here and enjoy ourselves.
Romans 5:12 says this: “Wherefore” – and this is the contrast between that, Adam and Christ – “as by one man sin entered the world,” – and this is the one man being Adam – “and death by sin; so death” – a spiritual death – “passed on all men, for all of sin.” Now here he says Adam brought sin: “From one man came sin.” And he talks about this through verse 14.
And then he makes an interesting shift: “But not as the offense is the free gift.” And he begins to turn away from Adam. “For if through the offense of one many are dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man Jesus Christ, has abounded unto many.” Now notice: just as because of one man we’re all dead, because of one other man, we are all alive. And this is the tremendous distinction between Adam and Christ. In Adam there is death; in Christ there is life. In Adam is the old man; in Christ is the new man.
Verse 17: “If by one man’s offense” – that is Adam’s sin – “death reigned by one; much more they who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” You see, you know what the question was that the Jew had? You see, the question the Jew had was, “How can one man, Jesus Christ, even though He’s the God-man, how could He possibly redeem all men? Whatever one man does could never affect all humanity. No one man could do something to affect all humanity. It’s impossible for one man to do something to affect all humanity.” That was the Jewish argument.
So Paul simply says, “Oh, what about Adam? Adam was one man who did one thing, and affected all humanity: Adam fell and we all went with him.” And so he’s pointing out the fact that one man’s deed can affect all humanity. The first Adam’s did; and so does the last Adam, who is Christ. Only the first Adam affected everybody by giving them an old, corrupted sin nature; and Christ comes and gives them a new creation, a new nature, a new man: a tremendous transformation. So the old man is simply the Adamic nature with all its evil, with all its terrible habits, with all of its deeds.
And I like what Lenski says, the great commentator. He says, “The old man is not converted.” Listen to that. “The old man is not converted. It can’t be. He’s not renewed; he can’t be. He can only be replaced.” That’s good. “And he can only be replaced by the new man by a creative act of God and by no less.” You don’t renew an old, corrupt man. You don’t convert an old, corrupt man. You replace him. That’s why it says, “If any man be in Christ, he is” – what? – “a new creation.”
You know, people, just think about it. I mean you’re something brand new, and something eternal. It’s incredible: a new man. This has always been God’s plan, to make new people, not just to shape up the old ones, not just to dust you off and make you look better, but to make you all brand new. That’s God’s design, and that’s what Christ came to accomplish.
Now the characteristics of the new man are all over the place in the New Testament. Let me give you an illustration. Look at Ephesians 4. And maybe I’ll take the time to do this because it’s important. But characteristics of a new man; k kind of exciting.
What’s it like to be a new man? Well, a lot of things. What is the lifestyle of a new man? Verse 17 of Ephesians 4: “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you henceforth walk not as other heathen, or walk not” – literally – “in the vanity of their mind.” The first thing we learn about a new man is he isn’t like anybody else. He’s different than the rest of the world: a new man, different. Why? Because the rest of the world is all the old man: corrupt, the old nature. So the first great truth: you’re different, you’re different.
Another thing we find out about the new man is that, according to chapter 5, verse 1, “And be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ loved us.” The new man is not only different, but he functions in the category of love. He operates in divine love.
verse 8 gives us something else. He says at the end of verse 8, “Since you are light in the Lord, walk as children of light.” So the new man walks different. The new man walks in love. The new man walks in light, the light of God’s truth.
Look at verse 15: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.” What is a new man? A new man walks differently: walks in love, walks in light, walks in wisdom. Now that’s just one little passage to give you insight into what the new man is like.
You say, “But, John, I’ve got a problem. My problem is that I may be a new man, and there might not be any old man around, and there might not be any old me around; but, man, I got a lot of trouble, because I keep sinning. Where is it coming from?” Basically it’s coming because your new man is connected up with your flesh. And you have to make a distinction, I think, between the flesh and the old man. Your flesh is just your humanness, and it’s still around, and it bugs the new man. It just makes it difficult. Because you know what the flesh does? It always runs to the closet, and drags out the cruddy old garment, and says, “Put these on today.” That’s what the flesh does. It hangs on to the garbage, see, and it says, “Wear these.”
You’re the same new creature you’re going to be forever. Did you know that? The change is already made. You’re the same new creature you’re going to be forever. But you’ve just got to watch it, because the flesh is going drag out all that garbage and try to get it on you. No wonder Paul says, “I’d sure like to get out of this vile body.” Now wonder he says, “I have to beat my body to bring it into subjection.” The body will run away from you. It just takes off. You say, “Whoa, whoa, body.”
We’re new; but it’s possible that the flesh, which is still there, because we are in the flesh, in human flesh, is going to hang up those clothes in front of us and entice us. But, basically, we’re a new man. Now I’ll go back to our passage in Colossians 3, and let’s take it a step further.
We see the position of the new man. The position of the new man clearly indicated. You are a new man; you’re not an old man. You have a marvelous identity; you’re different. You walk in love; you walk in light; you walk in wisdom. You’re a whole new creation. Old things have passed away. And how many things have become new? All things have become new – a tremendous new identity. So we see the position of the new man.
Secondly, we see the progress of the new man. He moves from the position of the new man to the progress of the new man. The progress of the new man is in verse 10: “And have put on the new man that is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created Him.” Now watch: “The new man is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” Now I want to take that verse a little bit apart and help you to see what it’s saying. It’s absolutely tremendous.
Now listen, there is a progression here. Now you just became a Christian, right? You’re a brand new creature. You’re a new man, and you’ve got your flesh running across the front all the time, hanging up the old garbage, and saying, “Put it on. Put it on. You look funny in those new robes. Your friends are going to say, ‘Boy, that’s a weird wardrobe you’ve got. You can’t hang around us looking like that. You stick out too much.’”
And the flesh is going to hang that stuff in front of your eyes, and you’re going to have to begin to conquer the flesh; and little by little, day by day as you live, there is a progression in the conquering of the flesh. There is a progression. The new life and the new man begins to grow. It’s like a child that’s born. You have that little baby. It looks maybe like its father, or its mother. You know it’s your child. It has all of its parts in the right places, and it begins to grow, and grow, and grow.
Same thing is true in the spiritual life. You were born again. You are a new life; you are a brand new creation. But there is to be progress. There is to be growing. There is to be a growing into the likeness of Christ. You see it in verse 10, to the place where you are literally in the image of Him that made you, where you become like Jesus Christ in every sense.
So the new nature is complete, and yet it has capacity for growth; just like a baby is complete with all the parts, and yet it has a capacity to grow. As the new birth is a recreation in God’s image, which was lost in the fall, so the subsequent life is a deepening of the image, thus engraved. And God day by day deepens that image, deepens that image.
You see that, don’t you, with a baby. “Well, I don’t know who he looks like. Well, now I can begin to tell. He looks like his father.” And by the time they get to be – and somebody walked up to me, and looked at Matt, and said, “Boy, he’s a carbon copy of you.” As they get a little older, you know, it becomes more clear who they look like. Poor kid.
But you see, that’s the way it is spiritually. You were born, and you’ve got all your parts, and there’s a resemblance to Christ; but it matures and grows, and you become more like Him, and more like Him, and more like Him; and that’s the deepening of the divine image that’s been engraved in you. Becoming more and more like Christ is the progress of the new man.
In 1 Corinthians 15:45, “So it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul. The last Adam was made a life-giving spirit. However that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.” Comparing Adam to Christ. “As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy. As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” In other words, we’re not earthy, Adamic people anymore; we’re heavenly, Christlike. “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear” – what? – “the image of the heavenly.”
Now, people, that is an astounding statement, that God is going to make us to be like Christ inevitably. And I’ll say it again: inevitably, inescapably. If you’re a believer, you will be made like Christ. That is God’s promise.
Listen to Romans 8:28. “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Why? “For whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.”
If you are saved, it is God’s plan to make you like the Son. It is God’s plan to make you to be like Jesus Christ. That is the promised progress. That is God’s fantastic, exciting, unbelievable, incomprehensible plan to make you like Christ. How does He do it? What does it say in Colossians? It says that “you are renewed unto” – literally eis. “You are renewed unto epignōsis, or deep and thorough and full and complete knowledge.”
There is a process of renewing, going on in you to bring you to full knowledge. Look at 2 Corinthians – don’t turn to it, I’ll read it to you – 2 Corinthians 4:16: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish,” – Paul says – “if I’m persecuted and I get banged around on my outside, my inward man is renewed day be day.” You see, Paul knew that God was at work in his inner man day, by day, by day, by day. The process of maturing you, of conforming you to Christ goes on day after day.
You read Romans 8. I’d like to entitle Romans 8, “What God does for you, whether you like it or not.” That’s what it means: what the Holy Spirit is doing in your life, whether you like it or not. “He is conforming you to Christ, He is renewing you daily, and He is renewing you” – watch this now in verse 10 of Colossians 3 – “unto knowledge.” He wants to build you up to full knowledge. This is the progress of the spiritual life. This is the growth in the spiritual life. He’s not saying, “Renew you by knowledge,” although that is part of it. He’s saying, “Renew you to the place where your knowledge is complete.” It’s the idea of the end in mind.
William Hendriksen says this: “When a man is led through the waters of salvation, they are ankle-deep at first. But as he progresses, they become knee-deep, and they reach to the loins and are finally impassible except by swimming.” End quote.
And it’s all done unto knowledge. You might have figured that instead of knowledge he’d say “good works.” I mean he might have said, “In contrast to the evil works of the old man, the new man is renewed unto good works.” But he goes deeper than that, because behind those good works is knowledge – deep, thorough, complete knowledge. The new man progresses to a complete knowledge. And I’ll promise you this: when you get to that mature knowledge, then the right kind of behavior comes from it.
How does Paul say, in Romans 12, you’re going to be transformed? By the renewing of your – what? – of your mind. That’s how you’ll I know what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, and do it. You’ve got to have your mind transformed. That’s why in 2 Timothy 3:16 there is no more important verse for the Christian than this: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction, and righteousness; that the man of God may be mature,” – or perfect – “thoroughly furnished to all good works.” In other words, you reach maturity by the Word of God; and the good works result. Good works come out of total knowledge, and total knowledge comes out of the progress of knowledge. Now the new man then progresses to a thorough knowledge.
You say, “But how do you do that, John?” Well, from your standpoint it’s this way. You have a little knowledge, you appropriate it. As you appropriate it, you make it a part of yourself, and you grow. It’s like food. You take in the Word of God; and as you eat it and devour it, it’s transformed into energy that makes you grow. And the more you grow, the – what? – the more you eat. And it goes that way.
You watch your children. They eat a little bit, and then they eat more, and they eat more; and then they hit their teen years, and they’ve got a hollow leg, and it’s going in like gangbusters, and they’re eating more than you and mom combined; and they grow, and they grow. You see, that’s the way it is with the Word of God. As you take in the Word, which you know, as you appropriate it, it turns into fuel. It feeds your body and you grow, until finally you reach the place of maturity, of full knowledge. And out of that full knowledge will come righteousness. Out of that full knowledge will come the proper deeds. Out of that full knowledge will come right behavior.
And, you know, this is kind of interesting. In Ephesians chapter 4 – just backing up a couple of book. You don’t need to look, I’ll just share it with you. He says, “Put off concerning” – verse 22 of Ephesians 4 – “Put off the former manner of life, the old man, corrupt according to the deceitful lust.” In other words, “Don’t wear the clothes of the old man. Okay? But watch this one now, verse 23: “But be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”
Now this is the key. How are you renewed? In the spirit of your mind. You are renewed unto knowledge. You are renewed unto full knowledge by accepting the knowledge that God gives to your mind appropriating it, turning it into fuel that feeds your body and creates growth. So you are renewed in the spirit of your mind, and you put on the new man, and then you see righteousness and true holiness; and then comes the deeds that God wants you to do.
And, of course, this is a real blow to the heretics, because there are heretics in Colossae here in Colossians. The heretics say, “You don’t have the true knowledge. We have the true knowledge. We have the higher knowledge.” And here the apostle Paul says, “Look, you are daily being renewed in your mind by the truth of God to the place of full knowledge; and the objective is that you might do God’s will.” And when that knowledge is complete, beloved, look at verse 10, “You will be after the image of Him that created him.” You will be Christlike. That’s Romans 8:29, to conform to the image of His Son.
You say, “When will that happen?” Well, it won’t happen in fullness until you see Jesus, 1 John 3:2, “We shall be like Him; for we shall” – what? – “see Him as He is.” And you won’t be like Him until you see Him as He is; but you can grow more, and more, and more, and more like Him.
I’m not exactly like Jesus, but I’m a lot more like Him than I used to be. Is that true of you? I’m not exactly like Jesus, but I’m a lot more like him than I was six months ago. Now listen to this: the rate of that progress toward full knowledge, the rate of that progress toward being like Christ will depend in great measure on how you appropriate what you have now.
You say, “What do you mean by appropriate?” I mean you put into action the truth you know, you devour it, and you let it energize your life. If the Bible says, “Do this, do this, do this,” then you accept that kind of knowledge, and you do it. And that fuels your body, and creates growth.
So if the mature man is to come rapidly, if maturity is to come rapidly, there must be spiritual suicide. “You kill the old things,” – verses 5 to 9 – “and then you begin to put on the new.” What does that mean? You take God’s Word, that which you know, you begin to devour it. And as you begin to devour it, it energizes your growth process. And so Paul says there is the position of the new man and there is the progress.
Thirdly – and we’ll stop with this one tonight. We’ve seen the position of the believer and the new man, and we’ve seen the progress. Now, thirdly, I want to show you a fantastic, beautiful principle: the partnership of the new man, the partnership of the new man.
Verse 11, okay. Look at this one, verse 11: “Wherein, or where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but Christ is all, and in all.” He says, “I not only want to talk about the position of the new man, and the progress of the new man; I just want to let you in on a fantastic truth about the partnership of the new man.”
This is a fantastic dimension of your new life. It’s fantastic. It’s not just a matter of personal habits, it’s not just a matter of a personal attitude to be a new man; something else takes place. There is a new partnership. There is the abolishing of all the old barriers. There aren’t any racial barriers anymore. There’s no place for racial bigotry. There’s no place for chauvinism. There’s no place for a cultural snobbery. There’s no place for any of that. God has made us – and I love this, and it ties in perfectly, Ephesians 2:50 – God has made us one new – what? – man. We’re all new men; but composited, we make one new man. No more barriers.
I was sharing with somebody in the prayer room after the third service this morning, and we were having a great time talking, and she’s Jewish. And Christ is just opening up her consciousness by the Holy Spirit, and exciting things are happening in her life; and it was just thrilling. And somebody suggested that since she was Jewish, and since she was becoming a Christian, it would be good if she belonged to a Jewish people’s organization – Jewish people who are becoming Christians.
And basically she said, “I don’t want to be a Jewish Christian, I just want to be a Christian.” And the thought was raised, “Well, perhaps, you know, you can go and reach your own people.” “No, I just want to reach people. If this is the truth, I want everybody to know.”
Well, that’s exactly what Christianity is all about. It isn’t “The Italians for Christ,” and “The Polish for Christ,” and “The Irish for Christ,” “The Chinese for Christ.” We’ve got all those organizations, but that isn’t Christianity. Christianity is all of us; we’re one new man. There aren’t any barriers any more. Praise the Lord; it’s exciting. That’s what he’s trying to say.
Today we have “The Greeks for Christ,” “The Jews for Christ,” “The Barbarians for Christ,” “The Scythians for Christ,” “Slaves for Christ,” “Free Men for Christ,” you know, that’s what we’d have today. We’d have them all organized in separate groups. The point is, they’re to be one. You know, in their world, this was dynamite. You can’t really project into it; but this was absolutely incredible for somebody to announce that all these groups could meet together. It would be like announcing to the cast system in India that none of it meant anything. It wouldn’t make sense in their culture; they couldn’t handle it.
No iron curtain today and no caste system today, even in India, is any worse than what this was. They had racial barriers: that’s the Jew and the Gentile. They had religious barriers: that’s the circumcised and the uncircumcised. They had cultural barriers: that’s the Barbarians and the Scythians. And they had social barriers: that’s the slaves and the free men. They had barriers in all those levels in their society. Christianity comes walking in and says, “They’re all irreverent. You’re all one, one new man.” And they just went, “No, no. It can’t happen.” But before God we’re all equal.
I want to show you these barriers for just a minute. The Jew and Gentile have been at each other for centuries. There was no fellowship. I mean Jews and Gentiles didn’t have anything to do with each other. A Jew was forbidden to ever enter a Gentile house.
You remember, we were studying John’s gospel, I told you, one of the reasons a Jew couldn’t enter a Gentile house was that the Jews believed that the Gentiles aborted their children, and just put them down the drain in the house; and to contact anything that had contacted a dead body is to get defiled. So they wouldn’t go in a Gentile house for fear an abortion had been put down the drain. Ridiculous. They wouldn’t eat a meal with a Gentile utensil. They wouldn’t eat something cooked in a Gentile pot. They wouldn’t buy meat cut and butchered by Gentile hands. And when they went to a Gentile country and came back to their own country, they shook the dirt off their clothes and their feet, because they didn’t want to bring Gentile dirt into Jewish territory.
And the Gentiles were just as bad. They felt the same way about the Jewish people. And there was just loggerheads. And then all of a sudden the gospel comes along and says, “You’re one,” and it was just an incredible statement: the church was one. And do you know what kept happening all over the world? Synagogues kept dissolving into churches.
And, secondly, there were cultural barriers. Look at this, it’s interesting. Not only the circumcised and the uncircumcised, and the Greek and the Jew, but there were the Scythians and the Barbarians. I don’t know if you know anything about that, but that’s fascinating. Those are not two different kinds of people, those are two of the same kind. Both of them were barbaric.
The Scythians were worse than the Barbarians. When you think somebody is a barbarian, well, if you really wanted to say something bad, say, “Somebody is a Scythian.” Those people were the worst. They were the most uncultured Barbarians that the world of that day knew. They had gone into the Fertile Crescent.
Do you know where the Fertile Crescent is? The area where the Garden of Eden was originally, where Babylon was between the Tigris and Euphrates River, which now isn’t fertile any more, but it was then. And they went into there in the latter of the 7th century before Christ, and there was a terrible invasion, just terrible kinds of slaughter. They did things – and I’ll mention some in a minute.
In fact, by the 4th and 5th century, Scythians became the policemen in certain cultures, and they became the butt of cultural comedy because of their uncouth ways and their uncouth speech. They were the worst. Herodotus, historian, gives an account of their invasion of the Fertile Crescent. Listen to a description of the Scythians.
“They invaded Asia after they had driven the Samarians out of Europe, and they made themselves masters of all Asia. From there they marched against Egypt; and when they were in that part of Syria, which is called Palestine, Psammetichus, King of Egypt, met them; and with gifts and prayers persuaded them to come to no farther. They ruled Asia for twenty-eight years, and all the land was wasted by reason of their violence and their arrogance. The greater number of them were entertained, and made drunk, and were then slain by Cyaxares and the Medes.” In other words, when the Medes came in and took over, they just got them all drunk and slaughtered them.
And here’s a description of how they operated. “They drank the blood of the first enemy killed in battle – that’s the Scythians – and they made napkins of the scalps, and drinking bowls of the skulls of the slain. They had the most filthy habits, and never washed with water,” so says Tertullian.
“Marcian was born there more filthy than any Scythian,” Josephus states. And if you’re a Scythian, you’re filthy; and if you are the most filthy Scythian, you must really be something. Josephus further says, “The Scythians delight in murdering people, and are little better than wild beasts.”
In 2 Maccabees 4:47, which is part of the apocrypha, it says, “Menelaus, the cause of all the evil, sentenced to death those unfortunate men who had been set at liberty uncondemned if they had pleaded even against the Scythians.” In other words, all they had to do was say, “Oh, mercy,” to the Scythians and they sentenced them to death; and this gentlemen released them, that even against the Scythians, volumes are written.
And Origin speaks of Scythian laws, or more impious even than these, if there could possibly be any such. In other words, Origin’s comment is, “There couldn’t be any more barbaric people than Scythians.”
So look what he says. “There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision, uncircumcision, Barbarian or Scythian, bond of free; but Christ is all, and in all.” You see? “Hey,” – you say – “I’m not going to church with a Scythian unless we have a Scythian section.” But the point is, in Christ there is a new relationship. In Christ there is a new partnership. You see? It’s fantastic – the rich, the poor, the slaves.
Look at the concept of the slave and the free man. The slave was thought of as a living tool. That’s what Aristotle called a slave, a “living tool.” And I don’t want to go into all the details about it. But you know what happened when a slave got saved? Instantly he became a brother in Christ. And you might go to church on the Lord’s Day, and you’d walk in, and a slave would get up, and he’s the elder. And he would say to all of you landowners for whom he worked, “Now I’m going to teach you out of the Word,” and you would sit there and submit yourself to this slave, because he had the gift of teaching.
There are many people who believe that the letter to Philemon from the apostle Paul is the most astounding social document ever written, because, you see, Paul says, “Look, Philemon, you’ve got a runaway slave, Onesimus.” Read Philemon sometime. It’s only one chapter; you can handle it. He says, “Philemon, you know your slave Onesimus, he ran away, and he ran away in Rome, and was a prisoner in Rome. And guess who he met? Me. And I led him to Christ. And now I’m sending him back, because he’s not your slave any more, he’s your brother.” Oh, that’s a dramatic thing.
You know something? I believe that the gospel made its deepest impression on the pagan world in the way that it destroyed the barriers that were built on religion and race and culture and social things. It was astounding what happened. And a slave could become a teacher. A Scythian could be the pastor of a church full of a bunch of educated Greeks. Incredible.
In the arena of Carthage in 202 A.D., there was a profound impression made, and this is recorded for us. As the spectators were watching the slaughtering of certain Christians, it says that they watched when the Roman matron, Perpetua – a Roman matron, a very wealthy, high-class person – stood holding the hand of her slave, Felicitas, as both women faced a common death for a common love of Jesus Christ. Now that illustrates what Christianity did, where slave and master died together for love of the same Christ. You see, all the barriers came down, because we’re new men; and as new men, we make up one – what? – new man. Iron curtains, prison bars, color, sex, class distinction, national and cultural differences, they don’t mean anything. Grace just bridges the chasms.
And how does he sum it up? I love it, the end of verse 11: “Christ is” – what? “Christ is all, and” – what? – “in all.” And if Christ is in us all, then we are all equal. That’s the key. Christ is all, and in all. Christ, the all-sufficient Lord and Savior, Christ the all-sufficient King, indwells all believers. And because He indwells all believers, He erases the differences: He erases race, He erases religion, He erases culture, He erases social levels, and He makes us one new man – a whole bunch of new men becoming one new man.
And He’s the one who guarantees the creation. He’s the one who guarantees the gradual perfection of that new man to a full knowledge that equals Christlikeness. And this is Paul’s great statement throughout the book of Colossians: “Christ is all.” Christ is the one who gives you this new position, who brings about this new progress to be like Him, who give you a new partnership.
Now as we’ve come to verse 11, we’ve been talking about what God has done, what God has done in putting on the new man. Next time we’re going to talk about what we’re to do in response; and it all starts in verse 12: “Put on therefore.” And that’ll be our subject next time. Let’s pray.
Thank You, Lord, for a good time of fellowship tonight. Thank You for what You’ve done in each of us, that You’ve made us new creations in Christ, new men, that the old is gone, and we’re brand new. And there just has to be a new lifestyle to go with that new man. There has to be a whole new kind of living. Father, help us to make that commitment, that we’re going to live that new life, that we’re going to be that new man with new clothes, and that we’re going to do all that we can to make the progress to Christlikeness as rapid as possible.
We’re going to take the word you have given, and the knowledge we do have; and we’re going to apply it, and we’re going to eat it, and turn it into energy that brings growth. We know we can’t be exactly like Jesus until we see Him face-to-face, but we want to be a close as we can, Father. Help us to appropriate our resources. Help us to move in that direction. Help us to do those things which will bring us so close to You that your personality rubs off on us, and we find ourselves becoming like You.
While your heads are bowed, we have just a moment before we close, and I would just encourage you that some of you don’t know Christ – I’m sure that’s true. And if you have never met Jesus Christ, you’re not a new man. You’re the same old person, the old Adamic nature, sin nature; and you really aren’t going to be able to do anything about it. You can’t put on any new clothes because you don’t own any.
But maybe tonight you’d like to say, “Lord Jesus, I want to be a new man. I want to be a brand new creation. I want to be something completely different than I’ve ever been before.” If that’s the case, why don’t you just tell the Lord that in your heart? He’ll hear it. If your heart is sincere, and you really mean it, He’ll make you that new creature in a split second. There’s no reason for you to be the old man. You can be born again, and your life can begin right tonight.
There are others of you as Christians, you’re a new men. The old man’s dead, but you have the problem of the flesh hanging up in front of your eyes the old clothes; and you keep putting them on and marching out into the world wearing them, and the world doesn’t know the difference. They can’t see the new man underneath, he’s hidden; and you’re not really enjoying the walk that He wants you to have.
If that’s the case, why don’t you tell the Lord that? Admit it. But don’t go away until everything is right. Don’t go away unless you’re a new creature in Christ. And if you need help, we’ll help you. We’d love to.
And don’t go away if you’re a new creature, but wear old clothes. Get it settled tonight. Discard that. Put if off, and put on the things that God wants on: righteousness and holiness. Take the truths you know and devour them, and turn them into energy to build yourself, and grow to the full knowledge that makes for Christlikeness.
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