Link back to index.html
How to Put On the New Man
All the passages below are taken from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ book “Darkness and Light” published in 1982.
`And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.'
So far we have been looking at some of the reasons why we should put on the new man. There remains one further thing for us to consider, and a most important one it is--- How do we put on the new man? If we avoid this question, or evade it, we are in a very dangerous position. There is nothing, I suppose, that is finally so dangerous as to look at a great truth like this merely in a theoretical manner. Nothing can be more dangerous to the soul than to have a form of godliness but to deny the power thereof. Our Lord Himself said, If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. It can be devastating, as history proves abundantly, for men to look at this exalted and glorious doctrine of the new man in a purely objective, academic and theoretical manner, as a wonderful concept. But the Apostle here, and in this whole section of his Epistle, is concerned to be intensely practical. We shall find him going on to say: `Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour', and so on. But before we come to the actual details we shall look at this question of how to put on the new man in a general manner.
There are certain principles which we must bear in mind, and the first, of course, is that this is something which we ourselves have to do. I indicated this as we were dealing with the practical part of putting off the old man. And it seems to me to be essential to emphasise it again as we begin to consider the activities required of the new man. The key verse with regard to the whole matter is found in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians where the Apostle says to believers: I am exhorting you `not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.' Paul is not asking natural people to do this; of course they cannot; he is asking people in whom God is working mightily by His Spirit to work it out. It is no use saying, I have not got the power: you do have the power, and what you are exhorted to do is to realise that the power is in you and that, as you exercise yourself, you will discover that the power is there. That is the mystery of God's way of sanctification. You do not wait to have the power; in the rebirth the power is there, and as you exercise it, you will find you have got it, and as you exercise it you will have more of it. It is exactly the same as with our muscles; you will never know your muscular power until you begin to use your muscles, and as you use them you will often be surprised at the strength and power you have got. God gives us the power; what we are called upon to do is to use it and to exercise it.
Again, take a similar statement in chapter 8 of the Epistle to the Romans : `If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.' `Through the Spirit'! The Spirit provides the power, and the Spirit is in us. So, that being the case, we are exhorted to put off the old man and to put on the new man.
In the second place, the putting on of the new man is something that must be done completely, it must always be done as a whole, and it must apply to the whole of our life continuously. In other words, we must never do the work in compartments; we must put on the new man not only in certain parts of our lives, it must be in the whole of our life. We must not put on the new man only at certain times or when we are in certain company, or when we are in certain places. That would be to deny the whole principle. The new man must be the reigning and the governing principle of the whole of our life; having been born again we have been moved from the world into the Kingdom of God; and therefore the whole of our life and of our conduct will and must be entirely different from our life and conduct in the past. But it is possible for the Apostle's expression `put on' to be misused. The term `put on', as we have already seen, makes us think of putting on a cloak or a gown or some other article of dress. It is a good term to use as long as we do not abuse it. But, alas! we are all very prone, I fear, to do just that! In the Victorian era, people would, as it were, put on their religious cloak on Sundays and go to a place of worship; and after they had gone home on Sunday night they put it off again, and lived as hard-headed business men of the world for the rest of the week, so that you would never suspect that some of them were Christians at all. In our own day we may see a group of people talking together. We look at them and think that their whole demeanour and deportment, their whole appearance and mannerisms, are typical of the people of the world. We are much surprised therefore when we discover that they have met together for the purpose of worship, for their behaviour did not suggest the putting on of `the new man'. Hypocrisy, that is, putting on a mask, is the exact opposite of what the Apostle means. `The new man' is not something that you put on now and again, when you suddenly become serious; it is a governing principle in the centre of a man's life, that controls everything he does, wherever he is, whatever the company. Putting on the new man means that the new man is at the centre and directing all my activities, in every conceivable situation.
In a sense it should never be necessary for the Christian to pull himself up and remind himself that he is a Christian. If you really put on the new man, you will always remember that you are a Christian! There are people, of course, who are so much afraid of being humbugs as Christians, and so much afraid of being hypocrites, that they never put on the new man at all; nobody knows that they are Christians for they just appear as men and women of the world. And that is equally foolish and equally bad. We must bear in mind that the Apostle is simply using a picture to impress upon us that always, in everything, and in all places, we are to live the life of the new man in Christ Jesus.
The whole matter of putting on the new man is in essence the application of truth to ourselves. It is the most important thing that one can ever discover in the Christian life. The real secret of Christian living is to discover the art of talking to yourself. We must talk to ourselves, we must preach to ourselves, and we must take truth and apply it to ourselves, and keep on doing so. That is the putting on of the new man. We have to hammer away at ourselves until we have really convinced ourselves. In other words, this is not something that you wait for passively. If you wait until you feel like the new man it will probably never happen. We must be active in this. There is no greater snare in the Christian life than to entertain the idea of waiting until we feel better, and of then putting on the new man. On the contrary, we have got to go on telling ourselves the new man is already in us. In his Epistle to the Romans the Apostle Paul says, `Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God' (6:11). Reckon yourselves! Say it to yourself! Persuade yourself, argue, say it to yourself, announce it to yourself. The moment you wake up in the morning say to yourself, I am the new man in Christ Jesus, I am not the old man, I do not belong to the world, I belong to God, I belong to Christ. That is the truth about you whatever your feelings may be. You see the analogy; in the physical sense, you may not feel like getting up in the morning, but you get up. You may not feel like dressing, you prefer to lie in bed, but you get up and put your clothes on. You must do the same in the spiritual sense, says the Apostle. The devil will be there governing your feelings, and he will suggest his thoughts, his innuendos and insinuations, the moment you wake up. Evil thoughts may come, and a thousand and one things. Then is the time to stand up and say, No! I am the new man in Christ, and I am not going to live my day like that, I am going to live as the man I am! That is putting on the new man. You say it to yourself, whatever your feelings may be, because you know it is true.
And let this principle of activity apply to my third general point. Use everything that you know of that reminds you of the new man and that feeds and helps to build up the new man. This is the exact opposite of what you have to do in putting off the old man, regarding whom the Apostle says, `Make no provision for the flesh', do not feed him! If you know that reading a certain type of literature gets you down, stop reading it! Starve the old man, strangle him, be violent with him, mortify, says the Apostle. And mortify means mortify; you hit him, you pummel him, you throttle him, in order to get rid of him! But as for the new man, feed him, give him the sustenance that is likely to help him and to make him grow; and do this diligently and constantly. How do you do that?
Well, first of all, you read your Bible. If the essence of putting on the new man is the application of truth to yourself, what can be better than to familiarise yourself with the truth? Ah, but you say, I do not always feel like reading the Scriptures. I know you do not; so you make yourself read the Scriptures. This is not a question of feeling, this is something that is essential to your life and well-being and health. Therefore do it, rouse yourself to do it. It can be done, it has got to be done. We can shake ourselves physically, and we can shake ourselves spiritually. `Stir up the gift that is in thee,' says Paul to Timothy, and he says the same thing to us. You may say, I do not feel like it; how can I overcome that difficulty? In various ways! Sometimes it is quite a good thing to prepare yourself for the reading of the Scripture by reading something about the Scripture, by reading some biblical exposition or by reading a portion of a biography or some statement of experience. In the days when people used pumps to get their water supply, they would sometimes find that when they tried to use the pump nothing happened. What was to be done? They took a little can already filled with water, and poured it into the pump, and then, when they resumed pumping, out came the water. This procedure illustrates a great principle in the spiritual life. You have got to prime the pump, and that frequently! You have got to understand yourself. You must know how to handle yourself. And there are many things which one has to do in order to bring oneself into the right state and attitude and condition. It is fatal just to sit down and wait until you feel like reading Scripture. Rouse yourself! Stimulate yourself! And then when you come to the Scriptures, do not read as it were mechanically, and end by saying, My Scripture portion for today is so-and-so, and I have done it, and off I go! You might as well not have done it; there is no value in such superficial reading. When you come to do it, see that your mind is on it; concentrate, read intelligently, look for truth. Merely to read through the Bible once a year is doubtless a good thing, but, done as a cold duty, it may be of little value spiritually. We have to learn to read with a spiritual mind and understanding. Ask questions; say, What is this saying? what is it saying to me? what is the point here? what kind of person is the writer addressing? This done, it becomes not only interesting, it becomes absorbing. And as you are doing it, you are feeding the new man, and thereby putting him on. So we rouse ourselves in various ways to read the Scriptures.
Then, too, we must pray. We should never attempt to read the Scriptures without praying God to bless them to us and to enlighten us by the Spirit. Oh, what a difference it makes! And we are to pray about every aspect of our lives. We are God's children; well, go to Him as your Father, tell Him about your difficulties and your weaknesses, ask Him to give you wisdom and understanding. The more you pray, the more you thank God for what He has done for you and to you in Christ and by the Spirit, the more you are putting on the new man, and the more his life will be manifest in your activities. So prayer---solitary, isolated, lonely prayer, and also prayer with others---is a second way of putting on the new man.
Again, we must seek fellowship with like-minded people. The saints have always found it most strengthening to meet together, to talk together about these things, to pray together. `Iron sharpeneth iron'; like attracts like; birds of a feather flock together, inevitably. The new man is there and it talks to the other, who recognises its presence. And as you see the same nature in another you are strengthened. That is the value of a church; and that is why your radio, and your television, and all the rest of such things put together, will never be a substitute for the church. Impossible! They cannot be! the church is where two or three are gathered together! And not only is He there, but we recognise one another, and that stimulates the life of each one. So the church is essential. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews gives the warning, `Neglect not the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is'---the `some' doubtless including the people who went astray. Fellowship with other believers belongs to the divine pattern. When the saints come together and the Spirit is present, then God acts; He works still through the church; the church is His own creation.
There, then, are certain obvious general principles. They will cover all the details and all the particularities of our actions. But at the same time let me give you some of the truths about which we have to remind ourselves in particular. Put on the new man! Very well, what do I remind myself of? The first is this, that I really have no choice at all in this matter of putting off the old man and putting on the new man. Why? Because I am not mine own. There is no need to argue about these things, says Paul: flee fornication---why?---because you are not your own, you have been bought with a price! The Christian is not a free man, the Christian is the bond-slave of Jesus Christ. That is why I always feel it is very wrong to appeal to people to do these things; we need to be exhorted, not appealed to. I do not like that preaching of sanctification which says, Now do this and you will be marvellously happy and you will have victory, and so on. That is the wrong way to put it. You are not your own, you have been bought with a price: you have no right to do anything else, you are a rebel if you attempt it. We have been bought and purchased by the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot; He gave Himself, and all that that involved, that you and I might be new men. Remind yourself of that. Remind yourself of that first thing in the morning, remind yourself of that constantly throughout the day. You are not your own, you have been bought with a price.
And that in turn leads to this, does it not: the privilege and the dignity of our position. `Created', he says, `after God' in this righteousness and holiness of the truth. You know, if you and I only remembered who we are and the dignity of our calling and our position, there would be very little problem left in our lives. But we have got to remind ourselves of this; we have got to tell ourselves who we are and what we are. Listen to Paul putting it to the Thessalonians: he says, You are not children of the night, you are children of the day, you are children of light! `We are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.' `. . . now are ye light in the Lord', he says to the Ephesians. `Walk as children of light'! Did you notice how he put it there in writing to the Romans: `The night is far spent'---we have finished with all that; for us it is no longer `chambering and wantonness'---that mighty word came, you remember, to Augustine and was the word of life and of God and of regeneration to him. `The night is far spent, the day is at hand. ...' Let us not any longer, therefore, walk in that way, `. .. but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh'. We are the children of God, the children of light, the children of the day; and what we mean by putting on the new man is that we remind ourselves of that, and, remembering that, we walk as such, and our whole demeanour and deportment, our very stance, our entire attitude, is the complete antithesis of those who belong to the night and the darkness and who hide behind doors and who are ashamed of the light and the sunshine. `Children of the heavenly King, as ye journey, sweetly sing'! `Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ', says Paul in Philippians 1:27. Well there it is, let us remember these things.
And that in turn leads us to remember this. Let us ever remind ourselves of the family that we belong to and the family that we therefore represent. We are indeed the children of God. `Beloved', says John, `now are we the sons of God'---now! already! And this is such a startling and staggering conception of the Christian life that a man who once realises it finds himself inevitably putting on the new man. We are, now, the children of God! That is the whole trouble with the Christian Church today, she does not realise that. The Church is regarded as just another institution, and our assemblies are so like political gatherings. We are the children of God! And we are altogether different from the world - this is the thing that we need to recapture, and that it is our privilege to represent the family in this world of time. We are strangers and pilgrims in this world. As Christians we really no longer belong to it; we are still in it, but our citizenship is in heaven, and we are visitors, we are strangers, we are here for a while; and we must live as such; we do not conform to this, we belong to that, and the whole glory and dignity of the family depends upon us and is in so many senses in our hands.
And that, you see, in turn leads to this, that we put on this new man and he governs the whole of our activity because, being strangers in a strange land, we are being observed, and people are looking at us; and they say, Who are these people?--- Well, comes the answer, they are Christians. Oh, they say, this is Christianity, is it? And they are going to judge Christianity and they are going to judge God, and they are going to judge the whole of the Gospel, by what they see in us. Of course, they are quite wrong in doing so, but they do and you have got to take people as they are, and you cannot blame them for doing it. You and I therefore should remember that. Putting on the new man means being always conscious of our responsibility. Listen to Peter saying this. Look it up in 1 Peter 2:11-12. `Dearly beloved,' he says, `abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that whereas they speak evil against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.' Now there it is in a nutshell. You are strangers and pilgrims, says Peter, you do not belong here; well now, these Gentiles are watching you and are looking at you, they are speaking against you, they say you are mad, they say you are fools, they say you are hypocrites; they are saying things like that, but, says Peter, so live as to convince them and to silence them, and to bring them into such a position that they shall praise and glorify God in the day of visitation. You will find the same injunction everywhere, running right through the whole of the Scripture. Now, putting on the new man just means that. And if we really do believe these things and that Christ has died to make us such and to make these things possible for us, I say it needs no pressing; our very sense of honour is involved, and we shall feel that we are cads if in any way we let Him down or misrepresent His wondrous grace and love with respect to us.
And that brings me to my last point, which is this: our destiny! All these things follow in a logical sequence. Is there anything which is more powerful as an argument than this? Having reminded yourself that you are but a stranger in this world, well then, go on to remind yourself of where you are going! `And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed'! We are moving on. Every day takes us nearer. Nearer what? To what is coming---the night is far spent, the day is at hand. What day? The day of Christ, the day of the Lord, the day of His coming back, the day of the Last judgment, the day when all men will have to appear before Him, the final end of history. `The night is far spent, the day is at hand'! Or listen to John putting it in his way. `He that hath this hope in him ...'---what is it? Well, he says it is this, `We know not yet what we shall be', but we do know this, `that we shall see Him as He is, and we shall be like Him'; our very bodies glorified, we shall be perfect and spotless, without any vestige of sin remaining; we shall be like Him! That is what we are going to. Now if we really believe the Gospel, if we have truly learned Christ, we have learned that all He has done is to prepare us for that day. It follows, if we believe that, we must rouse ourselves, put on the new man; the night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us no longer sleep, let us prepare for the crowning day that is coming, for the beatific vision, for our final glorification, for our entry into the eternal city, for the joy and the bliss and the glory of sharing the life of God throughout eternity. That is putting on the new man, reminding yourself of this truth.
And then finally remember this (and I believe this is the climax, the mightiest argument of all). If we are Christians it means, as the Apostle has already told us in his third chapter, that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith. Or listen again: `Know ye not that your body', your very body, `is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?' What is it to put on the new man? It is to remind yourself that Christ is dwelling in your heart by faith, that the Holy Spirit of God that dwelt in Him dwells in us. If only every Christian in the world today lived in this world as remembering that the Holy Spirit dwells within him or her, what a revolution it would create! The whole Church would be transformed! People would not recognise themselves! And the world would look on astonished and amazed! That is what it means to put on the new man, to realise that He is in you, and that anything unworthy or sinful grieves the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.
Let us therefore start our day by reminding ourselves of these things---I am a child of God; I am born again; I am a partaker of the divine Nature; Christ is dwelling in my heart by faith; wherever I go, whatever I do, the Holy Spirit is in me and in my very body, so that my every action is known to Him, the Holy Spirit! And as you live your day remembering that, it will obviously change everything. And that is to put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. [189-198]
Link back to index.html