A New Humanity in Christ
“You have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col. 3:9–10).- Colossians 3:9-11
We have come to the end of our study of Colossians, which is the first letter that Paul wrote in the grouping of his letters referred to as the Prison Epistles. Much ground has been covered in our examination of this epistle, and we pray that our walk through it has been beneficial to you and your spiritual growth.
Our new humanity in Christ is the theme of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Born as children of Adam, the Colossians knew what it was like to be “alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,” for that is how they were before trusting Christ. Indeed, this is the condition of all fallen people apart from Jesus, whose death and resurrection redeems His people out of this darkness and into God’s marvelous light (Col. 1:21–23).
Though they were participants in the Lord’s gracious redemption and enjoyed the spiritual fruit of the gospel in abundance, the fact that the Colossians lived in a situation wherein they awaited the final consummation of God’s plan meant that they needed encouragement to remember their great salvation and their need to press on in faith (1:1–14). False teachers who promised release from sin’s power via angelic intermediaries, works of the law, and more were troubling the Colossians, and so Paul’s encouragement took the form of a presentation of their incomparable Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ in whom all the fullness of deity dwells (vv. 15–20; 2:16–23). This Jesus alone breaks the power of sin and takes people out of the condition of being in Adam — humanity in its brokenness, powerlessness, and unholiness, the way in which we were not designed to function (2:1–15). This old humanity has been declared dead in Christ and believers are now declared new, complete human beings in Him. Being a Christian means living as new human beings in Jesus, putting on love, holiness, meekness, patience, and all the other characteristics that make believers into true people (3:1–17). As they live out these qualities in relation to others in the church and in the world, Christians live as God originally designed all human beings to live and the church becomes the expression of what people are supposed to be (3:18–4:18).
May we remember that our great Savior not only saves us from sin but also saves us unto true humanity. Let us go forth and live in imitation of Him, without whom we would never know what it is to be human and bear fully the image of God.
The image of God has not been entirely destroyed in fallen humanity, but our sense of what it means to function as we were originally designed has been severely warped. Consequently, we must learn what it means to be human, and that can be done only in the context of a church that is faithful to the Word of the Savior who is the very image of God. We cannot grow spiritually, much less learn to be human, without the church of Christ.
Passages for Further Study