I have been studying this passage the last few days, and until now, I never realized how well the gospel is laid out here:
And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach – if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I Paul, was made a minister. – Colossians 1:21-23
First seen in this section is a description of humanity. Alienated from God, hostile minded, and doers of evil. But even so, Jesus, who came and lived in human flesh, died in order to present us to God as holy and blameless! Guilt free before the judge. Standing between us and God is Jesus saying “this person here is innocent, and any crimes they have committed are mine, which I have already paid for in full.”
But there is a catch. It has nothing to do with an account balance of good deeds. There is nothing expected but for faith. “If indeed you continue in the faith….” And it is clear here that it isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a continuing and establishing process. Faith is the only requirement.
These verses do not say that those who believe will no longer be hostile in mind or engaged in evil deeds. I think that is very intentional so that we will not be deceived into thinking that reconciliation is ever based on proper deeds and actions. Those are important and are a result of faith. But the main focus here is the work of Jesus through death in his fleshly human body, and faith in what was accomplished by him.