Renewed in Christ
Lie not one to another seeing that ye 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 Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian bond nor free but Christ is all in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also are ye called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
B1.1 Lie not
Moving on to the practical outworking with our brothers and sisters, we have the exhortation not to lie to one another. If one thinks about this it is quite astonishing that Christians are told not to lie one to another! Yet here and in Eph.4:25 Paul is saying the same thing: lie not one to another.
To lie is to deceive, it is to bear false witness, it is the complete antithesis to the nature and character of God. Note how truth is used to describe all three persons of the Godhead
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by Me, Jn.14:6.
And I will prayer the Father and He shall give you another Comforter that He may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive….
Wherein God willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel confirmed it by an oath that by two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie we might have a strong consolation….
This is in contrast to the Devil, who, Jesus says, is the father of lies, Jn.8:44.
B1.2 Because you have put on
Having put off the old man, with that horrid list, we are not to lie because we have put on the new man. This new man is renewed in the image of Him who created him.
Originally man was created in God’s image, Gen.1:26. But that image was marred by sin. Adam’s children bore the image of their father, Gen.5:1-3. Thus man still bears to some extent the image of God, Gen.9:6; Jms.3:9.
The fall ruined that image and new birth restores us to the image of our Lord, as Wesley puts it.
The new man is renewed, or rather literally is being renewed. It is a present continuity. We are constantly being renewed, and are being transformed into the image of His son, Rom.8:29.
But we with open (=unveiled) face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory unto glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
..for which cause we faint not but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
..and as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall bear the image of the heavenly
We have been renewed by new birth into His image, we are then to walk in the newness of life, Rom.6:4, and not as men ( ie as if we were unregenerate), I Cor.3:3; Eph.4:17, to walk as children of light, Eph.5:8.
He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk even as He walked.
In other words, in this context, we are not to lie one to another.
B1.3 No barriers in Christ
Here we have the clearest infallible statement of equality before God one could have. All barriers that men may raise are nothing in God’s sight, and in Christ’s body no one is superior or inferior to anyone else.
Neither Jew nor circumcision nor uncircumcision. There are no racial or religious background differences at all. Someone once said that one of the biggest errors in the human heart is pride of race, and pride of grace. That is ethnic background and religious adherence.
The Bible makes it clear that there is only one race, the human race; for God has made us all of one blood, Acts 17:26. No ethnic group is superior or inferior to another, just different. It is a wickedness to place to one group above another, especially in Christian circles. We are all one, on the same plane. In the body of Christ we are members of it, and of each other, see I Cor.12.
Our religious background is also irrelevant. When we are born from above we become dead with Christ to our past and it has no standing at all in the body of Christ. That background did not save us nor will it bring us closer to Christ. No background can save us but also no background is a barrier for God to draw us to Christ.
In this new man there is no racial or religious barriers, we are one in Christ.
No Barbarian nor Scythian. The term Barbarians came to mean any foreigner ignorant of the Greek language and culture.
Scythians were a savage and war like nomads. They were particularly violent. Josephus states that they enjoyed murdering people and are little better than wild beasts.
However in Christ such cultural backgrounds are also irrelevant. Different groups have different cultures. As with race and religion this is irrelevant in the body of Christ. No one culture being superior to another.
Bond, that is a slave, nor free. Social standing too is immaterial. Note that this passage does not condone slavery, as some would suggest. Paul is stating an obvious fact that slavery was part and parcel of the Roman Empire, and there would be many slaves who had become Christians. So how does the body receive such a person? Well that standing in the body is irrelevant, such an one would be equal in God’s eyes and able to participate in the functioning of the body as described elsewhere in the NT.
One good example of this is Onesimus, one of the Colossian assembly, as seen in the letter to Philemon.
If the Son sets us free we are free indeed, Jn.8:36, whatever our social standing.
B1.4 Christ is all in all
This epistle has made it abundantly clear that Christ is the one who is the all sufficient Saviour, Who dwells in the hearts of His people. That and that alone is what matters. Salvation is wholly His gift and it is given to whomsoever will receive Him.
Salvation does not depend on background, whether religious, cultural, social or any other barrier that man might put up. It certainly doesn’t depend on man’s philosophy, religious allegiance nor any ideas of mysticism.
Whatever ones standing in society, background, previous religious persuasion, or cultural upbringing. Christians are all one in Christ and these things do not matter, nor do they count for anything.
On new birth we belong to a new nation, we have a new citizenship, in fact a complexly new life and standing. We are renewed in Christ and the old has gone. Therefore we are to walk worthy of that. And with our brothers and sisters it means not lying and not being superior because of our earthly background.
It is Christ alone that is the body’s head, and he is all in all.