The Ministry of Reconciliation
The goal of all of God's dealing with people is the ministry of reconciliation or reunion. God wants to reconcile people to each other, breaking down the walls of division. “He is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us. Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace. And might reconcile both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” (Eph 2:14-16)
God also wants to reconcile or reunite people to Himself. “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. Namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ as though God were making an appeal through us. We beg you on behalf of Christ be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin, to be sin on our behalf, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:18-21)
Confession, Repentance And Forgiveness Of Sins
If you want to be part of God's plan of reconciliation and reunion then you have to confess and repent of your sins to be forgiven, and to be part of God's family. This must be an ongoing practice because as long as we are on earth we will always have the challenge of sin and the enemy. The parable of the prodigal son gives an excellent example of the four keysto confession, repentance and forgiveness.
1) He came home and made a face to face personal confession to his father.
2) He confessed that he had sinned against God and against his earthly father.
3) He said he was unworthy of his position and privileges in the family.
4) He said he would be willing to be a servant, which would mean obedience and submission.
The prodigal didn’t confess individual sins as far as we know, and sometimes that is not necessary. Confessing categories of sin and especially individual sins can sometimes damage relationships. Confessing individual sins can also create temptations for some people. However, confessing individual sins is usually necessary for people to get help and support from others who are spiritually mature, and who can help them gain victory. We should usually only confess to the people that were directly harmed by the sin. We must do everything to make that right. Every situation is unique, and appropriate, effective confessions will lower the walls of division, not create new ones.
People should not over confess, and make a nuisance of themselves. The emphasis in Scripture is not on repeated confessions, but on a change of character by realizing we are undeserving of forgiveness, and undeserving of our position and privileges in life. Second, we must live our life by taking the lowest position and becoming a servant of all. Without humility and brokenness, and being willing to be a servant, there will be no forgiveness or victory,only repeated sinning. The goal of confession is forgiveness, and victory over sin, and reconciliation between God and people.
A forgiven sin is a forgotten sin.When God forgives our sins He doesn’t remember them anymore. (Heb. 8:12 and Heb. 10:17) We must do the same and forget forgiven sins, both ours and others.
Dwelling On Good Things
What we think about, and talk about directs the whole direction of our life. It is essential that our thoughts and emotions are centred on the right things if we are going to be part of God's plan of reunion and reconciliation. Only think good thoughts! Only speak good words!
“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them. It is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.” (Eph. 5:11-12)
“Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise dwell on these things.” (Phil. 4:8)
Walking In The Spirit
If you want to be part of God's plan of reconciliation and reunion, then you have to walk and live in the Holy Spirit. If you walk in the Spirit you will be reconciled to God and to other people.
“Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are in opposition to one another, so that you cannot do the things that you please.” (Gal. 5:16-17)
“Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with it passions and desires.” (Gal. 5:24)
“For those who are according to the flesh set their mind on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, and the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:5-6)
“If you live according to the flesh you will die. But if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Rom. 8:13-14)
If we walk in the Spirit, we will walk in the light. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) If we walk in the Spirit, we will walk in love. “Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in lovejust as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph. 5:1-2)
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23) Practice these things through the Spirit of God to be reconciled.
The Fragrance Of Christ
God conveys His plan of reconciliation through the words and teachings of Scripture; however he also uses the witness of His children on earth, and the aroma or fragrance of our thoughts, words and actions. Fragrance or odour is invisible, and silent, and yet communicates a clear message. An odour allows us to identify the type of substance we are smelling, and also if it is healthy or unhealthy. God wants us to emit a fragrance or aroma that has a clear message, and a strong effect on everyone He brings us into contact with. “God manifests through us the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. We are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved, and among those who are perishing.” (2 Cor. 2:14-15)
The sufferings of Christ in our life give off a fragrant aroma. “We are always carrying about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.” 2 Cor. 4:6-11) “And walk in love as Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma.” (Eph. 5:2)
The sacrifices we make for Christ and His people gives off a fragrant aroma as well. “I have received everything in full, and have abundance. I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.” (Phil. 4:18)
The Lord Jesus is the Word, and to have Him in our heart, mind, soul and body, we must have the Word of God in us. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (Col. 3:16) If the Word is internalized, and is overflowing from your heart and mind, you will find the Word springing up in your everyday conversation. This will change the direction of your life, and your personality will change, and your whole life will give off the fragrance of the risen Lord of glory.
How much time do you spend each week internalizing the Word? Keep a record of data and information you are exposed to and for what length of time each week. Newspapers, books, magazines, advertising and other information often occupies many hours of our time each week. For comparison and as a test, record how many hours you are reading and memorizing Scripture each week. If worldly literature is occupying more of your time than Scripture then your spiritual life will suffer, and the enemy will gain footholds in your heart, mind, soul and body.
Spiritual hymns and songs that are memorized and sung quietly in the heart and mind is a spiritual practice. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:19) “Pray at all times in the Spirit.” (Eph. 6:18) Singing and praying both give off the aroma of the indwelling Lord Jesus as well.
Discipline Makes Us Grow
We learn to be obedient through discipline and suffering. We need trials, persecutions, sicknesses, and problems because it is through the pain and suffering of discipline that we are humbled and weakened, and brought to the joy of obedience and submission.
“My son, do not despise the discipline of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him. For whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and whips (scourges) every son whom He receives. If you endure discipline, God deals with you as with sons. For what son is there whom the father does not discipline. But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate, and not sons.” (Heb. 12:5-8)
“Now no discipline seems to be joyful for the present, but painful. Nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Heb. 12:11)
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities and weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)
“We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” (2 Cor. 1:8-9)
Self-discipline is important as well. “I discipline my body, and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Cor 9:27)
“If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (1 Cor. 11:31-32)
“Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12)
“Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and Godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:28-29)
“If you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.” (1 Pet. 1:17)
“Therefore, brethren be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.” (2 Pet. 1:10)
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