Romans 5:1-11—Week 9—Peace with God
Memory verse: Romans 5:1 ESV “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I have had a horrible month. I have been stressed out to the max. Financial worries. Family worries. Been on the verge of rage every day. And I can’t seem to shake it. My wife and I have had 3 horrible fights. Once I almost hit her. I’ve spent many hours the last 10 days dwelling on my anger--- even hatred--- towards a former friend here at Stonebrook. To cope with the pressure, I’ve really been tempted to drink. And to secretly look at pornography late at night. I feel trapped. I can’t stop sinning.
Worst of all the guilt has been crushing. I should know better. And do better. Now I’m having health problems, and I figure I have it coming. Surely God is angry with me, and he’s judging me. Punishing me.
I even wonder at times if I’m truly a Christian.
I am going to call you this afternoon for help. What will you say to me? How will you help me to deal with my guilt and my sin?
Will you console me? “Oh, it’s not that bad. You’re a good person. I mean, you’ve been a good Christian for all these years. You’ve helped people. Besides, nobody’s perfect. Everyone has problems.”
Will you give me some good things to do? “Just start reading your Bible and you’ll feel better. And go out and help the poor. It feels good to do that. And it will help you get your mind off your problems.”
What will you say to me? My sin and my guilt is crushing me. How can I find peace with God?
Truthfully, I didn’t really have a month like that. I made up this story. My month has actually been much better than that. But what if I did actually have such a month, and I called you?? Seriously, what would you tell me? What would you tell YOURSELF if YOU had a month like that, and YOU called YOU??
Our passage today may give us some insight from God.
Brief Overview of this Series
Where have we been since September in Romans?? We’ve covered 4 very deep and powerful chapters.
Paul has spent considerable time looking at some very, very foundational truths for the Christian faith.
- Sin. Wrath. Judgment.
- All have sinned.
- Works of the law cannot save. Jew and Gentile. Works have never saved. Ever.
- Faith is how God justifies us, counts us righteous. God is propitiated through Christ’s blood. We are redeemed. It’s all a gift. We cannot say God owes us or that we deserve it. Gift is the opposite of a wage.
- Abraham’s story tells us how it all works.
Now we are beginning chapter 5. Paul is continuing along the same theme of justification by faith and not by works. Yet he is also transitioning and expanding his theme.
Let’s look at our passage for today.
Romans 5:1–11 (ESV)
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have peace with God. Peace! All of us clamor for peace in our lives. And we hate having a lack of peace.
- Tension in our marriages. And with our teenagers.
- Political strife in Washington
- War in the Middle East
And deep down, even if we cannot articulate it to ourselves, we often recognize a lack of harmony between us and God.
- We feel guilt, whether it’s real or imagined.
- We sense shame, that we’ve let God down.
- In our hard trials, we wonder if God is punishing us. Angry with us.
It is with these questions about God that this verse gives us the answer. Being justified by our faith in Jesus Christ, we have PEACE with God. He is at HARMONY with us. He is at REST over us. He is no longer angry and full of wrath. He is at PEACE with you. All the time.
This is a radical and complete change in our relationship with God. Before we believed in Christ, our sins and crimes against God aroused his WRATH. We were storing up wrath against ourselves!
Turn back a page.
Romans 2:5 ESV “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
We can’t sugarcoat this. It’s a hard truth.
But as we read through chapters 3 and 4, we find that God has sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to deal with his wrath. When we believe in the Work of Jesus, God justifies us. He declares us righteous. He proclaims that we are in good standing with him. He has redeemed us. He saved us from his wrath and gives us eternal life as a gift.
So now here in Chapter 5, Paul tells us even more. He says that through your faith in Jesus, God justified you. And he is now….NOW….at peace with you. There is no more wrath. No anger. NEVER AGAIN.
We can relax around God, because he has tranquility towards us because of Jesus Christ.
This has encouraged and excited me in the past couple of weeks. I’ve been thinking about it every day. God is at PEACE with me through his Son. Even on days when I feel like I don’t measure up. Even after I’ve sinned.
Now back to my story of having a bad month, maybe you’ve had a month or a day like that. Surely we’ve all had moments of SIN and we face our GUILT before God.
Even at our worst moments, if you have believed in Jesus Christ, you are JUSTIFIED…declared righteous…and God is at PEACE with you. He is NOT ANGRY with you when you sin.
We’ve got to let this sink in.
This may sound so obvious to most of us. We might even say, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that. I’ve believed that.” But our challenge this a.m. is, How well do we really understand this?
Let’s come back to that question later.
2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand---
By faith, we have gained access into a new world, a world of grace, and the "door" into this world is the Lord Jesus Christ. In that sense, it means we have gained access to God himself.
The idea is that of being allowed into the chambers of a king, and Christ is the who allows such access. And it may have more of the idea of access in the sense of the believer's continuing ability to enjoy the presence of Christ. This is how complete the justification is. This is how at peace God is with you in Christ.
After we sin, we might be tempted to pull back from God. To run from him. To hide our faces. But instead, we have gained access into the grace-filled presence of God. This is utterly remarkable!!
we rejoice in hope of the glory of God---
It’s a bit challenging to determine precisely what Paul is referring to. But here’s my take:
First, the word rejoice. It also means to exult. To boast in. To glory in.
Think of a sports team winning the championship. Last Sunday the Kansas City Royals won the World Series. On Tuesday, an estimated 800,000 fans gathered for a parade to rejoice and glory in their team. They boast to the world how great their team is.
What does it mean to rejoice in and exult in hope of the glory of God??? The glory of God is our HOPE. Our confident assurance. We now are destined to see and experience the greatness, majesty, beauty, and holiness of the Lord and his kingdom.
And on top of that, God has shared some of his glory with us and lifted us up. We are heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ, inheriting the kingdom. We have the Spirit of the living God inside us. We are adopted as children of God Almighty. I try to think about these things all the time. They bring me hope and encouragement.
What a glory!! In this we can and should and must rejoice and exult!!
3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
We are to rejoice and exult and glory in our sufferings. Same word as in vs. 2. To glory in sufferings doesn’t sound right, does it? We rejoice in sufferings because it leads us somewhere. It produces something in us.
Suffering leads to endurance. Persevering in faith through hard times with JOY. Then this endurance with joy leads to character. God changes us from the inside out.
Then this changed life produces hope. An assurance of good for the future, particularly our future in the next world. As you persevere and your character grows, you realize even more that God is real, and that he lives in you, and that you really are a child of the living God. This gives us more assurance of the world to come in Christ.
And this hope never puts us to shame…because the Lord has poured out his love on us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit testifies in our hearts of the Love of God. In a real way, this love in our hearts is experiential. Not mystical or New Age-y or some out-of-body experience. But this is a real love made aware to us as we understand what God has done through Jesus Christ.
It’s no wonder Christians have such a capacity to love. God's own glorious love has been poured into us.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God’s love is shown most powerfully and thoroughly when he sent his Son to die for sinners.
Ungodly--- having no regard, no reverence, no awe towards God. A defiance towards him. Even condemning God.
Sinners—people in rebellion towards God. Ignoring him. Disbelieving him. Trying to enthrone ourselves in his place.
The love of God was shown at our worst moment.
In 1945 on the small Japanese island called Iwo Jima, U.S. Marines were in an intense battle with the Japanese. 17-year old Marine, Jack Lucas, was in a foxhole with a couple of his fellow Marines. Two grenades landed in their foxhole. Lucas threw himself on top of the grenades. Miraculously he survived. Afterwards, someone asked, “Why did you do it?” He said, “To save my buddies.” Incredibly admirable. It does happen. But can you imagine Lucas or any of us jumping on a grenade to save the enemy who just threw it? That is somewhat comparable to what Christ has done for us.
Often we doubt god’s love for us. We don’t feel it, so we doubt. Bad things happen, so we doubt. But there is no greater demonstration….no greater proof… of god’s love than sending his son to die for you, a sinner. An enemy.
So if we ever doubt the lord’s love for us, we should immediately repent of our unbelief. When we doubt, we are simply questioning the truthfulness and the reality of the most loving act ever performed in history.
We need to repent of our doubts and our anger against god. We need to turn our eyes to the truth of the cross of Christ. We need to meditate on the reality of it. We need to pray that we would get it. Paul prayed that very thing in Ephesians 3. We need god’s help to get it.
9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
10 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.
11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Let’s step back and consider vs. 1-11. We have been justified by faith. We have peace with God. We have access into the very presence of the God of grace. We have eternal and glorious hope. God loved us so much that at our worst moment, he died for us. We are saved from his wrath. We are reconciled.
This is amazing. If you are in Christ, you have been given something beautiful and glorious and astonishing. This should change our lives. This should radically alter the way we think and live.
But now let me ask you one simple question. “WHY?” Why is all this true? Is it true just because the Apostle Paul wrote the words down? No, it’s true because something actually happened. God did something.
Let’s set up sort of a physical explanation. I’m here on the stage representing all of us. What do all of us do towards God? We SIN.
What is God’s response to sin? He is angry. Wrathful. He judges us.
If we are at all aware of God, what do we now experience inside us? Our guilt and our shame. We KNOW he is displeased and angry.
At this point, what are only TWO OPTIONS? We have to find a way to cope with our guilt. We yearn to find peace from God’s anger. So what are the TWO MAIN OPTIONS we have?
All of you in this half of the room are going to attempt to eliminate your guilt by your works. Paul speaks of this in Romans 2, 3, and 4. You do all sorts of good things. Read your Bible. Go to church. Live by moral standards. Help the poor. Give money.
Are all these things good? Yes. Does your effort gain you salvation? Does it ease God’s anger towards your sin? Does it justify you? No.
WHY? This is my big question. Why do all of your good works—even though they are good things—why do they not justify you?
Why don’t your works work?
Well, of course, Paul points out that this approach is merely boasting in self. Self-glorying. It’s pride and arrogance. And it’s an attempt to make god owe you something. And god will never be in our debt.
But there is a more foundational reason why your works don’t work. What is the penalty for sin? Death. Your life. You have to die. You have to shed your blood to satisfy the demands of justice. God as lawgiver and king and judge demands your life for your crimes against him. Genesis 3 says this in the curse against Adam. Romans says this. This message is everywhere.
So if the penalty is death, why don’t your works work? Well, very obviously and very basically: your works don’t work because no one dies. Justice demands death, and any human effort besides our own death simply doesn’t satisfy it. So all of you on this side of the room are still guilty. You are still under god’s wrath. You still have no peace. You have not been justified or redeemed or reconciled.
But there is another way.
This half of the room—instead of pursuing self-justification like they did for so many years—finally comes to their senses and turns to Jesus Christ. Instead of self-justification, we’ll call it Christ-justification. Faith in Jesus Christ brings our justification. This is the message of romans 3,4, and 5.
But here’s a very basic question: Why does Christ’s work work? Your works don’t work. Why does Christ’s work work?
Can you explain this? If you are sharing this message of salvation with your child or a friend…or even with yourself…and you were asked, “why does Christ’s work work to bring justification and peace and redemption and propitiation?” What would you say?
Let’s go back to the basics. What is the penalty for sin? Death. Your death. Mankind was sentenced to death. So for justify to be satisfied, you should die. So why should Christ’s death set you free? You’re not dying? How is that just? Does Christ’s work work merely because Paul wrote it down on parchment in 56 A.D.? Does it work simply because god said it should work?
Here’s my answer: one word: substitution.
You on this side of the room are justified by faith in Jesus because God in his mercy has allowed a substitute. What does that mean? He allows someone else to die in your place. He allows someone else to shed his blood instead of your blood being shed.
He allowed substitution in the Old Testament to Israel in the form of animals. Slaughter a lamb or a bull, and your sins were atoned for. But the Lord knew that animals weren’t the full and ultimate solution. How could the blood and death of an animal be a just penalty for your crimes against god?
There was only one person who could be the perfect substitute for your sins and the sins of the world: the holy, perfect, eternal, glorious Son of God.
Romans and the rest of the New Testament tells us that the Christ, the Lamb of God, has been slaughtered--- his blood was shed—to perfectly and completely and thoroughly remove all your guilt. All guilt has been removed. You have peace with god.
So now to you in this half of the room, you are at peace. But tomorrow you will sin again. How should you respond? You feel guilt and shame, so what should you do now? Go back to your old ways and try to work it off? To live self-justification?
No!! Only death can remove your guilt. Do you want to die? No, of course not. We need to let Christ do his work. We need to very simply believe the gospel. Believe that Jesus’ work works, and that my good works will never work.
Explanation of the Transaction:
I wonder if many of us who are genuine believers in Christ often find ourselves feeling at war with God or that God is angry with us and not at peace because we simply don’t have firmly in our mind the actual transaction that occurred.
We think, “Well, yes, I know Paul said that through faith in Jesus I’m at peace with God, but I still feel like I have to Do something to make up for my sin.” So we try to do more works to atone for our sins.
Honestly, we simply need to stop thinking that way. Man has never been justified that way. He has never found peace with God that way. And he never will. The demands of justice can be met only by your own blood or Jesus’ blood.
I hope some lightbulbs will go on in your head and your heart. We’re not justified because Paul wrote down these words on a page. We’re justified because a transaction actually occurred on earth and in heaven to satisfy the heavy demands of justice. We are actually now free in Christ.
We have peace with God.
How Should We Then Live?
How should we live in light of this overwhelming message??
Application #1: Abandon!
As an application, we should simply abandon all attempts to get in good standing with God by our works. Just stop trying. Stop. You cannot impress God. Simply trust him that the Work of Jesus is completely adequate.
Good works have never worked!!
Abandon all boasting in your efforts. Humble yourself and stop boasting in you. It’s simply pride.
Application #2: Rejoice!
A third application is that we should rejoice! Abandon all attempts to rejoice and boast in your own efforts. And instead rejoice and boast in the work of Jesus.
Rejoice. Exult. Boast. Glory….that because of Christ, you have peace with God.
The demands of justice have been met. Fully met. You are now Justified. Saved. Redeemed. God has been propitiated. You are at peace with God. You are completely reconciled. The Son of God has taken your place. The demands of Justice have been met. Glory that you are now at peace with God. Why? Because God loves you deeply.
Application #3: Obey!
Wait a minute, you might say. I’m saved by grace. It’s a gift from God through Jesus. I’ve been justified. I have peace with God even when I sin. So why should I even obey? Why not sin all the more?
If you are asking that question now, you are just beginning to understand how radical our salvation is through Christ. The Apostle Paul addresses this very question in chapter 6. We’ll look at that in 2 weeks.
For now, know that obedience is important. But it is not to impress God, or put God in a position where he owes us something. It is in response to his love for us.
Whatever he tells you to do this week….whatever attitude he wants you to have…whatever service he calls you to give…..obey Him. He loves you enough to send his Son. Simply go now in love and obey him.