Righteousness! Chapter Five……
Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 5:18-19,
“And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself, by Jesus Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
God was in Christ reconciling THE WORLD TO HIMSELF not imputing their trespasses against them, and has committed unto us the WORD OF RECONCILIATION. The word “reconciliation” means an adjustment to bring together two things which differ one from the other so that they can now agree and be as one. Atonement carries much the same thought. In bookkeeping our ledger must agree with the total income being equal to the sum of the profit and the total expenses for the year. If for some reason these two figures do not agree then reconciliation must be made, by adding a figure from one side of the ledger to the other to bring about a balance. In like manner, God has balanced the books on our account because Adam put us in debt to Him when he sinned.
Jesus came to reveal the true nature of His Father which is love and mercy! Lem. 3:22-23 says,
"It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
John said in 1 John 4:16,
"God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.!"
Paul said in Eph. 2:8,
"For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God!"
The process of reconciliation is expressed in a three-fold manner, which we need to understand. The first expression is contained in the Greek word “Katallasso” that indicates that two people who have existed in a state of enmity have been reconciled and so brought together. This is a manifestation of God’s marvellous Grace towards man in that He does not impute (hold our trespasses against us) our trespasses unto us and the enmity is removed. In Rom 5:10 Paul says,
"Even while we were yet sinners, God reconciled us unto Himself through the Cross."
This change in our relationship to God is the result of a change that takes place in us and not in God. Nothing in God has ever needed to be changed because He considers us as we were created in Christ Jesus, and so we are His children. It is man’s perception of guilt that has created the enmity between himself and God, and it is this enmity that creates, at least in our minds, the wrath of God, making us to be “children of wrath.” Paul said in Eph 2:3-5,
"Among whom also we all had
our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the
desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as
others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved
us, Even when we were
dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are
And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus!"
Paul also said in Col. 1:21-22,
"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight!"
The second expression of Reconciliation is contained in the Greek word Apokatallaso that indicates a movement out of something into something else. Our lives are largely controlled by our mind, so the concept that has been taught, that repentance is a change of mind does not make any real sense. Why would God ask us to change our mind when He knows that we will continue to act the same way unless our mind is changed by Him?
So in reconciliation we find that it is necessary for us to move the authority center of our being out of our natural mind for several reasons. One is that our natural mind is in our soul which is made up of our mind, will and emotions. No where in the New Testament is there a mention of the saving of our spirit. Spirit and soul are not the same thing. Paul said in 1 Thess. 5:23,
"I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Heb. 4:12 says,
"The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Our mind also suffers from a guilt complex and it is not capable of just brushing it aside. Then also our mind has produced a false sense of identity causing us to believe we are sinners having come from Adam. While this was true for all who lived under the Law during or before the cross, it is not true for those of us who now live under the grace of God!
Our natural mind is fleshly and gets its information from the five senses. Finally our mind has no means of correctly identifying God, for the natural man does not understand the things that be of God. Paul said in Rom. 8:7-8,
"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."
Here then is the reason why there must be a moving of our understanding out of this natural mind altogether, into the realm of spirit called "the mind of Christ." Paul tells us that this is the only mind that will bring the reality of true reconciliation to us allowing us to find fellowship with God.
Paul goes on in Rom. 8:9-10,
"But ye are not in the flesh,
but in the Spirit,
if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the
Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."
Here is where we have made the mistake of thinking that we have to do something other than believing in order to be saved. Because we have been keep in the dark by our teachers about the grace of God, we have been taught by them that we must work out our own salvation by obeying the Law! They have used what Paul said in Phil. 2:12,
"....work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Because of their continual emphasis on sin it is natural to come to the conclusion that Paul was saying that we are to save ourselves by our ability to control our body of flesh and therefore save ourselves. As a result we put ourselves under the bondage of living according to the Law of do's and don'ts and we know that we have not been successful in keeping all the Laws and that brings condemnation to us.
Let me share with you what Paul was really talking about in Phil. 2:12 when he said, (NIV)
"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."
The question then becomes, "What did Paul mean when he said that we are to continue to work out our salvation?" Salvation from what? You say, "Well, he meant salvation from sin!" Well, if that be true then why did Jesus have to come here and go through the terrible suffering on the cross if we could have worked out our own salvation from sin????
When we come to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, sin was dealt with once and for all, however, our thinking was still largely the same. God said in Isaiah 55:7-9,
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Paul says in Rom. 12:2,
"Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we enter into a life long process of renewing our minds and replacing our thoughts with His thoughts. This is the salvation of our minds from the false thinking we have accepted. This is a very difficult process but Paul said in Phil. 2:13,
"For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
The Holy Spirit of God works within our spirit to give us the will to do the things of God and the ability to do them.
So what did God do to reconcile us to Himself? Paul said that He removed the large debt of our sins by NOT IMPUTING THEM UNTO US! The word “Impute” is actually a banking term that means, “to credit to your account.” So God says I am going to balance the books as far as you are concerned, and remove the large debit that had accrued because of your sin. When He did this, the books balanced and we were reconciled to God. This was not by some phoney book keeping on God’s part because Jesus Christ was the "Lamb of God that took away the sin of the world," and as a result all sin has been cancelled! John said in John 1:29"
"The next day John saw Jesus coming unto him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world."
This is why Paul could say, "God was IN CHRIST reconciling the WORLD unto Himself." In the light of this statement we must question why Christendom continues to major on the issue of sin, continuing to lay the weight of its burden upon the people today. The Good News is that God has balanced the books and the "plus and the minus" that concerns us have been RECONCILED. Because of this, we who have been reconciled are now to be ambassadors for Christ, proclaiming the fact that our debt has been cleared and ALL MEN ARE RECONCILED TO GOD! (2 Cor. 5:17-21)
However, this is only the very basis of the question of reconciliation, as there is so much more that we must understand before we can comprehend the marvellous Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our debt to God is but the beginning of a work of Grace that must affect every part of our being, because everything must be reconciled and brought into conformity to God. Here we must begin with the statement Paul makes that, “ALL THINGS ARE OF GOD.” (2 Cor. 5:18) This statement is profound and must be considered very carefully.
We live in a world of opposites, such as light and darkness, heat and cold, up and down, sickness and health, life and death, love and hate, good and evil just to name a few. In Col 1:20 Paul tells us,
"Having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to RECONCILE ALL THINGS UNTO HIMSELF, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven."
It is therefore obvious that Paul had much more in mind concerning reconciliation than just simply the cancelling of our sins. It is a fact that ALL THINGS must be reconciled IN US before we can be accredited as ambassadors of Christ. We are told that in us, the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, for these are contrary the one to the other. (Gal. 5:17) Now while this unresolved conflict continues within us, it is impossible for us to live and act exactly as we may choose. If the flesh dominates us in any given situation, we will find it impossible to do the will of God. Therefore to be free we must be reconciled within ourselves, in order to be reconciled to God.
The general concept concerning reconciliation seems to be that of God not remembering our sins and this is certainly a large part of it. However we must see reconciliation also as a work of grace that removes the sense of duality that has invaded the life of all men. Within every man the flesh initiates responses that are contrary to the Spirit of God, thus causing a conflict. Darkness represents a lack of knowledge that results in wrong decisions being made, and these are contrary to directions that God would make known to us. We are often in conflict over good and evil, not being sure of the true line of demarcation. So it is most evident to us that there must be reconciliation within every one of us, before we can live and act with a singleness of mind that will please God.
The answer to our problem of duality is the CROSS of Christ. Paul says, "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the passions and lusts." He goes on to say, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world." The common perception most Christians have is that the cross is the literal stake upon which Jesus died on Golgotha’s hill. However, Jesus said, “If any man will come after me let him deny himself and take up HIS CROSS and follow me.” This suggests to me that the Cross must be something more than that one historic event, that took place at Calvary. We must see that the “Cross” is not just an event that has been recorded for us, but beyond that, it is also a spiritual experience that must become a reality within us today. The spiritual tool that God has provided for us to bring reconciliation into effect in our lives is the CROSS. In view of this let us consider exactly how this “Cross” functions to remove the problem of our duality.
Most people would consider the “Reconciliation of ALL” to mean that all men are now reconciled to God, and that all men will therefore return to God. While this is true it does not cover the whole process of reconciliation as seen from God’s point of view. Each set of opposites produces a conflict within every person.
Paul defines the conflict in these words, Gal 5:16-17
"I say this to you, walk in the spirit and you will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. Because the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that you cannot do the things that you want to do."
So here he is speaking about these two opposites, and says that while these are in conflict within us, we will not be free to follow the direction of the Spirit in our daily lives. Speaking to the Roman Christians he said, “For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwells no good thing, for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I want to do I cannot do, but the evil that I do not want to do is what I find myself doing” Rom 7:18-19.
This highlights the result of conflict that is caused by the continuing presence of these unreconciled issues in our lives. “The reconciliation of ALL things” spoken of in Corinthians must therefore involve a resolution to the conflict within us, caused by these opposites that persist in our lives. However we need to understand how the conflict is to be resolved. There is a profound statement in Scripture which says, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, old things are passed away and behold ALL THINGS are become new.” Paul speaks about being a NEW CREATION. What is this “New Creation” in which everything has been reconciled to God?
To discover the answer look back to 2 Cor 5:14-19, where Paul says,
"For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for All, and therefore All died. And he died for All, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 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."
Paul is telling us that every man was indeed “Dead” in trespasses and in sins but Christ died for all men, or as the Scripture says, “He tasted death for every man.” Therefore if a man is alive spiritually today, it can only be the result of receiving life from Christ who defeated death for us by rising from the dead. So now our life is no longer centred in our natural birth and its human identity, but in Christ the Son of the Living God. Paul now puts all these thoughts together and says,
"If any man be in Christ (realising he died as me, carrying me through burial and into resurrection life) he IS A NEW CREATURE, whose identity and life is CHRIST.)"
Now we can see clearly how God is able to reconcile all things that are IN US, unto himself. All of the opposites that have plagued our life from the day we have been born only exist in this natural physical world. Therefore because we are now alive in Christ they no longer exists, because that person who we thought we were, DIED, and so did the life that we once lived. That one, who used to be our identity, was always in conflict with our desire to do the will of God. We appreciate the Apostle Paul’s honest testimony with regard to this life of unresolved conflict, found in Romans 7.
His masterly summation of this subject begins further back in this letter he wrote to the saints at Rome. But let us pick up the thread in Chapter 5:10, where he says, “For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Our constant failure to please God continually condemned us while we lived in our false identity, but having died in Christ that identity with all its failure was brought to an end. Now our salvation is simply, that we have begun to live a new Life, and that life is CHRIST.
The consciousness of our separation from God came from Adam whose identity we had assumed. We have acted before God just as Adam did, by hiding from Him behind the trees. These “trees” represent our thoughts, behind which we have sought refuge in thinking that the death of Christ was a substitute for our death, and provided us with the forgiveness of our sins, so God will not be angry with us.