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Posts Tagged ‘Reconciliation’

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“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Col. 1:21-23).

This post has been a long time coming. As I took a long break from blogging I thought no one would notice if I just didn’t finish this series of posts but I think this is a series worth doing so I figured I would go ahead and finish it up!

That all the world will be reconciled to Christ (Col. 1:20), implies that there is something wrong with the world. In Colossians 1:21, Paul tells us just what the problem is. Its an ancient problem. A problem that is bigger than terrorism, global warming, or world hunger. It is the same problem that every person (except for Christ) has faced and been unable to overcome in and of themselves. It is the problem of sin.

In my previous post I said that sin is big deal because God is a big deal. In other words sin is our biggest problem because the one we are sinning against created us for His glory and we have rebelled and lived for our own. We were created to love, know, enjoy, and worship God and we have instead sought to set ourselves in God’s place by loving, enjoying, and worshiping ourselves.

Thus Paul explains the results of such rebellion in Col. 1:21, he tells us that we are “alienated” and “hostile in mind” because we have rejected the purpose for which we were created. Instead of worshiping and loving and rejoicing in the one true God, we have rejected his reign and rule and attempted to overthrow Him. We have attempted to place ourselves on God’s throne. We desperately want to be in control of our own lives. But the Bible hits us pretty hard with some powerful realities. The Bible tells us that from Adam on everyone is enslaved to sin apart from Christ and that the result of sin is death.

But before I further explain the sad state that we are in apart from Christ, let me give you two tests to see just how much of a sinner you are. Maybe you don’t think you are all that bad off, maybe you are a generally good person and have never really thought of yourself as a sinner. Well here are two tests to see if you are a sinner and just how much of a sinner you are:

  • Test #1: Try and see if you can keep from dying! The wages of sin is death (Rom. 3:23) and death was the curse that resulted from Adam and Eve’s fall in the garden (Gen. 2:17). So, if you think you can keep from dying, you might not be a sinner!

No matter how “in-control” of your life you think you are, you will NEVER conquer death. Have you come up with a way to overcome death? Is there anyone reading this who thinks you aren’t going to die? You and I will die someday and face the God who created us for His glory. So we are all subject to death and Genesis 3 tells us that sin is the curse of death.

  • Test #2: See if you can’t go a month, a week, even a day without sinning. This is the test to see how sinful you are.

Let me give you an example. What if you were to try to go a week, just one week, without lying. Maybe you are a pretty truthful person, maybe you could do it. But lets not stop there. Also for that whole week try not to say anything bad about someone behind their back. But let’s not stop there, for that whole week do not think any sexually impure thoughts about anyone.

But sin isn’t just breaking rules, it is rejection and neglect of God! So here is the really difficult test, for that one week spend every single second of your time praising and worshiping God. Make sure everything you do, you do for God’s maximum glory . . . think you could do it?

Whether we want to admit it or not sin rules our lives and its not just that we have rejected God’s rules, the reason our sin is such a big problem is because we have neglected God himself. Every millisecond of our lives belongs to God and we have neglected to give him our time and our worship. Instead we have lived for our own pleasure and our own glory and the disastrous result is that we are cut off from God, we are alienated from Him and we cannot manage to change that fact. As Paul tells us in Romans 6, apart from Christ we are slaves to sin. We cannot please God-we desperately need him to intervene.

Apart from Christ we are all hostile in mind toward God. This word hostile implies that we are enemies of God in our minds. Romans 5:10 uses the same word to show that apart from Christ’s saving work on the cross applied to us, we remain God’s enemies. Our minds are radically opposed to Him. We have disdain for his ways but our thoughts are no the only part of us that is clouded by sin. In fact Romans 8:7 tells us that, “the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”

We are not only hostile in mind toward God, but we also continue to do evil deeds. We neglect God’s commands and live our lives the way that we want to live them. We lie, we slander others, we covet the things others possess, we give into sexual temptation. So Paul tells us that apart from Christ our minds are hostile to God and further are lives are continually marked by doing evil deeds. And most importantly we more often seek to do the things that exalt us rather than that which glorifies our creator. We live for our own glory.

I think a lot of people have a hard time with this. Sin is a very hard thing to fess up to. We tend to think we are generally pretty good people and though we may make some poor decisions now and then, we consider ourselves generally pretty good people. We don’t lie often or maliciously slander others all that often, we don’t cheat on our spouses, we generally think we are pretty decent people. At least we are better than a lot people we know.

This kind of thinking, that we are not all that sinful, falls flat in the face of Colossians 1:15-20. This idea that we are not all that sinful will not hold up against the fact that Christ is before all things and therefore deserving of all glory, all honor, all praise. He is the firstborn from the dead and if you have neglected to live in light of that reality then, friend, you are alienated from God. As Isa. 59:2 tells us that “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”

A small view of your own sin usually means you have a small view of God. If that is you, cry out to God, ask him to open your eyes to behold his greatness and to accurately see your dire estate. May God be so big in our minds and the weight of our sin so clear that the promise of saving reconciliation through faith in Christ might become truly sweet.

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“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Col. 1:21-23).

The Purpose and Scope of Christ’s ReconciliationIf I could sum up the Colossians 1:15-20, the verses immediately preceding the above text, in one sentence, it would be this: Jesus is really really big. In my last post, I looked at the big picture of reconciliation. I wrote about how Christ is the center of the universe. I looked at how Paul sees Jesus as creator and the firstborn of all creation meaning that he sovereignly rules over absolutely everything. That means that Christ sovereignly reigns over you and me, over Louisville, over Kentucky, over the United States, the planet earth and the entire universe. Everything has been created through him and for Him and He holds it all together. Were it not for his sustaining the universe, everything would disintegrate. So as we come to the second part of this series on Colossians 1 we must remind ourselves that we are not self-sufficient creatures. We are created beings. We exist by the will of God, he created us and therefore has rights over us to do with us what he will. Further, we ought to remember that we were created for God—to fulfill his purposes, to live the way that he calls us to and to do the things he commands us to do! Isa. 43:7 tells us that God has created us for His glory. Thus I don’t exist for me. You don’t exist for you. I exist for God. You exist for God. Everyone exists for God.

In my last post, I wrote about how God has reconciled all things to himself by the blood of the cross. The need for reconciliation implies that there is a problem in the world. That problem stems from the time of Adam and Eve when they took of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in an attempt to become like God. And of course we know what happened don’t we. The image of God in which they were created from then on was marred, it was corrupted. Their sin was not just that they ate of a tree that they shouldn’t have eaten from, it wasn’t just that they broke some strange rule, their sin was that they rejected God and attempted to dethrone Him. Its not just that they disobeyed but that they thought that by doing the very thing that God told them not to do, they could become like Him. But we know what happened, in their attempt to dethrone God, they were cast out of the garden and faced the stark reality of living life in separation from God. From then on death entered the world and sin began to reign on earth, because as Romans 5 tells us, from then on everyone after Adam lived in sin.

Sin is a big deal because God is a big deal. Sin has disastrous results because the one we are sinning against is massively big and massively holy and infinitely deserving of all praise (c.f. 1 Sam. 2:2). Sin is a massive problem—it is our biggest problem. And because it is such a big problem it requires a big solution—and Jesus has provided that solution on the cross for all who would believe. So this post marks the second of a series in which I am going to write about our greatest problem and its solution. Col. 1:21-23 will be my guide as Paul sets forth therein, the specific reconciliation of sinners to God through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Col. 1:21 marks a shift from the general to the specifics of Christ’s reconciliation. Verse 20 simply sets forth the truth that Christ has reconciled all things to himself on the cross. Verse 21 shifts to tell us how the believers at the church at Colossae individually were saving-ly reconciled to God through Christ.

If you just glanced over Col. 1:20, you might come away thinking that everyone is going to be saved since Christ has reconciled all things to himself. If you were to just glance at this verse without carefully reading the book of Colossians you might think that Col. 1:20 indicates that all people will go to heaven. That simply cannot be the case because of what Paul says in verses 21-23. Thus vv. 21-23 is a perfect example of how we must always read and study passages of Scripture in context. Paul is writing to believers in Colossae and in verse 21, he reminds the Colossian believers where they have come from. He says they were “alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds.”

This sets forth an all encompassing picture of our sinful estate. Sin has affected our mind, our actions, and most importantly has left us in a state of being alienated from God. And this state of alienation or separation from God will remain forever unless you put your hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ as Paul tells us in v. 23. So Paul makes clear that only those who have placed their hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ can have hope of being savingly reconciled to God. Everyone in the end will be reconciled, but Paul gives no hope of heaven for those who refuse to put their hope in Jesus Christ—those who remain alienated from God will be painfully reconciled to Him in the end because they refused to submit God and His way of salvation (c.f. Matt. 25:41).

It is important that we not forget the great Christ-exalting verses immediately preceeding Col. 1:21. Paul has just set forth in the previous verses how all things were created by Christ and for Christ and how He is before all things. The backdrop for Colossians 1:21-23 is the preeminent glory of Jesus Christ who is before all things!

Thus again we must remind ourselves of the purpose for which we were created. We were created by God and for his glory.

Because we were created by God and for His glory, our sin has cause us to be alienated and hostile in mind toward God and that is a big, big problem. But maybe you don’t think you are all that much of a sinner, so in case you don’t think you are all that bad-off, in my next post I will give you two tests to see whether you are a sinner and just how much of a sinner you are! I will also address more fully what Paul means by our state of alienation apart from Christ.

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