God, in Christ, Working Reconciliation. 210314
This chapter begins with a reminder that our physical bodies are only tents when compared to our heavenly body which is a building made by God’s hand. This physical body is all we know and it is the best most of us can do. We are reminded, while we are in this body, we groan but we should rejoice. God has prepared us for our future by giving us the Holy Spirit who will take us through all our struggles. God’s guarantee can be trusted. We are assured by the Word that God will not allow us to be tempted more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Let’s look at….
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
You see, we must allow the Spirit to rule our decisions and directions. We need to recognize the presence of the Spirit, who is the resident in our life, to become the President of our life! That is the only way we can make it from day to day. When a person comes to faith in Christ every need will be met. Saved -- means you are a new creature! The old life starts passing away.
Paul wrote this truth to the Ephesian church. He encouraged them to live the way they learned! We need to remind ourselves that we have been called with a purpose. We need to act out the Christian Life. Not pretend to be in the faith – instead proclaim we are in the faith.
But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24).
We are to pattern our lives after those who through faith and patience become heirs of the promises (Hebrews 6:12b). We are not to pretend to be Christians we need to prove we are Christians. Not imitations instead we are to be intentional believers.
Looking back to 2 Corinthians 5:16-19 we see that we are to strengthen our faith by our actions. We are new creatures in Christ! Let’s act it out! Make it live! Not in our strength alone. Notice how the Bible presents our actions. We are not told to do the best we can! We must remember, All this is from God not from us. It is God who Through Christ reconciled us to Himself.
When he did that he gave us the ministry of reconciliation. God reconciles us and enables us to join Him in ministry. Some of you listening to, or reading, these words are thinking, or saying outload, “I can’t minister reconciliation to others.” I don’t have the talent or training I need. I want to assure you, God equips those he calls. It is Christ in us who does the ministry. God never looks at human ability; mental, physical or spiritual! The only ability God wants is AVAIL-ability. He will provide everything else we need. And he never leads us into a problem he can’t handle.
Take Paul’s words to heart. (Romans 5:9-11) Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Justified by His blood! Saved by Him! Reconciled by God! Saved by His Life!
So that we can rejoice in God! We can do those things only through our Lord Jesus Christ! The reconciliation we received from the Lord Jesus can be shared with others. We have overcome our separation from God and God strengthens and equips us. After all He took the penalty we deserve. He stood in our place taking our place on the cross. When He represented us he called and equipped us to become channels of His atoning Grace to a lost and dying world.
There are four terms that show how Christ’s death met the four needs that we have as sinners:
1. We deserve to die as the penalty for sin.
2. We deserve to bear God’s wrath against sin.
3. We are separated from God by our sins.
4. We are in bondage to sin and to the kingdom of Satan.
These four needs are met by Christ’s death in the following ways:
Christ died as a sacrifice for us. To pay the penalty of death that we deserved because of our sins, “He has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26).
Christ died as a propitiation for our sins. To remove us from the wrath of God that we deserved, “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” 1 John 4:10.
To overcome our separation from God, we needed someone to provide reconciliation and thereby bring us back into fellowship with God. Paul says that God “through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself” 2 Corinthians. 5:18–19.
Because we as sinners are in bondage to sin and to Satan, we need someone to provide redemption and thereby “redeem” us out of that bondage. When we speak of redemption, the idea of a “ransom” comes into view. A ransom is the price paid to redeem someone from bondage or captivity. Jesus said of himself, “For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). If we ask to whom the ransom was paid, we realize that the human analogy of a ransom payment does not fit the atonement of Christ in every detail. Though we were in bondage to sin and to Satan, there was no “ransom” paid either to “sin” or to Satan himself. They did not have power to demand such payment, nor was Satan the one whose holiness was offended by sin and who required a penalty to be paid for sin. As we saw earlier, the penalty for sin was paid by Christ and received and accepted by God the Father. But we hesitate to speak of paying a “ransom” to God the Father, because it was not he who held us in bondage but Satan and our own sins. Therefore at this point the idea of a ransom payment cannot be pressed in every detail. It is sufficient to note that a price was paid (the death of Christ) and the result was that we were “redeemed” from bondage.
We had to be redeemed from bondage to Satan because “the whole world is in the power of the evil one” 1 John 5:19, and when Christ came he died to “deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage” Hebrews 2:15. In fact, God the Father “has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” Colossian. 1:13.
As for deliverance from bondage to sin, Paul says, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus … For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” Romans 6:11, 14. We have been delivered from bondage to the guilt of sin as well as from bondage to its ruling power in our lives. It is impossible for us to live a life that destroys, of defeats, sin. Sin is not just outward actions such as lying, cheating, murder, and such. Sin is found in our attitudes and thoughts. This is not just an idea that came along with Jesus. The Ten Commandments not only prohibit sinful actions but also wrong attitudes. The tenth commandment tells us, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Ex. 20:17). Here God specifies that a desire to steal or to commit adultery is equally sin in his sight. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount also prohibits sinful attitudes such as anger (Matt. 5:22) or lust (Matt. 5:28). Paul lists attitudes such as jealousy, anger, and selfishness (Gal. 5:20) as things that are works of the flesh opposed to the desires of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Therefore a life that is pleasing to God is one that has moral purity not only in its actions, but also in its desires of heart. In fact, the greatest commandment of all requires that our heart be filled with an attitude of love for God. One of the scribes came up to Jesus and asked which commandment is the most important. Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
How has God dealt with sin? Peter answered, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24.
Jesus answered the need to break the power of sin with the most popular verse in the Bible. Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews came to Jesus one night to talk. Jesus said to him, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John3:16.
Looking back to 1 Corinthians 5:21. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and 6:23 adds the wages of sin is death. But God loved us so much that he shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” Romans 5;8. We are all born sons and daughters of Adam and Eve and cannot save ourselves. Jesus came to bear our sins and give salvation to everyone who believes. Romans 10:9-11, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2016. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.