Summary: The Colossians believers had become recipients of God’s marvelous act of reconciliation. They had been made acceptable to God and are challenged to continue striving forward in the truth that had saved them.
COLOSSIANS 1: 20-23
RECONCILED THROUGH CHRIST
Having proclaimed the deity and work of Christ, Paul now reveals what it means to the people in Colossae. He thus returns to the thought of redemption. With joyful wonder the Apostle testifies to the Colossians believers that they too have become recipients of God’s marvelous act of reconciliation. They had been made acceptable to God and are challenged to continue striving forward in the truth that had saved them (CIT).
Reconciliation has a beautiful and significant meaning for those who have come to know Christ personally. Our passage calls to mind the great change that occurs in lives that have been reconciled with God. Anyone who calls to mind what they were [becoming] prior to experiencing God’s grace will joyfully celebrate and praise God for His transforming work of redemption. For the Son’s reconciling love gives persevering faith.
I. THE NEED FOR RECONCILIATION, 21.
II. THE MEANS OF RECONCILIATION, 22a.
III. THE RESULT OF RECONCILIATION, 22b-23.
Last week we saw that all God’s fullness is in Christ. The purpose of God’s fullness in Christ was reconciliation. As verse 20 teaches us, it only in and through Christ that we can we be reconciled to God. “and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
Having announced reconciliation as a [seventh] characteristic of the exalted Christ, the passage develops that theme. Verse 21 impresses on us the transforming power of reconciliation by reminding us of what we were like before we were redeemed. “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,”
Here we encounter three words of separation that describe people before they are save. First, they-we were alienated. Before we give our lives to Jesus, we are alienated from God. This means that we are separated from or estranged from Him.
Reconciliation is necessary because people are alienated (“cut off, estranged” apo-allotpios) from life and God (Rom. 1:20-23; Eph. 2:12; 4:18). We are alienated because we turned away from God and have been shut off from fellowship with God. [The prodical son was alienated (Lk. 15:21) from his father.]
Second, our minds were hostile toward God. Before conversion the Colossian believers were enemies or hostile to God in their minds as well as in their behavior, internally and externally. Sin begins in the heart (Mt. 5:27-28) and manifests itself in overt deeds (Gal. 5:19). People are outwardly hostile against God because of their inwardly hostility (eksthrous from εχθος). Our intellectual capacities were so distorted that we worked against God’s purposes.
Would you readily admit that before you came to Christ, that your mind was hostile toward God? What this is saying is that we were strangers to God’s ways of thinking and as a result of that, we lead a life of sin. Thus this hostility can manifest itself in outright rebellion against God to the subtle ways we ignored God in our everyday lives. We used our thinking ability to justify ourselves and our actions.
Romans 8:7 - 8 (NASB) “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, (8) and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Our natural way of thinking set us against God.
Third, we were engaged in evil deeds. Sounds harsh doesn’t it? What are evil deeds? Everything we do that is in opposition to God’s will is considered an evil deed. Not just the extreme actions. An evil deed is ANYTHING that stands in opposition to what God has told us. We live for ourselves and not for God and His glory. The mind set on the flesh leads to deeds of the flesh.
To be preoccupied with sin is unhealthy. Yet, to forget who we are and who we have been is a doorway to spiritual pride and a roadblock to spiritual growth. To some degree we must sense in ourselves the capacity for every kind of sin, for this realization is necessary for continued spiritual development. Remember who you are.
We are not to glory in our past sins, but we must not forget them. If we are Christian, and if we are growing as Christians, we must realize we are what we are as Christians by the grace of God.
Martin Luther insisted that persons must confront their own sinfulness in all its ravaging depths before they can enjoy the comforts of salvation. There is truth in this. Though we need not be sullenly sin-conscious, we must always remember who we are: forgiven sinners. [Dunnam, Maxie. The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol 31. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. 349]