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The Just Shall Live by Faith (Colossians 1:14-23)

January 20, 2010

Backtracking a little, we find a vital truth in this passage.  Our holiness and our identity are not vested in ourselves.  They are vested in our Lord Jesus Christ.  Repeatedly throughout the book of Colossians, particularly in the first three chapters, Paul reminds the Colossians believers that their life and their identity is hid with Christ (3:3).  We have redemption in Christ (1:14).  Christ has reconciled us in Himself — in the body of His flesh (1:22).  Christ in us is our hope of glory(1:27).  And when we stand before God, we will be presented in Christ (1:28).  It is Christ’s working in me that matters (1:29).  In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (2:3), and Paul said this “lest any man should beguile you with enticing words”  (2:4).

As we have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, we are to walk in him (2:6).  We are rooted and built up in him (2:7), and we are complete in him (2:10).  In him we are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands (2:11).  We are buried with him in baptism, we are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God (2:12), and we are quickened together with him (2:13).  Our life and our identity is all wrapped up in Christ.  He is our life.  He is our identity (3:3-4).

In verses 14-19 of chapter 1, Paul points to Christ and exposes all the blessings that come to us through Him.  He has a purpose for doing this.  This same Jesus, Who created all things and created them for Himself; Who is before all things and sustaining all things; Who is the head of the body, the church; Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; in Whom all fulness dwells; this same Jesus reconciled us to God.  He made peace through the blood of His cross.

This was important for the Colossians, because false teachers told them that reconciliation could be partially obtained through the mediation of angels.  Christ brought absolute reconciliation between God and man, for Christ was fully man and as such became sin for us, and Christ was fully God.  And therefore when Christ Who became sin made peace, God and man were perfectly joined together in the person of Jesus Christ.  Wuest points out in his Word Studies that “The Greek word “to make peace” (eirō ) means “to bind together.”(1)  You that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death… We can’t get any more personal than this.  It is in Christ, in His very person, in His very body, in the body of his flesh, that we are reconciled.

It should be noted on a practical level that this freed the Colossians from the bondage of the law to walk in the glorious liberty of the Sons of God.  For He has forgiven all trespasses (2:13), blotting out at the same time the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way as well, nailing it to his cross (2:14).  And for this reason, we are not to let any man judge us in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.  All of the Essene principles incorporated by the false teachers, all of the ascetic values of Gnostics are demolished under the hammer of the Word.

And all of these things held true to those who continue in the faith grounded and settled, who are not moved away by false teachers from the hope of the gospel (1:23).  You see, the just shall live by faith.  Not by philosophy and vain deceit.  Not after the tradition of men.  Not after the rudiments of the world.  The just shall live by faith. Faith in the finished work of Christ.  Faith in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.

Those who are redeemed were in the past alienated and enemies in their mind, not because the world is corrupt, but because of the corruption that is in the world through lust.  We were not alienated and enemies externally, nor does our corruption come from the outside in, through contact with an unclean world.  We were alienated and enemies internally, that is, in our mind, and because of wicked works.  But Christ has reconciled us to God, has put away the filth of the flesh, and has made us perfect in Christ.

This is a glorious truth for the believer.  It really is faith that we must live by.  We rest on the work of Christ, we walk in Him and live in Him and move in Him.  He is our life, and our life is hid with Christ in God.  There we find liberty and freedom and joy and life.

(1) Wuest, K. S. 1997, c1984. Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader . Eerdmans: Grand Rapids

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