Putting on Christ
Martin of Tours
11 November 2016
Putting on Christ is either imitation or reception. Either we imitate Christ's holiness and obedience or we receive Christ Himself and his benefits in holy baptism. The former is a putting on according to the law. The latter is a putting on according to the gospel. But the former only arises through the latter. There is no way to begin to imitate Christ without receiving Him and being clothed by Him.
 
The Christian can only use the law rightly when through the agency of the gospel the law takes on a new meaning. He now desires to imitate the Christ who holds Him through baptism. The new life permits and empowers this imitation. But this imitation is weak and perverted by sin until we die. The clothing of Christ given in baptism and received by faith is not an imitation and therefore is not weak or incomplete. The whole merit and person of Christ is ours. Those who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal 3:27).

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
 
"Putting on Christ is understood in two ways: according to the law and according to the gospel. According to the law (Rm 13:14), 'Put on the Lord Jesus Christ; that is: Imitate the example and the virtues of Christ. Do and suffer what He did and suffered.' So also 1 Peter 2: 'Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in His steps' (1Pt 2:21). In Christ we see the height of patience, gentleness, and love, and an admirable moderation in all things. We ought to put on this adornment of Christ, that is, imitate these virtues of His. In this sense we can imitate other saints as well.
 
"But to put on Christ according to the gospel is a matter, not of imitation but of a new birth and a new creation, namely, that I put on Christ Himself, that is, His innocence, righteousness, wisdom, power, salvation, life, and Spirit. We were dressed in the leather garment of Adam, which is a deadly garment and the clothing of sin. That is, we were all subject ed and sold into the slavery of sin; horrible blindness, ignorance, and a contempt and hatred of God are present in us. Besides, we are filled with evil lust, uncleanness, and greed. By propagation from Adam we have acquired this garment, that is, this corrupt and sinful nature, which Paul calls 'the old man.' He must be put off with all his activities, so that from sons of Adam we may be changed into sons of God (Eph 4:22 and Col 3:9). This does not happen by a change of clothing or by any laws or works; it happens by the rebirth and renewal that takes place in Baptism, as Paul says: 'As many of you as were baptized have put on Christ.' Titus 3: 'He saved us, in virtue of His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration' ( Tit 3:5). For in those who have been baptized a new light and flame arise; new and devout emotions come into being, such as fear and trust in God and hope; and a new will emerges. This is what it means to put on Christ properly, truly, and according to the gospel.
 
"In baptism, then, it is not the garment of the righteousness of the law or of our own works that is given; but Christ becomes our garment. But He is not the law, not a lawgiver, not a work; He is the divine and inestimable gift that the Father has given to us to be our Justifier, Lifegiver, and Redeemer. To put on Christ according to the gospel, therefore, is to put on, not the law or works but an inestimable gift, namely, the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, peace, comfort, joy in the Holy Spirit, salvation, life, and Christ Himself."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 3.27
Colossians 2:6-15

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
 
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spiritsof the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.  (ESV)
Prayer
Merciful Father, through holy baptism You called us to be Your own possession. Grant that our lives may evidence the working of Your Holy Spirit in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, according to the image of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.
 
For persons suffering from clinical depression, that they might cast all of their burdens on the Lord Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever
 
For all those who serve their country in the armed forces, that their work would be honored and appreciated by their fellow citizens
 
For President Obama, that he may be supported by God in every good deed
 
For all persons separated from the church by lack of knowledge or misunderstanding, that God our heavenly Father would use us to bring them the forgiving Light of Christ and that they would be brought into the church
Art: Durer, Albrecht   The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2016