“A New Man”
One subject that is never far from the minds of most people is the subject of “peace” – or the lack of it. No one likes to be at war (although sometimes it can’t be avoided). No one likes to be in a disagreement with someone else. And it is interesting how a cessation of hostilities brings people together. We have all seen pictures of “victory days” after various wars in the past (and some remember them personally.) And most of us know how a friendship or a marriage can actually be strengthened by a dispute that is resolved. And our passage today deals with both of those concepts.
Remember the overview of chapter 2: Verses 1 through 3 give us “An Assessment of the Past.” Then verses 4 through 10 are “an appraisal of the present.” And verses 11 through 22 are “an affirmation of the purposes of God.”
In our last study we began looking at that last section of the chapter by thinking about “the contrast” between our old life, before we met the Lord, and the new life that is a part of the purpose of God. But that is really only the introduction to this concept. Because in verses 14 through 18 we find “the completion of His purpose.”
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us, (15) having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, (16) and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity (17) And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. (18) For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”
Here is a wonderful truth that we have seen in other ways and other places in Scripture: The war is over; God’s purpose is completed; there is peace between god and man! And these verses also bring out the fact that because of that there should be peace between man and man. Now let’s look at how this works out: First of all, verse 14 brings out clearly the one who has brought about this completion. (“For He Himself is our peace . . . “) Let me just pause right here at the beginning and ask you: what are you counting on for peace with God (and anyone else?)
When we talk about peace among human beings it is an elusive subject – we have to look very carefully for that strategic “missing piece” (the current situation in the Middle East is a perfect example.) And many people feel that way about peace with God – they just aren’t sure what the “formula” is. But this verse gives it to us clearly: Jesus Christ, and only Jesus Christ is the agent who brought about this peace between God and man. Even though I don’t like to refer to technical points of the Greek language because it tends to give people the idea that we can’t understand the Bible if we don’t know how to read Greek, I think this one of those places where it is helpful to know that the word is written in an intensive form in the Greek, which means that this was done for His own benefit.
The story has been told of a battle in World War II between a group of American soldiers who were fighting a group of German soldiers who had occupied a farm house. The family who lived in the house had run to the barn for protection. Suddenly the little 3 year old daughter of the family became frightened and ran out into the field that separated the two groups of soldiers. When they all saw the little girl, both sides stopped firing until she was safely back in the barn with her family. That little girl brought peace, if only temporarily, in a way that nothing else could have. She was from outside the conflict, and she was totally innocent. In a similar way, Jesus Christ brings peace between God and man. He is the “agent” of the completion of God’s plan! Notice the words “for He is our peace” in verse 14.
But then verses 14b through 18 go on to give the details of the “action” in the completion. And there are two participants in the action: God and man. So let’s look in more detail at the action that was completed between the two by Christ’s death:
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us, (15) having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.
The first line of verse 14 states something that the book of Romans makes clear: there is an “enmity” between God and man – “a wall of partition.” And what is that enmity? Well, the last part of verse 15 says that it is summarized in “the commandments contained in ordinances.” Have you ever broken one of the Ten Commandments (Even in your heart?) If so, you are an enemy of God. And that is the plight of the whole human race. But the sacrifice of Christ broke down that barrier. Incidentally, notice that verse 13 speaks of the “blood” of Christ and verse 15 speaks of His “flesh,” thus reminding us of the completeness of the sacrifice. And therefore we have “peace with God.”
The word translated “peace” here means “a cessation of hostilities.” Because of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf we don’t have to be nervous or frightened or angry about God (all of which are common emotions of various people. But the action of Christ was so complete and far reaching that it touches even to the relationship between God and man. Look at verses 16-18:
(16) That He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity (17) And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. (18) For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”
Here is a “touchy” subject of ever there was one! But notice the words of unity in these verses: “reconcile” them both to God;” “in one body;” “those who were far off and those who were near;” “we both have access through one Spirit.” In fact, this unity is touched on in the previous verses also. “Has made both one” – verse 14; “One new man from the two” – verse 15. In fact, this particular statement is a good summary of this whole section. There are two words in the Greek text translated “new.” One of them has to do with age; the other has to do with “freshness.” An illustration of the difference is the auto assembly line. All of those cars coming off that line are “new.” But every few years the company comes out with a “new” model that completely outdates the “new” cars that are still on the sales floor. And that his the sense of this “new man” in verse 15; He is completely new. Believers in Jesus Christ are not just “Jews with a new dimension.” They are not just Gentiles who have accepted the Jews’ Messiah. But people from both groups are a totally new kind of creature. Now there is a very important application that needs to be made here: Look at Colossians 3:9-11
Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, (10) and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, (11) where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
There was a problem in the early church that we still have in the church of today. And that is the problem of making distinction among ourselves. Sometimes based on the part of town we live in, or the kind profession we have, or appearance, or brains, or depths of sin before salvation, and God says “stop it!” In fact, he is very specific in I Corinthians 4: 6, 7:
Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. (7) For who made you to differ from one another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it?
These verses speak for themselves. Notice the phrase “puffed up on behalf of one against another.” Think seriously now about verse 7: “what do you have that you did not receive?” Someone in my past once said about another person, “He is so conceited, he was born on third base, but he acts like he hit a triple.”
As we close, think carefully about this basic principle once again: What a wonderful truth this is: Jesus Christ is our peace. What are you trusting in for your peace? Or let me say it with a little different emphasis: “Jesus Christ is OUR” peace.”