In the two previous Sundays we have looked into the wonderful truth of reconciliation with God. We have broken His Law and are by nature His enemies alienated in our own mind, yet God, in sovereign grace, has reconciled us to Himself by the death of His Son.
We learned the amazing and soul-comforting truth that if we are now reconciled to God, even while we were enemies, then much more is it certain that we shall be saved by the life of Jesus Christ.
I would like to direct your attention yet once more to the truth of reconciliation with God in the exhortation that we are to walk in reconciliation. For the grace of reconciliation opens to us vast and lovely lands, gives to us a wonderful vista of God’s rich and abiding fellowship. We have peace with God-the single, most precious benefit imaginable. We have pardon from God. We are brought into God’s favor. We are given access to God. And still more, God accepts our services. For being reconciled to Him we have the confidence that He smiles upon us.
Now the Scriptures come to us and say, Walk in the reconciliation. Live your life in those realms. Guard against all that would tarnish or remove you from its enjoyment. Be ye reconciled to God.
The exposition of holy Scripture is but a means to an end. We are not simply to know and nod our assent to the doctrines of the Word. We must appropriate them, we must drink them in. We must apply them to our heart and life. We must live by them and we must live out of them. Reconciliation is not simply to be placed in the glass display case of our mind, and occasionally we take it out to dust it off and put it back in. But this truth of reconciliation with God is to be the governing power at work in our lives. I must know how it delivers me from this present evil world and how it assists me in going heavenward.
The truth of reconciliation with God must not only instruct my mind, but it must afford me real comfort and lasting peace in my heart. And it must guide my steps. That means that I must be personally satisfied in my heart that I am reconciled to God and He to me-that it is not a dream and assumption but that it is something that is mine through a true and living faith. It concerns each one of us to know whether the wrath of God or the smile of God is upon us, whether we are the servants of Satan and the enemies of God, or the friends of Christ and reconciled to God. And that certainly is found in this: that being reconciled to God the one desire of our life will be to walk with God in reconciliation.
Let us consider for a few moments that theme today: Walking with God in reconciliation.
There are two things that will be true of a walk with God in reconciliation. Those two things are these: We will resist sin; we will live as God’s friends. The soul that is reconciled to God in Jesus Christ will resist sin. Those who are at peace with sin and know no grief before God are at enmity with God. Those reconciled to God are antagonistic to sin. Sin in general? Yes. Sin in the world and its movies, songs, books, and magazines? Most surely. The psalmist in Psalm 119:136 says, “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.” Yes, a grief about sin in general out there. But specifically a grief and a resisting of sin in ourselves. Those who are reconciled to God do not use that reconciliation to soothe their conscience and to give an OK to disobedience. They do not say, “Well, being reconciled to God, I shall profane the Sabbath by doing my own pleasures. I will profane my body, the temple of God, by pornography. I will stain my heart with jealousy and envy.” But those who are reconciled to God are genuinely concerned to resist sin in themselves. Though they have not attained the level and the depth of resistance that they would, yet they would put away evil from their lives.
This is also an assurance of the Holy Spirit of the fact that we are indeed reconciled to God. You will experience a fundamental change in yourself, namely, that sin, your sin, is known to you and that God gives to you a holy antagonism against your sin.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said, in John 3:20, “For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” They do not want to come to the light, said Jesus, they do not want to draw near to God in the blessing of reconciliation. They do not want personal, close, intimate dealing with God. Why? Why do they not want that? They do not want that, said Jesus, because their deeds will be reproved. In the light of God they will be shown to themselves what they are. They lack an honest heart which wants to know the truth about themselves no matter how distasteful that truth may be. They do not want sermons or articles in magazines which point out the difference between a hypocrite and the sincere, between the friendship of the world and the friendship of God.
Jesus said in verse 21 of John 3, “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” This person, said Jesus, is ready to be searched and probed by the Word of God. He draws very close to God who has reconciled him, so that the light of God may shine into his own life and his heart may be made known to him. A hypocrite dreads his heart to be made known to him. But the child of God wants to know his real state before God. And he is willing to go to great pains to know that state.
Do you realize that the most momentous thing a person can possess is the assurance of reconciliation with God? We do not want to be deceived in this. We do not want to proceed carelessly or flippantly. But we can surely know whether or not we are reconciled to God. It is not false presumption for a Christian to say, “I know that I have been made a new creature and I am reconciled to God.” To make that forever uncertain, to say, “Well, you can never be sure of that,” and, “We must accept that because if we don’t accept that we are not being humble”-that is not humility. That is unbelief. Here the issue whether or not you are reconciled to God is an issue that can be known. And it is known in this: What is the stance that you take toward sin? If you are reconciled to God, you are no longer fighting against God, though you are far from being perfect or all that you should be. Your mind is no longer alienated from Him, but you yearn for closer fellowship with God. You love His Word and you strive to be regulated by that Word.
To be reconciled means that there is peace between you and God. And so, no soul that is at peace with sin can be at peace with God. For sin is the enemy of the holy One. Have you thrown down the weapons of your warfare against the Most High? Are you honestly fighting sin in your life? Then you are reconciled to God.
No third condition exists. You are either friend or foe. You are either in a league with all that He forbids, so that you flaunt and you sneer at and you find oppressive what He commands, or, by His grace, as a fruit of His work of reconciliation, you now hate what He hates, and you love what He loves.
One’s reconciliation with God can be known. For those who are reconciled to God by His grace resist their own sin.
Walking in reconciliation with God therefore must involve resisting the sin because the child of God has learned what sin does. Sin alienates our minds from God.
We read in Colossians 1:21, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.” Paul is speaking there of our natural state. Yet what he says still holds true as far as sin is concerned. The mind is alienated and becomes an enemy of God by wicked works. Wicked works poison the mind toward God. Wicked works turn the mind away from and make the mind hostile to God. Sin is not a passive plaything that you can take up in your hands. Sin is a power that seeks to control the mind, how you think, your attitude, and fundamentally how you think and your attitude toward God. Sin is the great mind-distorter. Wicked works do not leave you. They do not stay behind you in the bar, in the movie house, in the bedroom. But they infiltrate your thinking toward God. They want to turn you in hostility against God. A man who takes a mistress does not return to his wife the same, but is alienated in his mind toward her. One may say, “I love God, I love His Word, I love His church, I love His people.” But he deliberately slips into temptation with worldly friends, deeds, and activities. Then such a person can return to the Word, to the church, and to the people of God and try to soothe himself and say, “Well, I’m still a Christian.” But so long as he continues in a life of wickedness, that wickedness must turn his mind against God, against the church, and against God’s people. He will then find himself saying, “They are all hypocrites.” So long as you remain in a way of wickedness, that wickedness will infiltrate your mind and alienate you against God and all that is of God. Sin is violent. Sin is powerful. Sin is spiritually mind-altering. Those wicked deeds seek to overcome and prevent obedience to God.
Therefore, being reconciled to God, resist sin. Daily engage in contending with indwelling sin. Refuse the allurements of this world. Resist the devil. Here the whole matter is reduced to its simplest terms. Being reconciled to God means you really are fighting against your sin. I did not say fighting as faithfully and zealously as you ought, nor meeting the success that you wish. But you do not trifle with it. You seek to avoid it. And you sorrow because of it. You do not want the feather-bed of sin which awakes in hell. You want, from God, to be faithful to Him.
But you say, “My fight with sin, I’m afraid, is a losing one. I would resist. I would walk with the God who has reconciled me to Himself. But the more I resist, the more fiercely my sin seems to oppose me. I conclude, because of the fierceness of the opposition of sin in my life, that I am not reconciled to God.” No, dear child of God. No, no. It is not the rising up of our lust in us which sets us apart from God. It is the approval of them-when we consent, when we defend, when we cherish that lust. No matter how often you feel defeated in the conflict, your hating and resisting the uprising of sin in you means that the grace of God is in you. Take hold of Him by faith. For His honor, and out of love for Him, resist your sin. This is what it means to walk in reconciliation.
But it means more. It means that we will live as God’s friends. We will resist sin, and we will walk as the friends of God.
This was the design of God in reconciling us to Himself in order that we might be brought nigh unto God. That word, “brought nigh,” as it is used in the Scriptures (we are brought near to God by the blood of His Son) conveys all the ideas of warmth and goodwill and closeness and friendship. We are the friends of God. We have a friendship now with God based on reverence and trust and devotion to God. According to the wonderful riches of God’s grace we are drawn into communion with God. We are reconciled to God so that the living God now has become our sovereign friend, our almighty friend and redeemer. That means that I am to love Him, to serve Him. I am jealous of His honor. I respect His will, I value His interest, I promote His truth. I am His friend. This is wonderful. Nothing can compare to this. I am made a friend of God. How God values His friends. How God loves those whom He has reconciled to Himself. How God prizes them above the world. And how carefully God governs all things for the good of His friends.
God’s language sometimes can make us blush. He says (Is. 43), “Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable and I have loved you.” Or II Samuel 22: “He delivered me because he delighted in me.” Well, then, I must walk as His friend in this world of darkness, endeavoring to please Him always, doing nothing to displease Him or to dishonor Him, showing subjection to Him, delighting in Him. As reconciled to God, you will prize God, and you will seek to honor Him.
Then you will want to maintain constant and intimate communion with God-by prayer, meditation, worshipping in His house. Are not friends in each other’s house? If you are reconciled to God you will frequent the house of God. You will make frequent visits to the throne of God in prayer. You will search out His will for you in the holy Scriptures.
This is the language of one who has been reconciled to God. Listen to it. Psalm 63: “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.”
We are now reconciled as God’s friends. Then we will go to Him with those matters of our soul. When words are not adequate and our hearts are overwhelmed, we may go and speak face to face with our God and Father.
Do you know anything of this experience? What could be greater? As the friends of God we may come to Him.
Walking in reconciliation means we will walk then as a friend of God. We will walk in confidence. We will look to God for help. We will trust in Him at all times. We will be very concerned to please God. Whenever a sinful way seeks to turn us away from God, our reply will be the words of Joseph. Joseph, when he was tempted to sin with Potiphar’s wife, said, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” We will want to serve God from the heart. We will be constant in our praise to God and we will cherish God’s peace.
Walk in reconciliation. Resist sin. Live as the friend of God. Seek the arms of God. As reconciled to God, arise, go to your Father, confess your sins, delight yourself also in Him, cherish the peace that He gives you in Jesus Christ. Then, walking in reconciliation with God, you may dwell in perfect peace.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word. Write it on our hearts. Amen.