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Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. – Colossians 1:22 NLT
This next section of Paul’s letter to the believers is Colosse contains some incredibly rich theological truths. In it, Paul provides us with what has been called “The Great Christology” or “Christ Hymn.” In verses 15-20, Paul gives a clear and concise view of Christ’s supremacy over all things. He reveals Christ’s status as the very image of the invisible God, His role in creation, His headship over the church, His sustaining power over the universe, and His incredible work of reconciliation, made possible by His death on the cross. What is amazing to Paul and should be amazing to us, is that Christ – the all-superior, all-supreme Son of God, the Creator and sustainer of the universe – has chosen to provide a way for us to be made right with God. We were at one time strangers and enemies of God, as evidenced by our evil behavior, and yet, Christ died in our place and on our behalf, so that we might be reconciled to God. Paul reminds us, “You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions” (Colossians 1:21b NLT). Yet God “reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body” (Colossians 1:22a NLT). God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He provided a means by which we could be restored to a right relationship with Him. He sacrificed His Son so that we might be made friends of God rather than enemies of God, children rather than strangers. “As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault” (Colossians 1:22b NLT).
That thought should blow every one of us away. It should boggle our minds and never cease to amaze and astound us. Look at what Paul says. We have access into the very presence of God Almighty, where we stand as holy and blameless, as if we didn’t have a single, solitary fault. What an incredible truth. It is so incredible that many of us have a hard time believing it to be true. We focus on our sins and our faults and find it difficult to imagine that God can’t see or refuses to see what is so clear to us: Our own sinfulness. But Paul is speaking about something called our “positional righteousness” made possible by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. His blood covered our sins – past, present and future. That’s why Paul could write, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NLT). Our sins have been paid for and forgiven. God sees us through the redemptive work of Christ and covered by His blood. Our debt has been paid in full. We stand before God as positionally righteous. This does not mean that we are sinless in actuality. It means that we have been justified by the death of Christ on the cross. Because of what Christ did for us on the cross, God is able to declare us legally righteous. Christ took on our sin and we took on His righteousness. It is what has been called “The Great Exchange.”
But Paul goes on to remind us of another important reality. “But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News” (Colossians 1:23 NLT). It is our belief in and reliance upon this important truth that should motivate our desire to live righteous and holy lives before God all the days of our lives. Our positional righteousness, made possible by Christ’s death on the cross in our place, should motivate us to live in practical righteousness. We should want to live as what God says we are: Holy and set apart for Him. So when Peter quotes God as saying, “You must be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16 NLT), he is reminding us that we are to live out the reality of who we are. Our positional righteousness must become practical and present-tense. Our sins have been atoned for, so why would we ever want to continue to live in them? When God looks at us, He sees us as righteous. Paul reminds us to live as what we are. We must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Yes, we will struggle with temptation in this life. We will even give in to it and commit sins that contradict our righteous standing. But when we remember and recognize that we have been reconciled to God through Christ, it should provide us with the motivation to repent and return. Our sins can no longer condemn us. Our periodic acts of rebellion can’t remove or separate us from the presence of God. Our place is permanent. Our position is secure. So we are to live like it. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NLT).
Father, while I find the theology behind positional righteousness hard to comprehend, don’t let me ever doubt it. Help me rest in it and cling to it all the days of my life. Don’t ever let me go back to thinking that I have to somehow earn my right standing with You, because that is an impossible task. I am right with You because Jesus made it possible. Now help me, through the power of Your indwelling Spirit, to live as who You say I am – Your righteous, forgiven, holy child. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men