Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 5:10a “. . .when we were enemies, we were
reconciled to God by the death of His
Son. . . .”
Introduction: One of the most difficult laws of the kingdom is that which Jesus made in the Sermon on the Mount, “Love our enemies” (MT 5:44). This would have only been nice rhetoric unless Jesus practiced what He preached. He had every right to make this a law of His kingdom, for it is exactly what He Himself did, as our text proves.
“. . .when we were enemies,”
This is the third part of Paul’s triple indictment against us. He has accused us of being “without strength” (v. 6), “sinners” (v. 8), and now enemies. This third indictment is the worst of all, and possibly worse than the other two combined. It is worse to be an enemy than to be without strength and a sinner.
The word “enemy” means animosity. By nature, men are not only weak and sinful, but also rebels and traitors in arms against the government of God. Enemy! It is a cold hard word that brings a chill to the heart. Ask any soldier; he can tell you what it really means. Enemy! It means bleeding comrades being carried from a field on stretchers. Enemy! It means barb-wire fences on the borders of nations. Enemy! It means one who seeks to do you harm. Enemy! It means men rejecting their Creator and wanting their own way.
Wanting one’s own way is the sin out of which all others grow. The warfare began when Adam wanted his own way in the Garden of Eden. He declared his independence from God.
God did not begin the war between us. We ourselves initiated it. What a farce! The finite struggling against the Infinite.
If man continues this suicidal warfare for a million years, he will not so much as capture a sword, or take even a cavalry stirrup, or wrench off so much as a chariot wheel of His omnipotence (Talmage). It is ludicrous. We need to stop it, but man presses it on.
Men want their own way, and dislike thoughts of responsibility to God. They would do away with Him if they could. However, since God is beyond their reach, they lash out against anyone or anything that represents God. This explains why Cain killed God’s Son; men today castigate Jerry Falwell and others who stand for righteousness; the world is rejecting the Bible and its moral precepts. These are all examples of man’s hostility toward the living God. This is why men often move themselves to be greater enemies to God than to any other being.
You are by nature and by choice an enemy of God. Self-righteousness will make you try to find something in yourself that causes God to love you. But the indictment here proves that we are not lovable. Either God loves us just because He is love, or He will never love us at all. It must spring freely from His heart, which brings us to the next thought:
“. . .we were reconciled to God. . . .”
In the Garden of Eden, men began running from God. Mankind has been running with all its might from God ever since. But praise God! The pursuing love of God came chasing after us.
While we were trying to avoid and hate God, He sent His Son to chase us. The pursuit was unasked for, undesired, and undeserved by us. We were in a state of malignancy against Him, and opposed to Him. Nevertheless, God took the initiative to reach out and set us right with Him.
Reconciliation means the restoring to a state of friendship those who had been at odds with each other. The term refers to re-establishing broken relationships.
Rather than kill the haters, God did all He could do to kill the hatred. Any power can destroy an enemy, but God chose to destroy the enmity. He moved toward us in order to break down our hostility. God was the offended and violated party, but he nevertheless took the initiative in reconciliation.
This was no easy task. For the reconciliation to be genuine it would have to achieve two purposes:
1. It would have to melt the wicked opposition in sinners against God. Men would have to be convinced of the enormity of their evil, and yet at the same time they would have to be shown how much God loves them.
2. It would have to satisfy the holy opposition to God against sinners. He is just. There must be a payment for sins. For reconciliation to be genuine, it would have to satisfy God’s justice. Only after this was done could God deal with man no longer as enemies. This would provide a way which would allow Him to forgive us.
But what could ever be done to achieve these two difficult things? Only God could provide the solution:
“. . .by the death of His Son,”
Jesus asked the race, “Will you be my friend?” and when we in derision screamed “NO!” He replied, “Then I will die for you.” It is the death of Jesus that makes our reconciliation possible.
At Calvary, love died for hatred. The innocent paid the debt owed by the guilty. The death of Christ propitiated God and satisfied His justice. Jesus’ death has removed every hindrance on God’s side regarding our return to Him.
The cross pictures compassion in God’s attitude toward His enemies. It shows us how far we are from God, but also how near to us God wants to be. God did all He could to turn enemies into friends. The cross is overwhelming proof that God is not against our salvation.
Does this not melt the wickedness in your heart? Can God do any more for you than give His Son? If a man were attacked in the street, and the molester sentenced to prison, it would be strange for the one who was injured to take the punishment of the attacker. Yet that is exactly what Christ did. He died for His enemies–for men rejected Him.
Now the issue of warfare is in your hand. The Justice of God, with regard to sin, is now satisfied. It is now up to you to renounce your own sense of enmity against God. You must acknowledge your sin and then turn to the God-appointed Substitute.
The question you now face is, “What will you do with Jesus?” You cannot be saved until you receive Him.
When you get tired of the war, there is only one way out. You must tread the pathway up Calvary; you must reverse the choice made by Adam and yourself. You must renounce independence from God, and cease running from Him.