Monday, June 15, 2015
Putting On The New Man
“But you have not so learned Christ; If so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:20-24)
Most modern translations, sadly, render this section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians as being about the “Old Self” and the “New Self”, which unfortunately obscures the true meaning of his teaching here.
The actual terms used by Paul are the “Old Man” and the “New Man”, which he explained earlier in Ephesians 2:14-16 this way:
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups [both Jews and Gentiles] one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”
This “New Man” was created by removing the barrier between Jews and Gentiles. This refers to the Church – the Body of Christ.
The “Old Man” is found in Romans 6:6 where he says:
“Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”
At the end of Romans 5 (the previous chapter), Paul talks about “Two Men”: One which brought about justification and another man which brought condemnation. This refers to Adam (the old man) and Christ (the new man).
Both Adam and Christ are spoken of in these passages as corporate entities. Adam stands for the entire race of mankind. Christ stands for the new creation as embodied by the Ekklesia.
Literally the word “Anthropas” in the Greek can refer to both one man and to humanity as a whole; exactly as the word “Man” can refer to both a single person or to an entire race of people.
Adam is the representative of the Old Man. Jesus is the New Man. We are either of the Old Humanity of Adam, or we are in the New Humanity found in Christ.
Going back to the teaching found in Ephesian 4:20-24, Paul is talking about this same reality of the Old Man (Adam) and the New Man (Jesus). He’s not talking about my individual self at all. He’s talking about a reality that extends to all of humanity.
What Paul wants us to do is to put off the Old Man and embrace the New Man.
These are not two divisions within me, these are two distinctions within the entire Global sphere of mankind. Either I am a member of the Old Man (and therefore I act as someone who is among the tribe of Adam), or I am a member of the New Man (and therefore I act as someone who is of the tribe of Jesus).
Therefore, no one can be in Adam and in Christ at the same time. One is either living according to the flesh, or living according to the life of the Spirit of Christ.
Paul urges us to “put off the Old Man” and to “put on the New Man”. The Old Man is crucified with Christ and now no longer lives. Christ, who is our life, has filled us and we inhabit Him as citizens of His Kingdom.
The part of me that once lived according to the Old Man is dead. Adam is no longer my example. Jesus is now my Lord and my King and I walk according to His blue print.
This means that I love like He loves. I forgive like He forgives. I serve like He did. I have become a “little Christ” or “Christian” who has taken on a new nature and a new identity found only in Jesus.
Now that we are no longer part of the Old Man, we have to put off the old behaviors and to put on the New Man and those new behaviors that are in character with Christ.
“But you have not so learned Christ…” Paul says. What are we learning? How to be like Christ.
As Paul explains in Eph. 1:23, the Church is the Body of Christ and “the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” That means that Christians are designed to be like Jesus in this world. It’s not automatic, but as we abide in Him we learn to allow Him to abide in us and let Him live His life through us, day by day.
Anyone who is truly in Christ – who has been transformed from within by the power and presence of Jesus – is now a partaker of the Divine Nature and a member of the New Humanity. Nothing will ever be the same again.
Even as the members of my own body are animated and empowered by me, the members of Christ’s Body are enlivened by Him and under His authority to accomplish His agenda.
This is a corporate reality, not an individual one. It's not about putting off an old version of my self, or about putting on a new version of my self. It’s not about my self at all – old or new. No, it’s about an old form of life being eclipsed and overshadowed by a new form of life found only in Christ.
Now that we are in Him, let us continue onward to live the life He wants to live through us. Rather than being self-centered, let’s become Christ-centered.*
“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:9-11)
*NOTE: Special thanks to Steve Gregg for helping me to understand this concept of the New Man vs the Old Man.