Opening meditation: Romans 5:8-11
“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him”
· We have had some tough phrases and sometimes challenging material to interpret here in Col. 1. This phrase presents two challenges: what is “the fullness” and what does it mean that it “dwells” in Him? This is actually easier than some of the phrases in Col 1, because we have two great clues to help us.
1. all fullness: what does that mean?
- see Col. 2:9 “in him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form”
- paraphrase it like this: “in his body you find all deity”
- though in a body, he was fully God; he possessed the fullness of God, the fullness of deity – He was God?
- What does dwell mean? (to live in)
- This is a problem, because we only live somewhere temporarily. Was Jesus only God temporarily?
· there is a Greek word for “live somewhere temporarily”; and a word for “live somewhere”;
· Paul (the Holy Spirit) doesn’t use those words; He chooses another word here that means “to live permanently; to be settled in a place; this is home”
· in Christ, all the fullness of God lives for good
Jesus is fully God forever
RECONCILIATION: vv. 19 - 22a
PROBLEM: “alienated and hostile” (v.21)
· alienated = literally, “transferred to another owner”
When we looked at verse 16 “all things created for Him” we used the illustration of a child who has always wanted a puppy. And they finally get one for Christmas, just for that child. But the puppy doesn’t like the child and doesn’t play with him or sleep in his room or pay any attention. We used that to attempt to illustrate what it is like to have something that is supposed to be “for you” but refuses to live like it.
(every analogy or illustration that equates what is human with God is going to have some serious weaknesses. So I always tremble a little bit when I use an illustration like this, because I am aware that it has major weaknesses if taken or applied too far.)
illust. The puppy (from the “for you” lesson); now gets along great with the bully next door; if you try to get near, he bites you and scratches you; he won’t do anything you ask him to do, but he’ll do just about anything the mean bully asks him to do. He has chosen not only to reject your ownership, but to give himself over to another owner. As sinners that is exactly what we have each done. We have gladly given ourselves over to another owner – sin.
· hostile, hostility
God is creator, and when we sin the creation is saying to the Creator “Get out of my face, leave me alone.” He is sustainer, and we are the ones who are sustained. Every breath in his hand. And the sustained says to the sustainer “I’ll do whatever I want with my life!” That is hostility!
Other parts of scripture deal with God’s just wrath against our sin, but this text highlights our own hostility toward God.
CAUSE: man’s sin and rebellion - “in your mind through wicked works” (v.21)
· The problem was not merely a bad attitude that we needed to change. It was our sin that is a great offense to the very nature of God. And our thoughts, our heart, was the root of that problem. We were wicked inwardly; we were hostile toward God inwardly, and of course it comes out in our sinful actions.
How could reconciliation ever be possible? How could there ever be peace in the relationship between the great Creator and the rebellious and hostile creatures? Again we see the glory of the cross, because the answer was…
ANSWER: Christ’s death to take care of the sin – “through the blood of his cross; in the body of his flesh through death” (v.20, v.22a)
·II Cor. 5:19 “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them [because He counted them against Christ].” What needed to happen was the sin had to be paid for; the rebellion against God had to receive its just reward. And when God counted those trespasses against Christ reconciliation was immediately possible. Again, the answer wasn’t just an attitude change. And Christ’s death wasn’t just a strong way to suggest that we change our attitude. Our sin had to be paid for, and in Christ God did it.
We can certainly say that the answer to our hostility and enmity toward God was the forgiveness of sin in Christ. But we can also say that for our relationship with God to be restored there had to be a radical change in our very nature.
· illust: let’s think back to that puppy; that puppy has been nothing but trouble; he doesn’t like you; he tries to hurt you by biting and scratching; he won’t listen to anything you say; he serves everyone else except you
what do you need to do? there is something in the very nature of that puppy that is messed up; and you can’t change that. You need to get a new puppy.
let’s think about salvation like that: we are alienated from God; all people leave God to go serve another master, the king of darkness; they fight God with their rebellion against Him; they are His enemies because they love the world instead of loving God. There is something in the very nature of all people that is terribly messed up. It would be a good idea just to get rid of all of us, and create new people. God could have done that. But He didn’t. He sent His own Son to die to change the nature of people. This is why the Old Testament prophecies foretold that in the new covenant God would give a new heart, a heart to love Him. This is why the New Testament talks about regeneration, a new birth. God actually gives you new life, a new heart, He changes your very nature, though your old nature will still plague you until you are finally glorified at the resurrection.
See, that’s the one thing you couldn’t do for that puppy. You can’t change his nature. But God, by sending Christ to die for our sin, can change our very nature so that we are no longer under another master, but under Him. We are no longer enemies, but we are being changed into the image of Christ. Our minds have the potential to be filled with love and righteousness, and our works can be sacrifices of praise rather than rebellion.
RESULT: reconciliation, peace – “having made peace; to reconcile all things unto himself” (v.20)
1. The peace is permanent. You are reconciled to God. It is done. Since the sin has been dealt with there is complete peace. In terms of your position before God, you will never again face the wrath of God for your sin. Christ bore it all for you. The hostility is over; the strife is over; now there is safety and security in your relationship with the God of the universe.
2. God may take away your sense of peace when you sin to help bring you back to Himself. He will let you know that you are taking steps of hostility and alienation. But that does not actually affect your position before God. There is still no condemnation because you are in Christ. You are at peace with God, though He may be disciplining you and you may not feel at peace.
In a sense reconciliation is all done – Christ did it all. And this verse says that he “reconciled all things.” How can that be? Does that mean that everyone will be saved? We know from the rest of the NT that not all people will be reconciled and have peace with God; why? they have to want it; they have to accept it in Christ. That’s why II Corinthians 5 tells us that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. And then it tells us what that means – it means that we are supposed to plead with people “please be reconciled to God”; the NASB says “we beg you, be reconciled to God.” The work has been done; the cause of the hostility has been dealt with. But if people don’t want to be reconciled to God; if they don’t want the sin problem dealt with – they will not be reconciled.
(note: if the question arises about “things in earth, things in heaven”; remember that Paul wrote to the Romans that the “whole creation groans and travails” under the curse of sin; what does “things in heaven” mean? could mean that the fall of some of the angels in some way left the angelic world needing some form of reconciliation to God as well)
the wonder of it all – put the v.19 together with verses 20 –21. Christ – full God – dies to provide for peace between God and man. Dies to pay for our rebellion. Dies to bring us to God. God sends His son, in whom all the fullness of being God exists, to die to take care of the consequences of our rebellion.
He died to bring people just like you to God. To bring you to Himself in peace. And for all of eternity the universe will marvel that in Christ God could save this people, His church, and bring them back to Himself. Because they were alienated; they were hostile; they were rebels! And for all eternity we will worship the One who paid the price to reconcile us to God.
1. Be an ambassador for Christ, a minister of reconciliation. Beg people to be reconciled to God. What would motivate us to beg someone to be reconciled to God? When we really believe the truth in Colossians 1:21 that an unsaved person is “alienated and hostile in mind through their wicked works.” No matter how good they may look; what good things they may do; how often they may go to a church; until their sins are forgiven in Christ they are enemies of God. John 3:36 says that the wrath of God abides on them. When you understand that they are an enemy of God you are ready to beg them to be reconciled to God. Because you know, like the author of Hebrews says “it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” So reconciliation changes your view of the world. You see people as God’s enemies, under his wrath already. And you beg them to be reconciled to God through Christ.
2. Don’t sin! The one who created you; the one who sustains your every breath; the one with the power of life and death in His hand; the one with the absolute authority to send you to Hell was your enemy because of your sin! You were alienated from Him and hostile toward Him! And He – God – sent Jesus to die to end the hostility by taking care of your sin. And now you will choose to sin? Now we will begin taking steps of hostility toward God again! Sin separates from God, and sin is hostility toward God.
We must think correctly to win victory over sin. Temptation is very complex and there are a lot of components to a victorious Christian life, but this one is essential. You must think correctly! Satan says “sin’s not a big deal; the consequences won’t catch up to you.” But Col. 1 tells us that sin separates us from God, and sin is hostility toward God. Sin is always absurd, and this is just another text that highlights this. After receiving forgiveness in Christ and peace - who would return in hostility toward God? It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God – you have been rescued from His wrath and have peace with God. What are you doing saying “God leave me alone! God I’ll run life my own way!” Sin is absurd.
Think this week! Think correctly about unsaved people. Think correctly about sin. It will change the way you live.
Dear Jesus, we say to you today “Thank you for reconciling us to God. Thank you for bringing peace because you carried the weight of our sin to Calvary. Thank you that we no longer have to fear falling into the hands of almighty God but we rest in His hands, secure forever.” Father, thank you for peace. Thank you for Christ. Thank you for forgiveness. Now give us your grace to think correctly. Please bring opportunities to be ministers of reconciliation this week. Please bring victory over temptation as we think correctly. We rejoice in our great Christ. Through Him can we come in peace and pray to you. Amen.