In the struggle to live our Christian lives as we know we ought, we often wind up bogged down, either in guilt or in self-righteous standards that are not found in the Bible. While there are commands in the Bible for us as New Testament Saints, the commands are not the end, or really even the means to our sanctification. Commandments don’t make us righteous. They are more like the evidence that we have a vital relationship to the Savior.
Check out audio from the morning sermon: Who Is The New Man?
In Colossians 3, the Apostle draws many lines from commands to “Set our minds on things above,” to “Mortify our [sinful] members which are on the earth,” and to “Put on tender mercies, humility, meekness, etc.” back to the things that have already been given to us in Christ.
Colossians 3:1If then you were raised with Christ, [then] seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
He also uses the word “therefore” to tie the commands back to the grace of Christ that has been extended to us as Christians:
Colossians 3:3-5 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
None of these are bare commands, but necessary evidence that we have been transformed by our encounter with Jesus Christ. If we have understood what Christ has accomplished for us, the forgiveness of sins, His own righteousness deposited in our accounts, being made heirs of the grace of life through Him, it demands a certain response. Anything less would mean that we do not comprehend the sacrifice and its benefits.
Again, the Apostle tells them;
Colossians 3:9-12 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
The commands that are given, are not given to make us spiritual people, but to show the evidence that we have become spiritual people. If we are in Christ, we have already put on that New Man. But that New Man still needs to grow into what he really is in Christ. Paul says in verse 3 that our lives are “hid with Christ in God.” He is all that we need to be and our union with Him is the guarantee that we own it. As we grow in the knowledge of this (vs. 10) we appropriate what He has given to us.
So, what does it mean for the Christian to “Put on the New Man?” One important thing to note is that this idea of “putting on” is written in the form of a participle in the Greek. That means it is a verb that is used like an adjective. We are to be “putter-oners” of the New Man. That is, putting on the new man is a description of the true Christian. It is a metaphor for our sanctification. It is really just us learning that as we learn more about the love of God toward us in Christ, we are ruled by the peace that He has purchased for us on the cross. (We were formerly enemies and now we are sons!) All of this will produce a life of gratitude that will compel us toward obedience. The main thing here is that it is not the command that prompts obedience, but gratitude derived from love and God’s declaration of our right relationship to Him.
See, how it all comes back to what He has done and not what we do. The New Man simply lives in response to the goodness of God and thus it becomes apparent as he focuses on Christ, deals with sin and is transformed in his attitude toward others. Therefore, the question is not, “How are you doing at keeping particular rules?” but “Do you know who you are in Christ and what He has given you?”
I hope you check out the audio on this one. It is in the link near the top. It just might be the eye-opener you need.