We Implore You: Be Reconciled to God

2 Corinthians 5:11 ESV

“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.”

What does it mean to fear the Lord? It certainly means to be in awe of him, to show him respect and honor, to value him, to believe in him, to die with him to sin and to live to him and to his righteousness, and to obey him. But it also means to see him as he really is and to take him seriously, and to take his word to heart and to do what it says. And it means to take his warnings seriously, too, and thus to walk in holiness and righteousness.

And what did Paul and the other apostles persuade others to believe or to do? They definitely persuaded (or attempted to persuade) them to forsake their lives of habitual and deliberate sin and to now walk in holiness and in righteousness, in obedience to the Lord and to his commands (New Covenant). And they persuaded them to put their trust solely in the Lord and not in other humans and to let God/Jesus be their only God and Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ESV

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

This passage of Scripture is a little confusing and so here we have to compare this to the rest of the teachings on death to sin. First off, when Jesus died on that cross he who knew no sin became sin for us so that when he died our sins died with him. He took our place on that cross to put our sins to death with him in order that we might become the righteousness of God (see v. 21) but also that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (1 Pet 2:24; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 8:1-14).

So, it isn’t as though we don’t have to die to sin. We do. But we can only die with Christ to sin because he already put our sins to death with him. So our faith in him is us participating with him in his death to sin, and then in his resurrection to new life in him, which is what our water baptism symbolizes. And we don’t die just once to sin, but daily we are to be putting the deeds of the flesh to death and walking in obedience to our Lord. And we are to no longer walk (in conduct, in practice) in sin but in righteousness.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-32; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Rom 12:1-2; Heb 12:1-2; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 10:26-27; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Now, we don’t become new creations in Christ Jesus merely by acknowledging who Jesus is and/or what he did for us on that cross, nor by merely making a statement of acceptance of his grace and forgiveness of our sins. We are not saved by lip service only. Words are just words unless they are backed up with action. For to be in Christ means that we no longer walk according to the flesh but now according to the Spirit (Rom 8:1-14).

Being in Christ means we no longer walk in sin, making sin our practice, but now we walk in obedience to our Lord and to his commands. It doesn’t mean we are absolutely perfect, but it also doesn’t mean we can use lack of perfection as an excuse for continued and deliberate and habitual sin. It means we no longer live in sin. Sin no longer has dominion over our lives. Righteousness and obedience to the Lord are now what we practice.

[See the verses referenced above]

And this is why it says that if we are in Christ that we are a new creation. Our old lives of living in sin and for self are now put behind us and now we walk in newness of life in Christ in righteousness and holiness and in obedience to our Lord. Jesus is now our Lord (Master) and sin is no longer our master. Again, we are not talking about sinless perfection here but what we practice. If sin is what we practice, we do not have new life in Christ.

All this is from God! Yes, it is! But this doesn’t mean we do nothing and that our Lord does it all. Yes, we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness and of our sinfulness and of our need to repent of our sins and to follow the Lord in obedience. And even the faith to believe in Jesus is God’s gift to us, and it is not of ourselves, of our own doing, so we can’t determine for ourselves what that faith should look like. For Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith.

[Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Acts 5:32]

Okay, so since Jesus is the author and the perfecter of our faith, and our faith is gifted to us by God, and God must persuade us to put our trust in Jesus, and that faith is not of our own doing, then that faith is going to align with God’s will and purpose for our lives. So that faith is going to embrace and embody holiness, righteousness, godliness, moral purity, honesty, faithfulness, uprightness, integrity, repentance, submission, and obedience.

Also, while it is true that we are saved by God’s grace, and this not of ourselves, not of our own works lest we should boast, our faith is not absent of works. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should WALK IN THEM (Eph 2:10). And we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, and we are always to be abounding in the work of the Lord, etc.

[Eph 2:10; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Gal 5:6; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; 2 Thess 1:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:21; Tit 2:11-14; Jn 15:1-11; Tit 3:8; Jas 2:17]

So, when Paul said, “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God,” he is not saying for you to give a thumbs up to having your sins forgiven so when you die you can go to heaven. He is imploring you to change, to leave your lives of sin behind you and to now follow the Lord Jesus in obedience to his ways, i.e. to change to his ways, and to change from being his enemy to now living according to the Spirit of God.

But if you refuse, because you think it is not required of you or for whatever other reason, please know that the Scriptures teach that we are all going to be judged by our works. If we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God. But if we walk according to the Spirit, in obedience to our Lord in walks of holiness and righteousness, then we have the hope of eternal life with God. So please take this to heart.

[Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Happiness is the Lord

By Ira F. Stanphill

Happiness is to know the Savior
Living a life within His favor
Having a change in my behavior
Happiness is the Lord!

Happiness is a new creation
Jesus and me in close relation
Having a part in His salvation
Happiness is the Lord!

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