The Goal of Reconciliation
“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 above reproach before him” (Col. 1:21-22).- Colossians 1:21-22
Having spoken of the majesty and supremacy of Christ, which undergirds the fact that He is sufficient for salvation and spiritual growth (Col. 1:15–20) — a vocation typically reserved for the one God (Ps. 73) — Paul begins to outline the benefits that come to those who put their trust in the Savior. Since the apostle has just finished speaking of the cosmic reconciliation effected through the sacrifice of Christ, it is natural that he should personalize this subject for his audience by looking at how this reconciliation applies in the lives of his readers.
Paul accomplishes this by contrasting the condition of the Colossians before they knew Christ with their life after coming to faith. The picture of their life prior to Jesus is as bleak as can be. Alienation from and hostility toward the true God defined the Colossians’ lives, along with evil deeds, which were the natural outflow of their condition (Col. 1:21). But this was not true only of the believers in Colossae; it is the natural condition of all human beings prior to God’s gracious call by the Spirit to follow Christ. It is popular both inside and outside the church to see people, for the most part, confused about who the true God is. Yet Scripture tells a far different story. Unregenerate people are not merely confused about the Lord, they hate Him and will do all they can to suppress the truth about who God is and who they are (Gen. 6:5; Ps. 116:11; Rom. 1:18–32). We were like this before we knew Jesus as our Savior and our adoption into God’s family, and recognizing this fact helps us understand the depth of His love for us. God has shown His love in that while we hated Him, He sent His only begotten Son to die for us (Rom. 5:6–8).
Our condition as those reconciled to the Father, however, is far different, for Jesus died for us with the purpose of transforming us from profane, blameworthy enemies of God into holy, blameless saints (Col. 1:22). Completing this transformation is the goal of the Christian life, though this goal will not be achieved until that day in which we are glorified (Rom. 8:29–30). Still, there is real progress toward that end, for we are in Christ and have His Spirit working within us. John Calvin comments, “This holiness is nothing more than begun in us, and is indeed every day making progress, but will not be perfected until Christ shall appear for the restoration of all things.”
Being declared righteous in Christ, we are accepted into the kingdom of God by faith alone without any consideration of our works. Still, those who are declared righteous begin to act righteous, and we grow in love for our Savior and personal holiness throughout our Christian walk. There is no believer God is not working to make holy and blameless, so none of us should despair that He will not discipline and purify us fully and finally.
Passages for Further Study
1 Thessalonians 5:23–24