Once alienated, now reconciled: Devotional Commentary for June 9-15
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
21And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,
22yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach--
23if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.
So far, we have observed that Paul addressed three important points in the preceding twenty verses of Colossians chapter one. These are the three most recent meditations we shared. First, he commended the Colossians for their faith and love. He encouraged them. Second, he prayed that they might have more knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. He interceded for them. Third, he taught them about the supremacy of Jesus Christ. He introduced them to the object of their faith and love.
The text of our present meditation seeks to enlighten the Colossians on the work of God's redeeming Grace in them. Having shown them the fullness of God in Jesus Christ, now Paul helps the Colossians correctly perceive their transformation from a deserved condemnation to an unmerited redemption. He was candid with them.
Paul reminded the Colossians that they were lost in sin while they were living in depravity as the children of disobedience. They were alienated from God, and therefore, they were engaged in evil deeds. They were ungodly in all their ways. They were rebellious toward God. They were resistant to His voice. They were hostile toward God like the rest of unregenerate humanity. They were dead in sin.
But Jesus Christ Who loved them enough to die for them, reconciled them to God in Himself through His sacrificial death. Formerly hostile to God, the Colossians were now presented by Jesus Christ before God, blameless and beyond reproach. As we have repeatedly noted, God in His sovereign discretion determined to save a people for Himself out of lost humanity. So God entered His creation in the Person of Jesus Christ and executed His plan of redemption, calling the lost to salvation.
Once engaged in evil deeds because of their ungodly inclinations, the Colossians were now living a life of vibrant faith and flourishing love in Jesus Christ. Their redemption was real. It was eternal. Paul assured the Colossians that if they stood firm on their faith and continued to be steady in their growth, then the transformation they experienced would be true. Their faith and continued growth could not have happened apart from their salvation. Their perseverance in faith is actually the evidence of their salvation. The Gospel that was preached to them is the Truth which set them free and transformed their lives.
The Gospel is true, universal, and eternal. It has been proclaimed throughout the world. The Truth endures forever. Like many other communities and individuals, the Colossians also heard the Gospel and believed in the Good News of God's salvation in Jesus Christ.
Their faith was strong and their love was meaningful and true because of the Gospel they heard and believed. So Paul reminded the Colossians that they were set free from alienation and hostility toward God by the Word of Truth they heard and believed. This is amazing Grace.
While faith and love are phenomenal aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, Paul was careful to caution the Colossians against a sweeping wave of self-confidence induced by a misperception of the source and strength of their faith and love. In other words, faith and love are neither self-induced nor willed by mortal emotions. They are actually generated and expressed in us by the Holy Spirit. Paul prayed for the Colossians that they would have knowledge and wisdom so they would understand how they were transformed from alienation from God to union with Christ, how they were set free by the Truth of the Gospel, how God Himself redeemed them in Jesus Christ, and how Jesus Christ, Who is preeminent in all things, saved and reconciled them to God. The same prayer would be in order for each one of God's children.
Just like the Colossians of Paul's time, our godless past kept us alienated from God. We lived in darkness and conducted ourselves as God's enemies. But because Jesus Christ reconciled us to His Father through His death on the Cross, God is at peace with us. Because of Who Christ is and His finished work, we can actually approach the Holy and glorious God and commune with Him even though He is a consuming Fire. We have access to the throne of God by and through Jesus Christ.
Recognizing the gravity of our godless past is instrumental in helping us appreciate the marvelous redemption Christ secured for us, bearing on His Body our indebtedness to the Law. When our appreciation is lifted to a soaring awareness by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, our own conscience would be ready, open, and surrendered to the Authority and Care of the Holy Spirit resulting in a life of thriving faith and flourishing love. Reconciled by the Prince of Peace, redeemed by the gracious God, and nurtured by the Holy Spirit, the consistency of our faith and the excellence of God's love in us shall be the evidence of our newness in Christ. We believe, we love, and we serve because we are a new creation in Christ.