That he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby – Ephesians 2:16
What a strange phrase! Slaying enmity,putting to death hostility, slaughtering antagonism. But this is the paradox of the cross. By being put to death for us, Christ put to death the hostility that existed between us and God.
The point that Paul is making in this particular passage is that Christ has reconciled both Jews and Gentiles to God — there was no one who did not need Christ’s peacemaking work on their behalf.
No one, not even the most devout Jew, was at peace with God’s perfect standard. God’s anger, his just wrath, hangs over every human being, demanding punishment for our rebellion against his good law. Simultaneously, humanity, by nature, is opposed to God and to his demands on us.
This is the mutual enmity, the cosmic tension, that Paul speaks of. A good God against a sinful world, and a sinful world against a good God. This is the enmity which Christ died to slay, to put to death forever. And when enmity is slain, peace is all that is left standing.
Because Jesus Christ took our sins in his own body, on the cross, all hostility is gone and God is now at peace with those whose sins were paid for by Christ. And through the reconciling work of the Holy Spirit, we are made to be at peace with God in our hearts.
We now embrace his good commands and rejoice in the purity of his Word. While we still continue to sin, the desire of our hearts is now to know and love our Savior and God better, not to run away or avoid him.
Does this describe you? Are you at peace with God?
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