Do not lie to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices,
I. THE NEGATIVE ASPECT OF CONVERSION. "Ye have put off the old man with his deeds."
1. The old man is the old unconverted self, strong in his deeds of sin. His deeds are catalogued among the "works of the flesh;" (Galatians 5:22, 23), as well as in the context. He is to be discerned, indeed, by his works like a tree by its fruits.
2. The putting off of the old man is twofold, namely, at conversion and in the gradual process of sanctification. Some teach that the old man is an unchanged and unchangeable being, and that, as he has been crucified in Christ (Romans 6:6), we have nothing more to do with him. In that case, if we have put on the new man, we are perfectly sinless.
(1) There is a putting off of the old man at our justification.
(2) There is a gradual putting off likewise - a "mortifying your members which are upon the earth," which is to continue till we get rid of all his deeds. The counsel, therefore, to put off the old man and put on the new man is like the similar counsel, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 13:14), addressed to those who had already "put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27).
1. The nature of this newness.
(1) He has a new nature - "born from above" (John 3:3). He has "a new heart."
(2) He has a new obedience, both as to its spirit, its matter, and its end (Romans 12:1).
(3) He has a new citizenship (Philippians 3:20).
2. It is a nature constantly renewed unto full knowledge. "Which is being renewed unto knowledge." It is not at once complete, but in a state of constant development by the Holy Spirit. Knowledge is a principal part of the new grace of the believer.
(1) It is the beginning of eternal life (John 17:3).
(2) It has transforming power (2 Corinthians 7:18).
(3) It is necessary to our understanding the wiles of the devil and resisting the temptations of the world (1 Peter 5:9).
3. Its renewal is after a Divine pattern. "After the image of him who created him." The allusion is to Genesis 1:26. The image of Christ in the believer is analogous to that of the image of God in the original man, but will be far more glorious, as the second Man is more glorious than the first man. Thus we see the process of putting on the new man in its beginning (Galatians 3:27), in its continuance (Romans 13:14), and in its completeness (1 Corinthians 15:53, 54). - T.C.
Lie not one to another: seeing that ye have put off the old man and his deeds
I. EVERY CHRISTIAN IS THE SUBJECT OF A CHANGE. The "old man" refers to our degenerate nature, and "its deeds" the practical outcome of this degeneracy. The "new man" is the new nature, for the creation of which God has provided in His Son. The grand change takes place in the heart, and is perfected in the life. This change is —
1. Divine in its origin. It is not the result of human skill or self-development.
2. Progressive in its nature, "which is being renewed." There is in every case a commencement, whether known or not, at regeneration; but as in the case of the new-born infant, its powers have to be expanded and renewed day by day. At no point in this progress can the Christian say, "I have attained or am perfect." There is in this fact(1) a solace which may well prevent discouragement at the consciousness of manifold imperfections; and(2) a stimulus which should lead us to seek with ardour the influence and evidence of a progressive piety. A statue under the chisel of the sculptor is ever being renewed, until the marble form assumes a perfect likeness of the ideal; so under the hand of God the soul grows in the attributes of spiritual life and the beauties of holiness.
3. Glorious in its model. "After the image of Him." Christ is "the image of the invisible God," and comformity to Him is the pattern of our renewal. This includes much more than the mere restoration of the image lost by Adam.
4. Grand in its result. "Renewed into knowledge"; i.e., knowledge is not the means, but the purpose. It is that of God and things Divine. To know God and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent, is life eternal. To the attainment of some kinds of knowledge character is essential, and pre eminently it is so here. It is to be an intuition — not a cold intellectual acquisition (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 3:16-19). Life without this change is vanity. The "old man" may be rich and strong, but the "new man" only can see God and enter heaven. "Except a man be born again," etc.
II. IN THIS SPIRITUAL RENEWAL HUMAN DISTINCTIONS ARE OF NO AVAIL OR ADVANTAGE.
1. National distinctions: "Greek and Jew." One nation has no advantage over another. The sensual Hindoo, the literary Chinaman, the stolid Hottentot, the energetic European, are alike by sin removed from the life of God; and the gospel is equally adapted to all.
2. Ritual distinctions (Galatians 6:15). A man born in a Christian country requires a change of heart as much as one who dwells in a pagan land. There may be much higher external privilege in one case than in the other, but that does not confer the change, nor is it to be confounded with it.
3. Political distinction: "Barbarian, Scythian." The Scyttrians were at the lowest point of the scale of civilization. The savage and the polished citizen require alike the washing of regeneration.
4. Social distinction: "Bond, free." The diversities of condition which divide men are unrecognized. Here rich and poor meet together.
III. IN THIS SPIRITUAL CHANGE CHRIST IS EVERYTHING. "All and in all, Christ."
1. He is the principle of the change. Every Christian is created anew in Christ Jesus.
2. He is its sustenance and strength. As the renewed soul feeds on Him by faith, so it grows up in Him. There can be no advancement away from Him.
3. He is its perfection. We are to be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
(J. Spence, D. D.)I. THE CHANGE OF THE SPIRIT'S DRESS.
1. We have the same idea before. "Death" is equivalent to the "putting off of the old," and "resurrection" to "putting on of the new." The figure of the change of dress to express change of moral character is frequent in Scripture. "Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness." Zechariah saw the high-priest change his filthy garments for festal robes when God "caused his iniquity to pass from him." See also Christ's parables of the Wedding Garment and Prodigal Son, and Paul's exhortation to Christ's soldiers to put off their night-gear, "the works of darkness," etc. In every reformatory the first thing done is to strip off and burn the rags of the new-comers, and then give them a bath, and dress them in clean clothes. Character is the garb of the soul. Habit means costume and custom.
2. The apostle hazards a mixed metaphor — "Put on the new man" — to show that what is put off and on is much more truly part of themselves than an article of dress. There is a deeper self which remains, the true man, the centre of personality. Thus the figure expresses the depth of the change and the identity of the person.
3. This entire change is assumed as having been realized at that point of time when the Colossians began to put their trust in Christ.(1) Of course the contrast between the old and the new is greatest in converted heathens. With us, where Christianity is widely diffused, there is less room for a marked revolution. Many can point to no sudden change, or if they have been conscious of a change, have passed through it as gradually as night passes into day.(2) But there are those who have grown up without God who must become Christians by sudden conversion. And why should this be regarded as impossible? Is it not often the case that some ignored principle has come, like a meteor in the atmosphere, into a man's mind, and exploded and blown to pieces the habits of a lifetime? And why should not this be so with the truth of God's great love in Christ?(3) The New Testament does not insist that everybody must become a Christian in the same fashion. Sometimes there will be a dividing line between the two states as sharp as the boundary of adjoining kingdoms; sometimes the one will melt imperceptibly into the other. Sometimes the revolution will be as swift as that of the wheel of a locomotive, sometimes slow and silent as the movement of a planet.
4. But however brought about, this is a certain mark of the Christian life.(1) If there be any reality in the act by which we have laid hold of Christ, old things will have passed away — tastes, desires, etc. — and all things will have become new, because we move with a new love, have a new hope, aim, song.(2) This is a most needful test for those who put too much stress on believing and feeling. Nor is it less needful to remember that this is a consequence of faith in Christ. Nothing else will strip the foul robes from a man. To try to begin with the second stage is like trying to build a house at the second story.
5. The practical conclusion: "Seeing that." The change, though taking place in the inmost nature, needs to be wrought into character and wrought out in conduct. The leaven is in the dough, but to knead it thoroughly into the mass is a lifelong task, only accomplished by our continually repeated efforts.
6. So the apparently illogical, Put off what you have put off, and put on what you have put on, is vindicated. It means, Be consistent with your deepest selves; carry out in detail what you have already done in bulk. Cast out the enemy already ejected front the central fortress, from the isolated positions he still occupies. You may put off the old man, for he is put off already; you must do so, for there is still danger of his again wrapping his poisonous rags about your limbs.
II. THE CONTINUOUS GROWTH OF THE NEW MAN, ITS AIM AND PATTERN.
1. The new man is "being renewed" — a continuous process, perhaps slow and difficult to discern, but, like all powers and habits, it steadily increases; and a similar process works to opposite results in the old man (Ephesians 4:22).
2. This renewing is on the man, not by him. There is a Divine side. The renewing is not merely effected by us, nor due only to the vital power of the new man, but by the "renewing of the Holy Ghost." So there is hope for us in our striving, for He helps us. "Work out your own salvation," etc.
3. The new man is renewed "unto knowledge." Possibly there may be an allusion to the pretensions of the false teachers to a higher wisdom, There is but one way to press into the depths of the knowledge of God, viz., growth into His likeness. We understand one another best by sympathy. We know God only on condition of resemblance. For all simple souls, bewildered by the strife of tongues, and unapt for speculation, this is a message of gladness.
4. The new man is created after "the image," etc. As in the first creation, so in the new. But the old image consisted mainly in the reasonable soul, the self-conscious personality, the broad distinctions between men and animals. That humanity, in a sense, still has, though marred. The coin bears His image and superscription, though rusty and defaced. But the new image consists in holiness. Though the majestic infinitudes of God can have no likeness in man, we may be "holy as He is holy," be "imitators of God," "walk in love as He hath loved us," and "in the light as He is in the light."
III. THE GRAND UNITY OF THIS CREATION.
1. "Christ is all." Wherever that new nature is found, it lives by the life of Christ.
2. All who are His partake of that common gift. He is in all. There is no privileged class, as these teachers affirmed. Necessarily, therefore, surface distinctions disappear. Paul's catalogue may be profitably compared with Galatians 3:28.(1) Greek and Jew. The cleft of national distinctions, which never yawned more widely than this, ceases to separate.(2) Circumcision and uncircumcision. Nothing makes deeper and bitterer antagonisms than differences in religious forms.(3) Barbarian, Scythian: which reflects the Greek contempt for outside races as of lower culture. A cultivated class is always tempted to superciliousness, and a half-cultivated class more so, as was the case at Colossae. In the interests of the humble virtues Christianity wars against the pride of culture, the most heartless of all.(4) Bondman, freeman. That gulf was too wide for compassion to cross, though not for hatred to stride over. The effacement of this distinction is seen in the letter to Philemon which was despatched with this.
3. Christianity waged no direct war against these evils. Revolution cures nothing. The only way to get rid of evils engendered in the constitution of society is to elevate and change the tone of thought and feeling, and then they die of atrophy. Change the climate, and you change the vegetation. Until you do, neither mowing nor uprooting will get rid of the foul growths. So the gospel does with all these lines of demarcation between men. What becomes of the ridges of sand that separate pool from pool at low water? The tide comes up and over them, and makes them all one, gathered into the oneness of the great sea.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Family Treasury.The leader of a very ungodly set of fellows in a dye-house became converted. Two of his fellow-workmen were so struck with the change that for a time they followed him in his new way, and behaved like good Christians. The ridicule and violence of the rest were, however, too strong for their resolution, and they turned to their old ways, while John, the first convert, clung close to Christ, and stood firm as a rock. John did not say much, but he answered scoffs and railing by a consistent Christian life. One day, however, when his fellow-workmen were boasting what good infidelity could do, and how much harm the Bible had done, his soul was stirred within him; he turned round, and said, feelingly, but firmly, "Well, let us deal plainly in this matter, my friends, and judge of the tree by the fruit it bears. You call yourselves infidels.: Let us see what your principles do. I suppose what they do on a small scale they will do on a large one. Now, there are Tom and Jem," pointing to the two who went with him and then turned back. "You have tried your principles on them. When they tried to serve Christ, they were civil, good-tempered, kind husbands and fathers. They were cheerful, hardworking, and ready to oblige. What have you made them? Look and see. They are cast down and cross; their mouths are full of cursing and filthiness; they are drunk every week; their children half clothed, their wives broken-hearted, their homes wretched. Now, I have tried Christ and His religion, and what has it done for me? You know well what I used to be. There was none of you who could drink so much, swear so desperately, and fight so masterly. I had no money, and no one would trust me. My wife was illused; I was ill-humoured, hateful, and hating. What has religion done for me? Thank God, I am not afraid to put it to you. Am I not a happier man than I was? Am I not a better workman and a kinder companion? Would I once have put up with what I now bear from you? I could beat any of you as easily now as ever. Why don't I? Do you ever hear a foul word from my mouth, or catch me at a public-house? Go and ask my neighbours if I have not altered for the better. Go and ask my wife. Let my house bear witness. God be praised, here is what Christianity has done for me; there is what infidelity has done for Jem and Tom." John stopped. The dyers had not a word to say. He used a logic they could not answer — the logic of a life.
( Thomas Aquinas.)Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15; Proverbs 12:22; Ephesians 4:25).
(Durandus.)— Language is a natural sign of the understanding; it is therefore unnatural that any one should signify that by his speech which does not exist in his mind.
Proverbs.A liar is sooner caught than a cripple. Liars should have good memories, a lie has no legs.
(The Duke of Wellington.)
(H. O. Mackay.)I. The NATURE of the sin of lying. The youngest of us knows the thing too well — the intentional leading of others to understand as true what we know to be false.
1. It may be by a lying word — a sin of the tongue, telling a lie, speaking a lie.
2. It may be by a lying LOOK — a sin of the eye — looking a lie.
3. It may be a lying ACT — a sin of the hand — acting a lie. This is one of the most common forms of it, and least thought of. Still to keep by school-life: It is the hour for arithmetic. You have got some hard sums to do — too hard for you to master without more time than you have got now. You ask your neighbour to show you his slate, or you look over the shoulder of the boy before you who is always correct, you see you have been mistaken, rub out the wrong figures, fill in the right — in a moment you are on your feet as having finished your work, read off your sum, get your mark, and, with it, credit for being one of the few who are correct. That is a theft, but it is also a lie; it is stealing, but it is also lying. It was not the tongue, but the hand that did it. And here let me warn you against being parties to the lies of others. You are a young servant. You have broken accidentally a favourite china bowl. You do not know what to do. It is the first time such a thing has happened with you. You fear your mistress will be angry; perhaps you will have to replace it out of your half year's wage, small as it is, just on purpose to make you more careful for the future. So instead of making an immediate and full confession, explaining how it took place, and saying you will be more careful in time to come, you take up the pieces, and lay them aside till you have opportunity of getting them out of the way; or you join the broken piece in as neatly as yon can, set the bowl in the press, and the discovery is never made that you had any hand in it, till you are in another situation. You have been acting a lie; and I can hardly over-estimate the wrong you have done, most of all to yourself. When Jacob put the kid-skins on his hands and neck, and served up dainty meat to his old blind father Isaac, passing himself off for his brother Esau, he acted a lie; in was lying kindness. Before leaving this head, let me say a word regarding equivocating — that is, saying what has a double meaning — what may be taken up in two ways — the mere word true, the thing false — a kind of half-lie.
II. The CHARACTER of this sin. It would take long to bring out all the bad features of it. Take the following:
1. It is a cowardly thing. No brave boy would lie. Cowards tell lies. Fear lies at the bottom of falsehood, and no liar need pretend to be brave. If I were in search of courageous boys, I would seek truthful ones. Our Scottish martyrs, the good Covenanters in olden times, were bright examples of strict adherence, not only to the truth, but to truthfulness; and There shall we find any more brave? A lie would have saved their lives — a single lying act — one lying bow of the head — but they would not.
2. It is a mean thing. It is not manly, Some of the cases I have mentioned, showing utter disregard to the feelings and interests of others, are base, shabby contemptible in the extreme. Never expect much at the hand of liars. They would sacrifice your interests to their own any day.
3. It is a God-dishonouring thing. How much is said of God in connection with truth! He is called the "God of truth." It is said, He "keepeth truth for ever." Every word of His is so unchangeable that His "truth" is just used for His "word"; they mean the same thing. He is called "God who cannot lie." His people are called "children that will not lie." Lying lips are said to be "an abomination" to Him. Truth is part of God's likeness — God's image. What dishonour, then, must be done to the God of truth by lying! You don't like lying things; a lying apple, beautiful and inviting without, but rotten within; a lying penny, bright but bad; a lying cat, that invites you to make much of it, and seems ever so friendly, and then bites or scratches you; a lying lottery, that promises a prize and gives a blank; a lying branch, that invites your foot to rest upon it, and then gives way and throws you to the ground. And God dislikes lying things too. This is the worst feature in it all — it is so dishonouring to God. This is seen in the way He speaks of it and punishes it.
4. It is a devilish thing. God is the "God of truth," the devil is the "father of lies," is a "liar," ay, and the father of liars. Lying is so vile a thing, and the word "lie" is so black, even to the world, even to the wicked, even to careless children, that they try to use it as little as possible, and it is spoken and thought lightly of, under another name — a "fib;" "it was only a fib" — a kind of harmless, innocent falsehood — a little lie — a softer name for a bad, black thing.
III. The DANGER of it.
1. It is a growing sin. By this I mean it is always increasing. One lie leads to and necessitates another, till no one knows where it will end. It is like a snowball, the further it is rolled the more it increases in size. Once or twice indulged, it soon becomes a habit.
2. It leads to and is linked with many other sins. You seldom find lying alone. It is something like drinking: it leads to almost every other sin, and all other sins seek its help, and hide themselves under it. I can hardly fancy a liar to be honest — either to fear God or regard man.
3. It degrades the whole character. When a habit of lying has been formed, we may well fear the worst. When truthfulness goes, the whole character goes along with it. There is an end to all confidence. For a young apprentice, or a young servant, there is nothing I fear so much as untruthfulness.
IV. The PUNISHMENT of it. This is two-fold.
1. Here — in the present world. There is the loss of character; the loss of all respect. There is degradation; misery; shame. No one can respect a liar. It carries its own punishment with it.
2. Hereafter — in the world to come. Remember, dear children I that sooner or later the lie will be discovered — every lie! If not here, at any rate hereafter.
V. Our DUTY regarding it. "Lie not: putting away lying — speak the truth."
1. Strive against it.
2. Watch against it. You must not leave the door open.
3. Pray against it.
4. Seek to love the truth.Get the heart filled with the love of Christ, and then you will love the truth, and of necessity hate lying. Every effort will strengthen you, and the more you seek after the truth, the stronger you will become in it. Rather be simple than deceitful; rather be the cheated than the cheater, for it is written, "The Lord preserveth the simple."
(J. H. Wilson.)
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