Lesson 12


Paul's Letter to the Colossians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

1:21 You, being in past times alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works, 1:22 yet now he has reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and blameless before him, 1:23 if it is so that you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which is being proclaimed in all creation under heaven; of which I, Paul, was made a servant.


Today's Lesson 

Paul has just finished the hymn to Jesus Christ for which this letter is best known. His final thoughts in that section were of the reconciliation that God has offered to the creation through the blood of Christ. As he turns back to addressing them, he continues with the theme of God's reconciliation.

 

He begins with the state of man before God acts. Paul tells the Colossians that they were once alienated from God and enemies of His in their own minds because of their evil works. This is the natural state of fallen man before God steps in. Everyone that you or I have ever known started here. I know that some people do not believe this. There are groups that believe that children born of Christian parents and raised in the church are never alienated from God. Anyone who has spent time teaching Sunday School can tell you, though, that Christian children are just as rebellious as children raised by heathens. Maybe more so.

 

People who come to recognize that they are sinners and rebels against God know that they need a savior. They recognize that they are lost. Have you ever been driving down a road when you get the sudden impression that you may not be on the highway you thought you were on? You start to look around for signs or familiar landmarks and your sense of anxiety raises with every passing moment. It's almost a relief when you finally do conclude that you are on the wrong road because then you can do something about it. Sometimes you can just keep going for a long time though and not even be aware that you aren't where you thought you were.

 

These people of Colossae had been convinced that they were completely on the wrong track. But then they were told that God had sent His Son and Jesus had died on the cross for their redemption. God had reconciled Himself to them through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Now, those who place their trust in Jesus come before God and they are regarded as "holy and without blemish and blameless before him."

 

Can you comprehend how clean you must be for God to see you as "without blemish"? God sees everything. God sees from the infinitely large to the infinitely small. There is no hiding before Him. If God declares that we are holy and without blemish, then we must be. God is the standard of holiness. If God says that we are blameless, then we are surely completely and totally without blame. But, why is it that we don't feel holy or blameless?

 

If we rely on our feelings then usually we would have to conclude that after the initial excitement of coming to Christ we don't feel any different. We don't feel any holier. In fact, our perception of the sin in our life becomes more acute so that we actually feel further away from God. It is at this stage that a healthy understanding about faith must come in.

 

We are saved by grace through faith. I must believe that God sees me as blameless and holy. Faith does not ignore the reality of our situation, it believes that there is a higher reality that is expressed by God. I am a sinner, but Christ redeems sinners. I rebel against God, to my shame even to this day, but Christ reconciles sinners to God. I can cling tenaciously to faith in what Paul proclaims here. That is what Paul means when he writes, "if it is so that you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel…" Our faith must be steadfast. We must completely surrender ourselves to the mercy of God, for without His declaration of holiness we are completely lost.

 

Can you trust your entire future on whether or not Christ has declared you to be holy and blameless? Do you count on anything accept the faith that believes God against all odds?

 

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