Romans 5:1–5 (ESV) 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.
If you don’t read Romans every now and then you’ll lose connection with the imperative truths of the Gospel. To lose that connection will cause confusion about terms that govern the human experience. For instance, how can “PEACE” and “SUFFERING” and “REJOICING” be so closely intertwined in a Biblical text? The answer concerns important Christian theology.
Paul says we Christians have “peace with God.” How important is peace to the human heart? People will do just about anything to find it. If not found in God, mankind turns to the bottle, the website, the sexual relationship, the financial security or even suicide. To feel inward peace is a search resident in every human. Yet so many fail to receive peace as God promises to give it.
Therefore, Romans delivers Gospel truth on what produces peace while subtly reminding us why there was no peace in the first place. Notice the language: “Since we have been JUSTIFIED by faith, we HAVE PEACE with God THROUGH our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace is the result of justification. Make note of that. Peace is not the result of human effort to feel a certain way. Peace is not the emotional quotient of a calming “presence”. Peace is not the result of feeling better about ourselves through encouragement. Peace is not the result of better circumstances around us. No, peace is the result of a life-long struggle coming to an end in the justification God provides for us through the finished work of His Son Jesus Christ at the cross.
Now that is a boatload of theology so let’s unpack it. By nature, we are NOT at peace with God. It is this lack of peace that brings anxiety and stress within and without our being. The sin nature in our hearts from birth (Psalm 51:5) causes inward angst toward God (Romans 5:10) and defiles our response to everything around us. Without the work of the Cross, this inward enmity with God will produce transgression of His Word, hostility toward all of His creation (both latent and obvious), and impure motives resulting in distressing dissatisfaction. In simpler terms: Without the Cross, you are at odds with EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. Cain hates his brother and kills him for this very reason. Therefore, divorce, abuse, school shootings, Middle East tensions, and nuclear threats abound to this day.
Peace, therefore, is the byproduct NOT of our own doing but of God’s doing by sending His Son to bear OUR sins on the cross. Make sure you catch that because it is Gospel 101 language every believer MUST continually remember. You have peace with God because your sins… YOUR sins were nailed to the cross and you bear them no more. God has JUSTIFIED YOU. Justification is a legal term referring to the dismissal of charges against the guilty. You and I were the guilty villains in the drama of our own lives. Yet the one we rejected came and faced that rejection in the flesh and took with Him into the grave our hostile works thereby acquitting us before the Judge of all the Earth and bringing us back to Him as Father.
So peace is not this Hallmark Card sentiment of emotional Christianity. Peace is the internal status of our hearts produced by the very real death and resurrection of our Savior and is therefore received by faith in Him and His work. Christians believe Jesus crossed the divide that separated us from our Creator and built a bridge back over it for us.
The result is unconditional peace. If you have peace with God, you can live at peace with all He has made no matter what may come. Notice that Paul moves from that “peace” right into discussing the “sufferings” of the righteous (Romans 5:3). Yes, Christian, you WILL suffer. You will struggle and you will NEED to endure so that character can be formed in you. What keeps you moving forward in spite of your suffering is not hopeful optimism but a firm grasp of the truth that the hatred you had toward God has been replaced by LOVE which the Holy Spirit gives you from God and for God (Romans 5:5).
This is one of the reasons the book of Romans should be read regularly. Without truth shaping who we are, we become emotional responders to all that is around us. But the truth of God’s Word is the strong foundation that enables us to stand in the midst of inevitable storms.