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God’s Word for You

Colossians 1:21-22 hostile to God

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, March 22, 2018

We are Reconciled Through Christ’s Death
21 Once you were estranged and hostile in your minds, doing evil things 22 but now he has reconciled you in the body (that is, his flesh) by his death, in order to present you holy, blameless, and faultless before him,

Paul uses a part of speech that is somewhat rare, the perfect periphrastic participle. It emphasizes the continuous duration of the state of being “estranged” from God. This is was what the Colossians were from birth and by their ancestry as condemned sinners. This is the status in which they lived, and it was our status, too. We Christians who have had faith our whole lives, baptized as infants, learning about and growing in our faith as we mature, rarely grasp the plight of the unbeliever. Whether someone is estranged by ignorance or by choice, the result is the same: their mind is hostile to God (Romans 8:6), they become hostile to all men (1 Thessalonians 2:15), and even more so toward God’s people. “All men,” Jesus said, “will hate you because of me” (Mark 13:13). The unbeliever is capable only of “evil things.”

Some theologians want to make a point that no one is saved by evil deeds. While this is true (of course!) it is often brought up as if it proves that good words are necessary for salvation, or at least necessary to preserve faith. But the Bible doesn’t teach this. The Bible tells us that we are reconciled to God by Christ, as Paul says here: “in his flesh, by his death.” When man responds to God with a good deed, it is out of thanks to Christ. When man chooses to do a good deed with the idea that it will somehow count toward his merit, he is in danger of setting aside the grace of God in favor of his own good works. What we want to do are “deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom” (James 3:13), the kind of deeds that focus on God’s goodness, and not man’s accomplishments. “I will tell of the kindness of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised” (Isaiah 63:7).

We do not become “holy, blameless and faultless” by our own doing. These things are accomplished by Jesus on our behalf. His blood and his death cover us. He is the lamb that was slaughtered; we are the sheep of his pasture who simply bleat our thanks, already covered, already purified; already his. This is our continuous state of being holy by the grace of God.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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