Are We Alienated from God? – Colossians 1:21

In Colossians 1:21 Paul declares humans are all alienated (ἀπαλλοτριόω) from God. This verb could be translated as estranged. In English, estranged can mean a simple separation, as in the phrase “a man and his estranged wife…” This doesn’t mean the one of the marriage partners are in the wrong. It means the couple has marital problems and they are no longer living together. Similarly, the relationship humans have with God before we are saved. We are “separated,” we have left God are living a life which is anti-God in every way we can. This is the same thing Paul wrote in Romans 1:18-20 in far more detail (see All Ungodliness and Unrighteousness and The Foolishness of Idolatry). In fact, we are not only alienated from God, we are his enemies!

EnslavedPaul uses this phrase in Ephesians 2:12 and 4:18 to describe the the human condition before faith in Jesus. The Gentiles were not just ignorant of God, they were darkened and hardened in their minds against God (Romans 1:18-32). Paul chose his words carefully here  in order to highlight the rebelliousness of humans: “still more forcibly the persistence of the state of things” (BDF 352, a perfect passive participle). At one time, we were persistently and wholeheartedly “As such they did not serve God; rather, they were enmeshed in idolatry and slavery to sin.” (O’Brian, Colossians, 66).

Before coming to faith in Jesus Christ as savior, all humans are “enemies of God.” This is a state of hostile towards an enemy. Think of the (many) countries who consider America an enemy: They are committed to harassing us at every turn, and they want to harm us as best they can. That is the way that we were before we were saved, we hated God, and didn’t want to have anything to do with Him. We were estranged, and we hated the one we were alienated from. We had walked out of the relationship ourselves, and we were the ones who turned our backs on God.

Before before coming to faith in Jesus Christ as savior, all humans are in a state of hatred. But God did not hate us, in fact, he still loved us with an intense self-sacrificing love that was very patient. it was God who did something to reconcile that relationship, and God alone.

Both of these conditions is a result of our “evil behavior.” Obviously this could refer to paganism, the lifestyle out of which the Colossians were saved.  “These phrases denote the actions of the unbelieving world, which belong to the ways of darkness rather than the ways of light, and which ultimately lead to death.” (O’Brien, Colossians, 67).

Is this true of all unsaved people? Were we really “enemies of God” before Christ? We are enemies of God because we are a part of the human race, although not all of us are playing the role of “enemy insurgent.” Just as when Iraq was at war with America, all Iraqis are technically the enemy; not all Iraqis are actively attacking American interests. Some are more active enemies than others, but all are enemies by definition.

Does this accurately describe the human condition? What about humans who go objectively good things in the world?

39 thoughts on “Are We Alienated from God? – Colossians 1:21

  1. I do not think that we are all “enemies of God” before Christ, for, as you state above,we are not all “actively playing the role of enemy insurgent”. Although I believe that before Christ we are not right with God, I don’t think this makes us enemies. I doubt that the unsaved are all walking around contemplating how they can negatively affect God and His people–maybe some but not all. The definition of enemy is “a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something”, but it is also “a hostile nation or its armed forces or citizens, especially in time of war” (according to Merriam-Webster dictionary). As stated, I do not think that ‘enemy’ is an appropriate description of all those who are unsaved, although it may apply to some.

  2. I have a hard time straight forwardly saying that we are all “enemies of God,”before we come to Christ, considering I believe that those who are still too young mentally to understand or know Christ and what he’s done, do go to Heaven. Not all theologians probably agree with that, but that is what I believe. I know that we are all sinners from the time we are born, but I do not think we are enemies of God until after we have come to an age where we would be able to understand and accept Christ’s salvation for us. Enemies seems like such a harsh word, but I think it is pretty fitting for people who purposely go about sinning, even secular people understand a basic sense of right and wrong after all, and any sin separates us from the Lord until we are cleansed by Christ before God. We are all influenced one way or another by the sinful natures running amok throughout the world. I feel it is more our natures, than our individual beings that are the real enemies of God. We cannot be anything other than estranged from the Lord, before we are reborn into the body of Christ. After that happens, we are no longer alienated, and our nature is no longer driving us to go against God, rather our new nature as a believer is to please God. We are henceforth children of God, we are in His family, and God’s original plan for the family not to have a family divided. According to the Longenecker and Still, it is understood that Paul was “acutely concerned about the harmful effects,” that the philosophy and nature of the people, especially pagan people, in Colossae, and was strongly preaching the Gospel of Christ in opposition to the other philosophy being accepted (TTP, 224). Just like back then, we all need to be wary of gospels, theology, or people who try and convince us of anything other than what we really learn from reading the Bible. As saved believers, most of us should be compelled to live like Christ did to the best of our human abilities, especially since we are no longer estranged and in conflict with the Lord.

  3. I would not say that before being saved that I “hated God”. It was more of a being oblivious to God than a known hatred. In TTP, Longenecker states that, “Such disregard for God and the good incites God’s wrath or judgment of sinfulness.” Given this statement about Col. 3:5-8, It seems like God may have anger towards us in our sins, but all over the Bible, it says that God is love and Jesus is the example of that love, and the payment for the anger and judgement we deserve for the sins listed in Col. 3:5-8. Just because we were of a sinful nature, does not mean that once we are saved that we are still part of that nature such as in you illustration of Iraqis. We are then in a different group of love rather than the wrath we deserve.

  4. I believe that this is true. It is a hard thing to swallow, but even now, being a born-again Christian, I am a rebellious human-being. I don’t want to always listen to God’s will for me and because of my sinful nature, I am constantly sinning, even when I have the Holy Spirit in me. So how much more would I sin without the Holy Spirit being alive in me? It doesn’t mean I would want to intentionally hurt God or act out specifically against him, but I would be acting out against someone.

    God decided to wipe out an entire planet with a flood because of sin. Now, I am sure the world was evil just like the one we live in today, but I don’t think everyone was trying to actively hurt God. They were just living their own lives. Now, being that God wiped out the whole earth, I think he thought differently. It was a direct attack against God. In Genesis 9:6, it says, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” This means that when we are hurting each other, whether we kill a person or are being rude to someone, it is an attack on God because we are hurting his creation who were made in his image. Therefore, we would be like an enemy.

    When Paul speaks to the Colossians, he says this philosophy they are following gives them “false humility” and makes them “puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual minds” (Col 3:18, 23). It was a “hollow and deceptive” philosophy and it depended on humans rather than on Christ, which could have “harmful effects… in the Colossians’ commitment to Christ and his body, the church” (2:18, TTP 224). If the Colossians were following something other than Christ, how can this philosophy not be an enemy to God? Now, the Colossians he is talking to are Christians, but when they are following something that works against the Gospel of Christ, it seems to me that that in itself is an enemy of God, so how much more is a person an enemy if they are unsaved and did not trust in God as their Savior?

  5. Romans 5:7-8 tells us that while we were sinners, Christ died of us. Since God is holy, and hates anything to do with sin, that made us his enemies because we were sinners. We were once wicked and under the power of darkness. We need Christ in order for us to have a good relationship with God. Christ came, giving up his life and died of our sins on the cross. I personally believe that the statement “we were all enemies of God” applies to everyone. We were all once sinners and were divided with God. However, Christ died for all our sins. Since then, those who accept Jesus are no longer God’s enemies but are Gods friends. Such an amazing thought to think about.

  6. To say that I hated Christ before I was saved would be something that I do not think is true. I would say before I was saved I did not really know who Christ was, and it’s really hard to hate somebody you don’t know. But then when reading this post I noticed that we are all sinners, and even after being saved we sin. Romans 3:23 tells us that we all have sinned. God may have anger towards our sins, but I do not think that he has any towards us, or would consider us his enemies for our sins. Because we know that God is love and are showed that many times throughout the Bible, especially when it comes to his son. After being saved I think that we become part of a different categories, although we do live amongst the enemies, God can tell us apart.

  7. If we see God as King then yes, every person before Christ is an enemy. We are his enemy because we are not following his “law”. It isn’t about whether we hate God or not. It is about whether we are under the reign of God. Some of us may not be directly opposing his rule, but we may not be under it. As Sam Smith said, “I am a rebellious human being” that means we are attacking the authority of God. Anyone not following God is following another ruler thus they are an enemy. There is a hope though because God wants peace. Romans 5:7-8 gives us that truth. While we were enemies God was reconciling us. “This Lord Christ turns foes into friends by means of his reconciling and life-giving death” (TTP 228). Like any royal relationship though, it requires a continual following of the treaty. Christ died we must continue to walk in that. “Saving faith is continuing faith” (TTP 228).

  8. I do not believe that those who are alienated from God are all “enemies of God”. I feel weird trying to think that in my mind. Enemies are those who are intentionally trying to harm or harass, as you said. Some of those who are lost, have no idea who God is or what is their purpose in this life. Some people don’t even have a mental capacity to discern God, and I strongly believe that they are going to heaven, because I believe that God judges our heart and what we know. If we don’t know, then how can we be judged for it?

    I think it’s wrong to define those as enemies, but I do believe that those who are not actively God-followers have full potential to become enemies of God because unfortunately they are exposed to the influence of the enemy (Satan), and I see in Ephesians 6:12 that the message is about that.

    Also, when you gave Iraq as an example, you said –
    “Just as when Iraq was at war with America, all Iraqis are technically the enemy; not all Iraqis are actively attacking American interests. Some are more active enemies than others, but all are enemies by definition.”
    I also disagree with that, because I think it is a generalization of all in one. I can’t say that just because a group of cops did something wrong, all of them are wrong doers. To me that is putting all of them in a box and labeling them something that not all of them agreed to do.

    Some unsaved people are very active in harassing God, and I do consider them enemies of God, but not all unsaved are engaged in those practices.

  9. It may seem like too far of a generalization, but I agree that if we take the Word of God to be true, before we have accepted the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, we are enemies of God. Ephesians 2:1-3 makes this very clear, that we were “by nature deserving of wrath.” It does not matter whether we were saved at five years old when we hardly could comprehend spiritual matters such as these or whether we are saved on our deathbeds after leading a life of sin. It is not our actions that make us sinners, but rather, it is our human nature, and because Holy God cannot stand the presence of sin, we are indeed enemies of God. Thankfully, God has rescued us from that life, for as Colossians 1:13 states, He has “brought us into the kingdom of the Son whom He loves.” Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and shed blood has covered our guilt and has enabled God to bring us back into fellowship with Himself. Now, God does not see us how we are, guilty sinners who deserve His wrath, but instead, He sees us as He sees His Son, holy, blameless, and and acceptable. According to Longenecker in TTP, “Through him and his bloody cross, God effects the reconciliation of all things” (225). We are no longer enemies of God, but now, we are His sons and daughters.

  10. I do believe that we are all sinners and that we need to believe that Jesus Christ is our savior. Because we are all sinners, does that then mean that we all have a little “evil” inside of us? Is a person less “evil” and less of a “sinner” because they try to make the best decisions and follow God’s teachings in the Bible? A person’s choices and behavior do show who they are as a person. Are we not enlightened until we truly believe in God and the trinity?
    The cosmic Christ “is also the Church’s Christ; the church’s Lord is a crucified, reconciling, peacemaking Lord (Colossians 1:18a, 20)” (Longenecker, 227). Longenecker wrote that “this Lord Christ turns foes into friends by means of his reconciling and life-giving death” (227). The Colossians did not always know God or believe in Him (Colossians 1:22). After their eyes opened to God and were made holy in the sight of God through Jesus, they were saved by faith (Colossians 1:23).

  11. I agree with Allison that we are all sinners and that we need to believe in Jesus Christ as our savior. I believe that there are some people who hate Christ. We have all gone through times in our lives were we resented Christ. I believe that we all have evil, fleshy desires in our veins. We want the things of the world because we are still human. And like Adam said, we deserve the wrath. We deserve the death that was supposed to be given to us. So I believe that we will always have that earthly desire to crave evil. We just have to learn to rely on the strength of the Lord instead of our own. “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).

  12. I completely agree with the direction Adam is going towards. Looking at this concept completely Biblical, we are enemies of Christ. The Pirates of the Caribbean phrase from Philip comes to my mind, “I’m not with you, neither am I against you!” From the second after sin entered the world, the choice became simple: Christ or the world. One could not choose their category from the following: those who completely reject God; those who have never heard of the gospel; those who persecute Christians; those who are on the line about what they believe, etc. The Bible is straightforward. Either you KNOW God or you do not. Until we ask Jesus to take away our sins, we are on the opposite side of him. As 1 Peter states “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25). Before accepting Christ as our Savior, we are lost–as sheep without a shepherd. After asking God to take complete control of our lives, our hearts become guarded with a seal. This protection can be compared to sheep who are put in a gate so that their shepherd can take care of them.

  13. I do not think that I would say that we are enemies of God because we are unsaved. God created us so truly we cannot be enemies of Him. We can be far away from Him or disconnected from Him, but to say we are enemies is a little bit harsh. We may be estranged from God and we may be disconnected, but in order to be enemies with someone one party has to dislike or hate the other or be against each other and I do not think that God is ever against us because the whole point of being saved is so that we can be with God and that we come back to Him. Therefore saying we are enemies is a bit out of the truth on account of the fact that we are truly meant to be brought back into union with Him and not to stay away from Him.

  14. “We had walked out of the relationship ourselves, and we were the ones who turned our backs on God” (P. Long Blog). I feel that is still the relationship some of us have with God to this day and it flows into every other relationship in our lives. Now a days rather than doing all a person can do to try and save a dwindling marriage divorce is more so the option. When friends have a disagreement often the relationship is forgotten and full of hatred. Rather than trying to get to the bottom of the issue they give up of the friendship and forget one another. “Before humans encounter Christ, they are in this state of hatred” (P. Long, Blog). If we do not have a solid base in our love for God and know His love for us we will then be unable to show that unconditional love to those around us. We will instead let people go and forget about them all together “deleting” them from our lives. Even with our hatred of God, He never left us or hated us. Rater He sent His only son to come and die for all of the sins of humanity. This unconditional love is what we need in our lives so we can in turn love and show everyone that same unconditional love. “Negatively, Paul enjoins the assembly to “put to death” that which is earthly or unholy” (TTP, 230). It is easier to do that if we have the love of God in us. We will then not need to fill ourselves with the earthly things as that hole would no longer be there. We would be so filled with God that there would be no room for anything else.

  15. I think it is very evident that we are alienated from God, because that is how we are born, alienated from God. This is because sin separates us from God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”(Romans 3:23). We have been alienated from God ever since the fall of man. From the moment we are born, we are born into sin, and there is no way for us to possibly be able to be with God on our own. However, because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, we can have reconciliation- and actually be with God. “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous”(Romans 5:18-19). Without Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins, there would be no way for us to ever be with God, and we would always be alienated from God forever.

  16. So the big question being asked is if we are alienated from God. I liked how Long talked about the U.S. and a country that we are at war with. When we look at that other country, we see the enemy. But does that mean that every single person in that country is our enemy. Now, by relating this situation to people who have not yet accepted Christ, I believe that we are not all “enemies” of God. They do not all hate him just because they have not accepted him. There are people who are genuinely good that do not know God yet. Another group of people to look at as well who have not yet accepted Christ are children. Does that mean by saying: all people who have not accepted Christ are his enemy, apply to kids? It is such a controversial topic. I would have never said that I hated God before I came to know him. I was just uneducated and plainly unsaved. Professor Long stated “It was God who did something to reconcile that relationship, and God alone.” (Long, 2017) As God has said many times, we are all sinners that are in need of his grace. So, it is safe to say we are all sinners but I do not see us as enemies. I would say that this case would be different if there was a non believer who knew right from wrong and still chose to sin out of rebellion. This instance could be seen as an enemy to God. God would not see that person this way though as he loves us all and would show us grace and love. Once we decide to accept Christ, we do not become alienated. We begin to walk with God in our lives and live to be pleasing to Him. Longenecker states that “His gratitude springs from that which he has heard about their “faith in Christ Jesus” and their “love for all God’s people”.” (Longenecker, 226) I feel like this goes to show the new heart that people acquire after they accept God. That shows like the “enemy” leaving and God taking over. I do believe that we are alienated from God at some point but once we accept him then we are not.

  17. In the beginning of the blog, it mentioned that we are living a life “separated” from God. This past week, my soccer team and I were able to go to the ark encounter and there was a section of what our world would look like apart from God. It showed all the people living their lives apart from God and it looked unbearable. There seemed to be so much pain and agony and lives just full of sin, they were really living their lives as enemies of God. In my life I feel that I have always tried to love everyone and not have anyone hate me or be my enemy but it obviously this talks about how we are enemies of God. Having someone walk out on you in any kind of relationship, whether that be a parent, friend, or lover, is the worst feeling ever as you are losing someone that you care about and that is what happens when we live our lives apart from God. We as humans have always had this nature to be apart from God as it is in our flesh. As the blog spoke about how when we are at war with a certain country, that country is our enemy even though some express it more than others. That is the same way that we are with God and are all enemies of I believe that our purpose here on earth is not to always be an enemy of God, but to grow in relationship with Him to show that we are no longer His enemy but someone who wants to help with their purpose. 2 Corinthians 6:18 talks about how we are sons and daughters to God who is our Father and I feel that this is what God wants from us, to go through life with Him and not be estranged from him any longer. In a changing world where everything can be confusing especially the people that we interact with, there is only one thing that will never change and that is Jesus, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Although it can be scary at times to go to someone that you know you let down for the actions that you have committed, it tells us that God will love us unconditionally and that no matter what we have done we can always come to Him as His children, no longer strangers.

  18. God is very loving and always has been and always will be. He died for us even though we may never love him or choose him . That is the loving grace of God. Therefore as believers we choose to love him and give our life up for him. For me I never hated God I just thought he was this far being. Not a God that was personable at all. Once I realized that he is a loving personable God. That changed everything for me. Now i live that out in my everyday life. Some people though oppose God all the time and deny him. Even though God loves these people he will not allow them to enter the kingdom of God. They will be headed for hell. It only makes sense that God wants the people that love him to dwell with him forever.

  19. Going through life as a Christian, as a human, and as someone that is imperfect as the rest of mankind is I have felt separated from God many times. This separation feeling has been common along the lines of history and has caused a sort of anger towards God and Christianity. However, this separation came to us through the fall when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and what he told him not to do. As Christians we might be angry at this because we are being “punished” as a people for something we have not done. But God saw what he had created, and that was sinful people, and God cannot coincide with sin. We must remember as humans that even though we are not responsible for the fall of mankind, we still sin every day and wouldn’t have lasted in the garden of Eden regardless of whether Adam and Eve were responsible or not – it would’ve happened at some point. I found it interesting that before we are found in Christ that we are seen as an “enemy.” Phil Long in his blog post compared Christianity to America. America has enemies that “are committed to harassing us at every turn, and they want to harm us as best they can. That is the way that we were before we were saved, we hated God, and didn’t want to have anything to do with Him. We were estranged, and we hated the one we were alienated from.” We almost alienated ourselves. The good news is that the separation from God is not permanent. We have every chance to redeem ourselves through faith in Jesus Christ. Mark 16:16 says this, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

  20. I believe that before being a Christian I was separated from God, but I do not think I necessarily hated God. Because of Adam and Eve’s sin, we are born with a sinful nature. We sin and therefore are making choices that are against God. I do not know if hating God is equivalent to this. Turning against God, yes, but hating I’m not sure. Paul does talk about in Romans how the people knowingly rebelled against God. “The Gentiles were not just ignorant of God, they were darkened and hardened in their minds against God (Romans 1:18-32)” (Long, 2017). I’m not sure if oblivious may be a better term than hatred towards God. In Romans, Paul talks about the people willingly going against God and God giving them over to these desires. But do those who do not know God or unknowingly sin because they do not know better hate God? They sin regardless, but I am not sure if the sin is linked to hatred. Longenecker responds to sexual sins in Colossians 3 with “Such reckless disregard for God and the good incites God’s wrath or judgment of sinfulness” (Longenecker, 230). With this, the focus of God’s wrath is on the sin and not the people. We know that God is a loving and merciful God, but he is also a just God. Even with Colossians 1:21 talking about us being alienated from God, I do not necessarily think that means we hate God.

  21. In Colossians 1:21 Paul mentions that all people are alienated by God, but this term alienated can be translated as estranged. Estranged can simply mean separation. Through all these clarifications in terms, we realize that Paul is telling us that all people are separated from God. The reason we are separated from God is due to our sin. Before we are saved, we can be seen as enemies of God.
    As the blog post mentions, we are considered “enemies of God” before we put our faith in Jesus. This idea is compared to countries who consider America to be an enemy. These countries want to harass and harm America the best that they can. Before we are saved, this is how we act toward God. Our actions are not pleasing to God. We turned our backs toward God. We are not living Christ-like lives like the lives we are called to be living. This leads to the second point that the blog posts mentions, that before we have a faith in Jesus, we are in a state of hatred. Even though we hated God, God did not have any hate toward us. He still loved us. In fact, God is the reason that our relationship with Him was reconciled.
    Unfortunately, I do believe this is true for all unsaved people. It was always hard for me to understand the concept that there can be nice people in the world who do not know Jesus, but even those naturally nice people need Jesus. Due to being born into a sinful world, we cannot help but have sinful natures.

  22. I think this is a very controversial topic and another way we can look at it is putting it in the context of bullies and bystanders. I would not say that we are enemies of God, but by not doing anything we do seems like we are. Many times people don’t get involved because they want to remain impartial or they just don’t want to get into any problems, but I wouldn’t classify them as enemies. Many years ago I asked my parents if my childhood friend would go to heaven or not because she had down syndrome with severe developmental problems and didn’t know about God. My parents replied, “yes, she will go to heaven because although she might not know about God, He works in her and knows her heart.” That is why this topic is so controversial because although some people don’t know about God or decide not to live out their faith, only God knows their true intentions and I don’t think that he would declare them enemies. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, all of our sins, and in that moment we were reconciled with God. Some people might not be aware, others might have a feeling. I think that we are all on different journeys in regard to our coming to God experience. A Christ who shed his blood for us would not classify us as enemies for not knowing. I do believe that people that know about God and decide to ignore him are also not enemies, rather they are estranged. This goes back to what I said earlier. We all walk different paths in our spiritual journeys. Just as some estranged marriages have the potential of getting back together, I think we as humans have that same potential with the Lord.

  23. It is very hard to say whether we are all “enemies of God” before we come to Christ because of the people that are still too young to accept Christ fully or understand what that means. We are all sinners when we are born but that does not mean we are enemies of God until we mentally prepared to make that decision. We also as people know right from wrong but we can also choose to live a life full of sin. Now there is always the temptation to commit the sin but it also seems that God is upset with our sins and that is where God has His anger for us. Col. 3:5-8 states that God is love and Jesus is the way to show that love to us. It seems that the payment and anger that we deserve is also in these verses but just because we are sinful in nature does not mean that we deserve to be enemies of God from the start of our lives. The enemies of God should be the people that are mentally capable of understanding of who God is and be able to make a decision of whether they want to follow Him.

  24. As Christians, we should believe that we are Alienated from God. Being Alienated from God is the same as being separated from God. Our sins are what separate us from God. Everyone sins in different ways and as Christians although we try to avoid sin, there is no way around it. There was a time that I had felt separated from God during high school. I was really lost, and I started losing my faith. I started to not go to church and try anything I could and use any excuse to get away from it. Everyone has their own way of being separated from God. When we are separated, we are not living the lives that we were called to live. I reiterate this in many of my comments because it is one of my favorite things to look at when I am feeling separated from God. This is living in the image of God, which is the intent for our calling as Christians. If we are separated from God, we are not living in the image of God or a Christ-like life.

  25. I do not think that I would use the term “enemies” when describing our relationship to God, though I would agree that we are often in opposition to Him and His plans. I imagine two workers clearing snow off sidewalks in the winter, with one going ahead and shoveling snow from the sidewalk to the grass, and the other following behind scraping snow back onto the sidewalk. Though the second worker is perhaps not doing this out of malice or hatred toward the first (although he certainly could be doing it for those reasons), he is perhaps ignorant or uncaring of the plans of the first worker, and so is actively undoing the good work done by the first shoveler. In this same way, we are often at odds with the Lord because there is a clash of wills. God desires only good, and we desire our own pleasure. While God is trying to reconcile our relationship (which has been broken due to our sin) we continue to sin even if we also want to be reconciled to God. In this way, I like to use the terminology of addiction when describing how humans relate to sin. Even if we want to follow God’s plan above our own, we cling to sin as if addicted because we truly are addicted to seeking after our own pleasure. However, I think there are individuals who would truly be considered enemies of God, because they are actively seeking to undo His plans because they delight in rejecting God. I think that the ones who do this are more often spiritual beings rather than humans, as many humans who delight in their rejection of God do so not because they believe in God and want to see Him suffer and fail, but they do so because they either genuinely do not believe He exists or they genuinely do not want to believe that He exists. Thus, I would not consider humans to generally be enemies of God unless they both believe in God and seek to cause Him harm because they derive pleasure from His suffering, which describes a very small (perhaps even nonexistent) group of mortal humans.

  26. Colossians 1:21 states, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds.” We are alienated from God due to our sin. “Before coming to the faith in Jesus Christ as savior, all humans are enemies of God,” (Long, 2017). Before coming to Christ, I was not saved, so my sin divided me from God. I believe we are enemies of God when we are not saved because we can only serve one master, (Matthew 6:24). We become children of God when we become saved. When we are not living for God we are living for ourselves and we are enemies of God because we do not stand for God when we are not saved. Thankfully we can be saved by God and we are loved by Him even though we do sin. We will never know the love that God has for us. Because we cannot understand it fully. I do believe that because humans are created in the image of God, we do share attributes with Him. Even non-believers, because even though they do not knowledge God, they do still have the law of God written on their hearts. We are enemies of God when we are not saved, because we are not for God we are living against God. As a believer it is important that we follow Jesus and live for Him only. Jesus is willing to save us from our sin, we just have to repent and turn towards Him and He will save us.

  27. There are two things discussed in this blog post that humans are before we reach faith in Jesus Christ our Savior: enemies of God and in a state of hatred toward God. In the first instance, we are born into sin because the first sin of Adam and Eve. We all are sinful sinners who, before we know God, know no better than to fill our time with worldly pleasures. Prior to our knowledge of God, I believe it is not entirely our fault for indulging in worldly pleasures, for it could be we do not know what we are doing. Once we have an understanding and continue to choose the world over God, that is when we continue to be enemies of God. We will continue to sin and that is a choice we cannot prevent, but in our sin, we can pursue God and choose to give our sins to God. In the second instance, for whatever reason, we have a sinful hatred toward God, as if it was his fault for the sin and his fault for our hatred. On the contrary, it was God who reconciled our relationship with him, and only God who could have done this. Thanks to the work of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we have a newfound relationship with God and have the opportunity to eternity with him if we so choose it. While yes, both of these instances are because of our evil behavior, but we now can choose to not let those evil tendencies define us. We are created in the image of God and that is what defines us. We are God’s children, created as very good, and with the purpose of praising and glorifying God.

  28. To call us “enemies of God” is a bit extreme, the Father called us as his creation ‘very good’ so to go against that and call us enemies of Him would be a bit contradicting. Though I can say before the salvation of Christ Jesus we were set apart from the Father. Being separated from God causes confusion and boundaries, therefore the people in Scripture had to jump through many hoops in order to even get remotely close to the Father. At that point it’s easier to live a life of free will rather than living according to the Law and Pharisees. God’s people were struggling to live a healthy relationship with Him, undoubtedly so this made Him angry but I don’t think that made us enemies. From the frustration, God grew broken hearted for His people because they were not understanding that all He wanted from them is praise and love for Him. The deciding factor that the Father had to bring His people closer to Him was the act of sending His Son for our sins. When Christ came to break that barrier, once we accept Him as the Messiah we are now separated from the Father anymore. Rather than being set apart from God we are now set apart from the people of the world. (1 Peter 15-16) So as of now I don’t think that this describes the human condition, I don’t think we ever have been nor will we ever be enemies of God.

    Everyone loves the person who goes above and beyond in their faith walk, by doing good things. An individual who does objectively good things is meaningless, though that’s harsh it’s true. Let’s put it this way, would you rather get a high-five from God or to hear ‘Welcome home my good and faithful servant’? To say that a person does objectively good so that automatically means they love the Lord so much and that they aren’t set apart for the Lord is something foolish to assume. This individual could be so far from the Lord and not actively pursuing Him in their spare time, though they accepted Christ as their savior they aren’t utilizing this gift; rather they are relying on their works to be ‘kosher’ with God. Our salvation and relationship with the Father is not reliant on works, we are saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8)

  29. I find it interesting that the word “alienated” Paul used could be translated as “estranged.” From a Western perspective, “estranged” is most often used in the marital sense. I like the connection you make between an estranged martial relationship is much like our relationship with Christ. You make an interesting point in how we are God’s enemies before becoming a Christian. Many would see this word usage as being too harsh in the same way the word slave is often looked down upon, but it is very fitting when considering the context of it. Anyone that is not completely and utterly without sin cannot be in the presence of God, and just as Satan cannot be in the presence of God, neither can we (before being forgiven). Being that we are sinful and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), we would and should be considered his enemies. One would think that because we were his enemies, God would hate us, however this is far from the truth; His love for us is so immense and so deep that he sacrificed Himself so we could spend eternity with Him. If we look in the preceding verse leading up to verse 21, Paul gives perspective on the existence and power of God; he existed before anything else and created all things. If the verse following verse 21, we see Paul describing what Christ did for us so that we could not be alienated from God any longer. Paul uses this all to encourage the believers in Colossae to not waver in their faith because God has done so much for us and he is our creator.

  30. In Colossians 1:21, Paul states that we as humans are “alienated” from God, finding ourselves estranged from His presence and will. As Long notes, it is similar to a marriage that suffers issues and eventually led to being separated, which is metaphorical for the separation between us and God before we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. This phrase is also found in Ephesians 2:12 and 4:18, as it is used to describe the condition of an individual before being saved in Jesus. This use helps illustrate the sinfulness and immorality of the gentiles in their pagan existence, for it was not just a simple state of ignorance but a willful rebellion and disobedience towards God which the non-believer enacts.
    This opposition against God made us His “enemy”, as we stood against Him in our non-believing lives, defiling and despising His commands. It is only through the acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Savior, putting our faith in Him, can we be fundamentally altered from our sinful ways towards God’s holy ways. Furthermore, Long asserts that as a result of humanity’s immoral behavior, we are in a state of hatred before conversion. Yet, this is not representative of God’s standpoint, rather, even in our state of sinfulness, God loved us and desires a relationship with us. This love culminates in the death and resurrection of Jesus on the cross, bridging the gap between us and God caused by sin. Therefore, while in our sinful state we are alienated from God, we are given the opportunity to reconcile ourselves with God through His grace and eternal love.

  31. As we read about alienation from God, there is a clear understanding of separation. We are separated from God because of our sin. Because God and sin cannot be together this causes us to be enemies to God. If you are not in the family of God and have put faith in Jesus, you are an enemy of the Lord because you have not been forgiven. This derives from us being sinful humans who choose to rebel against God. By the atonement of our sins this is no longer the case. If you are in Christ, you are in the family and not alienated, if you are not, then you are separate from God. “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12 ESV). As we look at Genesis 3, we see the story of the human’s condition. We are creatures who make the wrong choice. We want things done our way for our glory. This goes directly against Gods will for our lives. Our rebellion against God is punishable by death, whether this once or a countless number of times we have rebelled against the Lord. Apart from the work of Jesus on the cross there is no hope, and we are alienated. With Jesus we are made right with our Father, no longer alienated.

  32. Colossians 1:21 states that we are alienated by God, alienated in simple terms means separated. What Paul is saying in this verse is that we are separated from God. The reason we are separated from God is because of our sinful nature. With this being said, before being saved, we are enemies of God. I would say that we all are separated from God in some way because we are all sinful and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) but I would also say that we shouldn’t be considered enemies of God. I would say this could be true if we had an understanding of who God is and what it means to be a follower of Christ but still chose to deny God and live out a sinful life. Yes, we are born into a sinful world and all sinners but I wouldn’t say that makes us enemies of God. I think you have the choice to be an enemy of God or not, once you have that understanding. Either way, I do believe we are all separated from God in one way or another. While we are born with a sinful nature and alienated from God, we are also given the wonderful opportunity to find Christ and build a beautiful relationship with Him through His grace and love.

  33. Something about the idea of being “enemies of God” makes me very uncomfortable. As a Christian we understand the power of God and what it means to be in His family. On the flip side, we also understand what it’s like to be an enemy of God. Even while we were God’s enemies, He still sought us and extended His Grace towards us (Longenecker, 2014). While we were enemies of God, He did not hate us, but we hated Him. While we were still living in hatred towards Him, He was still seeking us out to extend His offer of Grace. I think the word “estranged” describes our lives before we become Christians well. We were headed on a path towards eternal separation that we did not deserve to live in eternity with God. Like it says in Romans, nothing with never separate from the love of God. Even while we try and push Him away, he continues to pursue us to bring us to Him. Prior to being saved, we do whatever we can to live in opposition to the will of God. So often I hear people who are a little bit later in life say that it’s “too late” for them to come to Christ because they are too far gone. But the love of God is never ending, and He will never stop pursuing us to bring us back to Him.

  34. Describing someone who hasn’t accepted Jesus Christ as their savior to be an “enemy of God” is kind of hard to grasp, they do not believe but does that necessarily make them an enemy? What about people who haven’t even heard the word of God, are they then enemies of God for not hearing the news of how they can be saved? I do think that there are enemies of God, people who choose to go against what He says and choose to not believe and not want that relationship with God. But I do not believe that everyone is an enemy of God before Christ. Some people do not yet know of the news of Christ or some people are still working on their faith, not yet fully understanding that Jesus Christ is our savior. I don’t think that all unsaved people are enemies of God, though there are people out there who do make an enemy of God, but that also does not mean that God hates them. God is a God of love and forgiveness, some people hate God and want to go against what he says but God still has room for them in His heart. God loves each and every one of us so even if one wants to make God their enemy but then has a change of heart God will welcome them back.

  35. I believe that we were not enemies of God before Christ, however, I believe that we were enemies of ourselves. By committing sins we are hurting ourselves. Although many sins do not affect us physically, they do affect us emotionally or mentally. By committing these sins we are slowly getting farther and farther away from the true path we are meant to be on in our lives and this causes us to become depressed or emotionally drained. Although sins do in fact affect God and He wants us to steer away from them, it also affects us when we commit these. This is what people do not realize about sins is that they do take a toll on a person after a while. We feel that we did wrong and it grows on us and the only way for that guilt of sinning to go away is to turn to God and know that you are saved, sin and all. Christ died for us so that we may be renewed from Him. This renewal makes us able to be saved even though we are all sinners. God knows that we are all sinners and this is why He wants us to still have a chance to be redeemed.

  36. There’s an interesting contention within the modern church surrounding a doctrine named the “Age of Accountability.” This is an ancient Hebrew practice that denoted a child’s faith up to age twelve did not yet count because they could not fully and consciously grasp the concept of God or a conscious, veritable faith in Him. This post reminded me of this age-old discussion and the issue of people who haven’t accepted Christ being His ardent “enemies,” especially in reference to Matthew 19:14 (ESV). Similarly, why would Christ hold the misleading of children in any higher regard than another person in Luke 17:2? Catholics still subscribe to this doctrine, believing seven years of age to be the primary cutoff. To designate all children, keenly babies, as “enemies of God” would seemingly contradict Scripture and denigrate modern-day abortion values; if babies are simply going to hell anyway, who cares whether they live or die in the womb? To those who ask “What if the baby grows up to be a believer?” you acknowledge that they are sealed in the Holy Spirit until the Day of Redemption. P Long (2019) clarifies this position, “Just as when Iraq was at war with America, all Iraqis are technically the enemy; not all Iraqis are actively attacking American interests. Some are more active enemies than others, but all are enemies by definition.” Enemies of God could merely mean that by our spiritually deprived state, imputed onto us from Adam, are both alienated from and hateful of God (Romans 3:23).

    Intriguingly, many sins bring harm to humanity as well; for instance, lust, murder, covetousness, envy, and heresy all bring God to ruin just as they spiral man downward into degeneracy. Living as “Christ’s” in the world involves being grounded in forgiveness and love as the central tenets, allowing the peace of Christ to rule and the message of Christ to dwell in their midst and over their hearts (Longenecker & Still, 2014, p. 231). The rebellious nature of humanity is a characteristic Paul especially touches on, persistently and wholeheartedly inclined toward idolatry and sin (Long, 2019). The redemptive work of Christ, reconciling us to God, includes adopting “Christ’s holy and loving lordship” just as was enmeshed and operative within every nook and cranny of the Colossians’ lives (Longenecker & Still, 2014, p. 231). Pairings, or relationships in the ancient Greco-Roman household, inadvertently influence how the Gospel is adopted and spread. We can extrapolate these relationships to our own lives, although the “subordinate” and “headship” relations most likely align with biblical husbands and wives today. Wisdom in our interaction with outsiders and our conversation with all we come across should color the Christian disposition and imbibe the Gospel everywhere it touches.

  37. Colossians 1:21 is a powerful verse that speaks about the separation between humans and God before coming to faith in Jesus Christ. I was interested in your explanation of the term “alienated” and how it conveys a sense of estrangement, showing the broken relationship between humanity and God. Then your comparison to an estranged marriage is pretty interesting and well explained as well, emphasizing the deep gap that existed between us and God before salvation. Lastly, when you talked about humans as God’s enemies, it showed what characterizes our relationship with Him. It’s a good reminder of the state of our hearts before we get to experience God’s transformative love. When you talked about “evil behavior,” It’s a reminder that our actions, even if they seem good in the world’s eyes or in the moment, it can be influenced by a darkness that separates us from God.

Leave a Reply