How God Reconciles His Enemies to Himself
Very few people would ever openly confess to being enemies of God. Although the great majority of people live as practical atheists, most refuse to claim to be atheists. Denying the existence of God is an act of war against God, and so people pretend they are at peace with God. They occasionally take His name in vain, but they refrain from positioning themselves at enmity. The problem for man is God’s perspective on the state of the relationship.
The God of Israel is a God who makes claims, and this is the beginning of our troubles. He has spoken to humanity through chosen men of God called prophets and apostles. He has given us His Word, and it reveals the true state of affairs between man and God. People reject God’s Word, unaware that by doing so they call God a liar (Rom 3:4). They blaspheme the Holy Spirit who has spoken through the prophets in giving us the Scriptures (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20–21), and who today speaks through prophets in forth telling the Scriptures (1 Cor 2:2; 9:16; 14:1–40; Col 1:28; 2 Tim 2:2, 15; 2 Tim 4:2; Tit 1:9).
The rejection of God’s Word begins with the beginning. It is customary for men to reject the Creation itself (Gen 1–2). They laugh at the story of Adam and Eve (Gen 2–3). Who is the presidential candidate who will claim to be a Christian, and who will publicly declare his or her belief in the biblical book of Genesis? Ironically, if our wise leaders would believe Genesis, they would understand the reason why they do not believe in Genesis.
In Genesis, God tells us in the first verse that He created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1). Evolutionary science denies this and positions itself at enmity with God. Our godless secular public schools carry on this recent tradition of positioning themselves at enmity with God, by embracing the theory of evolution. They also have removed the Bible as the primary textbook, and they also have removed prayer from schools. Ironically, they blame guns for mass school shootings instead of the products of their education system, who clearly operate under the same godless ideology as the systems that produced them.
These people hate Christians, even singling them out as targets for murder on our school campuses. Godless government leaders attack the constitutional freedoms of the very victims they are claiming to be working for, and they refuse to listen to the cries of these victims to bring God back into the public arena. The fact is that man reaps what he sows. He avoids God, and he runs from God. He hates Christ (Jn 7:7), hates God (Jn 15:23; Rom1:30), and he hates God’s people, Christians (Jn 15:18–19). Again, we learn that, not from godless secularism, but from God’s Word.
The apostle Paul shed light on the truth of humanity’s status, in writing to the Christians at Ephesus, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest (Eph 2:1–3).” Here is the truth about people living in the world. Let us consider a few of Paul’s thoughts.
First, people in the world without Christ are called, “children of wrath.” When was the last time someone told you that fact? It is not popular among today’s preachers to clearly establish the status of men before God. As John Calvin wrote, “Ambiguity is the fortress of heretics.”
In their natural state, men are enemies of God (Col 1:21). The wrath of God is directed against the ungodly in their unrighteousness (Rom 1:18). When a high school football coach in Bremerton, Washington, is fired from his public school for praying for God’s protection against injury for his team and their opponents, this is an act of war against God. When a 7th grade teacher in Katy, Texas, instructs her students to deny the existence of God or receive a failing grade, this is war against God. When the state of Oregon issues an outlandish pecuniary punishment against a Christian baker, who exercises her freedom of religion to not participate in a Sodomite wedding, this is an act of war against God (Sodomy is too!).
Satan has blinded the minds of people (2 Cor 4:4), and people do not resist the devil in their natural sinful state. People love sin (Jn 3:19), and they do not recognize they are slaves of sin (Jn 8:34; Rom 6:6). In our passage, Paul also refers to them as, “sons of disobedience.”
God’s Word has God’s Law clearly stated in it. To obey God’s Law makes one a child of obedience, but all are condemned (Jn 3:18). To disobey God means the spirit of disobedience prevails upon the mind and operates in the heart of the children of disobedience, who are also called, “children of the devil (1 Jn 3:10).” They do the will of their father, who was a liar and a murderer from the beginning (Jn 8:44). Following in the footsteps of their father Cain, unrighteous men kill with words and weapons, and they suppress the truth about themselves and about God (Rom 1:18).
Second, Paul told the Ephesians that children of wrath expose their identity through their actions. They are spiritually dead in sin (Eph 2:1). This means there is no life of God’s Spirit living in them. Everything they think and do is focused on the flesh. They have carnal minds that produce various lusts. The lust of the eyes produces all kinds of covetousness. The lust of the flesh produces a whole list of trespasses (Gal 5:19–21). The pride of life keeps them self-justified in their lusts.
God’s people walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16, 25), and they are to avoid walking in the flesh. The mind of carnal man is set on the things of the flesh (Rom 8:5), and he does not realize this mindset is hostile toward God (Rom 8:6). Sin is lawlessness (1 Jn 3:4), and the sons of disobedience are faithful to sin. The mind set on the flesh is death (Rom 8:6), because the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). You sin, you die, and all have sinned; therefore, all are under the condemnation of death, for both their bodies and souls (Rom 3:23; 5:12; 6:23).
In summary, natural man is an enemy of God (Phil 3:18). His mindset is hostile toward God and focused on sin. Natural man, with his carnal mind, is sinning his way toward death. He is oblivious to his destructive plight because his mind is blinded by the spirit of disobedience, who is the fallen angel, Lucifer. It is appointed once for a man to die, and then comes the judgment of God (Heb 9:27). Man is condemned already (Jn 3:18); but the sentence for crimes against God, issued at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10; Rev 20:11), is eternal damnation in hell and the lake of fire (Mt 25:46; Jude 7; Rev 20:14–15). This is the problem; but before we play our epicedium, let us consider the solution.
In a word, we are looking at the reconciliation between God and man. Natural man has never sought reconciliation with God (Rom 3:11), and so we see the initiative is undertaken by God (2 Cor 5:18). God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor 5:18). Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Rom 5:10).” The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the crux of our salvation (1 Cor 15:3–4).
All things to be reconciled by God and to God are done so in Jesus Christ (Col 1:20). As the Psalmist says, “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account (Ps 32:2).” Paul wrote the same sentiment, “For there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1).” Paul wrote the same thing to the Colossians, “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Col 1:21–22).”
When God sends the Holy Spirit to save a person (Jn 14:26; 15:26), this knowledge of Christ is received by her and believed in her innermost being (2 Pet 1:1–2). The regenerate have received faith in Christ (Phil 1:29; 2 Pet 1:1), which makes them sons of God by faith. The futile mind of the Gentiles is replaced with the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16; Eph 4:17). The mind has been renewed, resulting in the person’s transformation (Rom 12:1–2). The mind set on the flesh is now a mind set on the things of the Spirit (Rom 8:5–7; Col 3:2). Here are the two mind sets separating two groups of people in the world.
Which group do you belong to? Are you a child of God or a child of the devil (1 Jn 3:10)? Are you wheat in God’s harvest, or chaff to be burned (Mt 3:12)? Are you a sheep in Christ’s pasture, or a goat to be separated from God’s flock (Mt 25:32)? Do you understand why the Bible calls you righteous (2 Cor 5:20); or do you feel the heavy weight of your unrighteousness (Rom 1:18–32)? Here is a test for you, if you are having trouble answering these questions.
First, if you are a Christian, you are an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor 5:20). This is not a grace to be taken in vain (2 Cor 6:1). Ambassadors labor on behalf of their sovereign. They live in enemy territory and promote the ideas of their homeland. Heaven is the home of Christians (Phil 3:20; Heb 12:22), and they do not operate according to the course of this world (Eph 2:2).
Second, Christians have a ministry of reconciliation entrusted to them as a stewardship given to them by God (2 Cor 5:18; Eph 3:2). The word “Christian” means “little Christ.” Christians do “beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20).” Thus, everything you have been reading here is a ministry from God toward you. The desire of the author is for you to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18), who has brought you near to God by His blood, shed for the forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7; 2:13). Those in Christ have peace with God, who has broken down the wall of division between God and man (Eph 2:14). A secondary benefit is that men in the flesh, with carnal minds and at enmity with one another, have been brought together in Christ (Eph 2:15). It is the Cross that gathers men to men in peace, and man to God (Eph 2:16). How does one receive this ministry that draws them closer to the Cross? It comes through God’s Word aptly spoken.
Third, the ministry Christians have been given is a word of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:19). God has committed His Word to His people, who are forgiven of their sins (2 Cor 5:19). Christians are ambassadors for Christ with a Word to preach and teach to people that they might be reconciled to God. Christians are commissioned (Mt 28:19–20) and sent to preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2), which is called the “word of the Cross (1 Cor 1:18),” and the “power of God unto salvation for those who believe (Rom 1:16).”
When the Word of God is faithfully preached and graciously heard, God is merciful to open the hearts of the elect (Eph 1:4–5; 2 Tim 2:10) to respond to the message of the Cross (Rom 10:14–15; Acts 16:14). Those appointed to eternal life believe (Acts 13:48), for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17). The ministry of the word of reconciliation, by ambassadors for Christ, is made effectual by the operation of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 4:6; Jas 1:21), in a demonstration of the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor 2:4), to save the enemies of God (Rom 5:6, 10), by the Word of God. The knowledge of Christ, as the Mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5), in His work on the Cross, Jesus Christ brings people from enmity to reconciliation.
In conclusion, men have a sin problem that has grave consequences. God has solved this problem through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Some believe, and they are called, “sons of God;” and some do not believe, and they remain “sons of Belial,” that is children of the devil, children of wrath. Can you believe that? If you cannot believe these things I have written you, then “be ye reconciled to God,” for this is God’s message for you. If you believe, then rejoice in your reconciled relationship to God, and be faithful to continue in your own ministry of reconciliation, employing the word of reconciliation, which is the only hope for man, who is at enmity with God.
David E. Norczyk
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 25, 2021