Reach • Devotion #4: We Were Dead

Dr. Randy T. Johnson


“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Colossians 2:13-15

Prison ministry can be very rewarding. When talking about the Gospel, you do not normally have to spend much time on Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” They understand sin. They have experienced it and live with it every day. That is sort of refreshing as opposed to someone at work or school who feels they are good enough or not as bad as a drug dealer or murderer. I wonder why they never compare themselves to Billy Graham or Mother Theresa.

In Colossians chapter 2, Paul points out that you (and me) “were dead in your trespasses.” I am not sure we realize how bad this is. Death is used as an analogy for something bad. We could not do anything about it. We had a price we could not pay. We were hopeless and lost.

However, check all the phrases Paul uses about what God has done for us:

  • “God made alive”
  • “Forgiven us all our trespasses”
  • “Canceling the record of debt”
  • “He set aside”
  • “Nailing it to the cross”
  • “He disarmed”

God is alive and active in our lives. He has, is, and will do so much for us. We need to pause and thank Him. We then need to thank Him again, and again.

This passage reminds me of the Prodigal Son as recorded in Luke chapter 15. The son wants to live for himself. He rejects a relationship with his father and lives for himself. Eventually, he realizes he is doomed and does not have a chance of survival. In despair, he humbly comes back to his father. The father celebrates his son’s choosing to have a relationship with him.

This is true with the Heavenly Father. We are self-serving and until we realize our hopeless situation, there is no hope. However, when we humbly come before Him, the Father rescues us. Luke 15:32 summarizes our situation, “It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.”