Summary: It was while you and I were in rebellion against Him, while we were doing wicked works, that He reconciled us to Himself.
Title: IIB6?The Colossians as a Case in Point ?Colossians 1:21-23
• “Special Notes” and “Scripture” follow associated verses.
• NIV Bible is used throughout unless noted otherwise.
Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV)
(Text) 1:21-23: (21) Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. (22) But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— (23) if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”
Even though Paul had not personally evangelized Colossae, it was his ministry in Ephesus that led to the founding of the Colossian church. Paul was “made a minister” (NIV, servant) (Colossians 1:25, see note 1). A large part of his ministry consisted in preaching the Good News of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. His was a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Paul reviewed for his readers their own spiritual experience.
1) “I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness” (Colossians 1:25).
(1:21) “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.”
“Once you were alienated (see note 1) from God”
God did not wait until we promised to clean-up ourselves, put on our Sunday best, and go to Sunday school before He agreed to do this work of reconciliation. It was while you and I were in rebellion against Him, while we were doing wicked works, that He reconciled us to Himself. No man can say, “I’m lost because God has not made adequate provision for me.” A man is lost because he wants to be lost, because he is in rebellion against God.
Man does not win his way back to a holy God by winning God’s favor through offerings or sacrifices. “Yea—though we ‘give our bodies to be burned and have not love, it profiteth nothing.’” The only way man can return to God is through the reconciliation purchased by the blood of Jesus on the cross.
The Colossian’s alienation (estrangement) was not only a matter of Gentile standing and thinking; it was also a matter of sinful practices and attitudes. The Gentiles were enemies of God, which means they were “actively hostile to God.” Even though they had not received a divine law, such as God gave to Israel, these Gentiles knew the truth about God through creation and conscience (Romans 1:18, see note 2). They could not plead ignorance before the bar of God’s justice.
“and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.”
This reminds us that there is a mental alienation from God as well as a moral alienation. A great many people think that men are lost because they have committed some terrible sin. The reason people are lost is that their minds are alienated from God, not because they are sinners; rather, they sin because they are lost. I think this explains the fierce antagonism toward God on the part of the so-called intellectuals of our day. They project an open hatred and hostility toward God.
The enmity of their minds led to wicked works. Both in attitude and action, they were at war with God. “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.” (Romans 8:7). This explains why the unbeliever must repent—change his mind—before he can be saved.
1) The word translated alienated means “estranged.” These Gentiles in Colossae were estranged from God and separated from the spiritual blessings of Israel (Ephesians 2:11). The gods that they worshipped were false gods, and their religious rituals could not take care of their sin or guilt.
2) “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,” (Romans 1:18)
(1:22) “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—”
“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body”
They did not reconcile themselves to God; it was God who took the initiative in His love and grace. The Father sent the Son to die on a cross so that sinners might be reconciled to God. The purpose of this reconciliation is personal holiness. God does not make peace (Colossians 1:20) so that we can continue to be rebels! He has reconciled us to Himself so that we may share His life and His holiness. We are presented to God “holy and Unblameable and unreproveable.” Jesus died for us when we were “without strength” (Romans 5:6, see note 1) and could do nothing for ourselves. He died for us “while we were yet sinners” and “when we were enemies” (Romans 5:8, 10).