Christians are justified before God, in Christ. In Romans 5, we find three basic provisions of this justification.
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
That word atonement is the same word translated reconciled. You can say the reconciliation as some modern translations give it.
What he is saying is there are things that we have that have been accomplished because we have been declared righteous in Christ. And these form the foundational meaning of justification. If somebody asks you, “What does it mean for you that you have been justified before God?”
You can respond with three truths:
PEACE WITH GOD
This is a very important issue because we were enemies, alienated. Paul wrote about this both in Colossians (cf. Col 1:21) and Ephesians (cf. Eph 4:18). We were alienated from God. We don’t have the life of God. We’re enemies of God. Our sins have separated between us and our God that He will not hear (cf.Isaiah 59:1-2).
To say that we have peace with God is a major statement of justification. In other words, whatever was wrong between us and God has been solved and resolved by Jesus Christ. It’s all over. The war is won. We now have victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, and that is a precious fact! We have peace with God! As some of you know, this doesn’t necessarily imply that we have the peace of God ruling and reigning in our hearts. Positionally peace has been made. Like two warring nations in a war, they sit down and sign a peace agreement. Now it may or may not be real peace, of course, but that’s what it’s talking about when it says peace with God.
Go over to Philippians chapter 4. In addition to the issue of peace with God which is a matter of our position in Christ. Being declared righteous gives us that. There’s the matter of the peace of God. A peace that God puts into the heart of the believer based on something he does, Philippians 4:6-7.
6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, [Now, you already have peace with God. but the peace of God…] which passeth all understanding, [Sometimes you won’t be able to understand why you’re so much at peace when everything is falling apart around you.] the peace of God that passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds… [It’s in the area of our hearts and minds that we’re most greatly troubled.] It will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Now when he says, “be careful for nothing” or “be anxious about nothing” or “don’t worry about anything.” The particular Greek word translated ‘be careful’ is a word meaning ‘to divide.’ And it comes to mean ‘to be distracted,” the word, merismos. You remember in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, that we “don’t need to worry about what we should put on or what we should eat? We’re to look at the birds and the flowers. And don’t worry about tomorrow cause sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (cf. Matthew 6:25-31). He uses the exact same word. Don’t worry about anything! Literally it means don’t be distracted. Don’t get your mind off the Lord who has promised to meet all your needs and get it onto your circumstances because they often will trouble you to the point that you don’t know up from down.
So, the whole point of how God will bring His peace in to you is by not being distracted or divided in your thoughts away from the Lord and the fact that He is in charge. Everything is going to turn out. Don’t be troubled. Don’t be anxious. It’s all going to work out.
Now in 1 Peter 5:7 it says, “Casting all your care upon Him [many of you know that] for He careth for you.” There are two different words for care in that verse. When he says, “casting all your care,” it’s the same word here in Philippians 4:6. The chorus says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” It is keeping your eyes on the Lord.
There are a lot of guys who read one Psalm and one Proverb each day, that I have challenged to do so around the country and we’re on our fifth and final month in the Book of Psalms and today was Psalm 121 and also Proverbs 1. But in Psalm 121:1-2 it said this morning, I thought it was so beautiful, “I lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” In other words, the point of it is not the hills aren’t going to help you. The hills are a reminder that God made them. And God’s in charge and if He created the universe He can handle your deal. So your problem is no biggie on His list at all. “My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”
ACCESS TO GRACE
Another provision that we have is access into this grace in which we stand. Notice he uses the word, ‘we have.’ Romans 5:1, “We have peace with God.” Romans 5:2, “We have this access into the grace in which we stand.” This “standing” emphasizes our position. You arein grace, surrounded by grace, the recipient of grace. You worship the God of all grace. But it’s something different to avail yourself of it. As I just quoted from Hebrews 4:16, we’re come to the throne of what? Grace. We have access unto the throne room of God because we have been declared righteous. Otherwise you couldn’t come. There’s no way that you could come to a holy God with all your sin were it not for the justification of our Lord. He declared you righteous. Now, you can come as Hebrews says “with boldness.”
A new and living way He has consecrated through the veil of His flesh and He says, “Let us draw near. “If we draw near to God, He will draw near to us” (James 4:8). What does that mean? He’s already here. It’s got to mean what Brother Lawrence said in the Middle Ages when he wrote a beautiful book, Practicing the Presence of Christ. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. In other words, the presence of the Lord, His wonderful peace, His grace that gives us much more than we deserve, becomes a reality in you now because you are practicing your position in Christ.
Is everybody following? It’s kind of a thin line isn’t it, as to which one we’re talking about? Sometimes you can get so much in the area of practice that you forget your position in Christ and you start doubting your relationship with God. So understand your position. Nothing’s going to change it. “Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ our Lord” (Romans 8:39). But understand that this does not mean that you’re enjoying or practicing the righteousness that you have in Christ.
SALVATION FROM WRATH
Now another thing we have, and we thank God for it, is salvation from wrath, according to Romans 5:9:
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Jesus said, “Where the worm dies not, the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44) and “where there’s weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42). It’s a place of torment where people will be tormented forever and ever from the presence of the Lamb. The awfulness of it! And then to read about how wonderful justification is, let me tell you something: the position that you have in Christ is the guarantee that you will not be in hell. Thank God it’s not related to our performance, because our performance proves that we belong there. So praise the Lord!
And on the positive side, not only are we saved from wrath, but our place in heaven is assured. Why? Because we’ve been justified, even as chapter 19 of Revelation hits us in the wonderful Second Coming of Christ, it speaks of the marriage supper of the Lamb and it says that the fine linen clothed in white is the righteousness of the saints (cf. Revelation 19:3).
The Old Testament taught that the Messiah would come and clothe us in garments of righteousness, garments of joy, not of mourning; garments of praise, not of defeat (cf.Isaiah 61:10). And in Christ, you have been clothed with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will never be any more righteous twenty years from now, than the day you come to Christ. Amen?