Before and After Pictures
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— (Colossians 1:21-22)
Weight loss advertising is in full swing these days, and one of the most effective means of advertising weight loss products or services is to publish “before and after” photographs. The “before” photos show an over-weight unattractive person, and the “after” photo shows a slim attractive person who has supposedly used a specific product or service to lose weight. So the “before” photo is “ugly” and undesirable, and the “after” photo is “beautiful” and desirable.
There are “before and after” pictures in the spiritual realm as well. As we have discussed in previous articles, there are two spiritual kingdoms co-existing in the world at this present time: the kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan, and the kingdom of light ruled by Jesus Christ. Everybody walking the face of this earth is in one of these spiritual kingdoms. The kingdom of darkness is the majority kingdom, and the one we are born into by default because of our inherited sin nature. It takes a spiritual rebirth to come into the kingdom of light where Jesus rules. Jesus himself said that only a few will find that narrow path:
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
In the letter to the Colossians (and other places) Paul elaborates on this by saying that when we live in the kingdom of darkness, we are enemies of God. Our thinking is wrong, and our behavior is evil. In this condition of walking in the darkness, we are on a road to destruction.
But when we humble ourselves before God and receive the forgiveness Jesus offers, our spirits are recreated and we become a new person: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17) In this new spiritual state we are “holy before God, without blemish and free from accusation.” To be “holy” before God means that you are special – God has a special plan and purpose for you! In the physical realm you sill have an imperfect body and you still have the sinful nature present, but in God’s eyes you are perfect! God is not limited by space and time, so he can see you as you will be in the future, in the resurrected life in heaven.
So here are the spiritual before and after pictures:
BEFORE: alienated (separated) from God, an enemy of God, wrong thinking, evil behavior
AFTER: holy before God (united with him for a special purpose), no blemishes or imperfections, not guilty of any of your sins, because Jesus Christ already paid the punishment with his blood sacrifice on the cross
Please note that a changed spiritual life should result in a change of behavior as well! But this will depend on where our hearts lead us, and how much of our hearts are consumed with the love of Jesus and heavenly things, or with temporal worldly things:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:1-10)
What does your spiritual picture look like today? Is your spiritual picture the “before” one, or the “after” one? What have you set your heart’s desire on for today, tomorrow, and your future?