Today’s reading talks a little about why Paul does what he does – the ministry of reconciliation – helping sinners find grace and friendship with God the Father through Jesus Christ; and some of what the message of reconciliation is. Strap on your seat belts, it’s quite a roller-coaster ride!
Paul’s motivation is put in two ways – negatively as the fear of the Lord and positively as the love of God compelling him.
The fear of the Lord is not a fear of rejection by God. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). We will never be rejected by the Lord. Paul is not fearing condemnation, but his fear of the Lord is a fear for commendation. God is the all knowing and all seeing God and so it is important to Paul that God sees and knows what he has done with the grace, power and gifting that he has been given.
Later, in v.14, we see that the love of God controls us. The sense here is that God’s love constrains us wonderfully. We are hemmed in by His glorious love – we can’t veer to the left or right or even go backwards. We are pushed forward by the power of God’s love at work in us.
The message of reconciliation itself is glorious!
When we start to follow Christ, we are placed in Him – we are united with Him. Everything that happened to Him has been imputed to us (given to us) – he died; we died. He was buried; we were buried (symbolised wonderfully in getting baptised). He rose again; we have risen in new life. We are new creations. Born again. The old has gone the new has come. Our spirit that was dead in sin has now been made alive in Christ.
Jesus has reconciled us to the Father – we are no longer enemies of God because of sin; we are friends, children and co-heirs with Christ!
Jesus was made sin for us v.21. What does that mean?
Sin is doing, saying and thinking wrong things, that fall short of God’s glory – so we are sinful. Jesus didn’t become sinful. We had a sinful nature – a “genetic” propensity for sin inherited from Adam – Jesus didn’t have a sinful nature, by reason of the virgin birth. But all our sin was placed on Him at the cross, so he became sin in that sense. He suffered all our guilt, so we get all His grace.
The doctrine of imputation is fascinating!
Adam’s sin was imputed to us – we inherited his sinful nature. Our sin was imputed to Christ – He died on the cross as an atonement for our sin – and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. We are justified – declared not guilty, righteous, because of what Jesus has done; not anything we have done, do or will do!
Now like Paul – let’s be ambassadors of reconciliation in the compelling love of Christ and the fear of the Lord.