What the Bible says about
Putting on Christ
(From Forerunner Commentary)
The guests do not enter the wedding hall immediately. Those gathered from the highways would be inappropriately clothed, so time is given them to clothe themselves in proper attire provided by the king (Isaiah 64:6; Zechariah 3:3-4). The parable suggests that, not only did the man not have on a wedding garment, but he did so intentionally. He decides against clothing himself properly, even though the appropriate clothing is available. His presence at the wedding is a sign of his rebellion against the king's authority and majesty, symbolized by the feast. When the man realizes his sin against the king's order, he is speechless as his judgment is pronounced.
The wedding garment, conspicuous and distinctive, represents a person's righteousness. It symbolizes the habit of sincerity, repentance, humility, and obedience. It replaces the street clothes that stand for the habits of pride, rebellion, and sinfulness. Biblically, beautiful clothing indicates spiritual character developed by submission to God (Revelation 3:4-5; 19:7-9). Paul exhorts Christians to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" like a garment (Romans 13:14). Clothing, then, represents a Christ-covered life, and as a result, character consistent with God's way of life.
Is Heaven the Reward of the Saved?
The common explanation for this is that it teaches us to learn humility by doing good for others, by doing acts of service or kindness for our brethren. This is certainly a good lesson that we can take from Christ's example, but we can perhaps derive another from it.
In John's account, what did Jesus suggest that the washing of feet symbolized? He tells Peter that the washing of his feet symbolizes forgiveness of his sin to return him to a "clean" relationship with God. It is only logical to deduce that God expects nothing less from us in response to the sins of our brethren. In the section of the Sermon on the Mount on prayer, Jesus says: "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15).
No doubt, God puts a very great emphasis on our relationships since our lives are to reflect His character. If we have begun to "put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27), would we be a good example of His love for us if we held grudges, hated our brother, or would not forgive another? Obviously, no. Putting on Christ demands that we "put off" these carnal destroyers of relationships and replace them with Christian virtues.
Peter asks Christ, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" (Matthew 18:21). Christ's answer should give us a clue to how He feels about this issue. Peter had ventured a number he thought would be sufficient to establish his forbearance. Christ, though, pulls out all the stops, telling him that there is no set limit: "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven" (verse 22). We are indeed fortunate and can be thankful that same unlimited forgiveness applies to us when we need God's mercy.
The following verses, Matthew 18:23-35, is the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. The servant was deeply in debt to his master, and when he sought relief, his master forgave him his gargantuan debt. Then the tables turn. Another man owed him a small amount and could not repay it. Instead of following his master's example, the servant forgot the mercy he had just received and had the man thrown into prison!
Verses 34-35 sum up the story: "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." The language Christ uses leaves little room for exclusions. He Himself, in the agony of crucifixion, says without reservation, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34). His plea applies, not only to those who cried out for His death and nailed Him to the stake, but to all, past and future, who would be just as responsible as they were and need God's forgiveness. That includes everybody.
Bill Keesee (1935-2010)
Another Look at Footwashing
2 Corinthians 7:1
"Let us cleanse ourselves" includes two aspects. First, the negative side involves putting off the carnal characteristics of the kind mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21, the works of the flesh. Second, there is the positive side of putting on godly characteristics, such as judgment, mercy, and faith (which, out of our Savior's own mouth in Matthew 23:23, are weighty matters of law).
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 16)
God initially installs the new man, and it is our responsibility to nourish him. It is clear from various scriptures that he is manifested in our conduct, that he is reconciled to God and man, that he is circumcised of heart, that he is connected with the New Covenant, and finally, that adopting him is a matter of choice on our part.
But, what or who is the new man?
The best way to answer this is to answer yet another question: When does God create the new man in us? Paul answers the question in Galatians 3:27: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." He uses the verb enduo, "to put on." Its literal meaning is "to sink into." We sink into Christ when we are baptized. That is when we first clothe ourselves with the new man, or to put it a little bit more accurately, that is when God first establishes him within us.
Paul is clearly describing the new man in Galatians 3:27, and he connects the putting on of Christ with reconciliation. The new man is, by definition, reconciled with God and with man. Paul immediately follows his statement that the baptized person has put on Christ (verse 27) with a statement about reconciliation (verse 28): "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Note the similarity of Paul's terminology and approach with Colossians 3:9-11, where he admonishes us "to put on the new man." Paul also immediately follows this statement with a discussion of reconciliation: "There is neither Greek nor Jew, . . . slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all."
Now we can see how Galatians 3:27 answers these two questions:
1. We put on—sink into—the new man when we are baptized.
2. We put on Christ.
This means Jesus Christ is the new man.
The new man conducts himself according to God's Word, walking according to His law. With this in mind, notice Romans 13:12-14, where Paul tells us how we should walk—we who have put on Christ, the new man: "Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, . . . not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ."
This only emphasizes our conclusion: The new man "is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27)! "The second Man, . . . the Lord from heaven" (I Corinthians 15:47) is the new man!
Choosing the New Man (Part Three)
In Galatians 3:27, Paul says we "put on" Christ at our baptism. If we sink into water, it surrounds us. If we put on a coat, it surrounds us. We are in the water or in the coat. If we put on Christ, we are in Christ.
Yet, in Colossians 1:27, Paul says Christ is in us. God reiterates this truth several times in the New Testament.
» John 17:23: Christ Himself prays to His Father: "I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one."
» Romans 8:10: Paul tells us, "If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin."
» Galatians 2:20: Paul speaks of himself and all true Christians: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me."
» Ephesians 3:17-18: Referring to the "inner man," Paul mentions that he prays "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."
» I John 3:24: John writes: "Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us."
Is this contradictory? Is it impossible? Can Christ be in us and we in Christ at the same time?
God's Word—His very Logos—answers those questions for us in John 14:20. He tells His disciples that, at His resurrection, they "will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you." Christ is not describing an impossible situation. He is describing perfect, total unity!
To understand this type of unity, a couple of analogies will help.
1. We can say two bricks are united when they are attached one to another with mortar, but this is not the kind of unity of which Christ speaks. Bricks "united" in this way are distinguishable from each other even by a child. True, we could say they are united, but it is better to say they are connected, attached, or adjacent.
2. Christ speaks of a more thoroughgoing unity. Picture water from bucket A being poured into water in bucket B. The waters completely intermingle; one cannot distinguish water from bucket A from that of bucket B after they are mixed.
While no analogy is perfect, these two do serve to point out the sort of unity that exists between God and the true Christian. It is a thorough commingling of minds. Ideally—and none of us is there yet—it should be impossible to distinguish our mind from Christ's. They should be that much alike! Paul urges us toward the ideal: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5).
When we put on the new man, we put on Christ. We are in Him and He in us. Our goal should be to nourish that new man by renewing our minds through submission to Him, until our mind and His are indistinguishable. Now, that is unity!
Choosing the New Man (Part Three)
It is not difficult to trace the source of biblical patience in God's children. I Corinthians 13:4 states, "Love suffers long and is kind." Patience is directly associated with love and hope. In the "love chapter," Paul lists patience first among love's works (I Corinthians 13:4). Romans 5:5 adds that "the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit."
This makes it evident that God's patience stands behind His children's patience as its source and pattern and as a link in a chain. Because the Bible lists it with the fruit of the Spirit, it is less a virtue achieved than a gift received. It comes with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we reproduce it.
However, since we are beings of free choice, we are still obligated to God to activate it, exercise it, and use it as a witness that God lives in us. To this end, Paul writes,
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:12-13)
"Put on" is literally a dressing term. Used as an idiom, it can also mean to assume the office, manner, character, disposition, or perspective of another. We must "put on" Christ, meaning we must conduct our lives as closely to the way He would were He in our position. We are to practice His way of life because it is eternal life—the way God lives His life. It will help prepare us for His Kingdom, and it enables us to glorify Him here and now.
Patience is a vital part of the process that enables God to work over a long span of time, if needed, to produce in us other important aspects of His image so that we "may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." God is the Source and His Spirit the means of this very valuable fruit.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience
In verse 15, Paul says that God "create[s] in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace." The apostle defines what these "two" are in verse 11: "Therefore, remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh - who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands. . . ." The two, Gentiles and Israelites, share one Spirit in Christ, "who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us" (verse 14). Whether physically Gentile or Israelite, those who have "put on the new man" have one Spirit, God's Holy Spirit.
Choosing the New Man (Part Two)
Notice another interesting similarity in terminology whenever Paul speaks of the new man. Quite consistently, he uses the verb "to put on." The Greek verb is enduo, which means, literally, "to sink into." By extension, it means "to enter into," "to get into," or "to put on" (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). New Testament writers often use it when referring to putting on clothes (see Matthew 6:25; 27:31; Mark 1:6; I Thessalonians 5:8; Revelation 1:13; 15:6; etc.).
Paul repeatedly uses the metaphor of putting on clothes when he commands us to adopt the Christian way of life. With the same predictability, he speaks of taking clothes off to describe the abandonment of this world's lifestyle. We see it again in Colossians 3:9-10, where he speaks of our "put[ting] off the old man with his deeds" and our "put[ting] on the new man." He uses the same figure of speech in Ephesians 4:22-24. In Ephesians 6:11-17, the apostle goes a step further when he tells us how to dress the new man: "Put on the whole armor of God."
God's consistent use of the analogy of donning clothes to describe our adoption of the new man tells us a lot about the choices we must make daily. The logical conclusion of the metaphor is as inescapable as it is meaningful: The clothing we wear is largely a matter of our choice. Unless an adult is in very special circumstances, as in prison or the military, he has wide discretion in the matter of clothing. His is the choice of what to wear and when to wear it. He determines when to take clothes off and when to put them on. More than this, it is a choice he makes daily—sometimes many times a day—as he determines what to wear in different social contexts.
So it is with the Christian walk, the way of life of the new man. Daily, repeatedly each day, we must choose to "put on" the Christian way of life.
That is what Paul is telling us through his splendid clothing analogy: Christianity is a way of life. We must choose to put on that way of life—and to keep it on. Just as we do with a well-worn garment, we must come to feel so at home with the new man—so comfortable with his way of life—that we absolutely refuse to take it off for any reason at all.
In addition, God's consistent use of the clothing analogy argues against the Protestants' false doctrine of eternal security. "Once saved, always saved" is the cry of some Protestants. Others put it in a slightly different way: "It was all done at the cross."
What is wrong with this? "Born-again" Protestants, so-called Christians who claim the new man was born in them when they "accepted" Christ, have in fact abdicated virtually all personal responsibility for their salvation! Take their thought to its logical conclusion: When we were physically born, from our viewpoint, it just happened—we had no say about it at all! It was out of our control. So, the "born-again" Christian believes that he "accepts Christ," and, presto, he is saved, forever born as a spirit being, a new man. Thus, now, in this life, he has no further responsibility. Christ did it all "at the cross" and must, upon his confession of faith, irrevocably save him.
This false doctrine permits its adherents to evade all responsibility to choose daily to follow Christ. True Christians know, because of the clothing analogy, that they have that ongoing responsibility to "put on the new man."
In describing the new man, the birth or conception analogy is conspicuous by its absence. However, by its repeated presence, the clothing analogy is equally conspicuous.
Choosing the New Man (Part Two)
When Paul speaks of putting on the new man here, he gives us several attitudes we need to emulate as followers of Christ. Most of them involve the way we deal with each other because a major part of what God is teaching us has to do with building and solidifying our relationships. As we see in the next few verses, he comments specifically on the husband-wife, parent-child and employer-employee relationships.
Why? Largely, our judgment by our Savior hangs on the quality of our relationships. We should never forget the principle found in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats: "Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me" (Matthew 25:40, 45).
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Road Less Traveled
Let us draw near - God always encourages us to draw close to Him in prayer. Here Paul instructs us to do so with unwavering confidence, fullness of faith, without any doubt, because the sacrifice of Jesus Christ has cleared our conscience and paved the way into God's presence.
Today, some no longer feel the need to pray and study daily. They make the excuse that they do not have enough time. There is not enough time NOT to pray and study! The Day is approaching! Paul writes in Romans 13:11-14:
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly. . . . But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
If we fail to use these very vital tools of prayer and study—which will help us "walk properly" and "put on the Lord Jesus Christ"—we will find ourselves separated from God. That is the last thing we want as the Great Tribulation approaches!
John O. Reid (1930-2016)
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