And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. Col. 1:21-23 ESV
Before we came to faith in Jesus Christ, we were hostile to God in our minds and in our hearts. We may not feel that we were, but the flesh is at war with the Spirit, and the Spirit is at war with the flesh. So, when we live in the flesh, to do what our flesh desires, we are hostile towards God in our minds.
Therefore, we were separated from God, without hope of eternal life with God, and without salvation from sin. For, all have sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval and his righteousness and holiness. For, not one of us can be saved from our sins in and of ourselves. We cannot earn or deserve our own salvation, no matter how good we feel we are (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:8-9).
But God, in his great love for us, sent God the Son to the earth, to take on our humanity, and to suffer and die on a cross so that we could be liberated from our sinful condition and from our slavery to sin, and so we could be acceptable to God, and so we could have eternal life with God (Rom. 6:1-23; Phil. 2:1-11; 1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:24).
Now, by God-given faith in Jesus Christ, we can be delivered from our sinful condition and our slavery to sin, we can have the hope of eternal life with God, and we can, in the power of God, walk righteously before our God.
And, this salvation of the Spirit of God means we die with Christ to sin and to our self-life, we are reborn of the Spirit of God (spiritually), and that we now have the empowerment of the Spirit to live holy lives, pleasing to God.
ONCE WE WERE
So, that also gives credence to this opening verse where it says that we ONCE were alienated from and hostile in our minds towards God, doing evil deeds. That means that our old lives of living in the flesh were done away with through our faith in Jesus Christ in death with Christ to sin, and through our resurrection with Christ, to newness of life in Him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
So, that also means that we ONCE were (in the past) doing (practicing) evil deeds, too. That means that we should no longer be doing evil deeds, as a matter of practice in our lives. It doesn’t mean we will never sin again, but that sin should no longer be what we practice. It should no longer have control and dominion over our lives now that Jesus has set us free. Amen!
For, Jesus Christ died that horrible death on a cross, and he who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. For, in his death he redeemed us (bought us back for God) that we would now be God’s possession and that we would live our lives for his glory (1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Tit. 2:11-14).
He didn’t die on that cross for us just to forgive us our sins and to promise us heaven when we die, and he didn’t die on that cross just to make us positionally righteous in his sight. He died to transform us away from our self-lives, away from our sinful addictions, and to conform us to his likeness.
IF WE DO
Too many people these days are teaching unconditional salvation. Yes, it is true that we do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We cannot work our way into heaven or into God’s graces. We can never be acceptable to God by our own works of our own flesh. We will always fall short.
But, our faith in Jesus Christ is not absent of works (Tit. 2:11-14; Eph. 2:10; Jas. 1:22-27; Jas. 2:14-26; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).
And, scripture is real clear on this issue. We must walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, and we must not walk according to the flesh, if we want to have eternal life with God. Sin should no longer be what we practice. If it is, then we don’t have eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of the fires of hell and eternal punishment (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Eph. 5:3-6).
So, this is why it says here that IF we continue in our faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that we heard (providing we heard the true gospel as Paul taught it) that we are reconciled to God and God presents us as holy and blameless and as above reproach before him. For, our faith in Jesus Christ is present tense and it is continuous.
[Other IF verses: Jn. 8:31-32; Rom. 11:17-24; I Co. 15:2; II Tim 2:10-13; Heb. 3:6, 14-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; I Jn. 2:24-25.]
STABLE AND STEADFAST
Our faith in Jesus Christ, if it is the kind that saves us from our sins, is God-given and it is divinely persuaded, and thus it submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, it repents of sin, and it walks in obedience to Christ’s commands (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 2:8-10; Eph. 4:17-18; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
This does not mean we are perfect and that we never sin again, but it means we have been turned from light to darkness, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18).
So, if we are to remain stable and steadfast in our faith, this is not about holding on to some confession of faith we made at one point in our lives whereby we were promised heaven as our eternal destiny. It means we are steadily and consistently and persistently walking by faith according to the Spirit of God and we are not walking (in practice) according to our flesh.
And, not shifting from the hope of the gospel is also not about not relinquishing our belief that heaven is our eternal home. For, the gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t just about our eternal destiny. It is about our heart transformation of the Spirit of God away from living for sin and self to living for God and his righteousness. So, we are not to shift from this in our conduct, in our attitudes and in our practices (our habits).
We have to continue in walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. We have to persist in righteous and holy living and not give the devil a foothold in our lives by playing with sin. We have to be honest in our dealings with others, and tell the truth. We have to be pure in heart and mind, and not be taking in the filth of the world via various media sources.
For, you know why the gospel is such “good news”? It is because it teaches us that God’s grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. It is because it teaches us that Jesus died to deliver us out of our bondage to sin and to free us to become slaves of his righteousness (Tit. 2:11-14; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
If all he does is just forgive us our sins and promise us heaven when we die, but he leaves us still dead in our sins, still bound to sinful addictions, feeling as though we are always going to be stuck in a rut of “sin confess sin confess,” then that is no hope at all. That is hell on earth! But, the good news is Jesus died to set us free from our sinful addictions and to empower us to live godly, holy and upright lives while we wait his soon return!
Songs in the Night
An Original Work / December 18, 2013
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84
Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.
I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!
Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.
I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!
Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!