Paul writes that Christians everywhere belong to the new man. So what is life like for those who belong to the new man? Paul mentions two aspects of it. First, it is renewal in knowledge after the image of its Creator (v. 10) and, second, ‘Christ is all, and is in all’ (v. 11). As we can see immediately, both aspects are spiritual privileges. And we can also deduce from Paul’s words that he has an ongoing process in mind, that divine renewing is progressive in the experience of believers.
I suspect that Paul is alluding to Genesis 1 when he says that Christians are being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator. At the beginning, Adam was created in the image of God and that this image included both character (righteous) and position (dominion). Sadly Adam by his fall into sin lost the full experience of life in God’s image. In contrast, Christians have been recovered from that state and are being prepared for its full experience.
Believers are being renewed. This is a reminder that the Holy Spirit is at work within them. It is also a reminder that spiritual life is always fresh, that the water of life is continually flowing to them from Jesus. Paul reminded the Corinthians that ‘Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison’ (2 Cor. 4:16-17).
Believers are being renewed in knowledge. Their experience of life is connected to experiential knowledge of God. Jesus, in his prayer recorded in John 17, stated that eternal life is to know God and to know himself. This knowledge is not limited to intellectual awareness. Instead it involves fellowship with God. Further this knowledge changes us and we become like God. Those who are being renewed in this knowledge will not engage in immoral thinking or speak inappropriate words.
The second aspect of the new man mentioned by Paul is ‘Christ is all, and in all.’ When he says that Christ is all, he means firstly that Jesus is suitable for everyone. Paul also means that Jesus is sufficient for all. The Saviour is the source of life, but does that life need to be enhanced by earthly things? A Christian who engages in immoral or covetous thinking is basically saying that what Jesus provides for our souls is insufficient for a satisfying life. Similarly, a Christian who uses his tongue for wrong reasons is also saying that Jesus is insufficient – angry words, malicious words, lying words are usually means of expressing self-importance, are a way of suggesting that Jesus cannot deal with a situation.
Paul concludes by reminding the Colossians that Jesus is in all of them. At a basic level, this means that to covet what another Christian has is to covet what Jesus has allowed them to have; it means that to speak against another Christian is to comment on a person in whom Jesus dwells. Most divisions are caused by wrong forms of speaking. In fact, I cannot think of any that happened through right words.