We Were Enemies Once

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God doesn't help those who help themselves. He saves those who can't do anything for themselves.

Our existence is a dichotomy. Our physical and spiritual deaths versus the God who is the source of all life, physical and spiritual. The evil that darkens the thoughts of our hearts all the days of our lives versus Jesus, who is the Light of the world. We don't exist without God's limitless, measureless love, but we treat him as our enemy. We despise and reject him even though he treats us like lost sheep who need to be sought out and saved. We try to annihilate him, but he just keeps reminding us that the whole business is finished.

It's tragically comical how easily we sell out to temptation and satanic evil just because we believe it's the right thing to do. When we struggle, we blame God. When we're successful, we praise ourselves. When we're weak, we threaten to curse God and be done with him. But, when we feel strong, we go it alone, saying, "God helps those who help themselves!" When we're sick and diseased, we demand God tell us how he could let it happen. When we're crippled by mental, physical, and spiritual illness, the God we treat as an enemy is suddenly called to give an account for his inability to prevent this from happening to us.

Our struggles open opportunities to imagine we're strong enough to take on God. We think our choices prepare us to live a good life, with or without God's blessing. In fact, we believe life is a series of little deaths that produce a better version of ourselves, day by day. We are who we are despite God, not because of him. Who we will be, what we will be, and what kind of legacy we leave for our children, is up to us. We are the captains of our own destiny because we don't remember what God does for us.

There is comfort for a heart gripped by sinful darkness. God does Life to us. He creates, redeems, and sanctifies us so we may enjoy a new life, life eternal. He embraces us in Jesus' death and resurrection to say, "The war is over. Jesus has reconciled you. I was never your enemy. Now you know for certain." God descends to us so that we may ascend his holy hill, enter his house, and join him at his table, the wedding feast set out in our honor.

God shows us what we're made of, and how we're made. His word of Law and Gospel expose and absolve us. It's revealed to us that we're not perfect. We're never going to come close to perfection, but that's not the purpose and goal of our lives. Instead, God reveals to us that we're created to love him and love each other as he's loved us.

Our life is painful and confusing when we turn our backs to God. When we look away from Calvary, we succumb to temptation and every kind of evil that comes from within and from outside of us. We struggle to live when we reject God who is Life. Our choices cut us off from our Savior when we refuse to accept that we don't have any choice about our salvation. Forgiveness, new life, and eternal salvation are out of our hands.

God doesn't help those who help themselves. He saves those who can't do anything for themselves.

The God we treat as the enemy comes to us. He suffers himself to be rejected by us to save us from ourselves, death, and God's furious judgment. The evil that darkens our hearts is enlightened by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In him, we live, and move, and have our being.

For Christians, we exist in this dichotomy. We die, and yet we live because Jesus is the Resurrection and Life. We run from him, but he seeks and saves us. We annihilate him, then three days later he's raised from the dead. He comes to us to pronounce absolution and breathe his Holy Spirit into us.

Then he sends us into the world to proclaim this good news to other sinners, “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:6-10).