Wednesday, September 5, 2018
2 Corinthians 5:17-19 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.
Day 2 in our study of reconciliation.
One of the characteristics of reconciliation is restoration. It is difficult for me to consider the validity of anyone saying they have been reconciled to another person unless it includes the marvelous grace of forgiveness leading to restoration of the previous status of the relationship. But the grace of forgiveness is possible only if there is repentance and a change of heart resulting in changed behavior. Restoration to a previous state is not possible unless everything that damaged the relationship is removed and declared irrelevant.
Biblical reconciliation results in the restoration of our relationship with God to a former status. What former status is that? The status of intimate and secure relationship with God based on righteousness. We do not bring our sin with us into this relationship. Reconciliation requires the renouncing of anything that was responsible for the breakup.
There is tension between what the Bible says and what the world says is necessary for reconciliation. The world has declared war on the Biblical definition by stating that the only thing required for people to live in harmony with one another is tolerance. The biblical model of reconciliation challenges that philosophy by emphasizing the need for repentance and change.
In the Bible, reconciliation is all about change. In fact, the Greek word the Apostle Paul uses in his writings that is translated reconciliation in our language means simply “to change completely”.
There is an ancient and deceptive philosophy called Gnosticism. It teaches that God is only concerned with the spirit and cannot be involved with the physical. That belief is still prevalent today and forms the foundation of the philosophy of tolerance. It is held by those who support and pursue the gratification of the flesh and all its desires. Mainstream culture today believes that people can be reconciled to one another without a change in behavior or beliefs. Logically, then, those same people conclude that the spiritual can also be reconciled to God without change in belief or behavior.
This is contrary to what the Bible teaches about the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus. Saved people have the power of the Holy Spirit in them. He is creating the character of Jesus Christ in them. He is moving them toward holiness and the rejection of sinful behavior. True reconciliation with God requires repentance from sin. Unity and harmony with God is not possible when we intentionally continue in what God calls sin and reject the Holy Spirit’s transformational influence.
True reconciliation is based upon and results in change. Today’s Scripture passage reveals this to us. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! What a fantastic concept! Every part of our lives that was once connected to and controlled by sin is gone when we are in Christ. We are a new creation, with a new purpose – to do the work of God. (Ephesians 2:10, we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God ordained for us to live in.)
Change. When we repent of our sin, we admit the need for change. God grants forgiveness, and there is a change in our spiritual standing before God. Our change in standing produces a change in our social behavior before man. When we are in Christ, we are to put off all the activity of the flesh so that our lives are lived in righteousness and holiness. (see Ephesians 4:17-24)
When we come to Christ for salvation, admitting to and repenting of our sinful nature, He changes us. The very life of Jesus Christ is created in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are new. Our minds are transformed. Our actions will follow our hearts. We are designed in our salvation to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
When we repent of our sin and believe in Christ’s righteousness that was made available to us when He paid our sin debt on the cross, we are reconciled to God and restored to our former relationship status. As a result, we renounce sin and live to reflect the glory of our spiritual condition. Then, one day, Jesus will return and finalize the reconciliation when He takes us into His perfect presence.
That’s reconciliation – restoration to God, complete and eternal.