- And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; (Colossians 1:20-23)
I'm going to outline my thinking before we look at the verses in question.
I believe our spirit is already perfectly sanctified after we're saved:
- For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)
- Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (1 John 3:9)
- To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:23)
But that our flesh, even after we're saved is not:
- For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not. (Romans 7:18)
- Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (Romans 7:20)
- ¶ If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)
But also that we can yield our fleshly minds to the Holy Spirit more and more as we mature in our Christian walk:
- [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
- Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. (Romans 6:13)
- ¶ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
- Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6)
And so it is possible to glorify God in our bodies, to some degree, if we allow Him to do His good work in us:
- For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:20)
- There is difference [also] between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please [her] husband. (1 Corinthians 7:34)
- ¶ And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
I don't think anyone besides Jesus will ever completely please God in their flesh, otherwise they wouldn't need a Savior. But I think it's very clear that He would like us to do what we can by yielding to Him. This will give us a better witness to others, allow us a better life on earth, and may end up with more people getting saved (for all I know).
With these premises in mind, if we look at Colossians 1:23, it can be understood as talking about our spirit and our flesh. A combination of the two. Even though our spirit is perfect in His eyes, if we're talking about both the spirit and the flesh, there would be work to be done. We have to renew our minds with the word and try to walk in the Spirit if we're to grow. We could be blamable if, for instance, we murmured and disputed while living in a crooked nation:
- ¶ Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; (Philippians 2:14-15)
Which might happen if we don't trust God. We might get impatient and start to complain. It's something our flesh naturally does. This could explain why it's important to continue in the faith, grounded and settled. And it also applies to not being moved away from the hope of the gospel, which might also happen if we don't trust Him. We might begin to think more about our lives on this earth and get distracted.
Or, having given up the hope, we might begin to entertain another gospel contrary to the doctrine which we have received, at which point we may be reproved by other saints, which could explain why He wants us to be unreprovable in the verses we're looking at:
- Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2)
All of that considered, I think it's clear the point can be made that once we're saved, instead of these scriptures necessitating a conditional salvation or some idea of persevering in the faith, there's a perfectly fair case that He simply wants us to do what we can down here before He takes us home.