So…..What's the Point?

Musings from a Fellow Struggler

Archive for the month “July, 2013”

All Prim and Proper: Clothing for the Well Dressed Christian- Putting on Christ


Gal. 3:26-27  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

 Rom. 13:14    But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.


I think it’s fairly clear that when Paul’s uses “putting on” and “putting off” his main concern is the moral and ethical conduct of his readers reflecting the new way of life appropriate for a Christian. This is especially clear in Eph. 4:20-32 and Col. 3:5-11.

Now, “putting on Christ” expands our focus to the union existing between the believer and the Lord Jesus. This union is the basis for, and necessary condition of, the very possibility of “putting off the old man” and “putting on the new man”. It is a new kind of existence expressed by a new kind of life-style and the reason the Christian life is a transformation into something totally new, not a reformation of something old.

It can be said that Jesus is the first New Man, the ‘first-born of many brethren’ (Rom. 8:28-30) because He is the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:45). Through His kenosis (self-emptying) and incarnation (Phil. 2:5-8) He became Godman (Gk, theanthropos) and, subsequent to His resurrection and glorification, He remains Godman forever. He is that Singularity, infinite, eternal, irresistible from which all creation springs and the Source of a new humanity. There is none like Him, nor can there ever be, and there is nothing in all of creation, old or new, that is like the Church of which we are a part.

There is, then, an everlasting connection between the nature of the ‘new man’ we ‘put on’ and Godman, the Lord Jesus Christ.(Rom.13:14) Baptism is the external ‘sign’ of being enfolded into, identifying with what Jesus did and Who He is by ‘dying’ to all that preceded this confession of faith, the life of the ‘old man’. (Gal. 3:27) Thus, the union of our redeemed existence with Godman is the ‘new man’ created in every believer and, collectively, in His Body, the Body of Christ in which each of us participates and contributes to the praise of His glory. This is what we are to “put on” and doing so is life eternal.

This imperative to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” takes on even greater significance given its context, one that is particularly àpropos for this time in history; indeed, “the night is far spent, the day is at hand.” (Rom. 13:12) There is a wedding soon to come and we are warned to be prepared for the event. Two parables of Jesus point to this. The first is found in Matt. 22:1-14 about the wedding feast with verses 11-12 pertinent to this discussion. One of the guests is confronted by the host for not being properly clothed and then taken away to anything but a party. Being properly clothed, then, is far more than a fashion statement but required for the events soon to come.

The second is found in Matt. 25:1-13 and addresses specifically the need for preparedness. Again, the focus is on a wedding and the participants advised to have their ‘lights on’ when the Bridegroom arrives. (see Rom. 13:11)

If you have been following this series, recall the first installment had to do with “putting on the armor of light”. Interestingly, that passage (Rom. 13:12) is in the same context as Rom. 13:14. Therefore, putting on the ‘armor of light’ and ‘putting on the Lord Jesus Christ’ go together and speak of being properly clothed and being adequately illuminated as the above parables suggest.

The point is, then, that being a properly clothed Christian means ‘putting on the Lord Jesus Christ’. In other words, ‘putting on the new man’ supersedes, overcomes, and ‘kills’ the ‘old man’ thereby becoming successful at making “… no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts”. (Rom. 13:14)

© W.G. Ryzek 2013



All Prim and Proper: Clothing for the Well Dressed Christian- Putting on the New Man


As with most theological and Biblical terms, varied opinions exist about what the ‘old man’ and the ‘new man’ are in Paul.  One simple way of understanding them is this: the ‘old man’ is you BC (before Christ) and the ‘new man’ is you AC (after Christ). However, in real life this distinction between BC and AC is not simply an either/or but more of a both/and. In other words, even though we are a ‘new Creation in Christ’ (AC) there yet remains much of the ‘old’ still in us to be transformed (BC).

Being the clever creatures we are, learning to ‘put on a show’ that meets the expectations of whatever Christian group we belong is relatively easy; we appear to be the real deal without ever really ‘putting off’ anything. But sooner or later, our true nature surfaces and we are exposed in spite of our best efforts at playing the part. But this sort of play acting doesn’t necessarily mean we aren’t really Christians; quite the contrary. Paul’s imperatives to “put off” and “put on” were written to Christians whose behavior was not always in keeping with their conversion. (see Eph. 4:20-32)

I have to say that, at least to me, it is quite astounding to read these letters of Paul and realize they were written to believers, some of whom were nasty, lustful, idolatrous, liars, cheats, drunks and otherwise despicable. And Paul calls them saints while they displayed these unseemly characteristics which were anything but ‘saintly’. This gives me hope that while I’m ‘putting on’ and ‘putting off’ I remain His child, not because of anything I have or lack, but because I’m already a new creation in Christ by grace through faith. My concern now is to become in everyday life what I already am because of Him. It is a life-long project to be sure. The good news is that, because of Jesus, we can truly be transformed into someone brand new and not just reformed into an ‘improved’ version of what really should be put to death.

So, like old, worn, ragged, dirty and useless clothes, we are to ‘put off’, ‘take off’, discard the old man and ‘put on’, dress up in brand new, fresh, radiant clothes befitting a child of a righteous and holy King. However, like old clothes we hate throwing away, the old man is not easily gotten rid of and resists all efforts at being cast off. Hence, a corollary to this ‘putting off’ and ‘putting on’ is language like “dying to self”, “crucifying the old man” and such.

One exercise that will help us is being reminded of what the ‘old man’ is really like. Paul helps us do this by describing what we are to “put off” in Eph.4:20-32 and Col 3:5-17.  Put simply, the ‘old man’ is everything about us associated with sin, the world, and the devil, all reeking of death and, therefore corrupt and decaying. In fact, in Eph.4:22 the verb “grows corrupt” is in the present tense meaning that he is growing corrupt now and will do so continuously.

Furthermore, this ever increasing corruption is by its very nature, destructive so everything the ‘old man’ touches is destroyed, itself included. It is an incredible description of sin that these days is rendered innocuous by churches remaining largely silent about what sin really is for fear of offending. But, I digress.

Now, in contrast to the old, corrupt man, we learn that the ‘new man’ we are to put on is created by God in “true righteousness and holiness.” The language here indicates the ‘new man’ was created both ‘by God’ and ‘like God’, two very important notions that stand over and against the ‘old man’ that is decaying and being destructive in the process. With regard to our being created ‘like God’ the ‘new man’ is righteous and holy, neither of which can be ascribed to fallen humanity and, therefore, attributes belonging to God alone as aspects of His essential beingness. As new creations, however, these attributes make up the ‘new man’ that God Himself creates when we are ‘born again’. (see Col. 3:10)

With regard to creation ‘by God’, Paul use of the genitive ‘of the truth’ (this phrase doesn’t appear in some translations) shows truth as the origin of righteousness and holiness, hence they are the real deal and not play acting mentioned earlier and/or religious self-righteousness by which men seek to justify themselves. James 1:18 provides a good summary of the matter: “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” (NKJV)

So, what’s the point of all this? Whatever we were yesterday should no longer be the case today and whatever we are today should no longer be the case tomorrow. We should; no, we must be continuously putting off the old and putting on the new like changing clothes from day to day. What will gradually emerge is the true character of a Christian, namely righteousness and holiness created in truth that will radiate like an armor of light so much so there will be no denying we belong to, and are following, the Creator of light.

© W.G. Ryzek 2013

Post Navigation