By Russell Matthews
1. The demoniac of Mark 5:1-5 “had his dwelling among the tombs.” His irrational conduct was the result of his being possessed with a legion of evil spirits.
2. Even today, in a very definite sense, the practice is prevalent. Since the world is dead in sins we would expect it to dwell in tombs. But when the church practices this, it is tragic.
3. The tomb dwellers today are those who are possessed by “the spirit of the world” (1 Cor. 2:12). They ignore the fact that “old things are passing away” and “all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
(a) They live as though the gospel were not true and that everything is as it was before the suffering and glorification of Jesus. They thus engage in a practical disregard for the whole new order of things and go about life in a “business-as-usual” manner.
(b) Being children of light, they walk as children of darkness. They dwell among the tombs of this repudiated and cursed world, instead of the heavenlies with the living and reigning Christ.
4. In a very clear parabolic sense, each child of God occupies the same position as Lazarus when resurrected from the Tomb (Jn. 11:43-44). Having come forth bound head and foot with grave clothes, the command to “loose him, and let him go,” was given. We must leave the grave clothes behind!
(a) Colossians 2-13; Rom. 6:3-6.
(b) Having put Christ on in baptism (Gal. 3:27), we are assured of a new life (2 Cor. 5:17).
(c) Galatians 2:20 shows that Paul considered himself dead to the old life (Gal. 6:14). He had put away the grave clothes and was living a glorious new life.
(d) We must now live consecrated lives for our Lord and Master (Rom. 12:1; Col. 3:1-2).
5. Nominal Christians who yet associate with the grave clothes of the past bespeak death and sin reigning in their mortal bodies (Rom. 6:12).
(a) The old man of sin bound in grave clothes is the person we used to be (Eph. 2:1-3).
(b) The new man in Christ is the person resurrected to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:17-18).
I. The Old Man And His Ruin (Col. 3:5-9).
A. The reality of it (3:5-7). We need to recognize the old man for what he is, repudiate him and drive him out of our lives. It is through the instrumentality of the body that the characteristics of a ruined life are expressed (lust of the flesh, etc., 1 Jn. 2:15-17). A redeemed life is expressed here too (Rom. 12:1-2).
B. The roots of it (3:6). Disobedience to the revealed will of God is the root of all ruination. God is sorely displeased with this.
C. The discernment of it (3:3, 5). We need to know what it is that we are to “mortify” (Gr. nekroo, “put to death”) and that we are dead to sin. Too, we need to understand our personal obligation in this matter (Eph. 2:8; Jas. 2:24; Phil. 2:12).
II. The Old Man’s Grave Clothes (Col. 3:8-9).
A. “But now you also, put off all these” (i.e., put them aside, strip them off).
B. The old man’s grave clothes constitute:
1. The habit of evil caprice: Anger, wrath, etc. (v. 8).
2. The habit of evil words: Filthy communications, etc. (vv. 8-9).
3. The habit of evil ways: Lie not to. . . (v. 9).
(a) An example of point I would be Mordecai’s enemy, Haman, who nursed an evil heart of hatred (Esth. 3:6).
(b) An example of point 2 would be the millions who lie at income tax time.
(c) An example of point 3 would be the Christians who go places they should be avoiding and engage in entertainment that must now be put off.
III. The New Man (Col. 3:11-14). A contrast with the way we use to be:
A. First, think about the creation of the new man (v. 10). The tenses express completeness. All new creatures have a new life.
B. Second, think about the character of the new man (v. 11, a birth in which there is no distinction between Jew and Greek). There is also the abolition of creed (neither circumcision, etc.) and class differences (rich or poor, slave or master, etc.).
C. Think about the robe of the new man (vv. 12-14).
1. Some years ago a preacher was preaching in London’s Hyde Park. A communist heckler kept interrupting him. Pointing to a wretched beggar, he triumphantly exclaimed, “What good is your Christianity? Communism can put a new suit on that man.” The preacher replied, “What good is your communism? Christ can put a new man in that suit.”
2. The Christian’s wardrobe in which we are to be arrayed:
(a) Kindness, etc. (v. 12).
(b) Graciousness (v. 13, forbearing one another, etc.).
(c) Godliness as a topcoat (v. 14).
D. Even the humblest child of God has been given this wardrobe and can now sing:
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift my head.
You have been raised to walk in newness of life.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 9, pp. 265, 278
May 5, 1988