“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” – Ephesians 4:24
Have you ever heard the backhanded compliment, “You clean up nicely”?
For some it takes more work than others, but even the most mangy flea ridden dog of a man can be given a shower, shave, and a nice suit and look pretty good.
Simple hygiene and what you put on can become a total makeover, and make you look like a new man.
God tells us to put on the new man, but it is not the same as cleaning up your act.
The New Man is Not the Old Man
Don’t mistake the new man for your old man cleaned up. This is easy to do, because cleaning up the old man is the only natural way men know to make themselves look good.
Everyone knows from their conscience, their moms, or cultural religion what good behavior looks like, even if they are not a “goody two shoes”. It’s just like how everyone knows what formal wear looks like, even if they don’t put it on.
When people decide to live for the Lord, the first and natural reaction is to pull out what they always knew was good behavior and put it on their old man.
There are instant reactions, “Wow, you clean up nicely!”
This is shower, shave, and suit theology.
But they have not put on the new man; they have put religion on the old man. This is what people call, “getting religion”. Their look has changed, but they have not.
Who is the New Man
The new man is not you cleaned up. It is not you getting serious about living right. It is not self-improvement, or turning over a new leaf. The new man is not a personal makeover or a renewed commitment to be a better man.
Simply put, the new man is not you. The new man is Jesus Christ.
You can learn about the old man and the new man in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15.
“The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 15:45
“For as by one man’s [Adam] disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Jesus Christ] shall many be made righteous.” – Romans 5:19
The new man is not identified by acting and appearing a certain way. The new man is about your new identity as a member of the body of Christ. It is identified by Christ in you.
When you trust the gospel of Christ, you are who Christ says you are. You are no longer in Adam, but in Christ. You are no longer a sinner, but sanctified. You are no longer a Jew or Gentile, but an ambassador for Christ.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Putting Him On
A shower and a shave will not fix the old man. The old man needs to die. The only way to do this and live is to put on Christ.
You need the cross of Christ to crucify your old man, and the resurrection of Christ to regenerate you to righteousness, life, and peace.
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” – Galatians 3:28
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” – Romans 6:3
This is what happens when you trust the gospel of the grace of God (Eph 1:13; Rom 5:1). You don’t put on a new set of religious clothes and behaviors; you put on the new man, Jesus Christ, and the new identity of who you are in Him.
The old man is dead (Rom 6:6). He cannot be cleaned up. He cannot be reformed. He cannot be a better man. Any effort to that end would be putting perfume on a pig. You need Christ crucified and risen to put on the new man.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
The new man is not a new you or a new look, but Christ in you (Col 1:27). When your life is no longer yours, but his, you have put on the new man.