But you have not so learned Christ;…
But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. These verses, including those back to the seventeenth, contain a general exhortation to holiness. The exhortation takes two forms - the negative and the positive. The negative we have noticed in our previous homily, vers. 17-19; the positive is now before us. The subject is - The true method of studying Christianity. Christianity is to be "learned." It is not an inbred knowledge. Man has no intuitions about it. Nor is it a knowledge imparted in any way irrespective of the use of our faculties and means. It comes to a man as the result of "learning." The man who does not rightly study will never know it. But what is the true method of studying? This is our present question, a question which we shall endeavor to answer in the light of the passage before us.
I. THE TRUE METHOD OF STUDYING CHRISTIANITY REQUIRES THAT IT SHOULD BE STUDIED IN CHRIST. "Truth... in Jesus." Christianity must be looked upon as seen in Christ.
1. Not as seen in religious professors. This would give a false view.
2. Not as seen in religious books. This would give a false view.
3. Not as seen in religious institutions. These would give a false view. There is nothing cold in truth or narrow, as seen in Jesus, but all that is broad, warm, free, sublime.
II. THE TRUE METHOD OF STUDYING CHRISTIANITY REQUIRES THAT IT SHOULD BE STUDIED UNDER THE TUITION OF CHRIST, We are "taught by him," or, as some translate it, "taught in him." Christ is the only effective Teacher of his own religion. If the sun is to be seen it must show itself - all the stars and moons of the universe cannot reveal it; so with Christ. But how are we to place ourselves under his tuition? Three things are necessary.
1. We should realize our true moral relation to truth as it is in him. Truth in him has a special relation to us, not merely as men, but as corrupt, guilty, and ruined sinners. We must feel ourselves to be the character to which it is specially addressed.
2. We must endeavor to identify ourselves with the particular class of character which it indicates. "Truth in Jesus" has reference to special classes of sinners, such as the worldling, the formalist, the hypocrite, the inquirer, the penitent. We must put ourselves in the right class.
3. We must invoke the aid of his Spirit. Christ's body is not in the world, but his Spirit is. The bodies and souls of ether great men have left the world - Plato, Seneca, etc. They are not with the students of their works, but Christ is. He is with all his students.
III. THE TRUE METHOD OF STUDYING CHRISTIANITY REQUIRES THAT WE SHOULD STUDY IT IN ORDER TO BE MADE CHRIST-LIKE. "Which after God" -that is, God's image - "is created in righteousness and true holiness." It is not to be studied for intellectual, ecclesiastical, secular, or professional purposes, but for moral ends - studied in order to make us like God. The moral transformation is here indicated as consisting of two things.
1. The renunciation of the old and corrupt character. The "old man" is put off.
(1) Character is the man. It is moral character that makes the human animal a man. "As a man thinketh in heart so is he." His character forms his world, his heaven or his hell.
(2) A sinful character is the old man. It is old because it is the first character we get. This must be put off. Old principles, purposes, habits, motives, thrown away.
2. The adoption of a new principle of character. "Be renewed in the spirit of your mind." Renewed in the central springs of being. The assimilation of our character to the grandest ideal which after God is created, and so on. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: But ye have not so learned Christ;