Sinners, Enemies of Christ - Christ, Friend of Sinners
I. Sinful Man is the Enemy of God
We live in a world that does not believe the concept of man’s sinful antagonism against God. This is not a new problem. Here is what A. W. Tozer had to say: “Until we believe that we are as bad as God says we are, we can never believe that He will do for us what He says He will do. Right here is where popular religion breaks down.” (A. W. Tozer - Quoted in The Berean Call, September 1993, New Man, July/August 1994, p. 10.)
How bad is fallen man? He is a wicked enemy of God. He is an “enemy combatant”. Here is the biblical evidence.
Romans 5:6-10 – Every Christian was an enemy
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 8:5-8 – The natural man is hostile to God
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Col. 1:21 Sinful behaviour makes us the enemy of God
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation--
James 4:4 - To be a friend of the world is to be an enemy of God
You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
II. Jesus is the Friend of Repentant Sinners
“A holy man was engaged in his morning meditation under a tree whose roots stretched out over the riverbank. During his meditation he noticed that the river was rising, and a scorpion caught in the roots was about to drown. He crawled out on the roots and reached down to free the scorpion, but every time he did so, the scorpion struck back at him.”
“An observer came along and said to the holy man, ‘Don’t you know that’s a scorpion, and it’s in the nature of a scorpion to want to sting?’
“To which the holy man replied, ‘That may well be, but it is my nature to save, and must I change my nature because the scorpion does not change its nature?” (Joseph B. Modica - Eye of the Needle Newsletter)
The sons of Adam are born into the world as spiritual scorpions. It is their nature to resist and to fight God. It is their nature to shake their fist in God’s face and to strike out at God.
The good news of the Gospel is this: It is the nature of God to reach out in love. It is the nature of God to come down to save. It is the nature of God to come among us to rescue and restore enemies to friendship.
Sinners cannot and will not change their nature. It requires the intervention of a sovereign God to transform us from rebels to worshipers. We rejoice that Jesus persists in loving those who hate Him. The story of Paul’s conversion is an illustration of this. Paul the scorpion is transformed into Paul the loving servant. You will find the story in Acts 9.
God’s Grace Liberates
“To sum up, the cause of Saul’s conversion was grace, the sovereign grace of God. But sovereign grace is gradual grace and gentle grace. Gradually, and without violence, Jesus pricked Saul’s mind and conscience with his goads. Then he revealed himself to him by the light and the voice, not in order to overwhelm him, but in such a way as to enable him to make a free response. Divine grace does not trample on human personality. Rather the reverse, for it enables human being to be truly human. It is sin which imprisons; it is grace which liberates. The grace of God so frees us from the bondage of our pride, prejudice and self-centredness, as to enable us to repent and believe. One can but magnify the grace of God that he should have had mercy on such a rabid bigot as Saul of Tarsus, and indeed on such proud, rebellious and wayward creatures as ourselves.” (The Message of Acts, John R. W. Stott, pg. 173)
Tell Sinners - A. B. Simpson
A. B. Simpson is reported to have said that the gospel “Tells rebellious men that God is reconciled, that justice is satisfied, that sin has been atoned for, that the judgment of the guilty may be revoked, the condemnation of the sinner cancelled, the curse of the Law blotted out, the gates of hell closed, the portals of heaven opened wide, the power of sin subdued, the guilty conscience healed, the broken heart comforted, the sorrow and misery of the Fall undone." (Evangelism, A Biblical Approach, M. Cocoris, Moody, 1984, p. 29)
It is appropriate that we sing the words of Wesley’s song:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
It is amazing Love.