21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Colossians 1:21-23
ONCE UPON A TIME, Paul reminds the Colossians, you were alienated from and enemies of God, because of you evil behavior.
BUT NOW? OH NOW, you are reconciled to Him and freed from accusation!
Why? Well, the cosmic reconciliation that brought peace, spoken of in verse 20, also applied personally. When Christ shed His blood on the cross, not only were things happening on the grand scale of all creation, but also on the personal level for those who would receive the good news!
The use of the phrase by Christ's physical body (v. 20) is agreed (at least in the two commentaries I'm reading) to be addressing the heresy that Christ was never really a man. Scripture and history teach that He was, and the former that it was of the utmost importance. Bruce says, these words emphasize there is a necessary bond between his incarnation and his atoning death. ... The incarnation of the Son of God was real and necessary for the demonstration of God's righteousness in the bestowal of his peace on sinners. (p 78-9, also citing Romans 8:3)
The Gospel is so beautiful! Paul loves to remind them of their roots in the faith and the way things once were verses how they are now between them and God.
But what about the next part?
Paul wraps up with the comment: if you continue in the faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. Can I let you in on a little secret? This is one of those lines in the Bible that I don't really like. I read the "if" like this: You better not blow it at this faith thing! I quickly transfer myself from salvation by grace, which Paul has just spent the previous verses explaining, to salvation by works! Does it sound like that to you too?
I don't believe, based on the rest of Scripture, that it's a scare tactic or that Paul's changing his story. The commentaries here have been helpful. The saints must persevere. We cannot give up on the faith or on our foundation, which is Jesus Christ, his blood shed on the cross. From day 1 as a child of God on this earth to the last, we must stand firm in the Gospel truth that we are dependent upon Christ for lifeand pledge our allegiance to Him alone.
ESTABLISHED AND FIRM in HOPE we are to be. Hope is found only in Christ. Heck, He is the hope. He will be the one presenting us holy in [God's] sight, without blemish and free from accusation. God will one day come to judge. Our hope, (because God fulfills is promises and because Jesus died, rose, and will come again), is that we are no longer enemies; we have been reconciled to God!
If that doesn't mean much to you right now, ask God to work in your heart to show you just how depraved and wretched you are. He will, and the Gospel will become more precious to you as a result.
For now, this post is long enough, these truths plenty to keep our small minds busy, and the topic changes a bit in 23b. So we'll take a look at Paul, the servant of the Gospel, tomorrow.