21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 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, 23 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. – Colossians 1:21-23
This post has been a long time coming. As I took a long break from blogging I thought no one would notice if I just didn’t finish this series of posts but I think this is a series worth doing so I figured I would go ahead and finish it up!
That all the world will be reconciled to Christ (Col 1:20), implies that there is something wrong with the world. In Colossians 1:21, Paul tells us just what the problem is. Its an ancient problem. A problem that is bigger than terrorism, global warming, or world hunger. It is the same problem that every person (except for Christ) has faced and been unable to overcome in and of themselves. It is the problem of sin.
In my previous post I said that sin is big deal because God is a big deal. In other words sin is our biggest problem because the one we are sinning against created us for His glory and we have rebelled and lived for our own. We were created to love, know, enjoy, and worship God and we have instead sought to set ourselves in God’s place by loving, enjoying, and worshiping ourselves.
Thus Paul explains the results of such rebellion in Colossians 1:21, he tells us that we are “alienated” and “hostile in mind” because we have rejected the purpose for which we were created. Instead of worshiping and loving and rejoicing in the one true God, we have rejected his reign and rule and attempted to overthrow Him. We have attempted to place ourselves on God’s throne. We desperately want to be in control of our own lives. But the Bible hits us pretty hard with some powerful realities. The Bible tells us that from Adam on everyone is enslaved to sin apart from Christ and that the result of sin is death.
But before I further explain the sad state that we are in apart from Christ, let me give you two tests to see just how much of a sinner you are. Maybe you don’t think you are all that bad off, maybe you are a generally good person and have never really thought of yourself as a sinner. Well here are two tests to see if you are a sinner and just how much of a sinner you are:
1. Test #1: Try and see if you can keep from dying! The wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23) and death was the curse that resulted from Adam and Eve’s fall in the garden (Gen 2:17). So, if you think you can keep from dying, you might not be a sinner!
No matter how “in-control” of your life you think you are, you will NEVER conquer death. Have you come up with a way to overcome death? Is there anyone reading this who thinks you aren’t going to die? You and I will die someday and face the God who created us for His glory. So we are all subject to death and Genesis 3 tells us that sin is the curse of death.
2. Test #2: See if you can’t go a month, a week, even a day without sinning. This is the test to see how sinful you are.
Let me give you an example. What if you were to try to go a week, just one week, without lying. Maybe you are a pretty truthful person, maybe you could do it. But lets not stop there. Also for that whole week try not to say anything bad about someone behind their back. But let’s not stop there, for that whole week do not think any sexually impure thoughts about anyone.
But sin isn’t just breaking rules, it is rejection and neglect of God! So here is the really difficult test, for that one week spend every single second of your time praising and worshiping God. Make sure everything you do, you do for God’s maximum glory . . . think you could do it?
Whether we want to admit it or not sin rules our lives and its not just that we have rejected God’s rules, the reason our sin is such a big problem is because we have neglected God himself. Every millisecond of our lives belongs to God and we have neglected to give him our time and our worship. Instead we have lived for our own pleasure and our own glory and the disastrous result is that we are cut off from God, we are alienated from Him and we cannot manage to change that fact. As Paul tells us in Romans 6, apart from Christ we are slaves to sin. We cannot please God-we desperately need him to intervene.
Apart from Christ we are all hostile in mind toward God. This word hostile implies that we are enemies of God in our minds–Romans 5:10 uses the same word to show that apart from Christ’s saving work on the cross applied to us, we remain God’s enemies. Our minds are radically opposed to Him. We have disdain for his ways but our thoughts are no the only part of us that is clouded by sin. In fact Romans 8:7 tells us that, “the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”
We are not only hostile in mind toward God, but we also continue to do evil deeds. We neglect God’s commands and live our lives the way that we want to live them. We lie, we slander others, we covet the things others possess, we give into sexual temptation. So Paul tells us that apart from Christ our minds are hostile to God and further are lives are continually marked by doing evil deeds. And most importantly we more often seek to do the things that exalt us rather than that which glorifies our creator. We live for our own glory.
I think a lot of people have a hard time with this. Sin is a very hard thing to fess up to. We tend to think we are generally pretty good people and though we may make some poor decisions now and then, we consider ourselves generally pretty good people. We don’t lie often or maliciously slander others all that often, we don’t cheat on our spouses, we generally think we are pretty decent people. At least we are better than a lot people we know.
This kind of thinking, that we are not all that sinful, falls flat in the face of Colossians 1:15-20. This idea that we are not all that sinful will not hold up against the fact that Christ is before all things and therefore deserving of all glory, all honor, all praise. He is the firstborn from the dead and if you have neglected to live in light of that reality then, friend, you are alienated from God. As Isa 59:2 tells us that “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”
A small view of your own sin usually means you have a small view of God. If that is you, cry out to God, ask him to open your eyes to behold his greatness and to accurately see your dire estate. May God be so big in our minds and the weight of our sin so clear that the promise of saving reconciliation through faith in Christ might become truly sweet.