"But now put ye also away all these: anger,
wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth: lie not one to
another; seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings, and have put
on the new man, which is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of Him
That created him: where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and
uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman: but Christ is All, and in
all" Colossians 3:8–11 (NASB).
Putting On the New Man
Now we will go over the five points that
compose that paragraph: first, the retrospect to the Creator and the created,
"...created in Him after the image of Him that created him." This is going
back to the Creator and His creating. Next, the pattern and the purpose of the
creating. Christ is the Pattern, the Purpose, "renewed after the image of
Him." Then, thirdly, the real nature and meaning of the crisis in the life
of the believer, "ye have put off... and... put on." Then the occupation
and energy of the Holy Spirit, "being renewed after the image." And
finally, the exclusiveness and the inclusiveness of Christ, "there cannot
be... but Christ... All, in all."
We have dwelt for some time upon the first of
those things mentioned: the man and his Creator, the Creator and the created.
We have spoken of the disintegration of the first man and the invasion of schism
into human life resulting in the long history of human frustration. That on the
one side, and on the other, the intervention through incarnation of God in
Christ to re-integrate and re-unify human life, to redeem man from
that state of schism and frustration. Leading us to the final emphasis, which
is really the focal point of all our consideration and concern at this time: the
dominant idea in all is God's supreme interest in man. God is supremely
(there is a sense in which we could say "exclusively") fully concerned with this
that is called man; human life, manhood according to His Son Jesus
God is not concerned or interested or
active in relation to mere things. We are concerned with things, and we are
tremendously affected by things. What I mean is a lot of our time and energy is
taken up with systems, and with societies, and with institutions, and with
organizations, and with forms, even in our Christian life and worship: things -
the outside. God is not so concerned as we are with all that. If we could just
cut in there between these interests, we would be saved from so much. We are
almost harassed by the things of Christianity, meetings, and ministers,
and forms of worship, how things are done, a thousand and one things which have
been built up around Christianity. I say we are concerned with and affected by
the things of Christianity. God is not: God goes right through all of this and
looks inside of all this. He does not look on the "outside" as we do. He goes
right in, and what He is interested in, concerned with, and seeking for, is man
himself - man, a human life that satisfies His creative thought. He is dealing
with you and with me as people.
As we have said, sometimes He seems to be so
concentrated as to single us out as though we were the only individuals in His
universe. It seems as though the whole world is something that relates to us
only. Do you understand? He isolates us by our experiences and shuts us up and
imprisons us into a spiritual history in order to deal with us. Yes, God is
supremely concerned with man, men if you like. He is looking for men in order
to make of men a man after the image of Him that created him, that is, Jesus
Christ. The only possible re-unification, re-integration of human
life is Christ, is in Christ. And it will be - this is quite a simple statement
and an obvious one, but one which we very much overlook - it will be just in the
measure and degree in which Christ, the Man, the Heavenly Man, is in us that we
shall be united with one another. Only so. We can put it the other way: in the
measure in which Christ is not there in our relationships will be the measure of
our schism and the measure of our frustration.
Now let us go on to the second of these points
in this paragraph: the Pattern and the Purpose. "Renewed after the image of
Him that created him." We have to focus our attention, our heart's
attention, upon the Him Who is the Image unto which we are to be renewed.
So we find the Image introduced, inducted, presented, and He is officially from
heaven and historically on earth, presented to us at His baptism, foreshadowing
His Cross. "This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." That
marks a point at which He assumes His official position as the Image unto which
this renewing is to take place. He is presented, inducted, and
introduced into the world before heaven. The heaven was opened, the Voice said
before men and before hell, "Behold".
God made Him the focal point of this universe
and all creation with this object: Here is the image introduced and presented,
to which humanity is to be conformed, renewed or perish and pass out.
All-governing is the presentation of the Image. After the presentation or the
induction, there came immediately the testing. It is spiritually important to
recognize the sequence, the immediate sequence: presented, introduced, inducted,
and then tested.
You know that there ought to be no break in
those chapters three and four in the Gospel by Luke. Jesus baptized, coming up
out of the water, heaven opened, the Spirit descending, the Voice from heaven
attesting. "Then was Jesus led" of that Spirit which had come upon Him,
into the wilderness, to be tempted or tried by the devil, the other
central figure in creation. After the identifying - "This is My Beloved Son"
- the testing.
And I want you to note again the inclusiveness
of this testing, this time of temptation. It must have been in the mind of
Christ something tremendously important to take account of. The fact
that it is recorded in all the synoptic Gospels, and referred to later in the
New Testament, and the fact that Jesus, Who was reticent about speaking of His
own inner history, He alone could have told about this experience, for no one
else was with Him. He was in the wilderness alone. He alone knew about
this, but at some subsequent time He must have told it, so that Matthew and Luke
could record it to be placed on record. And divulging one of the deepest
experiences of His earthly history in this way must surely mean that it held a
very great significance in the whole meaning of the Incarnation.
And that is the point I want you to notice and
to take careful account of. This stands in a position of very great
significance in the whole meaning of the Incarnation of the Son of God. It is
so inclusive of everything; every subsequent temptation that came to the Lord
Jesus, and this temptation was not the only one. You remember, it says at the
end of this, "then the devil leaveth Him for a season." For a season!
It is as though the devil said, "I will be back again, it is not the end of
this" and how true it was. Every subsequent attack of the enemy would take on
the very things that were included in this one temptation. In different ways it
would come, by different means, along different lines, in different garb, but
the same thing again and again in principle.
And just note them, how true that was. We have
here in Luke 4 a temptation in three forms; not three temptations, but a
temptation in three different realms with three different aspects. First of
all, the body. He "hungered." The tempter came along the line of
physical demand, physical need, and physical interests. First through the body.
And then, failing there, for this Body is already in principle made the whole
sacrifice, in His body there was utter obedience, failing there, he came along
the line of the soul. He took Him up to the pinnacle of the Temple and said, "Cast
Yourself down, for it is written..." The devil can quote Scripture, "for
it is written 'He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee....'" but the
devil left out one very vital fragment of the statement in Psalm 91. He did not
complete it, he did not say, "...in all thy ways." That would have been
dangerous. There are ways in which you cannot even rest upon Scripture, for
there are ways in which even God will not protect you, if they are the
ways of presumption. If you are presuming upon God, you cannot claim the
protection of His Word or His Hand. It is not, "in all thy ways." It is
only as all thy ways are in God. However, that by the way.
Here the point of the temptation was, "If you
do this, cast yourself down, the world will acclaim you at once! 'This man has
come down out of heaven, we saw Him, He actually lived a life in our midst, and
has come down and from the great height, here He is.' They will acclaim You.
The world will. The world will accept You. The world will applaud You. The
world will be won! One act and You win the world; the world, the world. You
will gain what is called the world. You will have the acceptance, the
popularity of the world."
That is our soul. My, isn't it testing?
Reverse that and see if you don't get the world's disapproval, its rejection,
its persecution; you do not get a place and a standing in the favour of the
world, in the favour of men.
Sometimes that can be exceedingly testing.
Many a man has to put everything in the balances of loyalty to God on the one
side, and whether he is going to get the favour of men and position and
advancement and all that on the other side by some way that is a bit crooked,
that is not straight, not right before God. This matter of standing well with
the world sometimes becomes a very acute thing. The god of this world makes it
so: it is a real temptation in the realm of our souls, the soul that wants to
stand well with men. The whole of our temptation to compromise is on this - to
get an easier way in the world, to get the favours of the world.
Failed again there, the enemy swung round to
another angle, took Him up into the great high mountain and showed Him all the
kingdoms of the world and the glory thereof and said, "All this will I give
You if You will worship me." He had moved from the outer circle of the body
into that inner place of the soul, and now he has gone right for the heart, the
citadel, the spirit - worship. The place of God only. God only! Who is to be
God? Who is to occupy that inner sanctuary of man's being? Well, I am not
dwelling upon these three things in particular that I am showing you, but I am
trying to show you the inclusiveness of this temptation where the whole man was
involved: body, soul, and spirit. He was tried there.
You know we are tried, and the Lord allows us
to be tried in all these realms. Sometimes the physical is the realm, the
basis, of very definite testing and trying. It is the laying down of our
physical life for God; as He, the Lord said on another occasion, "He that
saveth his life shall lose it. He that loseth it for My sake shall find it."
And that often becomes a physical issue, a real physical issue. It has been
that for many in recent days, and it becomes that for us; whether we will serve
the interests of our bodies when spiritual interests are at stake or involved,
or whether we will bring under the body and say, "Look here, you are not the
master: you are the servant." Well, it is a realm of real testing. And, our
souls are in the battle, I think it is much greater in the realm of our souls.
The whole matter of reputation and standing and favor and advancement in this
world; "gaining the world," as the Lord put it, gaining the world, which means
gaining its advantages and gaining its favor, its smile, its pleasure. This is
a temptation to young people especially, and to all Christians, but to young
people particularly; whether they are going to compromise in order to really
stand well with the world. And then spirit, the most acute form of temptation,
in our spirit.
Now I have pointed it out. We cannot deal at
any length with these things, but what I am saying is that here in this
temptation of the Lord Jesus, you had an inclusiveness of all temptation in the
whole man - the spirit, soul, and body, or body, soul, and spirit; and in that
comprehensive trial, the Image triumphed and is really confirmed as the Image.
Then we have the devil back again, and, oh, he
is back through the closest of His disciples, the beloved Peter, when He was
speaking of His coming death, Peter said: "This shall never come to Thee,
Lord. Save Thyself." Here we are back on the body level again. "Spare
Yourself, do not put Yourself in the way of that." It came to Him in His soul,
"My soul, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." He poured
out His soul. And, finally, from the Cross, His spirit: "My God." Tried
to the last degree as to God, His Father, the Love of His Father, the
Faithfulness of His Father. The testing was pressed into the deepest and
closest areas of His human life. It was like that all the way through, but the
point is that He triumphed!
But note, what is the heart, the core of it
all? Whether it is in the body, the trial; or in the soul, the testing; or in
the spirit, the deepest ordeal... there is one thing in the heart of all, each
and all - it is filial relationship with God. The attesting, the presenting
was: "My Son in Whom I am well pleased." My Son. "All right," says the
devil, "that is the point, the focus point, the focal point upon which I will
concentrate." And what is the essence of true sonship? It is the filial
relationship to the Father, a relationship of love to the Father. Are you ever
tested through your body to doubt the love of God, through your situations and
circumstances arising in the world and amongst people, or in your own spirit?
Oh yes, we know a little of this; something of this. The concentrate force of
all satanic power is its issue in whatever form. You see, the Lord Jesus just
went this way, but in His triumph it says, "He was made perfect. Though
He was a Son, He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. He was made
perfect through suffering." - through suffering.
And don't think of that word "suffering" in
connection with Him as just being His physical sufferings on the Cross, His
bodily sufferings. That is where Rome focuses everything, on the Crucifix, the
wounds, that side of things. No, no, His sufferings were here, in the realm of
not serving His own interests in not even one way at all - in body, soul, or
spirit. And what it cost Him! What it cost Him so to do. There were His
sufferings, and He was made perfect through suffering. And then, having been
made perfect through suffering, He is installed in heaven, instated in heaven,
The Man that Satisfies
Stephen, in his last moments, and with his last
breath almost said, "I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand
of God." Here is the Son of Man installed as the Heavenly Pattern, the
Heavenly Pattern to which the Holy Spirit will take up His work now, so soon
after this. The Pattern. There is a Greek word which is only used once in the
New Testament, and it is used by the Lord Jesus Himself, "I have left you an
example." This is the only time in the New Testament when that word
"example" occurs. And it is like all other Greek words, a pictorial word.
It has a picture behind it, and it is taken from the classroom, and the
scholars. And we know something about it, where the master sets a pattern to be
copied, a writing, the "top line" we used to call it. I don't know so much
about things in the school now, but I remember well how I plodded on to imitate
that top line in writing, and how much hung upon my success in
imitating. The Lord Jesus took this word, example or pattern, out of the
classroom. The scholar, where the boy has been given a top line, has been given
a pattern, an example to follow, copying the master's writing.
You do know the Word says much about
"Looking off unto Jesus," - "Beholding Him," but then that does not exhaust
it, because I think there is always some weakness - I have found it so at any
rate - about this example idea. Thomas a Kempis and his "The Imitation of
Christ" I never found wholly helpful. Ah, every day to imitate Jesus, but what
an awful mess we make of this Top Line don't we? But there was more in the
Greek word than that. The Master not only gave the Top Line Pattern, but He
drew some grooves in the clay upon which the writing was being done, because at
that time, the only means of writing in school cheap enough to provide
sufficient was clay tablets; and so the master would draw grooves, lines. Now
that is very helpful isn't it, having some lines to work on so that you do not
go crooked. But if there are grooves, so that if you tend to go out of the
straight, the groove holds you; that is an extra. That is all in the word, and
in the word here: "example." It means that not only has He become the
pattern to which we are to be conformed, but the Holy Spirit has given us,
in our own heart, the grooves, that when we do go out of the straight, the
groove pulls us back again, something that holds us to the straight. Do you
This is a very simple illustration, but that is
the word, the meaning of the word, "example." That He has been installed
and instated as the Pattern, and the Holy Spirit has come to keep us on
the lines of the Pattern, to keep us from deviating. "Kept by the Power of
God." If we go askew, we have something to pull us back again, to get us
back onto the straight.
Now I must stop there, because that does
introduce this activity and energy of the Holy Spirit in the matter of re-newing
after the image of Him that created him. We will hold that over, but let us
again return to the point of all this, that is, the Lord has focused His
attention upon us as human beings to recover the image of the one Perfect Man.
And it is in us as people that He is concerned. He is concerned with us. As we
so often say, "It matters to Him about us, or about you," focusing His attention
not upon getting a perfect system, a New Testament order, but
people, just people. And we will never have any kind of heavenly or New
Testament order until He gets the kind of people that He wants, and when He's
got them, or is getting them, then everything else will follow and will have the