When we put off the old man, we are to, simultaneously, put on the new man. You don’t grow as a Christian by just removing the old man or by only denying yourself. You must put on the new man.
According to Col 3:10, the new man “is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” That is, putting on the new man starts with being renewed in knowledge. Eph 4:23 says, “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Rom 12:1-2 says, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Our new man is an “inward man” which is “renewed day by day,” 2 Cor 4:16. It is impossible for us to be renewed in knowledge without the words of God. And because we are to be renewed day by day, we need to be in the words of God daily.
Our new man is “after the image of him that created him,” who is Jesus Christ. Peter calls him, “the hidden man of the heart,” in 1 Pet 3:4. When we were saved, we were predestinated “to be conformed to the image of his Son,” Rom 8:29. So, your new man is not a better you or a reformed you, but a completely different person in the image of Jesus Christ. Fortunately, we do not have to conform ourselves to his image. The Holy Spirit is in us to transform us and to conform us to Christ’s image.
According to Col 3:11, the new man is not identified by your birth (Greek or Jew), your religious upbringing (circumcised or uncircumcised), your nationality (Barbarian, Scythian), or your calling (bond or free). See 1 Cor 7:18-24. The new man is identified by Jesus Christ, alone, “that filleth all in all,” Eph 1:23. “Christ is all,” because we are his body, “and in all,” because Christ is in you when you’re saved, Col 1:27.
According to Col 3:12, those of us who are saved by Jesus Christ are “the elect of God.” In the church age, there is no such thing as being elect before you’re saved. When you believe the truth and are sanctified by the Spirit, then you’re elect, 1 Pet 1:2; 2 Thes 2:13. We are also “holy,” Col 1:22, and “beloved,” 2 Thes 2:13.
We are to “put on therefore”:
- Mercy – Col 3:12 – bowels of mercies – we are to be like our Father who is merciful, Lk 6:36. Prov 11:17 says, “The merciful man doeth good to his own soul.”
- Kindness – Col 3:12 – Eph 4:32 says, “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted.” See Lk 6:35. Jesus was kind to the unthankful and evil.
- Humility – Col 3:12 – humbleness of mind – Phil 2:5-8 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who… humbled himself.” We access the grace of God through humility, 1 Pet 5:5.
- Meekness – Col 3:12 – the best definition of meekness is “submissive obedience.” Meekness is one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:23.
- Long-suffering – Col 3:12 – the Lord has been long-suffering with us, 1 Tim 1:16. Thus, we should be long-suffering with others. This is another aspect of the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22.
- Forbearance – Col 3:13 – forbearing one another – forbearance is indulgence towards those who injure us, lenity. You just let things go. Eph 4:2 says, “forbearing one another in love.” It’s the love of Jesus that allows you to forbear.
- Forgiveness – Col 3:13 – forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any. We are guided in our forgiveness toward others by Christ’s forgiveness of us, “even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” You may have a quarrel, but you are to forgive. We are to even forgive those who have wronged us terribly. Consider how David Ben Lew forgave a Nazi soldier after the Nazi’s killed many of his family members.
- Charity – Col 3:14 – “put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” Charity is brotherly love. It is the fulfillment of Christ’s command to love one another as he loved us. Charity maintains the unity of the Spirit through love.
- Peace – Col 3:15 – “let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” We are called in one body. Therefore, we “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” Eph 4:3. Peace is maintained through reconciliation. Let the peace of God rule in you.
- Thanksgiving – Col 3:15 – “and be ye thankful.” We have innumerable blessings from God for which to be thankful. We should not concentrate our attention on one failing or one problem or one trial in our lives. We should be thankful for the abundance of the goodness of God toward us.
Conclusion: we have been instructed in this lesson that the Christian life is not just about quitting the bad things we used to do (putting off the old man). Rather it’s also about putting on the new man with all of his divine attributes. It’s about being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ from the inside out. It’s about becoming who you could have never been without the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in your life. Putting on the new man is about becoming who God made you to be.