Dr. Valson Abraham
Reconciliation does not necessarily equal intimacy. Two enemies may reconcile but never become true friends. They no longer fight, but they have little contact with one another.
How many Christians secretly live lives like this? They know Jesus has ended their enmity with God and reconciled them to Him, but in heaven, they believe, they will dwell on the outskirts because they fail so miserably. God accepts them, they feel, but only grudgingly.
Is this a common Christian experience? Is this why many Christians judge others for their sins as they try to deal with their own uncertainties and insecurities with God? Is this why so many Christians feel no joy, become over-involved in “church work,” or hang around the “fringes of faith?”
Many people are convinced that only certain special individuals can achieve true godliness. Catholics have their “saints,” but in different ways, Protestants do, too. These misled brothers and sisters are reconciled to God, but do not believe intimacy with Him is possible for them because they know their many flaws and failures.
How foreign to the Good News! In Romans 5, Paul tells us that we who are of Christ belong to a new kingdom, a new human race - now! We no longer belong to the kingdom of the first Adam, the kingdom of sin and death. Through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we are “in” the Second Adam, Jesus Christ.
That means whatever is true about Jesus Christ is true of us. We have a radically new standing with God. Christ is forever, once and for all, dead to sin and death, so are we. Though Christ died, death did not have the last word. So it is with us.
Christ enjoys eternal and intimate fellowship with the Father. We have that same prospect. In Ephesians 2:18, Paul tells us that we have “access to the Father.” The Greek indicates the highest possible intimacy with God the Father, like Jesus has with Him. It doesn’t depend upon what we do or how we feel, it depends upon Him and what He has already done on the cross on our behalf.
All this requires us to dramatically rearrange our thinking. The Welsh preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, compares our new position in Christ to that of a newly freed American slave right after the Civil War ended in 1865. Older slaves had served their masters for decades. When the laws changed, many of these former slaves had difficulty adjusting their new freedom. They didn’t know how to relate to their old masters. They continued to act and think like slaves even though they no longer were. Only when they gradually learned new habits of thinking that come with freedom did they live in the freedom the law said they already had.
How easy it is for us to also fall into old habits of thinking that enslave us! The enemy of our souls constantly tries to make us think like slaves even when we aren’t. He constantly tries to make us think that God doesn’t fully welcome us when He has sacrificed His Son for our sake to give us full access to Him as members of His royal family.
Like Abraham, we must believe this because God said it, not when we feel good about ourselves. Satan will always remind us of our faults, which are many, but Christ has already born all our sins and paid all our debt.
In one of the most remarkable passages of scripture, Paul tells us to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6:11). In other words, regard it as accomplished fact.
Whatever our continuing problems with old sinful habits, God regards these things as temporary. Paul tells us to become transformed by the renewing of our minds - by changing our habits of thinking - so we recognize that God already loves us and welcomes our company as He welcomes the company of His Son.
When we see Him face to face, we can expect to enter God’s presence with joy and gladness, not fear and trepidation. When we see Him, we will be like Him, and our present limitations will pass away. We will not live on the fringes of heaven, but become part of His inner circle. When we learn to see ourselves the way God already sees us, we will live in the freedom that is already ours.This is Good News for everybody who will hear it! Let’s make sure they do!
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Father God, I thank you that through Jesus Christ, I am not only reconciled with you, but I am part of your inner circle. Your miraculous grace is beyond all measure. Help me to know and to live out in full the relationship you have offered to me, and help me to make this wonderful news available to my family, friends and the world around me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.