Doing Evil Deeds: Past or Present?

Colossians 1:21-23 ESV

“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.”

I don’t know how some people can totally miss this! All throughout the New Testament, when it speaks of our salvation from sin, we have this picture of the person we used to be and of the person we are now, by the grace of God, or we have a picture of what should be in our past, and of what needs to be in our past, so that we can be the person we ought to be in the present. And we usually have a clear description of both past and present.

But this is not largely being taught today under the auspice of the gospel of our salvation. What is largely being taught is a half-truth gospel with an altered grace and a diluted salvation and an adulterated union with Christ which is devoid of any pledge of loyalty and devotion to him. And the fruit (or the offspring or result) of this is nothing of the Spirit of God, but it is the flesh of man, for flesh gives birth to flesh, not to what is of the Spirit.

And this is because we can’t short-circuit the gospel. We can’t pick and choose what we will or will not accept according to how we want to live. We can’t just dismiss the parts of the gospel which don’t fit with our lifestyles and only accept the parts where Jesus does everything for us and where we think that means we don’t have to do anything. And we can’t take lightly God’s word or think that he does not require our allegiance to him.

We can’t be people of genuine faith in Jesus Christ and remain alienated and hostile in our minds towards God, doing (practicing) evil deeds. We can’t continue to live lives which are outside of God’s will and purpose for our lives, not taking God’s warnings and his instructions (commands) to heart, and thus be reconciled to him at the same time. For the whole purpose of our reconciliation is in order that he might present us holy and blameless and above reproach before him, set apart (different) from this world.

The ”If Clause”

But there is an “if clause” here, which means there is a condition that must be met for the Lord to present us as holy, etc. We must continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel (the true gospel) which we should have heard. But not many are preaching the true gospel anymore. Most seem to be preaching this half-truth diluted gospel message which short-circuits the true gospel and makes it sound like we can just “believe” (not defined) in Jesus, and we are on our way to heaven, regardless of how we live our lives from that moment forward. Wrong!

For the truth that is in Christ Jesus teaches us to put off our old self, which belongs to our former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. And God’s grace instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives (Eph 4:17-24; Tit 2:11-14).

So, “once alienated,” etc. means it is in our past, not in our present. Once doing evil deeds means we are no longer doing evil deeds deliberately and as a matter of practice (habit, addiction). Now this doesn’t mean that we instantaneously become absolutely perfect or that we never sin again, but what it should mean, if we are in Christ, is that sin is no longer our master and we are no longer its slaves, but now we are slaves to righteousness.

Colossians 1:24-29 ESV

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

So, it is critical in this day and age that we make the word of God FULLY KNOWN and that we not take Scriptures out of their context and twist them to say what we want them to say. Like we can’t interpret Ephesians 2:8-9 apart from verse 10. And we can’t separate John 10:28-20 from verse 27. And we can’t teach Romans 10:9-10 apart from the whole of Romans, for if we do we are not making the word of God FULLY KNOWN and we are, perhaps, leading some people astray from the true gospel to what is false.

So, along with making the word of God FULLY KNOWN we must expose the fruitless deeds of darkness and these half-truth (false) gospel messages which do not put sin to death in the sinner but which allow sin to continue to reign supreme. We must expose these lies that tell prospective believers in Jesus that God does it all and that nothing is required of them other than a non-descript belief in Jesus which sounds more like a mere intellectual assent to who he was and to what he did. And we must warn against this.

And we must proclaim the full gospel message (the whole counsel of God) so that our listeners are not led astray. And we must tell them that faith in Jesus Christ is death to sin and living to God and to his righteousness, and it is obedience to our Lord and to his commands, and it is continuing in Christ and in his word and in walks of holiness in all godliness until the very end of time. And when Jesus returns to take us to be with him forever, we will go to be with him and our salvation will then be completed.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; 1 Pet 1:5; Heb 9:28; Rom 8:24; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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