Unity in Christ

“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,” (Ephesians 2:14-15, ESV)

The wall of separation that Paul speaks of refers not just to the Mosaic ceremonial law, but also to God’s moral law. This law separates everyone from God, even Israel. To have fellowship with God, to be in His presence, one must be holy, perfect, free from sin. Of course, when the Jews sinned, they could offer sacrifices to God to make themselves right with Him. The Gentiles, on the other hand, excluded from the Temple, had no access to sacrifice, no way to atone for sin. So they could never approach God. 

The ceremonial laws and the moral laws were designed to make Israel holy, separated from evil and unto God so they could worship Him as He requires. But Israel was also separated as holy to do good works. When the Lord first called Abraham back in Genesis 12, He told him that the nation which would come from his offspring would be a light and a blessing to all people. All nations, all families of earth were to be blessed through Abraham’s descendants.

But Israel neglected her responsibility. She became proud, unrighteous, faithless and selfish. At the time of Jesus, the law promoted racial elitism. The leaders of Israel used it to foster a sense of national and religious superiority, for though they were under the rule of Gentile Roman conquerors, they were still God’s chosen. The unclean Gentiles were still barred from the kingdom of God, denied full citizenship in Israel and excluded from participation in her covenants and blessings. Thus the law created only animosity, not peace.

Jesus broke down the wall of the law. When He died on the cross, His blood did not just cover over sin. His blood paid the full penalty for the sin of all mankind. His blood redeemed us from the condemnation of the law so now we stand justified and righteous before God. The law cannot condemn those who are in Christ, those covered by His blood. To be in Christ means to have repented of sin, that is to say, those in Christ have acknowledged their sinfulness to God. They have admitted that they are powerless over sin and have surrendered control of their lives to Christ. Those in Christ, though not perfect or sin-free no longer live with sin or self as their main focus in life. Now they live to give glory to God.

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