Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 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. – Romans 5:1-5 ESV
Having settled the case of whether justification is by works or by faith, Paul now moves on in his discussion about the gospel of God. Paul emphatically and confidently states, “since we have been justified by faith.” The tense of the Greek word he uses is extremely important because it speaks of an event that has already happened. In essence, Paul is saying, “having been declared righteous.” It is in the past tense. It speaks of an event that has already taken place. Once someone places their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, they are immediately declared righteous or are justified by God. Their debt to God is paid in full, their sins are removed, and they receive the righteousness of Christ. It is a done deal. And it is all done by God and as a result of faith. We no longer have to justify ourselves with God anymore. No more works to earn His favor. No more effort to try and live up to His righteous standards in the hopes that He will accept us. Our salvation is accompanied by our justification.
And one of the greatest benefits of our justification is peace with God. In verse 10 of this same chapter, Paul makes it clear that, before salvation, we were all enemies of God. We were subject to His wrath. We stood condemned and deserving of His righteous, just judgment. In his letter to the church in Colossae, Paul wrote, “You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault” (Colossians 1:21-22 ESV). God’s gospel, His plan for man’s salvation, has provided a means by which sinful, guilty, rebellious men and women can be made right with Him, enjoying a state of permanent peace and the uninterrupted joy of His presence. The Greek word Paul used for peace carries the idea of harmony, security and safety. It is “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is” (Outline of Biblical Usage).
We enjoy this peace with God because of the grace of God. It is His unmerited favor that has made it all possible. We did nothing to deserve or earn it. Paul reminds us that we obtained access into this grace-given position through faith. In other words, we have access into the very presence of God as a result of God’s mercy. And it is our faith in the graciousness, goodness, mercy and kindness of God made evident in the death of His Son that makes our reconciliation with Him possible. And our new-found peace with God is permanent, including the future hope of our eternal relationship with Him, which is why Paul states, “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” There is a day coming when His Son will return and those who have been made right with God through faith in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross will enjoy an eternity of permanent peace with God.
But in the meantime, Paul tells us, we should rejoice in our present sufferings. While we wait for the hope of the glory of God, we find ourselves living on this earth and facing trials and troubles of all kinds. Our new-found peace with God has put us at odds with the world in which we live. Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:17-18 ESV). As a result of our new-found righteousness with God, we stand in stark contrast with the world around us. As we live according to His indwelling Holy Spirit we will find ourselves facing increasing suffering as a result of our faith. Paul reminds us, “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard” (Colossians 1:23 ESV). The temptation will be to bail out or give up. But we must understand that our “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame” (Romans 5:3-5 ESV). Our reconciled state with God will produce irreconcilable differences with this world. But any suffering we encounter will produce in us a patient endurance. We learn to persevere. And that perseverance produces in us character. As we endure patiently the sufferings of life, we have our character tested and proven to be true or genuine. We see the character of Christ revealed in our lives in the form of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And as we see the characteristics show up in our lives in spite of the suffering we may endure, we grow in our hope. It solidifies our certainty that we really do belong to God. We really are new creations. And our hope will not leave us hanging. We will not find ourselves ashamed or embarrassed because of the faith we placed in God’s promises. Our trust in Christ’s redemptive work on the cross will not leave us disappointed in the end. We can suffer. We can endure, we can grow, we can hope, “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5 ESV). The very presence of the Spirit within us is a reminder of God’s love for us, but He is also the source of our enduring love for God. Our justification is by faith. Our sanctification is by faith. Our capacity to endure is the result of faith.