Monday, July 28, 2008

Colossians 1:21-23

Day 5

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach--if 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.


Paul has provided a beautiful before and after picture for believers of all time. Notice how he compares our lives before and after Christ:

Engaged in evil deeds

Beyond Reproach

Also noticeable is the mention of the “fleshly body” of Christ. Once again, this was in response to the false teaching threatening the church. The philosophers of the day (Platonists) believed that the body and everything physical or material was evil. Therefore, Christ could not have had a physical body, since a physical body could not be anything but evil.

Paul and the other apostles wrote against this false doctrine. For example, in John’s first letter, he strives to disprove this. He reminds his readers: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life. . .” (1 John 1:1) Four out of five senses are mentioned! Those who knew Jesus personally in the flesh, which by definition included the apostles, testified that Jesus was God in the flesh.

The conditional clause “if you continue in the faith steady and steadfast” gave me pause, because at a first read it seems like our presentation as holy, blameless, and beyond reproach is conditional on our remaining steady in our faith. Could any part of our salvation rest on our own shoulders? The answer is an unequivocal NO, according to the rest of the New Testament! A closer look at the grammar of the clause in the Greek reveals this is a first-class conditional clause. This means the writer assumes the answer is positive. Paul assumed the Colossians were true believers, judging by their faith, love, and hope he mentions at the beginning of the letter. He does not wonder at the outcome. Their position in Christ is secure. The words which are translated "if indeed" could almost be translated "since then."

Paul gives us two lists in these verses. One list tells who we are in Christ: reconciled, holy, blameless, and beyond reproach. The second list tells us what those who are in Christ do: continue in the faith, firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel.

The only way we can remain unmoved in our hope is by making sure our foundation is sure. Many of us remember singing about the parable of the foolish man building his house on the sand as children. The first storm came along and swept the silly man’s house from its foundation. Yet the wise man’s house, built instead on solid rock, remained unaffected in the storm. The foundation we must build on is the hope of the gospel. Our salvation is in Christ alone. It does not have anything to do with who we are or what we have done. It was supplied purely by the grace of God. When Satan comes along and attacks us, whispering doubts in our ears about our salvation, a man who has built his house on a less solid foundation will surely falter. Our house of faith must rest on the rock-solid foundation of Christ alone.

What are things that cause you to doubt your standing with God? Have you moved away from the rock-solid foundation in any subtle ways?


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