Study Notes

Colossians 1:21-23


As we study through the Bible chapter-by-chapter and verse-by-verse, there are some days that the text forces you to examine issues that you just wouldn't choose if it was up to you.

Most times, these topic is controversial among Christians who are more ingrained in their doctrine than they are in the Scriptures. The attitude is often, "Don't tell me what the Bible says if it disagrees with what I've been taught before!" As a result, some people tend to get mad over these messages, and then they decide to leave this church for some other one that teaches it the way they believe it.

I personally do not like to make people mad. I'd much rather be as popular as I can be. And yet, I have an obligation to teach the whole counsel of God, not just the parts that are easy to digest.

There are two things that tend to upset people in the portion of Scripture we're looking at today: one in the beginning, and one in the end. Hopefully we can have our opinions and positions formed not from church doctrine, but simply from the Bible's teaching.

So, with that in mind, let's read the three verses that we are covering this morning...

1:21-23 Separation From God

Right away we see one of these things that people don't like to hear: Before turning to Jesus Christ, every human being on earth is described by the Bible as "alienated, hostile in mind, and engaged in evil deeds." While the concepts of "the inherent goodness of man" and "all roads lead to God" are certainly popular, they are nowhere supported in the Bible.

As a matter of fact, it is really quite the contrary: Before becoming Christians, people are anything but good, and on a path away from God. Three reasons for this are given here:


First of all, people are "alienated." This word in Greek means "to be separated as a stranger, to be shut out from, to be estranged from."

Why are all people alienated from God? Because of sin.

Isa. 59:2 ...your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden {His} face from you...

People's sin separates them from God.

Hostile In Mind

Next on the list is "hostile in mind." "Hostile" means "to be hateful, to be an enemy of, to be in opposition to." It is the same word that Paul used when he wrote of our relationship to God, saying that...

Rom. 5:10 ...we were enemies...

Why are people's minds hostile to God, why are they enemies of the Lord?

To be quite frank, it is because our rebellion rejects His authority. Because our unrighteousness hates His righteousness. Because our inferiority resents His supremacy. Because we want our way, not His way.

James wrote,

James 4:4 you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Engaged In Evil Deeds

Thirdly, the list says that people are "engaged in evil deeds." Is it any wonder then that people establish themselves in opposition to God? Jesus said,

John 3:19-20 And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

To put it bluntly, humans don't want God messing with their business. They don't want His interference. They want to be left alone to go their own way and not be told what they can't do and what they have to do.

As a result, all human beings are alienated, hostile in mind, and engaged in evil deeds.

He Has Now Reconciled You

Fortunately, that is all described to the Colossian Christians as "formerly."

If you are a Christian here today, then that applies to you as well: this stuff is all behind us. How did that happen? It is written here that Jesus reconciled us in His fleshly body through death.

"Reconciled" means "changed from one thing to another." As messed up, rebellious, and evil as we were, there was no way to just "fix" us. We had to be completely "changed out." Our hearts were against Him, so He created new hearts in us. Our first life was a mess, so we needed to be born again.

2Cor. 5:17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

In His Fleshly Body Through Death

He gave us new life by His body's death.

1Pet. 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, {the} just for {the} unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

Jesus died when He was nailed to a cross, and it was for the express purpose of dying for our sins. The Bible says,

2Cor. 5:15 and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

He died to give us new life, not a new life to live for ourselves, but to live for Jesus, Who died for us.

Present You Holy And Blameless And Beyond Reproach

We have been made new. We will, as Jude wrote,

Jude 24 ...stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy

Because we are to be presented as holy, blameless, and beyond reproach, we must live these new lives of ours in that same manner. We must be set apart for God, our behavior must be blameless, and our lives must be above accusation.

There are Christians who say, "Well, I'm saved by grace, so it doesn't matter how I behave. I can cheat on my taxes, cheat on my spouse, and cheat at cards. I can flesh out, freak out, and step out if I want, because I'm going to be blameless before God anyway!"

Is that true? Although no one likes to say it's okay, most people's doctrine and theology forces them to admit that yes, you can behave this way if you want, you're still saved, since all your sins have been paid for.

However (and this is the second thing to make people mad this morning), I don't believe that's what the Scripture tells us at all. Read verse 23...

If You Continue In The Faith

Look at the tiny little two-letter word that begins verse 23: "if." It's actually four letters in Greek, but it means the same thing. Literally, it is, "If indeed," or, "If you truly."

That little word "if" takes away the safety of being able to sin as you please, to take God's grace for granted. Remember that Paul is writing to Christians. He is saying, "You will be holy and blameless and above reproach IF..." There is a condition placed on it.

It is the same condition that is placed throughout the Scriptures. "We are God's house...

Hebr. 3:6 ...IF we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

We are partakers of Christ...

Hebr. 3:14 ...IF we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end

Jude said that those who abuse God's grace in this way are certainly not saved. He says that they...

Jude 4 ...were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness...

If you're using grace as your license to sin, the Bible calls you "ungodly" and says that you are marked for condemnation.

Jesus Himself said,

Matt. 7:22-23 "Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

There are people today who do things in the name of Jesus, even in ministry, and yet when they stand before the throne of God, they will be surprised to find out that Jesus never knew them. (See also: Galatians 6:7-9; John 15:5-6; Hebrews 3:12-14; Luke 9:61-62; Hebrews 10:26-27; 2Peter 2:20-21; 1John 1:6-2:6; etc.)

It is no wonder then, that the Bible says,

Phil. 2:12-13 out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for {His} good pleasure.

God wants our will and our life to be conformed to His good pleasure. If they aren't, then we should be greatly afraid.


So then, we must take great pains to make sure that we are firmly established and steadfast - insuring that our foundations are strong. We must never be moved away from the hope of the gospel. We must set our eyes on Jesus Christ and never take them off of Him.

If you have drifted away from that hope, if you have been shaken in your faith, I plead with you to return. Re-commit, re-dedicate, re-focus, and be re-newed in Jesus today.

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