21 Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds because of your evil actions. 22 But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him - 23 if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a servant of it. HCSB
In Reading #3 from vs15-20, the passage declared who Jesus is. In these verses, Paul wrote about who humans are and what Jesus did about it. His description of people as being alienated and hostile includes every person who has ever lived, except of course for Jesus. It’s helpful to think about passages like this one in the first person. Read these three verses again in first person by replacing “you” and “your” with “I”, “me” and “my”. If it helps, use your name instead of the pronouns. Did that help you to better grasp your former and current relationship with the Lord?
Without Christ, you were separated from God because your thinking was completely contrary to his, which made your actions evil. You probably never consider yourself to be alienated from God nor did you think you were his enemy. Regardless of how you felt, you were most definitely estranged from him because your mind and your will were in full agreement to pursue a life that centered itself on you, rather than on him. That is the basis of alienation with God.
Do people you know consider themselves to be separated and estranged from God or hostile towards him in their thoughts and actions? Probably not. God said that the Evil One has blinded their eyes so that they can't understand their true condition (2 Cor 4:4). Most people think they are good to go with the Man upstairs. Didn’t you? What they need is to have the eyes of their hearts opened so that they can understand who Jesus is, who they are without him and place their trust in him, just like you did. As you interact with people who don’t yet believe Jesus is Lord and King, pray for God to open their hearts and minds and be ready to tell them about the hope you have in Christ. So tell your story.
The giant “But” in v22 makes all the difference. But now He has reconciled you… is the most important truth you will ever embrace. Because you were separated from God and evil in your thinking and doing, the only way things could be made right between you and God was if God did it himself. He alone could heal your relationship because you didn’t have the ability to do it on your own. However, he couldn’t just forget about your rebellion or forgive all your sins like nothing ever happened. Because God is completely just and holy, your evil had to be punished. Just like a judge can’t bang the gavel and declare a convicted felon to be forgiven of his crimes, God could not simply wave his hand and forgive you either. God's very character demands absolute justice. He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death… (v22).
Spend time thinking about the fact that God initiated your reconciliation. He not only sent his Son to suffer for you, he opened your heart to receive this truth and gave you faith so that you would believe him. Isn’t that amazing? Did you deserve this kind of grace from God? Of course not. But he was thrilled to give you faith so that you would respond by believing and be re-united with him forever.
And there is more to your reconciliation. When your time comes to go home, or if Jesus returns while you’re still living on earth, he will present you to his Father holy, faultless, and blameless (v22). Notice who is doing the presenting. Who is making whom holy, blameless and without a single flaw? Jesus will present you to his Father! Maybe he’ll say something like, “Abba, here is my brother/sister who is completely holy, with no faults or sins and who cannot be blamed for anything, because he/she belongs to me.” That is the unwavering security of your position with God in Christ. You are holy like Jesus because his holiness covers all of your un-holiness. Every single debit on your spiritual balance statement has been wiped away. Not only that, your account has been credited with the same riches that Jesus possesses.
It’s been said that every follower of Jesus needs to preach the gospel to themselves every day. How can you keep the reality of your reconciliation in the forefront of your thinking? The reason it is so important to constantly remind yourself of who you are in Christ is because that is the source of your true joy. Knowing you have been given peace with God and that no one can take it away defines who you are. Unless…
This passage comes with a strong warning (v23). You are secure in Christ if you continue (menó) trusting in him and in him alone for peace with God. You must stand firm on the fantastic news (the gospel) and not waver. Does this mean that you are earning God’s grace by being faithful? Nope. Standing firm means that you are proving that you really do belong to him. You've probably wondered about people who have left the faith. They did not continue (menó) with Jesus. By abandoning their faith in Christ, they proved that they never really belonged to him. True faith is always persevering faith. You may stumble, even stumble hard, but you will not fall flat on your face. You will remain (menó) with Jesus.
You have had times of unbelief. We all have them. Sometimes our faith shrinks. You’ve probably had moments when you questioned if all this stuff about Jesus is true. When others have challenged your beliefs, you’ve likely struggled with your own convictions. In those times, faith has to overcome feelings. Belief is strengthened by the Author of your faith. So cry out to the Lord like the doubting dad did in Mark 9:24: "Help my unbelief!".
Perseverance is the reason the prayer requests in v9 and v11 are so critical to menó-ing with Jesus. You need to be filled with the understanding of God’s will and you need to be strengthened by his power every day and night if you are going to remain grounded, like the deep roots of a tall tree. The famous line from that classic hymn is so true: : “Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”
You know what weakness feels like. You know what it does to you when you doubt God. You also know what or who causes you to drift. Identify the people, habits, activities or lack of activities (like prayer, fellowship, worship, giving and serving) that cause you to veer. Identify those things and jettison them. Don't ever stop asking for your Father’s help. You will grow stronger and stronger in your faith as you continually remember your desperate dependence on God – the Father, the Son and the Spirit.
- Use the prayer in 1:9-12 as you think about staying true to your faith in Jesus.
- Look for new ways to thank God for reconciling you to himself. Remember every act of obedience to him is an expression of your gratitude and devotion to him.
- Relate to others out of your appreciation for God. Strive to be reconciled to everyone, especially those who don’t deserve it, because God did that for you when you didn’t deserve it.