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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Objective peace – the reality of reconciliation (6:15)

Paul has reminded his readers that an awareness of peace enables them to function as Christian soldiers. We saw yesterday that peace has two sides – an objective state of peace with God and a subjective experience of the peace of God. Today we will consider the objective state.

The need of reconciliation is brought about when two or more parties disagree. When that happens, each party may be in the wrong or one party may have done nothing wrong. Nevertheless there is a need for reconciliation even when one party is innocent. The innocent party may not have any ill will against the other; nevertheless his name has been slandered and he needs to do something about it. Usually it is the erring party who has to takes steps to bring about restoration of the relationship.

In the dispute between God and sinners it was sinners who caused the breakdown of the original harmony when they sinned in Adam, and they make the breakdown worse by continually engaging in more and more sin. Instead of being friends, God and humans are now opposed to one another.  Humans are not only sinners who have broken God’s commands; they have also become his enemies, willing enemies in fact: ‘And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds’ (Col. 1:21).  This is how God saw them: ‘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’ (Rom. 5:10). Because they had rebelled against God, they were under his wrath: even Christians ‘were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind’ (Eph. 2:3).

Although sinners had brought about the alienation, it was God who took the initiative in removing the barrier and in restoring the relationship between him and sinners. This he did by sending his Son to bear the penalty for the sins of his people, and so to make peace between God and them.  Of course, their entrance into this state of peace does not happen until they believe in Jesus. When they do, there is a cessation of hostilities between God and them and a commencement of a never-ending state of friendship. As Paul puts it in Romans 5:1: ‘Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’

It should be straightforward to see how an appreciation of reconciliation gives stability and strength to a Christian facing the attacks of the enemy. The devil can attack with a variety of arrows. On one occasion, he may attempt to depress us by mentioning our sins past or present; on another occasion he may tempt us to pride by praising the quality of our Christian lives. The defence against these suggestions is that we only stand on what Christ has done, for his reconciling work is our hope. Aware that we are now at peace with God, a state that can never be altered, we possess stability under the most fierce of attacks.

Possessing this shoe helps us deal the devil a blow. Recall that on the Roman soldier’s shoe there were studs for protection against the sharp traps of the enemy. These studs broke the traps. So with the Christian. The devil’s most subtle traps are smashed to bits by the studs on our shoe. Satan’s power cannot overcome the strength possessed by one who knows that God has been reconciled to him and he to God.

Think often on the reality of reconciliation.  Remind yourself of what the prophet says in Isaiah 53:5: ‘But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.’  

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