Before reading this article, be sure to check out Tyler’s article, “How to read the Bible like a V.I.P.,” it is both fun to read and a good challenge on how we ought to read the Bible!
(21) 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. – Colossians 1:21-23
Colossians 1:21-23 contains, perhaps Paul’s most powerful teaching on how sinners are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and yet his teaching ends with a warning! Thus, it would seem that reconciliation to Christ results in a new life–one involves heeding divinely ordained warnings!
So how do we heed Paul’s Warning? I think there are clearly two ways we can heed Paul’s warning. The first is clear from Colossians 1:23 and the cultural context surrounding the church at Colossae and the second is clear from Colossians 3.
Two ways we persevere:
- Heed the warnings of the gospel. Remain firm in your faith in the gospel. Do not depart from the faith of the gospel. Be careful not to let false teaching keep you from placing your hope fully on Christ. Heed the warnings to remain steadfast and firm in your hope in Christ. When I was in college, I had a fish tank and I neglected to heed the warnings of the pet store workers who warned me not to put certain types of fish in my tank–I neglected to heed their warnings and all the fish died! In the same way the gospel is the message by which we are saved, if you depart from it, you cannot be assured that you will not be destroyed. Heed the warnings remain firm in the faith.
- A second way that we persevere in the gospel is by fighting sin. Do not forget that Sin is what causes separation from God. Sin was what alienated us from God and made us hostile in mind toward God, if you have believed in Christ, you are now a new creation, you have the Holy Spirit and the crucified and risen Christ now lives in you (Col 1:27, 2 Cor. 5:17). Thus if we have put our faith in Jesus Christ we will desire to live in light of our calling. We will no longer want to live the way we used to live, enslaved to sin. Instead we will want to fight sin, we have been reconciled to God through Christ so we will want to seek to get rid of anything that keeps us from living out the purpose for which us were created.
Thus Paul says in Colossians 3:
If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God, When Christ who is your life appears, then you will also appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. But you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called in one body and be thankful.
So friends, heed the warning to fight sin. Sin will keep you from living out the purpose for which you were created if you don’t fight it. You are no longer slave to sin. You have put off the old self with its practices, put on the new self, “which is being renewed in the knowledge after the image of its creator.” Sin will keep you from the purpose for which you were created–Sin will keep you from Christ. If you have really come to know Christ, heed the warnings to stand firm by putting to death anything that might keep you from Christ.
But it is not enough to merely put off sin, you must put on Christ. You must put on the compassion of Jesus Christ. This means forgiving one another, and loving and serving one another.
This is the gospel, that Christ has reconciled you to God in his own flesh sacrificed on the cross. Heed its warnings to persevere. Love God enough to fight sin and put it to death. Follow Christ’s lead by forgiving those who have wronged you and loving those around you. Don’t just seek to put off sin, but put on Jesus Christ!
He created everything, everything belongs to Him. Everything exists for him. So whatever is keeping you from Him, put it to death. There is NO ONE greater than God and He offers you fellowship with Him through Jesus Christ, so if you are not a Christian, I hope you read this as a call to faith in Christ. If you have believed in Christ, you have been reconciled to God through the hope of the gospel, you can now have fellowship with God, so fight anything that might keep you from Christ and set your mind on things that are above, where Christ is seated. Everything belongs to Him, so trust him and heed his warnings to persevere.
This is a message that is going forth into all the world. It is a message that mastered Paul-he became a minister of this message and eventually gave his life for this message of reconciliation in Christ. Are you fighting sin for the sake of the gospel? Have you given your life in service of Christ? He gave his life for you that you might be reconciled to God in eternal life. I ask you, will you trust Christ, will you believe in Him?