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God’s Word for You

Colossians 2:13 O former corpse

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, April 13, 2019

13 Also, when you were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your sinful flesh, he made you alive together with him. He forgave us all our sins,

The flow of verses 11-14 is as follows:

  11, you were circumcised spiritually
  12, when you were buried in baptism (you were also raised with
      him through faith)
  13, also, when you were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision
      of your (sinful) flesh, God made you alive when he forgave you,
  14, erasing the record that stood against us. This was nailed to the
      cross.

Here in verse 13, Paul throws our minds back to the time when each one of us was not yet a Christian. That might be a different experience for various Christians, but for most of the Colossians this soon in the history of the church, this would have been a recent time, when as adults many or most of them were still sinners, unaware of Christ or of forgiveness. Paul uses profound words here, worth memorizing and of meditation all by themselves:

You were dead in your sins.

This phrase is truly an answer to everyone who thinks that they can make a decision to believe in Jesus.

  A corpse cannot make any decisions.
  A corpse cannot make itself alive again.
  A corpse cannot change its status.
  A corpse cannot obey.
  A corpse cannot please anyone.
  A corpse cannot love.
  A corpse cannot make itself perfect.

You were once dead in your sins; you were once that corpse. How did you, O former corpse, become transformed from dead in your sins to alive in Jesus? Don’t answer without looking at this verse: “He made you alive.” Everything about you that is Christian; everything that has been done to bring you to faith in Christ, was done by God through his word and sacraments, not by you, O former corpse.

That’s not to say that you might feel differently. You might have been talked into thinking that you were part of the process. You might have mistaken an altar call you heard somewhere along the way that felt like a very emotional experience, but it wasn’t when you came to faith. You already had your faith, but if some exciting preacher had you raise your hand or walk up to rededicate yourself to Christ, that’s no different from a married couple renewing their vows. Does that mean that the married couple wasn’t married before that second time through the vows? Their marriage license and witnesses would beg to differ. Don’t get me wrong. Rededicating yourself, choosing to commit yourself to Christ later in life when you’ve begun to realize that you could be doing more, is a great thing. But it doesn’t mean that you never had faith before that exciting moment.

Why make a big deal out of any of this? The Bible tells us that we must depend on Christ alone for salvation. In fact, we are warned that good works (including choices we make) do not contribute to our salvation. “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith alone apart from the works of the law” (Romans 3:28).

We cannot separate the fact of our salvation from the person of Jesus Christ. He is the one who gave the Father his perfect obedience, and no one else. Anyone who does not have faith in Christ has no obedience at all to offer to God the Father. Apart from Christ, man is completely sinful and disobedient. And Christ is the one who shed his blood for our sins. Anyone who does not have faith in Christ has rejected the blood shed for him, and is still in his sins. Apart from Christ, man is guilty, condemned, and without hope.

But in Christ, we are made alive through faith, alive in Christ. Our flesh is saved, and our souls are saved. Through Christ, we have eternal peace. O former corpse, you are alive in Jesus.

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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