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. – Colossians 1:13-14 ESV
Those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior can be some of the most ungrateful people on the planet. For all that God has done for us, we can easily find ourselves taking it all for granted. It is so easy to treat our salvation with a certain degree of complacency. If we’re not careful, our status as God’s redeemed ones can lose its wonder. The reality of our forgiveness from sin – all sin – can lose its overwhelming significance. And Paul knew that, which is why he prayed that we would have God’s power in our lives and experience the joy of His presence. He knew that, while our initial salvation was important, our ongoing sanctification was just as crucial to our relationship with God. We are to grow in our knowledge of God. While salvation introduced us to the God from whom we were alienated due to our sin, it was not to stop there. We are to “grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2 ESV). We are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18 ESV). And that happens only as we are “filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9 ESV). It is the knowledge of God’s will that allows us to live in such a way that pleases Him. It is what produces fruit in our lives and allows us to know God better and better. And that growing knowledge of God produces joy and an attitude of gratitude for all He has done. For most of us, the length of time between our salvation and our ultimate glorification, when we will see God face to face, is going to be relatively long. It is in the space which some have called the “gospel gap” that we must be careful. We must never lose sight of the fact that God has qualified us “to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12 ESV). He has literally “rendered us fit” for glory. We have all we need to get into heaven, right now. We have all we need to come into His presence, at any time. We have Christ’s righteousness. There is nothing more we need to do, except grow in our knowledge of God and His Son Jesus Christ.
Here’s the part Paul does not want us to miss: “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.” It’s a done deal. He has delivered us. He has transferred us. He has redeemed and forgiven us. That reality should produce in us an overwhelming sense of gratefulness. He has done for us what we could have never done for ourselves. I think that is what it means to “grow up into salvation.” The longer we spend time on this earth as believers, the greater our appreciation for what God has done for us should grow. As we grow in our knowledge of God, we also grow in the awareness of our own weakness and propensity to sin. We should see our sin in stark contrast to His holiness and be increasingly amazed that He has delivered, transferred, redeemed and forgiven us. We didn’t deserve it. We haven’t earned it. We could never repay Him for it. But we can be thankful and ever mindful of what He has done. We can remember the unbelievable gift He has provided through the death of His Son on our behalf. We can also live our lives with a sense of peace, knowing that our future is secured. We can know beyond a shadow of a doubt “that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NLT).
We have been delivered, transferred, redeemed and forgiven. God has done all that for us. Jesus Christ made it possible for us. And the reality of it should never be taken for granted by us. Every time we struggle with sin, we must remind ourselves that we have been delivered from the domain of darkness. We are no longer slaves to sin. Every time we feel like this world is our home, we must remind ourselves that we have been transferred into the Kingdom of His Son. We are citizens of another realm. Every time we feel the need to earn favor with God and pay Him back for our sins, we must remind ourselves that He has already redeemed us with the blood of His own Son. Each and every time we sin we must remind ourselves that we are already forgiven. That sin has been paid for. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. All we have to do is confess it and enjoy the forgiveness that has already been made available to us. Confession doesn’t earn us forgiveness, it simply allows us to take advantage of the it. All of this should amaze us. It should constantly astound us. It should never be treated complacently by us. “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).