RENEWED IN KNOWLEDGE
AFTER THE IMAGE OF ITS CREATOR
"The mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to His saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."
// Colossians 1:26-29, 3:10
The whole purpose of the Lord giving us a new birth was to create in us a brand “new self” — a self that reflects and mirrors Jesus Himself. The blessings and gifts of God are the aids by which we daily “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” The more we practice putting on the “new self,” or as Paul calls it elsewhere, “the hidden man of the heart,” the more we will see Christ within us — and to boot, the more others will see Him in us, too.
This is a vast and great mystery, as Paul says; one that was “hidden for ages and generations but [is] now revealed to His saints.” Did you ever notice that most every letter of the New Testament is addressed, not to sinners, but to saints? Part of the truth we practice when we put on the “new self” is that we must see ourselves as saints. If we are deceived about who or what we are—if we see ourselves as sinners—then we will become in our actions what we think ourselves to be in our hearts: we will sin. The moment we understand the power of putting on the new self, with its righteous practices, is the moment we understand ourselves in the same way God does; we are His saints.
The way out of sin is not to constantly confess ourselves as sinners, though there is a place for the confession of sin, and we must do that in order to put aside the ways and practices of our old selves. But the way into transformation, to living the ascended life, is to put on the opposite of that with which we struggle. Isaiah the prophet saw the power of the New Covenant and prophesied it hundreds of years before Jesus’ advent: we get beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for a fatigued spirit (see Isaiah 61:3). Whatever is of sin or death in our lives, the Lord offers us its opposite in His outstretched hand. We need only take it and daily appropriate the grace given us, until we believe it and become what the Father sees us to be in His Son.
This is why Paul said, “Him we proclaim,” because the Gospel is not a message about Jesus, but rather Jesus is the message. For you and I, living the ascended life means living the very life of Christ, until of our lives it can be said, “Him we proclaim.” When people see purity where there was perversion in us, when they see joy where mourning once lived, they will see Jesus in us and our lives will be a living proclamation that He is alive — Christ in us, the hope of world seeing His glory.