Peace our precious possession
Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”
Paul reminds us that peace doesn’t start with people it starts with the Savior and His finished work on the cross. Peace is a result of our:
- Position in Christ
The apostle Paul starts in Romans 5:1 by stating our position in Christ, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith. . . .” Justification is God’s act of removing the guilt and penalty of sin while at the same time declaring a sinner righteous through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. This righteousness from God is credited to the sinner’s account through faith alone, apart from works. Have you seen the illustration used of the three crosses at Calvary, Jesus and the two thieves? Over one cross is written: “In but not on.” On another cross is written: “On but not in.” And on the third cross is written: “In and on.” What do these signs mean? These signs are statements speaking about sin. The penitent thief, who after initially reviling Jesus, repented and cast himself on the mercy of Jesus, trusting in Him as he asked for forgiveness. Jesus forgave him and from that point on he had sin in him but not on him. His guilt was removed when his sin was transferred to Jesus. On the next cross, Jesus had sin on him but not in him, He was the Lamb of God without spot or blemish. The penitent thief’s sin along with all people’s sin was placed on him, and he was punished for it. The unrepentant thief who did not turn to Jesus in faith was on the third cross. He did not cast himself on the mercy of Christ for salvation, so he had sin in him and on him. Instead of having God’s grace he had guilt, when he died, he suffered the penalty for the sin that was still on him. What about you? Is sin still in but not on you? Or is it still in and on you? It is by faith that we receive justification, just like the penitent thief we need to turned to Jesus and say, I accept your claim, I believe that you are God’s Son; I believe that you are the Messiah, the Lord and Savior of sinners. Do you trust in Christ alone for salvation? By faith the thief said, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Jesus is the only one whose righteousness is accepted by the Father. When we believe that the perfect righteousness of Jesus is credited to us, our sin is paid for and we are justified by faith. So are you justified by faith? First Paul describes our position in Christ and next our:
- Possessions in Christ
What are the blessings of our justification? Paul mentions several of our possessions in Christ but I’m just going to mention the first of our possessions in Christ. If you ever want to do a fascinating study then take the time to discover all of the possessions we have in Christ. You will be amazed at all the “we have” references in Scripture. I think many Christians live discouraging lives because they have never been blown away by all the blessings we have in Christ. Our first possession in Christ is peace with God, Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God. . . .” Now it is very important to note that the Bible speaks of peace with God as well as the peace of God. Peace with God is not the same as peace of God, so what is the difference? The peace of God is described in Philippians 4:6-7, where Paul said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The peace of God is having a calm and satisfied frame of heart and mind in the midst of troubles and pressures. The peace of God is peace with regard to the cares of life and is subjective. Where peace with God means that we were at war with God, there was a state of hostility between us which is now over. Peace with God is peace with regard to God, it is objective, and is a reality regardless of whether or not we feel happy and secure. That means that unless you are justified by faith you are at war with God and there is no peace. There is a sentence of death upon us which cannot just be discarded or ignored. The penalty and punishment was paid through the death of Jesus so we could be reconciled to God. But we must come to that place where we are able to say, “I recognize that God is holy and I am a sinner. I deserve to die and experience the penalty for my sin. I deserve the wrath and condemnation of God; I deserve to go to hell for all eternity. But, by his amazing grace, God sent his Son, Jesus, and he paid the penalty for all of my sin. Through Jesus’ death we can be justified there is peace and reconciliation to all who will receive it. The terms of peace were sealed by the blood of Christ at the cross of Calvary. And when we accept the terms of peace and believe that Jesus paid the penalty for all of our sin, and that his righteousness is credited to our account, we have peace with God. We don’t have to live weary lives fighting a war we can’t win, instead we can come by faith and find forgiveness. Paul says that the peace we have with God is “through our Lord Jesus Christ.” All of our blessings come through a relationship with Jesus Christ, starting with our access to God. It is here that we need to be careful, because instead of possessing real peace many are fooled into a false peace. There are those who simply give an intellectual acknowledgment to the gospel. They understand that God is holy and that we are sinners, they know that Christ lived a perfect life and died to pay for the penalty of sin, yet that is far as it goes. But true peace is much deeper than that, it is not merely having an understanding of the gospel and assenting to the truth of the gospel, but it is entrusting yourself to Christ. It’s where we stop saying Jesus died for sinners, and start believing that Jesus died for me. Another false peace is when we have an interest only in forgiveness and not in righteousness. A person who has false peace only wants to be forgiven. Their focus is only on forgiveness because they don’t want to go to hell. They only want forgiveness as fire insurance but true peace is not merely wanting forgiveness, but wanting to live in light of that forgiveness. It involves a heart transformation that results in a desire to walk in holiness before God. It’s not a response just based on a fear of hell but one of faith that longs for heaven. A third kind of false peace is seen in a scant view of sin. A person who has false peace sins and says, “It’s no big deal, the blood of Christ covers me.” They dismiss disobedience as no big deal. But true peace has a high view of sin, this person is troubled over their rebellion because they live for righteousness. They are concerned and convicted over anything that would break fellowship with the One whose Son died to secure that peace. True peace sees the real price that Christ paid and doesn’t to try to cheapen the cross of Calvary. True peace is characterized by gratitude. A person who has peace with God is constantly thankful to God for his amazing grace. They deserved to pay the penalty for their sin for all eternity, but instead God declared them, “Not Guilty!” They cannot help but living the rest of their life in gratitude for the gift of eternal life that was given to them even though they did not deserve it. So do you have peace with God or are you still at war?