Sunday, September 6, 2020

New Life in Christ

"[You] have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator" (Colossians 3:10)

Paul continues to argue against the heretics at Colossae, who were perverting the Old Testament and then were trying to impose these distortions on the church of God. Paul points out that the new person in Christ will cut off the sins of the Adamic nature, and he uses the Ten Commandments as his guide.

Paul says that believers have “taken off the old self with its practices” (3:9). The “old self” is literally the “old man” and refers to Adam. The believer has been taken out of union with Adam and has been placed in union with a new “Self”—again, literally a new “Man”: Jesus. Our new man, in union with Christ, is being renewed in the true image and likeness of God.

As the Colossian heretics stressed the supposed “knowledge” they possessed about God and His will, so Paul says that the believer is renewed in true “knowledge.” True knowledge is not found in the secret teachings of Jewish oral traditions or of Greek philosophy. True knowledge is found in the Bible, which Paul used to show what the Christian life is like by referring to the Ten Commandments.

In union with Christ, says Paul, all the old distinctions among men are in principle overturned: “Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free” (3:11). True, in society and culture, these distinctions may still play a part, but in the church they are to play no part at all—contrary to the Judaizing Gnostics at Colossae. And eventually, as the Gospel penetrates society, these distinctions will be softened and overcome outwardly as well.

What does this mean, practically? If putting off the old man means forsaking the sins listed in the Law, putting on the new man means working hard at new attitudes: “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (3:12). These are qualities that force us to treat one another well. These qualities overcome the social distinctions and are based on the destruction of these distinctions in Christ. The Judaizers could never have these qualities because their false religion was reinforcing the social distinctions that Christ has overcome.

Because we are one in Christ, we need to treat one another as such. We find racism and prejudice in the church as well as in the world. We are to treat unbelievers not primarily in terms of race or nation but as men lost in Adam and in need of Christ. Commit to shedding any remnant of prejudice in your life.