“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:1)
I remember in high school being caught up in a conflict with the fullback of our football team, a team that was always in contention for a state championship, and one that sent many players to division 1 football programs. I was a timid sophomore, and he was a senior. And, in case you’re wondering, he was much bigger than me. He approached me in the lunchroom and, after a series of threats, told me he was going to “scrub me”. I didn’t exactly know what he meant, but it didn’t sound good. Needless to say, for the rest of the week, I had no peace.
As frightening as that conflict was, it pales in comparison to the conflict and alienation Paul describes in Romans 5. If you’ve read v.1-2, you might wonder where the idea of conflict is found. It’s implied in the word, “peace.” Paul tells us, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (v.1).” For the first four chapters of Romans, Paul had been describing our sinfulness, hostility, and alienation from God (a lack of peace). In short, the human race is at war with God, and there is no hope for peace apart from Christ.
Paul teaches us that peace with God is one of the ultimate purposes and consequences of being justified by the grace of God. The necessary result of justification is the end of hostilities with God, the quieting of a guilty conscience, and the peace that naturally ensues.
People, whether they realize it or not, live their lives with restless, fearful, angry souls that they attempt to quiet in numerous ways. Much of the hatred of Christians and biblical truth is an attempt to silence the guilty conscience of a culture and its people. It’s a fool’s errand, but people somehow think they can find peace if they eliminate all signs and reminders of the most fundamental problem the human race has: alienation and hostility toward God.
Paul’s favorite word in Romans— “justification”—teaches us that we have been declared righteous by the death of Christ for our sins. This refers to our status before God’s law. And our status apart from Christ is summarized in one simple word: guilty. But we’re not merely guilty, we’re like condemned criminals awaiting our day in court and future punishment.
Oddly enough, you would think people would walk around in a perpetual state of fear and trembling. Instead, they’ve chosen to do what most lawbreakers in our world do as they approach their day in court: deny, deny, deny!
But as believers, we’ve been invited to enter a plea of “guilty”, and by that confession have a lifetime of sins purged from the record forever. This is Paul’s meaning when he says, “having been justified, we have peace with God…”. And this is the secret to daily peace even in the most challenging of circumstances.
As you consider your emotional state from moment to moment, make sure you constantly remind yourself that your day in court has been canceled. You, who were once condemned and awaiting punishment, have been set free. While there are a number of earthly blessings that give peace, comfort, and happiness, these all come and go with time. Only daily considering that we’ve been declared not guilty because the Lord of heaven and earth wanted it so will provide lasting peace.