If you are a regular follower of this blog, you are aware that we’re in the midst of study of Paul’s letter to the Romans at Cross Community Church. Occasionally someone in the congregation will comment on something in a sermon that resonated with them and suggest that it would make a great blog. Well, thanks to one of those comments, here is one such message, which was given during the exposition of Romans 5:1.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
The apostle Paul clearly sets forth the peace that is promised to all those who have trusted in Christ’s atoning work on their behalf. The justified have peace with God through Jesus Christ. As Paul wrote to the Colossian Christians, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation . . .” (Colossians 1:21). Christian believers are declared eternally righteous in God’s sight (we are justified) and thus have peace with God.
This is the promise to all those who have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. But let me briefly share three pillars of peace that were never promised to the Christian. We should not look to lean on any of these!
PILLAR #1 – Peace with the world
Far from any guarantee of peace with the world, the exact opposite has been promised to us by our Lord Jesus Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, emphasis added). Why should we expect peace with the world when Jesus has promised trouble? The world jammed a crown of thorns down onto our Lord’s forehead and hung Him on a cross. Do we expect to wear a crown of glory in their presence? The Son of Man had no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20); do we expect to recline in the lap of luxury? No, peace with the world was never promised.
PILLAR #2 – Peace with the flesh
From the moment of our conversion, a war began between our flesh and God’s Spirit; that battle will rage until we are brought all the way into glory. The apostle Paul made this point perfectly clear, warning us that “The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want” (Galatians 5:17). It was Paul who cried, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24.)
Make no mistake, the old sinful man is waging war against the new spiritual man, and we can expect to be harassed and hounded by the corruption of our sinful nature. Peace with the flesh was never promised.
PILLAR #3 – Peace with the Devil
The Devil was after our Lord in His wilderness experience (Matthew 4:1-11) and he is after us in ours (1 Peter 5:8). There will never be peace between the Christian and the Prince of Darkness; we can go back to the Garden of Eden to find this promise. God told Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Enmity means we are enemies; this promised enmity is clearly no promise of peace! Just as the “sinful mind is hostile to God” (Romans 8:7), and the “friendship of the world is hatred toward God” (James 4:4), we will be at enmity with the devil until we are brought safely into our heavenly home.
Our promised peace is with God, not the world, the flesh, or the devil. It should not come as a surprise to you when you warring against the world, fighting against the flesh, and being dogged by the devil. You can be certain of this: if the world, the flesh, or the devil never distressed, discouraged, nor battled against you, then God has never created new life in you. Peace with sin is sinful peace—not the peace promised to the saints of God.
You have no promise of peace with the world, the flesh, or the devil, but you do have peace promised with God. Could there be any better peace in both life and death? I think not!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!