No Longer A Loved Enemy, But A Loved Friend
Rom 5:9-14 GW Since Christ's blood has now given us God's approval, we are even more certain that Christ will save us from God's anger. (10) If the death of his Son restored our relationship with God while we were still his enemies, we are even more certain that, because of this restored relationship, the life of his Son will save us. (11) In addition, our Lord Jesus Christ lets us continue to brag about God. After all, it is through Christ that we now have this restored relationship with God.
In Christ’s sacrificial act of dying on the cross, shedding His blood once, and for all, even while we were yet sinners, God has shown us how much He loves us. Not just you sitting here this morning, or the other Christians attending other churches, but the whole world!
In the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ God has made peace with the world! He has said, “Oh world, I do not wish to be at war with you because of your sin, I open the door for you to change your status from a rebel who is against Me to My child.
God’s status didn’t need to change. He is God, but our status, the status of the world needed to change. We were the rebels, but we were powerless to change our status, so He did something to change that status. He sent Jesus Christ to remove that which defines us as rebels...namely sin.
Do you think that Jesus just died for the sins of believers? That would be very arrogant! He died for the sins of the world! In the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, God said, “See world, the only reason for me to be wrathful against you has been taken away. I offer you peace!
This peace, this forgiveness, has been won for all, but as rebels we must receive it. We must lay down our arms and surrender. If not, we will one day receive God’s wrath against sin, because our sin still clings to us.
God does not hate the sinner. He proved that when He sent Jesus to die for our sins. God hates the sin, and it is sin that is cast into hell, and if your sin remains attached to you....you are going along for the eternal ride to damnation. You need to get rid of your sin.
I remember growing up on the farm. Flies were always a problem in the house. We were blessed to have these strips of twisted sticky flypaper that you would hang on the ceiling. Flies would be attracted to this paper and then they would get stuck on it and that would be the end of that particular problem fly.
I don’t know why, but we had one right over our dinner table. What was Mom thinking! I mean every now and then one would wriggle loose and you’d pray we weren’t eating anything with raisins in it.
But anyway, all of us were like that fly paper. Born with flies sticking to us, we were all born with sin. And Christ died for us while we still had these flies sticking to us Would you die for someone with flies stuck all over them? I think not, but Christ did that for the whole fly sticking world!
Not only that, but Christ was sinless. He was flypaper still in the package. He unfurled Himself in this world for 33 years and not a single fly stuck to Him, not one sin! And then on one great and glorious day on a hill outside Jerusalem. He became sin for us! On that day all the sins of the world, past, present, and future were flung on Him. What a hideous sight!
And God poured out His wrath against all sin on His precious Son on that Day! So much wrath, that at one point, He turned away from His Son. He abandoned Him. And Jesus said, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
Then Jesus said, “It is finished.” Literally...the debt has been paid. The wages of sin, which are death, were paid in full on that Day. Then He died and the temple curtain immediately ripped in two!
This curtain set apart the Holy of holies It was never even lifted except on the Day of Atonement to enable the high priest to bring the sacrifice for the sins of the people into the presence of God. God in ripping the veil, indicating that with the death of Jesus there was no longer a need for the veil.
The sin, which formerly separated God and man, had been removed by the one great sacrifice of the true High Priest...Jesus Christ. Peace with God, access to God had been granted to all by the blood of Jesus.
The instant Christ died, the whole world of sinners was changed completely. It was now a world for whose sin atonement had been made and no longer a world with unatoned sins. All the flies were now accounted for.
In the OT God called the Day of Atonement, “the most important worship festival there is for you.” (Lev. 16:31. He did that because it was a foreshadowing of the most important day for you, for me. The Day on which Jesus atoned for the sins of the world with His own precious blood.
On this Day in the OT, which was celebrated on the 10th day of the 7th month. The high priest would enter the Holy of Holies and make atonement for the sins of the people. It was an elaborate ritual which involved the cleansing of the high priest and his family by the sacrificial death of an animal.
Then atonement was made for the sins of the people by choosing two goats. One was sacrificed to pay for the sins of all the people. Once payment was made, then the priest would lay his hands on the other goat and confess over it all the sins, all the rebellious acts of the people and all the things they had done wrong.
The laying on of hands was symbolic of transferring all those sins to the goat. The goat or “scapegoat” was then taken to a remote area of the desert and released.
This “most important worship festival,” was a foreshadowing of the once and for all Day of Atonement that took place on a cross outside Jerusalem some 2000 years ago. On that Day, once and for all, the sins of the world were atoned for with the lifeblood of Jesus.
But if that’s all that happens, then we are all still lost in our sin. Let’s revisit the OT Day of Atonement in Lev. 16 and see what we can learn from it. After the blood of the animals were shed for the high priest, his family, and the people (the foreshadowing of Christ’s shed blood) we pick it up in vv20-22,
“When he finishes making peace with the Lord at the holy place, the tent of meeting, and the altar, (once the blood has been shed) he will bring the living goat forward. Aaron will place both hands on its head. He will confess over it all the sins, all the rebellious acts, and all the things the Israelites did wrong. he will transfer them to the goat’s head. A man will be appointed to release the goat in the desert.”
The shedding of the blood is what makes the initial peace. Once this peace has been made, then the reality of that peace must be applied. The application of that peace is the humble confession of sin, and the result of the humble confession is that the individual sinner or rebel has his sins transferred and removed from him as far as east is from the west.
1 Jn 1:9, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
This is what Paul is saying here. Jesus made peace for the entire world. But my friend, the reality of that peace can only be realized through humble personal confession, personal agreement with God that we are sinners in need of forgiveness.
This peacemaking through the death of Christ was foreshadowed in the OT and fully realized when Christ died on the cross. No person ever sent to hell and no person who will be sent to hell will ever be able to say that God did not love them. That He did not pay for their sins. He loved them so much that He sent His only Son to pay the price and remove the only barrier that kept them from reconciliation with Him.....sin.
The only reason people will find themselves in hell is because they rejected God’s offer of peace of reconciliation through Christ.
Though all sins were atoned for by the blood of the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, it would all be for naught without the goat. It was the humble confession and dispatching of the goat that made the atonement personal.
Your personal reconciliation with God is accomplished in fact, when you humbly admit that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness, and since we know what sinners we are, we need to do that daily.
Now since we have established the fact that God loved us and Christ died for us even while we were icky and repulsive sinners. We (baptized believers) are even more certain that Christ will save us from God’s anger.
“Even more certain.” Are you “even more certain” that you are no longer the object of God’s wrath? You oughta be. If you aren’t I suggest to you that you are still clinging to salvation by works. This “even more certain” is not based on our good works or the perception that we are somehow “less sinful ” than others.
It is based on the fact that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. Since we know that our sins have been paid for, and God has washed us in baptism through no merit of our own, and that our sins have been cast away as far as east is from the west, we can be even more certain that we will be saved from God’s wrath against sin that will be finalized on Judgement Day.
The only things that can rob us of this certainty, this reality, is when we seek to rely on our works. That reliance always leads to the question, “How much?” How many good works are required? Have I done enough? Am I good enough? Or it leads to an even worse thought. “Well, I’m not as bad as so and so.”
You are the same as so and so! The only difference is by the grace of God, you went through the scapegoat ceremony! You received Christ and your sins were transferred and carted away as far as east is from the west.
We also are robbed of our certainty when we deny the faith, that is when we disbelieve, but we also are robbed of our certainty when we become disinterested in maintaining our faith. God gave you this great gift at your baptism, now work with Him, show interest in developing it.
Those who show disinterest in their faith are no better than those who deny the faith, for Jesus Himself said this about the lukewarm:
Rev 3:15-16 GW I know what you have done, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. (16) But since you are lukewarm and not hot or cold, I'm going to spit you out of my mouth.
Paul continues in v10 :
(10) If the death of his Son restored our relationship with God while we were still his enemies, we are even more certain that, because of this restored relationship, the life of his Son will save us.
Here we see the contrast between the Son’s death, which atoned for our sins while we were still enemies, and His resurrected life. Jesus rose from the dead! He is risen! He is risen indeed! Now that we have availed ourselves of this free gift of forgiveness. He ever lives to intercede on our behalf!
His life is now devoted to sanctify you, protect you, and save you from hell, so that you will one day be brought to glory with Him. He died for unbelieving sinners! How much more does He want to do for those who now believe!
If we remain in Christ, we have full assurance of no wrath against us on Judgement Day and if we remain in Christ, we have full assurance that Jesus is our Advocate today and will be forever! Oh what a joy to have this assurance!
And so Paul ends this section:
(11) In addition, our Lord Jesus Christ lets us continue to brag about God. After all, it is through Christ that we now have this restored relationship with God.
This reconciliation, that we have received by grace through faith is so thorough, so complete that God not only ceases fighting against us, but actually extends warm, meaningful friendship toward us. He brags on us and we brag on Him!
As Luther said, “We glory in God that God is ours and we are His, and that we have all goods in common from Him and with Him in all confidence.”
In other words, when peace with God is realized and acquired by the humble repentant sinner. God not only ceases any hostility against us, but He throws open His camp to us. We have free access to all His gracious gifts!
Rom 8:32 GW God didn't spare his own Son but handed him over to death for all of us. So he will also give us everything along with him.
Now many people hear that and they start getting visions of fancy cars and winning lottery tickets, what a shame. How short-sighted! Big fancy cars rust. money is eaten by moths, neither one of them have eternal value.
Moth and rust can’t hold a candle to things like perseverance, character, and hope. Remember? Those are the things that God promises to those who endure tribulation.
Or how do earthly things match God’s promise of wisdom? Wisdom granted simply for the asking?
Jam 1:5 GW If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn't find fault with them.
Then there’s the fruit of the Spirit.
Gal 5:22-23 GW But the spiritual nature produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, and self-control. There are no laws against things like that.
Oh beloved, don’t you see that there is great freedom in Christ! Lay it down. Stop resisting His grace! Your sins have been paid for...even while you were a filthy flycatcher! Confess them, throw them on the cross, so Jesus our High Priest can place them on the scapegoat, and remove them as far as east is from the west.
Receive the gift! Not only are we spared the wrath of God, not only can we share in His resurrected life, but we can brag or rejoice in Christ, knowing that our Father wants to give us these gifts that won’t rust or decay.
They may be wrapped up in trial and tribulation, they may be wrapped up in sacrifice, they may be wrapped up in all sorts of life’s circumstances, but they are available for those who endure and trust Him to finish the good work that He has begun in them.
The work that began when Christ died on Calvary.
Rejoice in Christ. He has reconciled you to God, taken you away from the shadow of His wrath and placed you in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus. The gist of what we have been saying here today is this. Rejoice, remember, you are no longer a loved enemy, but a loved friend!