“For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17 NKJV).
God created man primarily for a loving relationship, intimacy, fellowship or communion with Himself. God walked in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day to fellowship with the first man and woman (Gen. 3:8).
God highly esteems and cherishes His relationship with man. The Scripture reveals that God’s delight is with the sons of men (Prov. 8:31).
The Psalmist wondered aloud when he thought about God’s love towards man.
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?
5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet. (NKJV).
But, the disobedience of Adam resulted in the spiritual death, separation or alienation of the entire human race from God.
Paul aptly states and explains this truth in his epistles.
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned–
13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (NKJV).
1 Corinthians 15:
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. (NKJV).
The entire human race having become corrupted by sin, no man could approach, stand before, or enjoy intimacy with God without any sense of fear, guilt or condemnation as it was before the advent of sin.
Sin resulted in hostility between God and men. It created a spiritual barrier between the holy God and sinful men.
Isaiah testifies to this truth.
1 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear.
2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. (NKJV).
But, thank God for Christ who abolished in His flesh the enmity or hostility between God and men and thus reconciled us to God.
Paul testifies to this truth.
21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled
22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight– (NKJV).
John the Baptist rightly pointed Jesus out among the crowd as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NKJV).
The primary goal of salvation is not deliverance from sin, the flesh, the world, or the devil. It is not for us to experience and enjoy healing, good health, miracles, breakthrough, prosperity or success in this world. It is even not to provide an escape from hell fire, or serve as a ticket to heaven.
All these are benefits of salvation, but not the main, primary or ultimate goal of salvation.
What then is the primary goal of salvation?
Intimacy with God!
A loving, intimate and eternal relationship with God!
The primary purpose of Jesus Christ coming into the world to offer Himself as a propitiation for our sins is to restore us to a loving and intimate relationship with God, just as before the advent of sin.
The primary goal of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross was not just to deal with sin, but to restore us into a loving and intimate relationship or friendship with God.
However, for the sinful men to be brought into intimacy or loving relationship with the holy God, the sin which brought hostility and separation between God and us has to be dealt with. That is why sin was condemned and judged in the flesh of Jesus Christ on the cross (Rom. 8:3).
The Lord Jesus abolished the enmity or hostility between the holy God and sinful men by bearing our sins in His own body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24).
John testifies, “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.” (1 John 3:5 NKJV).
However, the removal of our sins alone cannot restore us into intimacy or loving relationship with God. Why?
Because sin has completely corrupted our nature!
Even though God has changed His disposition towards us because Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross had fully satisfied the demand of God’s justice to punish sinners, yet God’s holiness cannot allow Him to have any intimacy or loving relationship with unholy or sinful men (Hab. 1:13).
The holiness of God is a consuming fire; no sinner can endure God’s holiness. Therefore, we need to be made righteous or holy before we could begin to enjoy intimacy or loving relationship with the holy God.
Because the ultimate goal of Christ’s death was to restore us into intimacy or loving relationship with God, therefore, the Lord Jesus did not just remove, bear or carry away our sins on the cross; He also bestowed on us His own righteousness as a gift.
Paul testifies, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21 NKJV).
What a divine exchange!
Although the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God has been offered on the cross as a perfect propitiation for the sins of the whole world, yet not everyone in the world is enjoying a loving relationship or intimacy with God. Why?
Because not everyone has received the gift of righteousness that Christ offers them!
While it is the gospel truth that God has forgiven the sins of everyone and God is not imputing sins to anyone, yet it is only the person who has received the righteousness of God as a gift through faith in Jesus Christ who can stand boldly, without any fear, shame, guilt or condemnation, before God’s holy presence and thus enjoy intimacy with God.
The unbelievers are not enjoying a loving and intimate relationship with God not because their sins have not been atoned for by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but because they refuse to receive God’s gracious gift of righteousness through faith in the person of Jesus and His finished work.
Sadly, many religious folks today are still holding fast unto their self-righteousness, ignorantly thinking that God will approve of their righteousness and receive them into His presence.
The Scripture states that “All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” in God’s presence (Isa. 64:6 NKJV).
When you approach God in your self-righteousness, you are simply approaching God clothed in a filthy and stinking garment. Your self-righteousness, performance or good works cannot earn you a right standing, intimacy or a loving relationship with God. Neither can they make you reign with Christ in this life and after this life.
It is only those who receive, appropriate and continue in the righteousness of God through faith in Christ that can enjoy intimacy with God in this life and hereafter. It is only the recipients of the gift of righteousness through faith in Christ that will reign with Christ in this world and throughout eternity.
17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (NKJV).
Friend, if you are not presently experiencing or enjoying intimacy or loving relationship with God, standing before God without any sense of fear, shame, guilt or condemnation, it may either mean that you have not received God’s gift of righteousness through faith in Christ, or that you are not walking in the consciousness that you are now the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
Beloved, don’t settle for anything less than the best (the gift of righteousness) that Christ offers you. Without receiving the righteousness of God through faith in Christ, you cannot attain the ultimate or primary goal of salvation – enjoying a loving, intimate and eternal relationship with God.
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for offering me forgiveness of sins and the gift of righteousness through faith in Christ Jesus. I receive the gracious gift of righteousness today through faith in Christ Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. My Dear Holy Spirit, teach and help me daily to walk in the consciousness that I am righteous in Christ and through Christ, in Jesus’ name. Amen.