Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.
Because of Adam’s fall, man was separated from God. Abraham and his descendants were the means by which God planned to set the world to rights and deal with the problem of sin and the Israelites were given the law as the means by which they would fulfill that calling. However, what Paul tells us in beginning chapters of Romans is that just as the pagan world is part of the sin problem, so the Jews themselves who had been given this royal calling were part of the problem. In fact, the law did not help to fix the problem of sin, it in fact revealed it and made it worse. But God who is faithful to his promise to redeem the world sent Jesus, a descendant of Abraham to deal with the problem of sin once and for all and to restore creation back to fellowship with God and to everything that Adam had lost.
We who believe in Christ have become members of that covenant. It is not through our law keeping that we are identified as members of this divine covenant, but rather it is our faith that makes us partakers in this great promise which God has made. After-all, Abraham was not declared righteous after he was circumcised but rather before, when he believed God. Showing that he is the father of those who have faith and the father of those who are circumcised. And if Abraham is our father according to the Spirit, then we have become heirs of the promise, covenant members, and given righteousness and reconciliation.
I want to focus on the message of reconciliation because if we understand this message, we will be able to grasp God’s love for us and live as people who are free, alive, and right with God.
Philippines 4:7 “And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 1:2 “May grace (God’s unmerited favor) and spiritual peace [which means peace with God and harmony, unity, and undisturbedness] be yours from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 John 4:18 “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”
Would it not be an awful tragedy to be completely reconciled to God in peace and yet not experience that peace? Instead of feeling safe, loved, and provided for by God, we instead feel doubtful, wondering, insecure, and afraid? Perhaps some of you feel this way. Let me ask, if you have to relate your relationship with God on a scale of 1-10 where would you be?
How is it then that we are given such clear verses about our standing before God, yet we still sometimes feel like God is distant or is holding something against us? My friends, we have not been taught to have confidence in what God has done for us. Instead we often place our trust in our flesh (that is our human effort) as the means by which we feel ok with God. When we have done well, we feel assured that we are ok with him, and when we have done wrong, or wrong a decent number of times, we begin to doubt our position in Christ.
Now it is very true that God is pleased when we live upright lives that reflect his nature, but does God want us to doubt his character and oath every time we mess up? We are given this promise of assurance and God wants us to live and walk in the full understanding and hope of that assurance.
Hebrews 10:19-23 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
Hebrews 6:17-19 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.
Hebrews 7:18-19 “Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”
This walk we have with God sometimes reminds me of the story of Adam. When Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he recognized sin and found himself to be guilty. (This is an archetype of the law. For the law was put into purpose to expose sin and reveal that we are sinners.) The fruit promised wisdom, but it’s end was sin-consciousness and curse. Likewise the law is good and shows us what God wants, yet those who eat of it, find themselves miserable in sin-consciousness and no better for it. The result was the curse that came on those who were disobedient (which Christ has redeemed us from).
But what did that sin-consciousness make Adam do? He hid from God. And God called and said, “Who told you you were naked?”
When we have a legalistic mentality, that is we base our standing with God off of our human effort, instead of having peace, our minds are steeped in sin-consciousness. And this sin consciousness steals from the peace we are supposed to have with God. Instead of running to him in time of need, we hide from him. Instead of enjoying and embracing this reconciliation we have with Christ, we live as though our sin still separated ourselves from him. My friends, we must take our eyes off of ourselves and set them on Christ.
1 John 3:18-22 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Colossians 3:15 “15 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].”
This peace leads to a godly lifestyle, one that God is pleased with. For our good deeds flow out of peace. It causes us to yearn to please our Father, in the same way that we have fallen in love with him for the great affection he shows us. It is vitally important that we embrace this peace we have with God if we are to live our lives to please him.
2 Corinthians 3:-18 The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
Let us be careful then not to miss the peace we have with God. Whenever we listen to sermons or teachings we need to test the fruit of that teaching. Does it serve to give you peace with God, confidence before him, and gratitude in your heart for his love? Or does it create doubt, separation, sin-consciousness, and fear of God? So then as you go about your life, pay attention to the things you believe. Notice how it makes your heart feel. And if your heart does not have that confidence before God, God is greater than our hearts and he will lead us into peace.