Romans 5:8-10 is an important reconciliation passage:
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:8-10)
(Note: this is a supporting page for the Character of God and the Gospel Glossary definition for reconciliation.)
God commended or showed His love (v8). What effect does (or should) that – His death – have? What effect is it meant to have?
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)
Christ’s death (“lifted up from the earth” is a reference to crucifixion) has the effect, when understood, of causing a person to appreciate what a great sacrifice He made.
“Justified by his blood (v9)” refers to being made or set right with Him.
Justification is commonly thought of as a legal process but it can also be understood in relational terms. See the glossary definition for justification.
Verse 10 says “we were enemies.” But was God our enemy? No; “we were (His) enemies.” What is an enemy? “a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.” (dictionary.com)
Justification is setting a person right in their relationship with God which is essentially reconciliation. The close relationship is obvious when we notice the parallel structure in Romans 8:9-10:
There is a difference between being reconciled by His death and being saved by His life. They are distinct processes even separated in time.
Justification as Being Set Right with God
Imagine you have a terminal illness and are facing sure death. There is a doctor recommended to you with a “miracle cure.” He has been labelled by others as a quack and you regard him as such. But eventually you get desperate so you make an appointment. He examines you carefully and explains exactly what he can do for you and gives unquestionable evidence that his treatment will work and has cured others. He is very kind and obviously very concerned for your well-being.
You make a decision to not believe what others have said but, rather, to go by the evidence you have seen for yourself and to trust the doctor – literally, you put your life in his hands. Are you healed/saved from your condition? No, that requires application of the treatment. However, reconciliation has happened, the relationship is mended; trust is established.
We are first reconciled by our understanding of what God has done for us and what He promises to do. (That is what we would normally call being saved.)
Then we are saved or healed “by His life” – read the gospels, study the life of Jesus, walk as He walked and you will be healed, changed, saved.
Justification or reconciliation is not a legal matter.
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