“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled”
Have you ever heard someone say, “Well, there’s good news, and there’s bad news… which do you want to hear first?” In today’s verse, Paul starts with some really bad news, but then immediately follows with some really, really good news! First, the bad news: 1) We were all once enemies of God and alienated from Him. That’s really bad news! BUT, he then follows this bad news with some really, really good news: 2) We have been reconciled to God, through the death of Christ! Let’s take a closer look at both of these truths.
Firstly, we each need to embrace the fact that we entered this world as a sinner, separated from God. As Paul said, we were “alienated” and “enemies in our mind by wicked works.” Another way to think of it is that our mother delivered us into this world spiritually stillborn. This is because of the dead sin-nature we inherited from our father, who in turn inherited it from his father, all the way back to Adam. Unfortunately, there are no exceptions! This is bad news.
Back in July, my wife and I welcomed our firstborn baby boy into this world. Brayden is such a sweet blessing from God and we love him so incredibly much! Unfortunately though, he has a major problem — he received a sinful nature from me as his father. Although I am now alive in my spirit through Christ, my son was born in the flesh, and thus received my old sin nature. As David said, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Ps. 51:5) That’s really bad news…
In today’s verse, Paul specifically states that, at one time, we were “alienated” from God. This word literally means “non-participant” or “non-partaker.” Ephesians 2:12 says it this way: “at that time, ye were without Christ, being aliens (non-partakers) from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:”. (For more on what it means to be a “partaker,” see my wife’s earlier post on Col. 1:12.)
Paul also says in our verse that we were “enemies in our mind through wicked works.” It is important to call out here the relationship between our mind and our works, for, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Prov. 23:7) Many “profess that they know God; but in works they deny him.” (Tit. 1:16) Our pattern of works will always reveal the true condition of our heart and mind.
Hopefully by now, it’s abundantly clear that we were all once enemies of God and alienated from him. That’s really bad news! But, let’s now turn our attention to the good news!
“Yet now hath He reconciled…”
The word “reconcile” has a couple of different nuances to it. One way to think of “reconciled” is in terms of relationship. If I were to say, “They had a falling out, but now they’re reconciled,” you would understand that two individuals have been brought back into unity in their relationship. Through the death of Christ, though we were enemies, we have now been reconciled in our relationship with God! Though we were once far off, we have been made nigh by the blood of Christ. (Eph. 2:13) We were once aliens (non-partakers of Christ and His Kingdom); but now, we are “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;”. (Eph. 2:19) What good news!
Another way to think of the word “reconciled” is in accounting terms. If I were to say I reconciled my checkbook, you would understand that I brought my credits and debits into balance. Or, I made two things to be equal and in harmony with each other. So, what does it mean to be reconciled to God through Christ? The verse following the one we’re looking at today reveals that, through the death of Christ, we are presented “holy, unblameable, and unreproveable in His sight.” In God’s eyes, we are literally covered in the righteousness of Christ, the perfect, acceptable Sacrifice! That’s good news!
I want to wrap-up today with an Old Testament account that illustrates a picture of what it means to be an enemy who is then reconciled. When the children of Israel were given the Promised Land as an inheritance, they were told to go and conquer the inhabitants, starting with the city of Jericho. Rahab was a harlot who lived in the city. She was an enemy of God and alienated from the inheritance the Lord was giving His people. However, through faith, “Rahab perished not with them that believed not when she received the spies with peace.” (Hebrews 11:31) When the Lord brought victory to His people by destroying the city’s walls, Rahab and her house were spared because of a scarlet cord that was hanging out of her window. This is a picture of the blood of Christ that had come and covered her household. Though once an enemy, she was reconciled to God through faith. And, in fact, we later learn that she became a participant in the very lineage of Christ! What a beautiful picture of redemption!
Though we were once alienated and enemies in our minds through wicked works (bad news), yet now hath He reconciled (good news!).