ALL THINGS NEW

MORE ON THE ‘NEW MAN’

A few weeks ago we looked that the concept of ‘one new man’ in Ephesians 2:15. There Paul taught that in Christ previously existing barriers and distinctions are abolished, with the result that we are ‘all one in Christ Jesus’ [Galatians 3:28].

But Paul has more to teach about the ‘new man’, this ‘new self’, this ‘new person’, that is not about our unity and our interpersonal relationship to other believers, but about what God has done for us each as individuals and how we ought to live as a result. 

In Ephesians 4:21-24 Paul, in his lengthy instructions on how to live worthy of our calling [4:1 to 6:20], tells us that we have been taught to do three things:

To put off [in a decisive way – it’s Aorist tense] the ‘old man’ which is continually being corrupted [present tense] by its deceitful desires;

To continually be made new [present tense] in the attitude of our minds; and

To put on [in a decisive way – Aorist tense] the new man.

This ‘new man’ that we are commanded to put on is described as ‘created [Aorist tense] to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

The deliberate putting off the old and putting on the new are things we are commanded to do. The being made new and the created to be like God are things that are done to us – they are passive voice. There is the foundational thing that refers to our regeneration: created to be like God – which is already completed action of God; and there is the continuing thing that refers to our sanctification: being made new - which is the on-going action of God.

Paul gives roughly parallel teaching in Colossians 3:9-10. Here he tells us that we have already put off [Aorist tense] the old man and its practices, and have already put on [Aorist tense] the new man. This new man ‘is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator [present tense and passive voice – it is something God is doing to us in the present].

Together these two passages lead us to understand that: 

There is a new reality, ‘the new man’, which is in place by the decisive, deliberate, one-off work of God.

There is the old reality, which continually threatens to dominate us, which we have already put off in a decisive way, when we accepted Christ, but which we have to repeatedly and deliberately put off, from that day forth. [This is, in effect, another way of looking at initial repentance, and on-going repentance.]

There is the on-going work of God in our lives, which continually renews, and therefore enlarges, our knowledge of him.

There is our responsibility, as our knowledge of God is continually renewed, to repeatedly and deliberately put on the new life, which we have already deliberately put on when we accepted Christ.

This expresses a simple formula that we find repeatedly in the New Testament: be what you are.

You are light – so shine.
You are salt – to be salty.
You are holy – so be holy.
You are children of God – so live as children of God.
You have put off the old – so put off the old.
You have put on the new – so put on the new.
You have been made new – so be new.

As Paul commands: live a life worthy of your calling. God has called you a ‘new man’ – so be that new man. Make every choice, every point of decision, a deliberate, definitive discarding of the  old mindset and values, and an equally deliberate, definitive dressing oneself in the new mindset and the new values.

[Note: In the above references the English ‘man’ translates the Greek anthropos, which refers to a human being, not the Greek aner, which refers to the male as distinct from the female.]

© Rosemary Bardsley 2012