Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians Part XI: The New Man in the Old Relationships -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 121:482 (Apr 1964)
Article: Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians Part XI: The New Man in the Old Relationships
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians
Part XI:
The New Man in the Old Relationships

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

We have been insisting that Christianity is more than a system of theology to be accepted by the mind and heart. The teaching necessarily carries with itself ethical responsibilities. The new man has a new life, and this is the stress of the section to which we have come in our studies in Colossians.

Of course, in this true Pauline emphasis on practical Christian living the Christian believer must never forget that all duty has its roots in doctrine. There can be no Christian living, genuinely pleasing to God, which does not conform to Christian teaching. In fact, the truths that we believe in large measure determine the kind of life we live. We cannot subscribe to the sentiments of Alexander Pope, England’s foremost poet and satirist of the classic age of English literature,

“For creeds and forms let senseless bigots fight,
His can’t be wrong whose life is in the right.”

The title of a book a few years ago, Ideas Have Consequences, is true in theology pre-eminently. Ideas do have consequences, and this is all the more reason why we must have right ideas. “I don’t give a fig for your creeds, the life’s the thing” may be amusing, but it is surely disastrous spiritually.

I am not making excuses for evangelicals who may have tendencies to forget ethical responsibility. Paul must not be pitted against James. On the other hand, the opposing tendency is more common in our day. If evangelicals tend to forget ethical responsibility, others tend more often to overlook, or

decry, the importance of doctrinal orthodoxy. And it has always been true that genuine orthodoxy results in an ethic pleasing to God. As someone has said, “Talk they of morals? O thou bleeding Lamb, the best morality is love of thee!”

The Apostle Paul held the two sides of the truth in proper perspective. He stressed Biblical doctrine, just as he has done in the first two chapters of this book. He also stressed the practical life, as he is doing now in the book. Furthermore, his remarks here touch the application of the truth in the most familiar of places-in the home (3:18–21), and in the household (3:224:1). He moves from the heavenlies, our position and relationship to God in Christ, to the homelies, the first and foremost sphere in which the new life is to be seen.

Paul may not have learned this from the Lord directly, b...

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