Believer, you and I have been justified. Have you ever considered what that means? Justified means to be pronounced righteous and approved; to be conformed to an upright standard and to be shown as honorable. We have been found and declared innocent. We have received justice. We were not justified because we deserved it. We were justified because God gave us His grace. He chose to forgive our sin. His forgiveness is not like ours. My forgiveness removes my anger but the sin remains; God’s forgiveness not only takes away His wrath but it eradicates the sin. When He looks at us, our sin no longer exists. That is an amazing gift. It is a gift we could never deserve nor earn. It was given to us because we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, God with us and we called on Him to save us.
Our justification, our salvation from the wrath of God and the wages or results of sin (which is death) has a purpose. We do not receive a gift as wonderful as life and just let it collect dust. We let God’s proclamation of our righteousness conform us to righteousness. Verses 1-5 read,
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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. 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.
Peace with God is a relationship with Him. We are no longer at odds with Him, working against His desires for us and for the world. We are with Him, living in His will and working with Him for His will. What is His will? It is for our sanctification (being made more and more in Jesus’ image of righteousness) and purity, for all people to be saved, and for us to know Him and love Him. (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 2 Peter 3:9, Hosea 6:6). Faith allows us to trust God and submit to Him and that changes the way we deal with life. Without faith when suffering comes our way, we fight alone to lift ourselves above it or we lament and worry and we look for solutions to end the distress. But with faith in God, we are not alone and we understand that He will change us through the suffering, we will develop the character of Christ. We rejoice for that reason and we rejoice because His love is so apparent. I know when I suffer, one thing that brings me through is faith and the hope that faith gives me. Hebrews 11:1-3 describes it this way,
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
The hope of faith is not a wishy washy hope, it is an absolute certainty, a sure knowledge that God’s promises are true, that eternal life is mine, that my home is in Heaven with Jesus, and His home is here in me.
Christians use a vernacular that the world doesn’t fully understand and sometimes Christians don’t fully understand it either. We say things like born again, saved, and delivered and the lost do not know what we mean. Do we know what we are saved from? We are saved from God’s wrath, the consequences of sin which is death and eternal damnation (Revelation 14:17-20, Revelation 20:15). What are you born again to? You are born to a new identity and eternal life. Isaiah 62:1-5 describes it beautifully,
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch.
2 The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.
Eternal life is not only for the future, it is for now! We are not called Forsaken anymore; we are called Righteous, we are called My Delight is in Her! God’s delight is in us, consider that; God’s delight is in you, believer, you! You are no longer condemned to death. You have been given life, peace with God so much so that His delight is in you. Seeing you live makes God happy. Verses 6-11 read,
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.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.
Once you were God’s enemy, sure to experience His wrath but now you are alive in a relationship with God who loves you more profoundly than you can begin to fathom. It is Jesus’ sacrifice which freely and generously gave us life and reconciliation with Him. We can’t let that gift sit unused and unappreciated. Death exists in the world. It is rampant. But the gift of life is waiting for anyone willing to accept it. Verses 12-19 in The Message read,
12-14 You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it.
15-17 Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?
18-19 Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right. (Or read it in the ESV here).
Adam’s sin brought death to the masses. Everyone was born with sin instilled in them after that and so everyone was born dead. But Jesus willingly gave up His life. He died and that brought life to anyone who will believe He is the Christ and that He died and resurrected. He took our death sentence from us by laying down His life. He took on our crimes, our sin and in doing so made us innocent as if we have never been sinners. When we chose to believe God, we were born again, but this time we were born to life and so we were born to live. What should that mean for us? Should we just sit on a swing and think happy thoughts about how good it is to be alive and how nice it will be in New Jerusalem (where we will spend eternity united with God after Judgement Day)? No! We are meant to live and by doing so let others know this wonderful gift is for them too. We are meant to live and snatch people away from the death that grips them. Verses 20-21 read,
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God is waiting. He wants to pour His grace and love out on everyone. He wants everyone to have eternal life, know Him, and be justified. Isaiah 30:18-19 says,
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.
19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.
Let your life glorify God (reflect God and make Him known). Shine life to the people living in the darkness of death. Bring them to peace with Him though the gospel of Jesus Christ. Romans 10:14-15 encourages us to live that way.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”