We must not imagine that God will save (rescue) us as a reward for our good works. We cannot force God to establish a right relationship with us because of our wealth or our family history (Romans 2:11). God’s character never changes. Nobody will ever persuade him to do something that he considers wrong (James 1:17).
So, Paul explains to us why God acts in people’s lives to give them a right relationship with him. Paul gives three reasons:
Firstly, God acts because of his perfect character. God described his own character in Exodus 34:6-7. God is a kind and loving God. He is eager for people to turn from their evil deeds so that he can forgive them (Ezekiel 18:30-32). He saves people because of his great love (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:16).
Secondly, God saves people because their situation is truly desperate (Psalm 40:1-3). Paul’s word for ‘trespasses’ or ‘transgressions’ (evil deeds) is itself a word-picture - it really means a wrong step, like when someone wanders from a safe path (Psalm 119:176; Proverbs 7:6-27; Isaiah 53:6; Luke 15:4). The result of people’s evil deeds is the death of their spirits (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1; Revelation 21:8).
Thirdly, God gives people a right relationship with himself because of Christ. When Christ died for them (Romans 5:6), he himself suffered the punishment for their evil deeds. Christ became alive again, and by that same power, God is working in the lives of his people (Romans 8:11; Ephesians 1:19-20). They are the people who turn from their evil deeds to invite Christ into their lives (John 1:12). God forgives them and he changes their lives completely (2 Corinthians 5:17).
So now God’s people are no longer dead (2:1-2). In other words, God has forgiven the wrong and evil deeds that caused death in their spirit. He has given them the kind of life in their spirit that will never end (John 10:10).
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© 2018, Keith Simons.