Put On the New Man: Colossians 3:10 Reflections

As we begin a new year, many of us are thinking about ways that we want to grow and change in the coming year. Maybe you have made some resolutions or set some goals for yourself. But if you are like most people, you may also be feeling some doubts or fears about whether you will be able to follow through on your resolutions or achieve your goals.

K. M. RutereWritten by:

A notebook on the table and a pen on top with the words new year resolution scribbled on it.
Today's verse is Colossians 3:10: “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” (Colossians 3:10 KJV).

As we begin a new year, many of us are thinking about ways that we want to grow and change in the coming year. Maybe you have made some resolutions or set some goals for yourself. But if you are like most people, you may also be feeling some doubts or fears about whether you will be able to follow through on your resolutions or achieve your goals.

If you have ever felt stuck in a rut, unable to break free from negative patterns of thought or behavior; if you have ever struggled with feelings of guilt, shame, or inadequacy, wondering if it is even possible to change; or if you have ever felt a lack of purpose or meaning in your life, wondering what your place in the world is and how you are supposed to live, then this devotional is for you.

Colossians 3:10 offers a message of hope and healing for these common pain points. It speaks to the desire for transformation and renewal, and for a sense of identity and meaning that is rooted in Christ. In this devotional, we will explore this powerful verse and consider how it can guide and encourage us as we seek to grow and change in ways that honor God, both in this new year and beyond.

Background to Colossians 3:10

Colossians 3:10 is a verse that is part of a letter written by the apostle Paul to a Christian community in the ancient city of Colossae. In this letter, Paul is addressing a group of believers who are facing various challenges and struggles, including persecution, false teaching, and cultural pressure to conform to the ways of the world.

In the broader context of Colossians 3, this verse is part of a section in which Paul is exhorting the believers to put on the “new man” and to put to death the “earthly nature” (Colossians 3:9-10). This call to transformation is rooted in the believers’ identification with Christ, who has already “clothed” them with Himself (Colossians 3:12). 

Meaning of Colossians 3:10

Colossians 3:10 reminds us that we “have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.”

This verse invites us to reflect on the ways in which we can grow and change in order to become more like Christ, the image of our Creator. The phrase “put on the new man” can be understood as a call to adopt a new identity in Christ, one that is marked by righteousness, holiness, and truth. This new identity is not something that we can achieve on our own, but is a gift that is given to us through the grace of God. When we “put on the new self,” we are accepting this gift and choosing to let go of the old ways of living that are characterized by sin and selfishness.

Scholars are in agreement as to what the “new man” constitutes. For example, Dan G. McCartney and Robert Yarbrough echo this point, stating that:

“The new man is the person who has been reconciled to God and who is being transformed into the image of Christ.”

Dan G. McCartney and Robert Yarbrough, The New Testament in Its Literary Environment

According to the above view, the “new man” is the converted man. Jerry V. MacGregor and J. Dan Gill agree with this view that:

“The new self is the person God intended humans to be before sin distorted the image. In Christ, believers are being renewed to be like their Creator (Eph. 4:24; cf. Rom. 8:29). This renewal is ongoing, for it is being renewed in the image of its Creator. It involves more than a change in behavior, though this is included. It involves being transformed into the likeness of Christ (cf. Rom. 8:29). This transformation will not be complete until believers are fully glorified (1 John 3:2).”

Jerry V. MacGregor and J. Dan Gill, Holman New Testament Commentary: Colossians, Philemon, p. 104

John MacArthur also explains: 

“The Christian is to put off the old self and put on the new self. The old self is the former mode of life characterized by sin and self-centeredness. The new self is the new mode of life characterized by righteousness and true holiness.”

John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Colossians/Philemon

The second part of the verse speaks to the idea of being “renewed in knowledge.” This can be understood as a process of ongoing transformation and growth in our understanding of God and his ways. As we seek to know Christ more deeply and to follow him more closely, we are continually being renewed and transformed in our knowledge of him. This process of renewal is essential for our spiritual growth and helps us to become more like Christ in our thoughts, words, and actions.

Overall, Colossians 3:10 encourages us to embrace a new way of living that is centered on Christ and his values, and to seek ongoing transformation and renewal in our understanding of God and his ways.

Reflections on Colossians 3:10

Think about what it means to “put on the new self.” Consider how this concept relates to your own identity and the way you live your life. What does it mean for you to adopt a new identity in Christ, one that is characterized by righteousness, holiness, and truth? What might need to change in your life in order to more fully embrace this new identity?

Consider the areas of your life where you most need to be “renewed in knowledge.” What are some things that you would like to learn or understand more deeply in the coming year? How can you pursue this process of renewal and growth in your understanding of God and his ways?

Colossians 3:10 Life Application

As you reflect on Colossians 3:10, ask God to help you let go of the old ways of living that do not honor him, and to embrace a new way of living that is centered on Christ and his values. Pray for the grace and strength to make any necessary changes in your life, and for the wisdom to know how best to pursue renewal and transformation in your relationship with God.

Prayer Points for Colossians 3:10

  • Pray for the grace to put on the new self in Christ, and for the strength to let go of old ways of living.
  • Pray for the transformation of your mind, heart and soul, to be renewed in knowledge of God.
  • Pray for the ability to imitate Christ in your thoughts, words and actions
  • Pray for the wisdom to prioritize on what needs to change in your life and the courage to make those changes.

Colossians 3:10 Journal Prompt

Reflect on the concept of “putting on the new self” in Colossians 3:10. Consider how this relates to your personal identity and how you live your life. Think about one area in your life where you need to let go of old habits and embrace your new identity in Christ. Write about how this change will manifest in your daily life and how you can actively work toward it.

Colossians 3:10 Prayer:

Dear God, 
As I start this new year, help me to "put on the new self" and to be "renewed in knowledge." Give me the grace and strength to let go of the old ways of living that do not honor you, and to embrace a new way of living that is centered on you and your values. Guide me as I seek to learn more about you and to follow you more closely. I trust in your guidance and support as I work towards my goals and seek to grow and change in ways that honor you. 
Amen.

Quick Answers to Your Questions

What does Colossians 3:10 mean?

This verse refers to the transformation that a believer experiences after becoming a Christian. It serves as a reminder to Christians to cast off their old sinful nature and put on the new self, which is being renewed in the image of its creator. It also refers to how Christians should live in accordance with their new identity—to live a life of holiness and righteousness, rather than being led astray by worldly desires.

What is the background to Colossians 3:10?

Colossians 3:10 is set within the greater framework of the book of Colossians. This letter was written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Colossae. The letter is a call to live a life of holiness and righteousness in the midst of a culture of idolatry and false teachings. Paul encourages believers in this chapter to put on the new self in Christ and to be renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Last modified: February 7, 2023