May 30, 2024


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Rev innocent Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM

“He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,”
Colossians 1:22

I went and looked up the definition of the word reproach. When used as a verb, the word reproach means to find fault, or blame with a person. As a noun, the word can have similar meanings such as disgrace, or blame. The definition of above reproach is to be blameless.

When I picture the phrase above reproach, I picture a line. The line of reproach. If you live at the line of reproach someone can find fault in you, you can be blamed for something. I would imagine this would mean you have done enough, walked the line close enough that you look guilty. If you live below the line of reproach, or even at the line of reproach, you are giving someone a reason to find fault, or blame, for how you live your life.

On the other hand, when you live above reproach, you are living above that line. You live in a way so that no one can find fault in you or how you live. For example, if you were taken to court or blamed for something. There would be no indictment because there would be no evidence to support that claim.

In the bible, we see the term above reproach or it being described in a couple of places. 1 Timothy 3:2 (NIV) says, “Now the overseer is to be above reproach…” In Titus 1(NIV), it describes the characteristics of an elder, that they are to be blameless (above reproach).

What I mean to do is explore how the character qualifications of elders are actually God’s calling on all Christians. While elders are meant to exemplify these traits, all Christians are to display them. I want us to consider whether we actually do display these traits and to learn together how we can pray to have them in greater measure.

It is not only for elders or church leaders. Colossians 3 teaches that the great hope and comfort of every Christian is that God himself will one day “present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:22). Every Christian is to be and to live above reproach.

What does it mean to be above reproach? What the ESV translates as “above reproach” is first a legal word that indicates a kind of innocence in the eyes of the law. It means that no one can legitimately rebuke you or make any charges against you that will stick. They may accuse, but your conduct will eventually acquit you by proving you blameless (“blameless” being a far more common translation than “above reproach”). Your life is so consistent that your reputation is credible, you are an example worth following, and you do not make the gospel look fake by teaching one thing while doing another.

The primary means through which you gain this characteristic is taking advantage of God’s means of grace—reading the Bible and deliberately applying it.

Above reproach, however, does not mean without sin. No Christian lives an entirely sinless life, nor will we until we reach the glorified state in heaven. Above reproach means that the overseer’s life is free from sinful habits or behaviors that would impede his setting the highest Christian standard and model for the church to emulate (Hebrews 13:7; 1 Peter 5:3). Similarly, the overseer must not give cause for those outside the church to impugn its reputation. Being above reproach means that no one can honestly bring a charge or accusation against him (Acts 25:7; 1 Peter 3:16).

John Calvin offers a helpful distinction between the “ordinary vices” that are found in all men, even in those of the highest character and those sins that give a man a “disgraceful name” and stain his reputation. To be “above reproach” does not mean sinless perfection, but rather a life of honor and integrity.

“And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God,”
1John 3:21

Within our own strength, we will struggle to be blameless. We’re human and imperfect. We mess up. But when we do, we should seek forgiveness and admit the wrong. Then make valiant efforts to make things right.
However, with the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we can strive to be above reproach.

God, in His great goodness, shows us grace upon grace, and mercy beyond our comprehension. His forgiveness – a soothing balm to our souls.

“If you would be ‘blameless,’ don’t pretend to be sinless, but do with your sin what God, in Christ, would have you.”

Paul speaks to all Christians when he says that Christ “has now reconciled [you] in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:22). “

Blameless” may sound like a much higher bar than “above reproach” — especially if we think it to mean “sinless.” But that is not what blameless means. We cannot be perfect, but we can be blameless. Perhaps no passage captures the dynamic of sinful yet blameless like 1 John 1:7–10:
If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Admit your sins and confess them, lay hold on God’s forgiveness in Christ, and walk in the light. And when you are at fault, and to blame, walk toward it, not away from it. Admit your wrong and seek peace, with God and men. And though not sinless, you will be blameless before God. You yourself are not without blemish, but you have a Savior who is (Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19).

In Colossians 1:22 (NLT), “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.” Christ came to die for our sins, so we can appear before God holy and blameless. When we do not live consistent with the gospel we teach, we are telling the world the gospel is fake. We cannot teach one thing and live another.

Does this mean we will be without sin? No. But when we do sin we are to confess it, repent, and turn away from it.