Devotional # 149. 8/10/15. Colossians 1:21-23.
Intro. Last week we left off talking about how Jesus made peace for everything “on earth” and “in heaven“…”through the blood of His cross” (v. 20). Although we humans were included in that, it was quite general. But this week it’s very personal, this section is speaking specifically to us. And we’ll also talk about losing your salvation and getting grounded!
v. 21. The verse says, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled”
Paul reminds us that we were once “alienated and enemies in [our] mind.” So does this mean that we were only separated from God in our mind but not in reality? Or does it mean that the thoughts of our mind separated us and made us enemies of God? And we can’t forget about the “wicked works” that also separated us, so what does it mean? I think the New Living Translation will clear this up: “This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.” So there were two things that made us enemies of God: first “evil thoughts” and second, “evil actions.”
The last little phrase of the verse is a complete foundation of hope. “YET now He has reconciled” – these five little words assure us of our citizenship in heaven!
v. 22. If you notice this verse is a continuation of the last verses’ sentence. So Jesus “has reconciled” us “in the body of His flesh.” This goes back to what we’ve talked about the last couple of weeks: that Jesus was completely God and came to earth in a human body so that He was also fully Man. The only way for God to reconcile us from our “evil thoughts” and “evil actions” was to send Jesus as “the image of the invisible God” (v. 15) and not just for Jesus to come here to live but to die. It says, He came that “through [His] death” He could make us “holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” Do you realize how ridiculous this is?!? We just heard how bad we were (“alienated and enemies” of God) and how perfect Jesus was, who had “all the fullness” of God living in Him and yet He died for us to make us perfect! Have you ever noticed that when people want to make peace it is human nature to not want to be the first to offer it? We don’t want to be the “weak” one, or maybe we think it wasn’t our fault, or maybe we just have pride. But God took the first step here. He humbled Himself first, as always, leading by example. This makes me seriously question myself when I think it’s unfair for me to humble myself and give in to what God wants me to do!
So it seems that we have more than just what v. 14 had told us: “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” As if that wasn’t enough Jesus has also made us “holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” In Leviticus 11:44 & 20:26 God told us to “be holy for I am holy” (in case you thought it didn’t apply to us now Peter re-stated it in 1 Peter 1:16). A.W. Tozer helps us understand this, God isn’t saying ‘be as holy as I am holy’ that’s absolute holiness belonging to God alone. As Moses did, this is faith and humility but also for us Christ makes us holy” (Source 1). So this “holiness” is a perfection that only God can give us once we are joined to Jesus after our death and resurrection (Source 2).
v. 23. This verse shows us that God’s gift isn’t something to just be trampled on. There is a pretty small word here with big repercussions. The word “if” is conditional – that means you get “holiness” IF you do what He says. So what do you get IF you don’t do what God says? Well, to put it bluntly, you go to hell. You see, since the “holiness” and perfection Paul is talking about is in heaven then you couldn’t have gotten there unless you were faithful to Jesus. The statement that we must “continue in the faith”, isn’t an accident. There are a lot of people that say “once saved, always saved”. If they mean that once you have accepted Jesus as your Savior you can never lose your salvation, then I agree. If they mean that they could never forfeit their salvation, then I don’t agree. But why would you forfeit the most important and precious thing in your life? To the Christian this isn’t an option. So true believers will remain solid on the foundation of Christ instead of falling away from the gospel (Source 2). An awesome promise is that this faith comes from “Christ in us” (v. 27) so it’s nothing we have to manufacture, it’s just us trusting in Him. I certainly hope this hasn’t made you worried about whether you’re truly saved or not. Actually, I’ve heard a pastor say if you are worried that you’ve lost your salvation, than you haven’t. The reason for that is because a person doesn’t care if they forfeit their salvation, but if they are worried then it shows they care. And if they care then they will be pulled back in closer to Jesus then they ever have been before. Read Matthew 13:18-23 for the parable of the sower. Did you notice that three of the different types of people are going to hell (here in Colossians Paul calls it being “moved away”), but the “good soil” kind are truly saved (Paul calls it being “grounded and steadfast”)?
What does “grounded” make you think of? Some people might think of it like having a really firm foundation sunk into the ground that won’t move. Others might think of an object that is “grounded” electrically. If there is unwanted electricity it travels back and trips the breaker but that’s not enough, there also has to be a connection to the earth, a lot of times that is through a “grounding rod.” Or what about getting “grounded” by your parents? That means you stay put, but if we don’t think of it as a punishment then we’ll probably learn something from it, and it will actually benefit us. However you look at it, God wants us to be “grounded” in Him for our own safety and well-being!
Conclusion. These few verses are a great summary of what we believe: we were once bad, we have been justified by Jesus’ death and anyone who “continues in the faith” of the “hope of the gospel” will be declared “blameless” !!!! Have a great week where you think about how precious your salvation is and how important it is for you to be “steadfast in the faith.” Don’t be a roller-coaster. Be that “grounding rod” with an anchored foundation but always pointing towards heaven!
Source 1: A. W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy, pp. 106-107.
Source 2: John MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1834.