The Transformed Ones
Colossians 1:9-14 – “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
In the last chapter we saw how the Gospel transforms us. It transforms us through the love and grace of Almighty God. A God who amazingly enough pursues a relationship with us. David says in Psalm 23, “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” The actual Hebrew translation of those words would be “surely love and mercy pursue me.” God pursues a relationship with us, not because He is lonely for He has perfect unity and harmony within the Trinity. He pursues a relationship with us for His glory.
God’s pursuit of us in one of the great themes of Scripture. Remember Jesus said, “I have come to seek and to save that which is lost.” Then in Luke 15 he tells us 3 different parables about someone searching diligently for something that is lost. The first is a Shepherd leaving the 99 sheep behind to go and find the one that is lost. The second describes a lady passionately pursing a lost coin, and the third is the famous parable of, as we call it, “the Prodigal Son”. In it, the Father bursts out of the house and runs to him and lets him know that he is welcomed home, not as a servant but as a son. It is a beautiful picture of the love of God towards lost humanity.
How does God pursue us? Ultimately through the cross of Christ. As George Bennard put it in his hymn “The Old Rugged Cross”:
“O that old rugged cross so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.”
Why did Jesus “leave His glory above”? Because He was pursuing us for the glory of God the Father. What a wondrous truth God who sees us with all of our sins, all of our faults and all of our failures, still loved us so much that He pursued us anyway. Graham Greene makes a beautiful statement in one of his many books, “It’s a strange thing to discover and to believe that you are loved, when you know that there is nothing in you for anybody but a parent or God to love.” And it is that love that pursues us and transforms us. The love of God who becomes to us our Father.
Colossians 1:13 says “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” In other words we were lost in the domain of darkness and God pursued us and brought us into the Kingdom of His Son. Unfortunately we bring the residue of the darkness with us into the Kingdom, which means that we need to be transformed. We need to be changed because we no longer belong to the darkness we are now adopted into the Kingdom of God. Our nature is darkness and sin, but now we are a part of a different family and it is the love of God that not only saves us but that continues to transform us.
Paul says in 1:9, “we have not ceased to pray for you.” What is interesting to note is what he is praying. He continues, “asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him.” What Paul says is I’m praying that you would grow, that you would be transformed, that you would be more like Jesus. If us being transformed was solely our work shouldn’t Paul have just simply said, “you all need to straighten up and fly right. Now that you are followers of Jesus you need to live like one, so read your Bibles and stay away from sin.” Shouldn’t he just have encouraged them to change themselves.
The problem with that line of thinking is that just as we are incapable of saving ourselves we are also incapable of changing ourselves. We must participate yes, we must “put to death the deeds of the flesh,” but the only way to do that is through relying on the grace of God and keeping our eyes on Jesus. It is He that works within us, “for His good pleasure.” Ultimately God is the one who transforms us.
And once we are transformed we live differently. How? We live for God’s glory not our own. We do His will (Colossians 1:9). We walk in a manner pleasing to Him (Colossians 1:10), and we walk worthy of the Lord.
That is a statement that sticks in my mind and one that must be examined. What does it mean to “walk worthy of the Lord”? In reality it seems impossible for us to “walk worthy of the Lord”, yet it must be possible for Paul prays that we would be able to do it. So what does it mean to walk worthy of the Lord? It means to live a life that doesn’t degrade His sacrifice on the cross. It means to live a life in which Jesus is glorified through us.
How is that possible? Again this is not something that we can just make up our minds to do. It is something that is only possible through the grace of God. He transforms us and sanctifies us and part of our sanctification means that we live our lives with Jesus showing through. We live lives that make God proud and the only way that is possible is through the blood of Jesus.
All of our righteousness is as filthy rags, so even our good acts done in and of themselves are not going to make God proud. Yet through the blood of Jesus His righteousness is credited to our account and because of that God is pleased with us. In fact in one of the most humbling verses in the Bible the prophet Zephaniah tells us that God “rejoices over us with singing (3:17).” He rejoices over us when we are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, and then that motivates us to live life the way He calls us to live. For in living life the way we are called and transformed to live it we find our joy and our satisfaction in Christ, then we live life for the glory of God. John Piper puts it this way, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Why did God pursue us? So that He might be glorified in and through us. That happens when we find our satisfaction through Him and then we live a life worthy of Him because we are living to glorify Him.
So walk worthy of the Lord! Live a life through His grace that is pleasing to Him. Let others see Jesus within you. Christians were originally called “followers of the Way” but began being called Christians because it is a term that means “little Christ’s”. In other words they reflected Him who is the way, the truth and the life to the culture around them.
In our world today the term Christian has grown to mean just “someone who is against certain things.” That is unfortunate because what it says is we are more known for being against things, that being like Jesus. However through the grace of God in the midst of this godless culture I believe that we can truly be transformed to where we once again reflect Jesus and His message of grace and righteousness to this world.
When we do that we will as Paul says, “bear fruit in every good work” (Colossians 1:10). One of the reasons that the church isn’t bearing fruit today is because we are no longer reflecting Jesus to the culture. We are more concerned with morality and lamenting how bad the morals of the world are. Jesus however tells us not to be surprised when the world acts like the world, after all worldly people haven’t been transformed by the grace of God. Our responsibility is not to bemoan how bad things are, our responsibility is to reflect Jesus. We as the church of Jesus Christ in America must stand for truth and for morals, but as we do so we need to be reminded that being a good moral person doesn’t mean that a person is a follower of Jesus. A person can be a good moral person and still go to hell. That is a sobering reality, but it is reality. Morals may change and in our culture today I sincerely hope and pray that they do. Yet what really matters is that beyond a change of morals a change of heart occurs and that change is only possible through the reforming, transforming power of God.
He has changed us, now our responsibility is to trust Him and live with hope in the midst of hopelessness. Our responsibility is to live out our faith and to tell others about Jesus, living each and everyday finding our satisfaction in Him and living for His glory. Why? Because “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” We are a part of a new Kingdom, now in gratitude for the grace of God let us live like it.