Colossians 1:21

The Reconciliation of Sinners



Last week we looked at the reconciliation of all things in heaven and earth… namely, the fact that the blood of Christ provided for the ultimate restitution of all things… of the entire created world… heaven and earth.
This morning we want to look at another angle of God’s great plan of reconciliation: the reconciliation of sinful men… like me… and like you!

Those Reconciled

A. Alienated From God

1. Alienated Defined: to alienate, estrange, to be shut out from one’s fellowship and intimacy; excluded; a foreigner.

a. When man sinned in the Garden, every one of Adam’s sons (including all of us!) were born in Adam’s likeness: sinners and thus every one of us is BORN alienated from God!

b. Isa. 59:1-2 – your sins have separated you from God; hence, because of sin, we are alienated from God the Creator… so alienated that He won’t even hear our prayers!

2. Usage of the term:

a. This term appears in Col. 1:21 and only two other times in the New Testament.

b. Eph. 2:12 – Gentiles were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.
• They were non participants… excluded from Israel, her promises, her laws, her covenants, her promises, and from her God.
• The laws and covenants of Israel had nothing to do with the Gentiles. Gentiles were not under Jewish law, nor could they expect to inherit Israel’s promises.
• They were aliens… cut off from… excluded from…
• Just like an alien in the US. If he is an alien, the benefits of US citizenship do not apply to him.

c. Eph. 4:18 – alienated from the life of God.
• Theological Dictionary Of the New Testament: “without a share in the life of God.”
• Before salvation, every one of us was an alien from God’s life.
• In other words, we were DEAD in sins and trespasses (Eph. 2:1).
• If you are not born again, you are STILL dead in your sins.
• You are STILL an alien from God and from His life. You MUST be born again!
• This is the condition of EVERY human being apart from the new birth.

3. Tense: perfect; passive; participle

a. Perfect: indicates that they were alienated in the past, and they REMAINED alienated right up until the time of their conversion… reconciliation… salvation.

b. The Colossians had become alienated from God and STOOD in that settled position before their salvation.

c. If you are not born again, you too have been alienated from God and His life… that is your settled position and you REMAIN that way until you are saved.

d. Passive: indicates that the subject is not DOING the work of the main verb, but rather, that action has been done to him from an outside source.

e. This means that a person doesn’t have to DO anything to be alienated from God and His life. We are BORN aliens… BORN excluded from God and His life… and hence the NEED for the new birth.

4. Sometime: = formerly, aforetime, at some time in the past…

a. This term means that every one of the Colossian believers were formerly alienated.

b. That “one time” refers to the time before they were saved.

c. Before 1972 I was alienated from God… and didn’t even know it! I really hadn’t given it one thought.

d. Before their conversion, the Colossian believers were alienated from God.

e. That was their FORMER position. But now, because of their faith in Christ, their position has changed.

f. They are no longer aliens from the life of God, but are very much ALIVE in Christ and possessors of eternal life!

g. I John 5:12: “he that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son hath not life.” How simple!

h. If you have received Christ by faith, then you have life. If you have NOT been born again… then you do NOT have the Son and you do NOT have life. You are still dead… alienated from God and His life.

B. Enemies of God

1. Enemies: hated, odious, hateful. 2 hostile, hating, and opposing another. 2a used of men as at enmity with God by their sin.

a. God views EVERY unsaved person in this condition: enemies of God!

b. This refers to the Hitlers of the world… as well as the sweet little old lady who goes to church 3 times a week… but is not born again…

c. If she has never trusted in Christ as her personal Savior she is an enemy of God.

2. Usage:

a. Acts 13:10 – this unsaved man was called a “child of the devil” and an enemy of God. This is true of every unsaved person.

b. Rom. 5:10 – before a person is reconciled to God, he is an enemy of God!

c. You don’t have to be a murderer, a bank robber, or a wino in the gutter or a prostitute on the street corner to be an enemy of God.

d. ALL men are enemies of God until or unless they are reconciled to Him.

e. Jas. 4:4 – “friendship with the world is enmity with God” –there are only two sides: God’s side or the world’s side. Whose side are you on? Friendship with one is enmity with the other. There is no straddling the fence on this issue.

3. The enmity of the mind.

a. Enmity against God begins in the mind.

b. Our thoughts PROVE God to be right… that we really are sinners and rebels against Him… enemies… and their thought lives prove it.

c. Rom. 8:7 – the carnal mind of the unbeliever is enmity with God. It is in the settled state of constant hostility against God… even though it may attempt to cover up with religion… as Adam tried to cover up with a fig leaf.

d. The carnal mind of an unbeliever may not be consciously thinking thoughts against God… but it is constantly thinking thoughts that are contrary to God’s Word… unholy thoughts… thoughts of anger, lust, impurity, jealousy, envy, pride, selfishness…

e. The carnal mind is not and CAN not be subject to God’s holy law… to God’s holy Word.

f. Unsaved men inwardly RESENT God’s Word… and usually try to discredit it… because in their minds they are hostile towards God… enemies in their mind and attitudes.

g. They CANNOT submit to it… they CANNOT obey it or live up to it, and therefore resent it… hate it… are enmity against it… because it condemns them.

4. This mental attitude of enmity against God… this resentment against God and His word will ultimately be expressed in WORKS.

a. The Colossians were enemies in their minds.

b. They expressed this inward enmity in outward works… evil works… sinful works.

c. Paul makes it clear that the Colossians (and all of us!) are sinners on the inside and the outside… in the internal mind and heart and also in the external deeds.

d. In fact, it is the alienation and enmity in the mind that LEADS to wicked works.

e. The sinful deeds that men commit are but an outward evidence that they are enemies of God within.

C. And You

1. Paul begins this verse by reminding the Colossians that this is the way THEY used to be before they were saved!

a. They were saints now… (Col. 1:2)

b. They were redeemed now… (Col. 1:14)

c. They were reconciled now… (Col. 1:21c)

d. But they WERE alienated from God and enemies of God!

e. The new birth completely changed their relationship to God. They were enemies of God, but now are His friends.

f. And a sinner will NEVER become a friend of God until he is first willing to ADMIT that he is a sinner… alienated from God… and an enemy of God.

g. There is no point in trying to cover up our sin. God knows.

h. And it doesn’t matter if we FEEL like we are friends of God. Our feelings about a relationship to God are completely irrelevant. What matters is what GOD says… not what sinful men might say or feel.

i. God says we are enemies—every last one of us!

j. And all sinners are equally enemies of God—whether you lived a life of sin in the gutter… or whether you were brought up in church and never cursed, drank, or stole.

k. ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. ALL are enemies of God.

l. Rom. 3:10-12 – There is none righteous; no not one.

The Concept of Reconciliation

A. Terms Used

1. Reconcile – There are several different words for reconcile in the New Testament.

a. Diallasso = mutual concession after mutual hostility.
• Used of making up after a fight—when both parties share in the blame. (Matt. 5:24)
• This term is never used of being reconciled to God.

b. katallasso = to change or exchange from one state to another.
• Used of money – changing denomination
• Used of persons – being changed from enmity to friends
• Used of being adjusted to a standard – reconciling one’s watch to the proper time if the watch drifted off a bit.

c. apokatallasso = to reconcile completely.
• This is the term Paul used in Col. 1:20 AND in 1:21.
• In vs. 20, it implied to reconcile completely; to reconcile back again, bring back a former state of harmony (creation will be brought back to its former state)
• In vs. 21 it implies the intense form of katalasso… a complete reconciliation.

2. The term implies that a CHANGE occurred.

a. The change is from enmity to friendship.

b. The sinner, the rebel against a holy God, the alien from God, the enemy of God puts his faith in Christ and suddenly his position is changed to that of a friend!

c. The WAR between the sinner and God is over the very moment that sinner puts his faith in Christ.

d. If you have not received Christ as your Savior, the war is still on between you and God…

B. Unto Himself (vs.20)

1. Notice that Paul says that the one to be reconciled is to be reconciled UNTO God.

a. God is not reconciled unto man.

b. God hasn’t moved. He hasn’t drifted away. He doesn’t need to be changed, adjusted, or reconciled.

c. In human relationships, there is usually a need for MUTUAL reconciliation after a fight… because there is usually blame on both sides. There is a special Greek term for that kind of reconciliation. It is NEVER used of God.

d. God doesn’t need to be reconciled because there is no fault on God’s side. All the fault lies on OUR side.

e. Hence, we need to be reconciled UNTO HIM.

f. Rom. 5:10 – We are reconciled to God by the death of His Son.”

g. Man has moved away from God. “We have turned every one to his own way.” (Isa. 53:6) And thus, we need to turn back to God… we need to be reconciled to God…

2. The term reconcile implies an adjustment to a standard.

a. We use the term of reconciling a watch to the proper time.

b. Our watches are not perfect, and tend to drift away from the proper time. It may lose a few seconds a day… and after a time, it becomes obvious that our watch is off.

c. Hence, it must be reconciled UNTO the Standard.

d. God is that standard for the sinner. The sinner has drifted away from God and God’s standards and needs to be adjusted… reconciled BACK to God and His standard.

e. Today the world seems to think that every man ought to be able to do whatever he feels is right.
• Men disdain the concept of an absolute standard of righteousness… and hence hate God who IS that Standard. Men feel they ought to be able to adjust moral standards to fit their OWN views. This is nigh unto anarchy.
• Hence, we see couples living together without getting married—it’s commonplace today… and the reason is that men have rejected God the absolute Standard of right and wrong.
• We see gay marriages taking place… because God—the Standard of morality has been rejected.
• If there is no absolute standard to which WE are to adjust, then why not go a step further to bestiality and polygamy…
• The gay marriage issue is not the real problem. It is but a symptom of the problem. The problem is that the Standard has been thoroughly and completely rejected by our society.
• When a society has no standards… no moral foundation… no accepted guidelines, God help us! Our nation is at that point.
• The sinner has drifted away from God and needs to be reconciled BACK to God.

f. We see this illustrated in the Prodigal Son.
• The son drifted away from his father and his father’s standards.
• He went off at a young age and made a mess of his life… living a life of sin… and ended up feeding pigs and having nothing to eat himself but pig slop.
• The father didn’t need to be reconciled to the son, but the son to him. The father didn’t go any where.
• The father was ready and waiting—eager for his son to be reconciled to him… but it was the wayward SON who had to return to the father.
• And when he did, he discovered that the father was only too eager to receive him back… to welcome him back.
• The father didn’t need to be changed… but the son did.
• The father didn’t go to the son. He waited for the son to come to him.
• The father didn’t lower his standards and adjust them to suit his wayward son. The father maintained his standards and waited until the son was willing to be adjusted to them.
• When the son repented, the way was open for him to be reconciled to his father.

C. Having Made Peace

1. The former relationship between a holy God and sinful men was enmity; hostility; war.

2. Man’s sin was an insurmountable barrier between God and men.

3. But Christ removed that barrier by paying its penalty in full on the cross. Thus, on the cross, He made PEACE possible… and available to whosoever will believe on Christ.

4. Peace has been created between God and man because that which rendered God hostile toward man (sin!) has been taken away! (Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world!)

5. The cross made reconciliation possible, but the sinner still needs to come to God in faith… like the prodigal son. The father was ready to receive him back… but the father wasn’t going to the pig pen where the son was. The father waited for the son to come to him… We need to come to God through FAITH in Christ and we will discover He is more than willing to take us in.

6. But when a sinner repents and believes on Christ, the enmity is replaced with friendship… he becomes a friend of God.

7. And the war is over… he is now at peace with God!

8. Rom. 5:1 – those who have believed on the Lord are JUSTIFIED… saved… and reconciled… and thus have PEACE with God.

9. This peace has NOTHING to do with our feelings. It has to do with the FACTS of God’s Word.

a. Many religious men SAY that they feel peace with God.

b. Many religious men are SURE that they are right before God. (Matt. 7:21-24)

c. But the peace Paul describes in Rom. 5:1 is not a subjective feeling of peace, but an objective declaration of peace on God’s part.

d. The war between sinful men and a holy God isn’t over until God says so… regardless of what those sinful men may FEEL or THINK.

e. God says that peace is appropriated ONLY through faith in Christ Jesus.

f. If you have not yet put your faith in Christ, the war is still on between you and God… you are still an enemy of God… even if you were brought up in this church and have been to Sunday school all your life… and you have never cursed. Enmity!

The Means of Reconciliation

A. Man’s Way

1. A Peace Offering

a. Sometimes if a husband and wife have an argument, the husband may try to “make up” by bringing his wife a present to let her know he is sorrow for what he said or did. That is basically a peace offering.

b. It is engrained in our psyche that to make up… to make peace when there has been a fight or hostility, that we must DO something…

c. Perhaps a promise to be good… perhaps try to make up for poor behavior with a gift or an offering…

d. God’s wrath towards sin MUST be pacified… must be satisfied… must be propitiated.

e. However, there is NOTHING a man could ever bring to God that would result in peace… satisfying His wrath against sin.

f. No peace offering man could ever bring could result in peace between a holy God and sinful men.

2. Good Works

a. Men assume that if there is hostility between God and man, then man has to DO something to make up.

b. Men assume that if they do a certain amount of good works that it will out weigh the bad works they did…

c. Men assume that war started because of something we did (swearing; cheating; stealing; getting drunk; etc.)… and that if they can overcome that sin, then the will make peace with God.

d. Eph. 2:8-9 – good works will NEVER produce life… nor produce peace with God! It is a hopeless and futile endeavor.

e. There isn’t anything you or I could ever do that would suffice to bring peace between the sinner and a holy God.

f. Even to THINK that exhibits a gross underestimation of just how SINFUL we are… and how HOLY God is.

g. That gap could NEVER be filled by our puny efforts.

h. This chasm… this war… the hostility between God and man is infinite… and requires a sacrifice of infinite value.

i. There is no amount of good works and no peace offering we could ever offer to God that would truly bring peace.

j. It might make a sinful man FEEL good… and it might sooth his conscience superficially and temporarily… but it is of no value to God.

k. It will never bring peace with God. It will never reconcile the sinner to a holy God.

3. When the term “reconcile” is used in this passage, the subject is GOD (or the Godhead)… NOT man.

a. Man does not provide for the reconciliation.

b. Man does not initiate the reconciliation.

c. Man does not even see the need for reconciliation until the Spirit of God convicts him of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come.

d. Man doesn’t reconcile God to himself… rather, God reconciles man to Himself.

B. God’s Way

1. In the Body of His Flesh through Death (vs. 21)

a. This would be especially meaningful to the Colossians in light of the false teachers who were infiltrating their assembly.

b. The Gnostics taught that Jesus was not fully God — Paul deals with that by stating that in Him all fullness dwells!

c. They believed that Jesus was not fully man… and that He did not have a true human body… that He was simply an emanation from God without a body… (They viewed a physical body to be sinful.)

d. Paul states that Christ indeed DID have a genuine, physical, human body… and that it was THROUGH the death of that body on the cross that God was able to provide reconciliation for believing sinners.

e. Either side of this heresy would have rendered the cross ineffective.
• If Jesus wasn’t fully God then His sacrifice would not have satisfied God’s justice.
• If Jesus wasn’t fully human, (if He was only a spirit as the Gnostics said), then He could not have had a body, could not have shed His blood, and could not have died for the sins of the world.

f. This passage contradicts many false teachers of our day too.
• Today we see liberal theologians claiming that men can be reconciled to God by following Christ’s example and obeying His teachings.
• They teach salvation by works… and they base it on Christ’s earthly ministry; the example He set for us.
• However, Paul makes it clear that it was not what Christ DID during His earthly LIFE that saves us from condemnation, but His DEATH on the cross!
• It was not His doing but His dying that saves us!

2. Through the Blood of His Cross (vs. 20)

a. Only God can declare when the war is over between Him and the sinner.

b. Only God can declare the MEANS of effecting that reconciliation too.

c. God has declared that the only acceptable means is the precious blood of Christ shed on the cross for the sins of the world.

d. There is no peace offering that WE could ever offer to God that would suffice to pay for our sins and bring peace between sinful men and a holy God… BUT reconciliation IS provided in the body of Christ’s death on the cross…

e. Christ has made peace through the blood of His cross. Christ’s blood is the peace offering… is the only sacrifice that is able to provide reconciliation.

f. And note in vs. 20 that Paul writes, “HAVING MADE peace.”

g. Peace is not something that man makes with God. It is that which God has already made for man… through the blood of Calvary’s cross.

h. Col. 1:21 – you who WERE alienated and enemies yet NOW HATH He RECONCILED.
• The Colossians were no longer what they WERE: enemies and alienated.
• Now they are friends… and close to God—made nigh by the blood of His cross!
• God has already reconciled them… AND US if we have trusted in Christ.
• Peace with God has already been made through the cross. God now wants us as believers to REST in that peace… and EXPERIENCE that peace of God IN our hearts… by faith.

i. I John 2:2 – However, what Christ offered to God DID provide for reconciliation… it did satisfy God’s wrath toward our sin and enabled us to be brought into a right relationship with God. For peace to be effected, God’s justice must be met and satisfied—and ONLY the infinite value of the shed blood of Christ could accomplish that… not our meager offerings.

j. Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling!

k. The work was finished at the cross.

3. Now God calls sinners… enemies… those alienated from Him to repent… (change your mind)… and BELIEVE on Christ and be saved!

a. If you will trust in Christ, God will save you.

b. Rom. 5:1 – Those who have been justified by FAITH have peace with God… eternal peace… the war is over…

c. Hence, the invitation is COME… unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!

d. Like the prodigal son… he came to the father… full of sin… acknowledging his sin… he came in humility… ashamed of what he had done… and the father received him as his SON!

e. Perhaps its time for you to come to the Father in faith… He will receive you… repent of your sin… believe on Christ… and He turns none away. COME!

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