Before and After

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”—Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV)

Imagine you’re stuck at home, unable to go out or see anyone. Oh wait, that’s been the case for much of 2020! Now we can somewhat understand what Paul experienced when he wrote this letter, yet Paul was not actually quarantined. He was under Roman house arrest for preaching the gospel! Regardless, Paul continued writing and he specifically wrote to the Colossian church because its founder, Epaphras, was greatly concerned with the infiltrating heresy. The false beliefs trickling through their church proclaimed that Jesus was not truly God and that certain acts were required to be saved. These were clear and heavy obstructions of the true gospel which is why Paul clarifies the gospel message and its implications for our lives throughout most of the letter, especially in today’s three verses.

Reading these three verses actually reminds me of pre and post workout pictures. Why is this phenomenon so popular and satisfying? Perhaps it’s because the Lord has wired us to find beauty in positive transformation since that is exactly what He offers us through the gospel! As Paul states in today’s Scripture, we used to be “alienated” and “enemies” of God! Our evil hearts and deeds completely disconnected us from our holy God, yet He made a way to reconcile us through His son, our Savior! Before Christ, we were evil, hateful, and slaves to our sin, yet after Christ, we are “holy in [God’s] sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”

The difference between this and before and after workout photos, though, is that we did nothing to make the change happen! Our reconciliation to God was only accomplished by His sacrifice, grace, plan, and love! There is nothing we could ever do to earn right standing with God, no amount of good deeds or right behavior, which is why He chose to make the way possible through Christ!

However, just like the “after” in a workout plan must be kept up with a lifestyle change and dedication to healthier habits, our “after” in the reconciliation God offers us must result in our lifestyle change as well! Paul says that we must “continue in [our] faith, established and firm” because the gospel redefines our purpose! Yes, we now live to glorify God and point others to Him, but it’s through the countercultural and holy way that we live our lives!

As John describes in 1 John 3:3 (NIV), those who hold onto the same hope that Paul speaks of in today’s Scripture, will “purify themselves, just as he [God] is pure.” As we live in the hope of the gospel, may we not lack in allowing it to completely change our lives!

DIG: Why is it important to acknowledge and embrace the biblical truth that the gospel should change the way we think, act, and live?

DISCOVER: In what areas are you lacking in allowing God, His grace, and His gospel to transform you?

DO: Whatever you may have answered above, take a step today towards actively choosing to let the Word of God change you in that area!

About the Author

Samantha Rodriguez

Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.