"..you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.."
- Colossians 1:21
"Before and After" pictures are absolutely amazing! Sometimes they show such an incredible change that's taken place it's hard to even believe at times.
Some of these pictures, for example, show individuals who weighed vastly different amounts in their past, or were very unhealthy, only in the "After" photo to appear much slimmer, trimmer, and healthier!
Other occasions display individuals who were very weak and puny, but in the "After" image look as if they've been magically transformed into Arnold Schwarzenegger or something like the Hulk!
Regardless of however incredible (or fake) these "Before & After" pictures are, there is a very real sense in which this has happened in the life of every single follower of Christ. Paul described in Colossians 1:21-23 the dramatic nature of this spiritual transformation:
"And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister." - Col 1:21-23
In these verses, we can see the amazing "Before & After" of the believer:
YOUR PAST: Alienation from Christ!
First Paul told us: "And you, who once were alienated.."
This Greek word for"alienated" means "to be separated, to be excluded, to be a non-participant; to be shut out from intimacy."
Paul is saying that before you came to Christ, you were shut out and excluded from an intimate relationship with the Lord. Though you may not have know it or believed it, before you came to Christ you had absolutely no relationship with the Lord whatsoever!
Think of it in this sense: Do you remember what it used to feel like when everybody else got invited to the party but you didn't? Have you ever experienced what it was like to be excluded or left out of the group? Have you ever known what it is to be shut out from an intimate circle of associates or friends?
This type of exclusion, separation and alienation is what characterized your relationship with God before you knew Jesus Christ as Savior!
As if that wasn't enough, Paul goes on to describe to us that actually, it was even worse than that! He continues on in this verse and tells us that before Christ we were actually:
"..enemies in your mind by wicked works.."
This ancient Greek word for "enemies" means "to be hated, odious, hateful, or hostile." This word in the Bible is used of men who are at at enmity with God and in opposition to him by their sin. It's even used of the Devil, who is the most bitter enemy of God!
Isn't that incredible to realize that before you came to Christ he actually considered you an "enemy" who hated him?!?
I think if it in this way: Remember how you felt on September 11th when you sell the TV footage of the Islamic terrorists bring down the two towers? Can you recall those feeling of anger and frustration that you probably felt towards those enemies of our country, and murderers of innocents?
The words of Paul the Apostle seem to indicate that this is the kind of spiritual enemy you were, before we came to Jesus for forgiveness! We were opposing the Lord in our minds and our works.
YOUR PRESENT: Reconciliation with Christ!
But thank God through the Cross of Christ, and the love of the God-Man, Jesus, all of that is now completely changed! Paul the Apostle went on to describe our present condition, now that we've been saved. He goes on to say:
"..yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death,.."
This is a beautiful statement and a powerful concept. "Reconciliation" is the Greek word meaning "to bring something back into a state of harmony or a relationship of peace that used to exist.".
Paul is here telling us, now that we have come to Christ for salvation and His blood has washed us of our sin we have come into a harmonious and peaceful relationship with God our Creator. In Christ, we are no longer at war with God, rather we are at peace with Him and are considered his friends, and even His children.
In Ephesians 2:16 Paul further describes this reconciliation:
"Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility was put to death."
In Romans 5:1 all also speaks about the peace that we now have in Christ:
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.."
YOUR POSITION: Perfection in Christ!
Now it starts to get really good! Because since we have come to the Lord through Christ, and have received perfect and absolute forgiveness of our sin, not only do we have a wonderful peace with God, but now we even have an amazing position in God!
Paul tells us this as he continues in Colossians by stating:
"..to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.."
He's telling us that in Christ, believers are free from every accusation against them, whether from themselves, from the world, or from Satan himself. In Christ the accused are now unaccused, and the condemned are now totally free!
Paul describes this amazing perfection and cleansing we have in the book of Ephesians 5:25-27. He's addressing the husbands on how to take care of their wives, and uses Christ, our heavenly Husband as a perfect example of how He cared for His Bride, the Church:
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish."
Paul is teaching that the reconciliation and cleansing we have through Christ's sacrifice, has brought us into a POSITION of absolute and permanent PERFECTION in the sight of God! Amazing!
YOUR PRIORITY: Continuation for Christ!
Finally, the logical question is this: "If Christ has changed me from His enemy to His friend, has washed away all of my sin, and has now giving me a position of absolute perfection... How should I know live for Jesus in this world?"
Of course, he gives us the answer as he concludes his marvelous statement in Colossians 1, where he writes:
"..if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away.."
Paul says the answer is simply this: Continue growing in your face, walking with Jesus on a daily basis, into develop a lifestyle in which you are grounded and steadfast, not moving away from your dedication to Christ!
In other words, if a person is truly experienced this type of cleansing and life transformation from Christ, they will continue walking with Him, growing in him, and getting closer to him!
This matches up with the rest of the New Testament in describing the life of a biblical disciple. We could say in a very basic sense, that a disciple of Jesus Christ who continues to walk with him and grow with him, will be headed truly practicing these things:
- LEARNING...Jesus' Word. (Jn 8:31,32)
- LOVING...Jesus' People. (Jn 13:34,35)
- LABORING...for His Kingdom. (Matt 6:33)
- LISTENING...for Jesus' Voice. (Matt 7:7-8)
- LOOKING...for Jesus Return. (2 Tim 4:8)
Ask yourself these questions in application today:
Are you still deeply grateful to the Lord for what He's done in your Christian walk, and in saving you?
How do you consistently express your appreciation to the Lord for reconciling you to Himself, and changing you from His enemy into His son/daughter?
Do you understand and believe the POSITION of perfect Righteousness you've been given in Christ?
Are you continuing to walk intimately with Jesus, on a personal and daily basis?
The Lord loves you dearly, and has given you a marvelous before and after story like no other he has brought you out of alienation, into reconciliation, giving you a position of perfection, and then simply asks for your continuation with Him in love!
I encourage you to rededicate yourself to Christ in a fresh way today, rejoice in the transformation He's done in your life, and walk with Him in love and devotion... deeper than ever before! (Read Romans 12:1,2)