Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel …
I’m in the midst of a very painful relationship strain. So hard. I’m sure you’ve been there, too. When you love someone so much, the pain is that much worse.
It gives me new insight into the grievous weight of these words: “you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds.” Oh, the pain of the Father.Like watching a prodigal walk away, or newly created image-bearers choosing a piece of fruit over you, or a whole nation worshiping other gods, lifeless and impotent. All along the Father has stretched out hands, saying, “(I have) plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Yet collectively, we had turned away. Alienated. Enemies. Such pain.
Note that the alienation is in our court. Yes, the Father ultimately brings judgement on sin, but he has great forbearance, great patience – he is “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7). Meanwhile, we were the ones maintaining alienation. It was in our minds and in our evil behaviour that the enmity was birthed. We were the ones turning our backs, walking away, striding down the road, away from the Father, into a distant land.
Yet, he is the one who works reconciliation. Undeserved, yet freely extended. It was at great cost, through the sacrificial death of his Son, Jesus, on the cross for each of us. Lest we think the Father himself was arms-length in this sacrifice, Paul tells us “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). It was the initiative of the Father, carried out by the Son, yet fully experienced by the Triune God in ways we cannot fully comprehend. But reconciliation was his idea, his plan, his initiative.
The upshot is that the rebelliousness and sin that had marred our relationship, plunging us into enmity, is removed in Christ. What grace! In him we are made holy, even as he himself is holy. What we could never, ever hope to attain, he has bestowed – lavishly, by grace. The accusations which could have rightly been hurled against us now have no sticking-power whatsoever. We are free, our record cleansed. Indeed, we ourselves are fully washed, clean in his sight – “without blemish,” not even one. Everything “that was against us and that stood opposed to us” (Colossians 2:14) he has taken away, nailing it to the cross.
We enter into “this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:2) purely and simply by faith. There is nothing left for us to do, but merely entrust ourselves to our Saviour, trusting that his sacrifice is sufficient to rectify all alienation, all enmity, all sin, all rebellion. And so, we “continue in … faith, established and firm,” living it each moment, trusting Jesus with our whole lives, knowing his salvation-gift is our only hope.
What a joyous resolution to relationship strain! Our Lord himself has done it. We receive. We stand in faith. Free from accusation. All, in Christ. Amen.
Father, I stand in wonder. The alienation was caused by my own sin. You were the one grieved. Yet you took it all in hand, dealing with the breach, extending grace, providing reconciliation which I could never hope for otherwise.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice, in your “physical body through death,”washing me clean, taking away the guilt.
I stand now in grace, by faith. Holy Spirit, strengthen me in this posture, each day, for the rest of my life. To the glory of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Reflect: Take time to soak in the amazing transition from “alienated” to “free from accusation.” Let the contrast capture your mind. Speak thanksgiving and praise to the Lord.