In a world that seeks to find dignity, worth and acceptance through performance, appearance or relationships, God clearly states that forgiveness came when we were His enemies. This is contrary to the world’s message of striving for what you desire to achieve. If forgiveness is what is desired then working for it would be the appropriate response. However, we have to come to the realization that there are some things in life that simply can’t be achieved or acquired through our efforts. Yet some things can be received as a gift through faith, one of those things is God’s forgiveness.
God, through Paul in Romans 5, informs us that God made known His love through action when Christ died on the cross. He made known His love in this way when we were His enemies. To receive such a gift of forgiveness and relationship with God while we were His enemies illuminates a wonderful truth to us of how one is to receive said forgiveness. God’s forgiveness has never been nor ever will be received when someone becomes forgivable through their actions, efforts or right behaviors; that is simply not how God has made His forgiveness available. In Romans 5:6-10 Paul highlights that while we were powerless, ungodly, sinners, and enemies, God demonstrates His love for us and brings us back to Himself through Christ’s death.
There is a profound truth within these verses. That truth is this—forgiveness and reconciliation back to God is only received by His grace. It is unearned; it is not deserved by us; it is impossible to achieve it through our performance. God’s forgiveness has been and will always be given as gift to those who place their faith in the good news of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave (Genesis 15:1-6; Galatians 2:15:21; Ephesians 2:4-10; Titus 3:3-8; Hebrews 11).
We aren’t forgiven by God when we tried hard to be good or became better, this message is contrary to the Scriptures and the grace of God. God’s grace met us in our brokenness, our wickedness, our stubbornness, in our sin, in our distance from Him, in our self-righteousness, and in our striving to achieve. God’s grace met us there and lovingly said that all your efforts are not sufficient nor necessary; God’s grace kindly stated that the only sufficient and necessary work for freely given forgiveness is the work of Christ.
God removed our deserved punishment and gave us His eternal presence and relationship because of the grace found in Christ. We are forgiven enemies now children of God. From that new, freely received, standing with God, we are called to “bless those who persecute us” (Romans 12:14) and “love our enemies” (Luke 6:35), as ones who were and are blessed and loved by God even when we were His enemies. God calls us to a grace that He has already extended to us and we have freely received.
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love,
just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and
sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)