Not Shifting From the Hope

Colossians 1:21-23 ESV

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”

Distorted Views of God

There are many professing Christians in America today who have a distorted view of who God is, and of who Jesus Christ is, and of what God did for us in sending Jesus Christ to the earth to die for our sins. And thus they also have a distorted view of what the Christian life is all about and what they are actually being saved from and/or to, if they believe in Jesus Christ. Some of them were on the right track but have since shifted positions, while others were on the wrong track right from the beginning.

So, the right track is by faith in Jesus Christ we turn away from our lives of living in sin to now follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his ways. Now this faith comes from God, and Jesus is the author and the perfecter of that faith, and this faith is gifted to us by God, and it is not of our own doing. So what this means for us is that the faith we should profess should align itself with God’s moral character and his will for our lives, and with the teachings of Christ and of his apostles, and it should not be a creation of our flesh.

Now we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father draws us to Christ, i.e. unless he first persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness, and of our sinfulness, and of our need to repent of our sins and to follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands (New Covenant). So our faith, if it is genuine, is going to do what God designed it to do for his purposes. And so we are going to walk away from those lives of sin, and now we are going to live holy lives, above reproach, to the glory of God.

But that is not the gospel message that is mostly permeating the church in America today. What is widely being accepted is that we can make a one-time profession of faith in Jesus Christ, have all our sins forgiven (past, present, and future) and be on our way to heaven regardless of how we live our lives on this earth. For they have this concept of God and of our relationship with him which is all one-sided. It is all lopsided in favor of the sinner to be able to continue in his sin, only now without punishment.

Selfishly Driven Desires

There is a secular song called, “I Have Nothing,” from the movie, “The Bodyguard.” And from what I gather of the lyrics of the song, the woman is singing about how she wants this relationship with this man, and she wants him to give her everything he has, but he is to expect that she is not going to change for him. He is to take her for who she is, and he is to ask nothing of her. She doesn’t want him to walk away from her, but in the same respect she is not willing to go his way at all.

And this is exactly the approach that many professing Christians these days are taking to their relationships with Jesus Christ. They expect Jesus to do it all for them and that nothing should be required of them other than some initial profession of faith in Christ. They believe that God should be happy that they believed in Jesus and that he should now let them into his heaven and forgive even their present, persistent, habitual and deliberate sins which are against him, and from this time forward.

They have convinced themselves that they do not have to repent of their sins and they do not have to obey the Lord and that no works are required of them at all, but that a one-time profession of faith in Christ should provide forgiveness of all sins and secure them a place in heaven even if they ignore the Lord and his commands and snub him and expect him to be their genie in the sky there to grant their every request. And they expect God to just take them as they are, sinful practices and all.

The Truth

But that is not what the Scriptures teach, as is clear in this passage in Colossians 1:21-23 and in many other passages of Scripture which I will note below. For it begins by telling us that these believers in Jesus Christ once (past tense, not presently) were alienated and hostile to God in their minds (see also Romans 8:1-14). For they were doing evil deeds (past tense). But they did not continue in those evil deeds, for Jesus Christ bought them back for God from their lives of sin so that they would now be holy and without blame and above reproach before God.

But there is a catch to it, which is called a stipulation, many of which begin with the word “if” (or a word with a similar meaning). For all God’s promises to us have stipulations (requirements, conditions) for them to be fulfilled. We have to continue in the faith, and not just by making a profession of faith and claiming heaven as our eternal destiny, but in the forsaking of sin and in walking in righteousness and holiness, in obedience to the Lord Jesus. For Jesus died on that cross so that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (1 Peter 2:24; Romans 6:1-23; Ephesians 4:17-24; Luke 9:23-26).

So, we have to continue in those walks of faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel (the one Jesus taught and that his apostles taught). And they taught that we must die with Christ to sin, not just once, but daily, and that we are to walk in obedience to our Lord and to his commands under the New Covenant in holy living. For if we do not, but if sin is our practice, and if righteousness and obedience to Christ are not what we practice, then we will not inherit eternal life with God. So please take this to heart and put it into practice in your daily lives.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Near the Cross

Hymn lyrics by Fanny J. Crosby, 1869
Music by William H. Doane, 1869

Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

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