Colassians 1: 21-23
So far we have worked through the various portions of the text such as the greeting, a prayer, and a hymn about Christ, we read how we all have been created, converted, and called. That in our new life we are now Saints, we learned how we are found in Christ, and again today we will read about the hope, the hope created by the power of the gospel. We read how Christ is over all and is the creator of all, and how You and I exist to move towards Christ, He is the Goal, we were created through him, for him, and because of his work we now exist in Him and can share in his new kingdom to come.
Read Colossians 1:17-20
He has made peace for us between God and man, and Paul expands upon that in our text today
Verses 21 through 23 is a brief section that follows the Christ centered hymn, pointing to a response required in light of God‘s redemptive work through Christ. The hymn is saying this is who Jesus is, this is what he did, so now what follows afterwards is Paul showing us how we should respond, react, what does it mean for us? This section is often referred to as the thesis for the letter, and Within it we will see a conditional statement highlighting the urgency for a proper response to who Christ is. This passage is an example of how in scripture, The sovereign and mighty acts of God are mentioned together, in combination with, an emphasis on or a pointing towards human responsibility, on an action to a reaction, but more truly on how a relationship takes two, this is consistent with the teachings of Paul elsewhere and with other New Testament witnesses. So with all that to look forward too, let us begin.
21 Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds expressed in your evil actions.
“But your iniquities are separating you from your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not listen.” “For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers, with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, and your tongues mutter injustice.”
Isaiah 59:2-3 CSB
Romans 5, tells us we were his enemies
Even the good things we did were tainted because they were for self gain, they were self serving, they were selfish, see the pattern there, in our sin, in our alienation, we served only ourselves, needed only ourselves, sought to please only ourselves. In God's eyes we stood upon our own righteousness, and to that the prophet Isiah says our righteousness is like filthy rags before him, filthy rags can be translated as soiled garments, now as the father of a toddler and a soon to be newborn, soiled garments are a reality in my life, this is where my wife is Jesus in my household, because when I’m holding a cute outfit that’s slathered in filth, my first thought is to burn it, but my wife can make it clean, Christ can make you clean. If that’s not a gospel message to the parents I don’t know what is.
Moving on, Once, you were alienated,
Vs. 21 describes the past condition of the Colossian believers before they knew Christ. Paul describes them in three ways: they were “alienated,” “hostile in mind, and “engaged in evil actions.”
To be alienated means to be estranged, to be far from God.
To be hostile in mind means that the Colossians’ thinking was fractured by their sin and was opposed or hostile to God’s character and will. They mocked him, doubted him, saw his love and distorted into hate.
To be engaged in evil actions is the result of the first two descriptions. We all bear fruit based on what is within us, you get out what is put in, you can put on a good show, you can wear a mask, but sooner or later what’s inside will show in the outside, your alienation, your hostility, your sin will be made clear.
Because the Colossians’ minds and hearts were far from God, they acted out in ways that expressed exactly how far from God they really were. These verses describe a vicious cycle. Alienation leads to hostility in mind, which leads to evil deeds. The more the Colossians engaged in evil deeds, the more alienated they became.
Even today this is our formula for failure, for backsliding, when we try to separate ourselves from God, when we separate ourselves from his people, when we stop praying, when we stop reading his word on our own, when we seek other things, fill ourselves with other things, that creates a tension a strain in our lives and on our souls because we are now in Christ, the spirit is with us, so we slam ourselves around inside the hamster ball that is Christ, that is God our Father, who will not let his children Go, now that we know the truth he will hold onto us, discipline us, sometimes he comes like the Shepherd for his lost sheep, calling out, kind, carrying us back into the fold, sometimes he lets you break your own leg, sometimes he breaks your leg so you cannot run from him because even in the pain and brokenness you are better off that in your sin and separation because he will rebuild, he will restore, this may sound scary but that’s how much he loves his children.
For some of us this alienation, this hostility is in our past, but for some of us it is not, so as we move forward to the good news I need you to take a good look at your faith, are you alienated, or are you straining to be again? Because this next portion is the good news and I want every single person here to know without a doubt that this next part is for them, whether you’re there yet or not,
22 But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him.
Some translations say “he reconciled you by his flesh,” flesh is often used by Paul to point towards a sinful nature of man, that’s not necessarily the case here which is why most translations say his physical body because it is pointing to the fact that God came down from on high in the form of his son to eat, pray, love, as both fully God and fully man.
Reconciled, redeemed, Through his death because he Died taking the burden of all of our sin by his godly power on his human flesh so that death and sin and shame no longer had power over those that put their faith in him.
See it here, Vs. 22a describes the present position of those who are in Christ. “But now” provides a strong contrast between the Colossians’ past condition “once” and the present reconciliation they now enjoy. Paul is pointing out God’s initiation and role in salvation: how in the midst of our rebellious activity, God interrupted the vicious cycle of our sin and “reconciled you by His physical body through His death.” This should be nothing new, but this verse again affirms that The cross is the means through which sinful humanity is reconciled to a holy God.
Vs. 22b describes the future presentation of redeemed believers to the Father. Paul says that the Son will present them “holy, faultless, and blameless before Him.”
The verb “to present” is often used when referencing human beings standing before God, Paul uses it here to encourage and affirm the present status of the believers, but also to point towards the future of what will happen when they stand before God, so don’t worry but be happy because this holds the same meaning for us today.
One day each of us will stand before God for judgement, that should make each of us tremble, it’s a reality, not an idea, not an opinion, no it is the truth. And if you live depending on your self, your works, you in your selfrightniousness will be seen as filthy rags, soiled garments, you cannot love good enough on your own to overcome your own sin, but Jesus made a way, if you depend on Christ, on the works he has done, you will be found and made holy, faultless, and blameless. Now these three terms sound similar, And yet each holds its own meaning.
To be holy means to be pure. This points to our spiritual selves, we who were born in sin yet now found without sin, holy as he is holy because of his work upon the cross.
To be faultless means to be without spot or blemish. Faultless comes from the sacrificial language of the OT, it was used to describe The sacrificial victim, the got the lamb the ox, that must be without defect. So here it can mean that when we stand before God our being will be perfect, without defect, without the wear and tear of age, sickness, or any other result of living in a sinful and broken world, again, all because of the power of Christ and his work on the cross.
And finally, To be blameless means that no accusation can be leveled against the believer on the day of judgment because they are presented as blameless by the Son who sits upon the judgement seat, a throne of mercy and grace.
So before we move on just hold on to these words, if you are a believer, that Right now you are reconciled, You are redeemed, still sinful and yet still saved, still struggling yet still called a saint, because one day You will be pure, holy, blameless. For those of you that mean it, that cling to it, it will hold true, and Paul writes to encourage you do so here by speaking something that most wouldn’t want to hear
23 if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a servant of it.
Vs. 23 introduces a conditional clause. A believer’s salvation is secure, “if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel.” While this conditional clause may be disconcerting to some or may appear to conflict with passages that assure the believer of the security of their salvation. Paul is using a first class conditional clause, what that means is Paul is providing a premise, Paul is assuming that they will hold fast, that would continue in endurance as he spoke on earlier in the letter . The “if” in vs. 23 could be translated “provided that you continue,” or “if you continue, and I’m fully confident that you will…” The statement is not intended to disrupt the believers’ assurance of salvation but rather is a statement of confidence that the Colossian believers will indeed unswervingly persevere in their faith. So it’s there to encourage, but it’s also there to warn, Paul writes in Ephesians how we should test our faith. Other authors support this as well, pointing out that Time is the true test of faith
1 John 2:
They departed from us but were not of us
Pastor going door to door story, once saved always saved door slam
Too often, People lean too hard on the once saved always saved, the mistake is thinking that because in the past they said a prayer or walked down an aisle or raised their hand that their eternity is secure and they can now live however they want, do whatever they want, doing what is most pleasing to themselves instead of living and doing what is most pleasing to God.
The Bible rarely, if ever, encourages us to put faith in some past experience, however, it does encourage us to put our faith in the past actions of Christ, and if we believing and following him today. So the question you need to ask yourself today is are you continuing, some may say well I’m here aren't I? It takes a lot more than sitting in a courtroom for an hour a week to be a judge or lawyer, it takes a lot more than sitting in a classroom one hour a week to be a teacher, I can’t sit at my wife’s animal hospital practice one hour and week and become a vet, or a dog. So listen clearly, It takes a lot more than sitting in a pew for one hour a week to be a follower of Christ, to be grounded and steadfast in the hope we have heard.
So are we continuing, one pastor says it like this, it shouldn’t be, once saved always saved, it should be once saved, always following.
True faith perseveres, even if we follow imperfectly, even if we stumble, lose our way sometimes, you can’t always judge spiritual growth in the short term, weeks, months, because some folks burn real bright and real hot and their light goes out because the source they had was not Christ, maybe it was social fulfillment, cultural acceptance, which is going or gone so don’t expect that to boost attendance numbers anymore.
the true test of faith is time, that’s why we should celebrate even more those who stay faithful until the end because we can know that their faith was real and their eternity secure.
JD Greer, president of the sbc says it like this, faith that fizzles before the finish, was flawed from the first. I’m not saying you have to earn your salvation, im not saying that you keep your salvation, I’m just saying continue to believe the gospel, continue to desperately cling to the work Christ has done for your salvation, and it will hold true
I think the worst thing a person who’s been going to church forever could do would be to not give themselves a checkup, to be embarrassed or hold back from coming forward and saying, I’ve had it wrong but I see it now, Jesus please save me. The self given expectation that everyone here has to have it all together is a tool and a lie from satan to hold us back from the truth.
I'm going to be brief on the final portion of this text because it's the transitional piece for the next section, Paul's explanation of what a minister and ministry is in light of God, but Vs. 23 does conclude with Paul’s declaration that this gospel of reconciliation is a message that has been proclaimed throughout the cosmos, Paul reminds his readers that The gospel is his object of service, the church was growing and spreading across the world not because Of the power of the men but because of the power in the message, in the gospel itself. It wasn’t Paul that started the church in colossae it was the power of the Gospel, transforming Paul who preached it again to Epaphras, were it transformed him to preach it to the Colossians.
The Gospel has been proclaimed, so since you have heard, if it has transformed you, first of all stay grounded and steadfast in its hope, see your past and what it has brought you from and look towards the future it is carrying you to, but for now, right now, be a servant of it and preach and share it wherever you go with whoever you meet. Believe it, hold on to it, serve it, spread it.