In the last chapter we looked at how Abraham walked by faith after being justified by the redemptive work of Christ. Paul now explains the changes that will take place in a person’s life when they have been justified and forgiven all their sin. He now reveals the awesome blessings and fruits of being justified. What are the fruits of justification?
You have peace with God (Vs. 1)
Paul declares, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Therefore, the first result of being justified by faith will be that you have peace with God. Notice that Paul declares this to be peace with God, not the peace of God. These are two very different kinds of peace. The peace of God will always be the result of first having peace with God. Paul is explaining that if you have been justified, there is no longer an adversarial relationship between you and God. Hostility has ceased and you are no longer at war with the Father. There is no controversy between God and you concerning your sin. God has forgiven you and set you free from the penalties of sin and He has declared you righteous and holy in His sight. Paul explains in Col. 1:21, "You, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled." Praise God, you are reconciled and the war is over!
Therefore, you have to make peace with God through Jesus Christ before you can ever have the peace of God. Once you've reconciled with the Father the fruit of real communion with God can begin. This is when you will know the "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" (Phil. 4:7). This peace is the fruit of reconciliation, justification, and friendship with your heavenly Father (John 15:15).
You have access to God and His abundant grace (Vs. 2)
The idea of having access to God was truly revolutionary for any Jew. For thousands of years the Jew had been restricted from access to the presence of God, even though God dwelt among His people within the Temple and the Holy of Holies. However, the veil covered God’s dwelling place and kept back the Jews from tangible access to His presence. Only once a year was the High Priest allowed access to God’s presence to offer a sacrifice for the people on the Day of Atonement.
The Gentiles were also restricted from access to God’s dwelling place by a wall. They could only come so close to God’s presence because of the holiness of His Person.
However, the glorious message of the gospel declares that when Jesus died the veil of the Temple was rent from the top to the bottom and that the wall of partition had been broken down between the Jew and the Gentile (Luke 23:45); (Eph. 2:14). Both Jew and Gentile could now have access to God through Jesus Christ.
Today you have access to God and to His abundant grace. This means you can draw on all the resources of His grace to meet your every need. He is sufficient and His grace is sufficient for whatever He calls you to do. This is why Paul could boldly declare, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13). When you are weak, He is strong! Why? Because you have access to His abundant and sufficient grace (2 Cor. 12:9).
You have the hope of His glory (Vs. 2)
Peace with God takes care of your past. Access to God and His grace takes care of your present needs. But, what about your future standing before God? The fruit of justification also gives you a confident hope that you can rejoice in today that you are on your way to glory and will enter the actual presence of God. This hope comes by the very knowledge of God’s abundant grace. Paul taught the Thessalonian church that God had "given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace" (2 Thess. 2:16). Grace alone can give you good hope and the assurance of obtaining glory.
In Hebrews 4:16, does it say, Let us come boldly to the throne of judgment? No. It says, Let us come boldly to the throne of grace where we might find mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. Are you coming boldly and confidently because you see that the war is over and that you have peace with Him and access to Him? And are you rejoicing in what He has yet promised to you? That is "rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God." The best is still yet to come. That’s what real hope is all about. Do you have this hope, the hope of the glory of God?
Confident in tribulation (Vs. 3-8)
When you know and are confident of the fact that you are headed for glory, trials and tribulation are much easier to deal with. Note, that I didn't say trials are easy to deal with, only that they are easier to deal with knowing these truths. To rejoice in tribulation you must know and be confident of certain facts that Paul explains here. Let’s consider these:
1. Tribulation is working for you, not against you. Paul declares that you must know this: "Tribulation produces perseverance (or endurance); and perseverance, character; and character, hope" (Rom. 5:3,4). The word produces means to generate or to accomplish. This word is also in the present tense, which means that all the tribulation you experience is continually generating perseverance, character, and hope within your heart. This is the benefit of trials that most people do not consider, yet they get this benefit with every testing they endure. In fact, the word perseverance actually means endurance or steadfastness. These are character qualities that are so important and are the natural fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
Some people wonder what the ability to glory in tribulations has to do with being justified? But, if you are not really assured that you are justified and that you are at peace with God; as soon as difficult times come, you might immediately think, Is God punishing me for my sin? Or, is God against me? However, when you are assured that you are justified you are confident that God is for you and definitely not against you (Rom. 8:31).
2. You will never be disappointed when tribulation is experienced by faith. As you know that God is for you and seek access into His grace to endure, you will see God transform you through the tribulation and produce a change in your character. As you see this change within you it gives you hope that all things are possible. This is the fruit because you know that your Christ-like reaction to the trial is surely not from within yourself, but is a work of God. Hope is generated instead of disappointment because the love of God is poured out in your heart. The fruit of the Spirit is not only love but also faith, which is the opposite of disappointment (Gal. 5:22-23). Therefore, trust God in the midst of your trials and ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit that will enable you to walk in a Christ-like manner. Let Him work His work in you.
3. Love enables you to endure tribulation. Love is the key to the struggle with trials in this life. Scripture teaches that "love endures all things" (1 Cor. 13:7). God’s Word also declares that Christians will have to endure many hardships as believers (Matt. 10:22); (2 Tim. 2:3). Therefore, you need to be absolutely assured that God loves you while in the midst of your trials. This will enable you to daily be filled with His love which results in endurance.
How can you be assured the God loves you? Jesus died for you when you were in rebellion against Him. When we were "without strength…Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6). Paul encourages us to consider that it is a rare thing for anyone to die for even a good person. Can you think of an example of someone willingly taking the punishment for someone who was hateful and evil? You probably can’t. However, Christ lovingly took the punishment for not just one man but for all mankind. This is conclusive proof that God loves the world and that He loves you.
But, that is not all. An additional proof that God loves you is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit that He pours out on you every day. The word demonstrates in verse 8 is in the present tense. This means that God continually is demonstrating His love toward you by His constant care and giving of His special presence. As you allow Him to fill you with His love, the natural result will be that you will want to love Him back. "We love Him, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). As you love God and trust His love for you, tribulation will produce God’s perfect work within you.
Saved from the wrath to come (Vs. 9)
Another very important fruit of being justified by Christ is that you are saved from wrath through Him. You don’t have to fear the wrath that will come upon this world because that wrath is not intended for you. God’s wrath will be poured out against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Rom. 1:18). If you still fear God’s wrath to come, then quite possibly you don’t understand the truths we have previously studied in this epistle. Paul encouraged us to "wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:10). Be assured, you have been delivered from the wrath to come!
Saved by His life (Vs. 10-12)
In the previous verse Paul declares that justification saves us from God’s wrath. In this verse he continues that thought but in the opposite direction. Here he reveals that we are saved by the life God gives us when we are justified.
When you were saved you passed from death to life (1 John 3:14). Jesus is the Bread of Life to all who will believe (John 6:35). Can you recognize the life of God working inside you? We all know what death and emptiness is like, but are you enjoying the life of God saving, transforming, and renewing you? Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 4:16,17 that, "Though the outward man perishes, the inward man is renewed day by day." Again Paul declares that, If you will behold the glory of the Lord, you’ll be transformed and changed into His image (2 Cor. 3:18). This is what it means to be saved by His life.
Therefore, if you will allow the power of His life and His Spirit to work in you daily, you will be changed and transformed. If God saved you when you were His enemy, how much more will He do today now that you have been reconciled to Him? He wants to save you to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25). All you have to do is come to Him by faith, and keep coming to Him by faith. Every day your character will be changed little by little.
The Basis of your justification (Vs. 12-21)
In verses 12-21 Paul explains the basis of our justification. He is now setting the groundwork for his explanation of how the sacrifice of Christ can give you victory over sin in chapter six. He contrasts the fruit of Adam and his transgression with the fruit of Christ’s righteousness. Paul uses the word "one" eleven times to emphasize the fact of each man’s individual work and its effect on the whole human race.
How can we be sure that Adam’s sin brought death to all men? There are three ways to prove this fact.
1. After Adam’s sin all his children were born in his same sinful image (Gen. 5:1-3). As he passed on his genes and other characteristics, so he also passed on his sinful nature. The simplest proof of this truth is your children. Think for a moment; you don’t have to teach your children to lie or to be selfish; they know that naturally. They behave like this from their earliest age. Instead, you have to teach them to be giving and to love which is contrary to their nature.
2. All men continued to practice their sinful behavior just as Adam did. Their sinful behavior proved that all men had the same nature as Adam (Vs. 12). We are still proving this truth today.
3. All men died physically just like Adam, proving that they had received the same penalty as their father (Gen. 2:17). Even though they had not sinned by violating a direct command of God as Adam had done, yet they still died because they possessed a sinful nature (Vs. 13-14).
How can the works of Christ that were accomplished two thousand years ago have any effect on me?
1. Adam was a type of Christ. The word type means that a person or thing is an example or has a resemblance of someone or something in the future. Both Adam and Christ represented all humanity by the actions that they took. Adam led the human race into sin and rebellion against God. However, Jesus became the author of eternal life to all who would return to the Father by faith in His work on the cross. Therefore, the work of Christ affects me because He represented me before God.
2. As my representative, Jesus has affected my life by taking the penalty for my sin. Only one sinless man could have stepped in to pay the price of our sin and redeem us back to God. His work is the only one that can justify us. In addition, this fact only further clarifies that man’s works cannot save him.
3. Jesus affects my life as I personally receive Him. Only by faith in this sinless Man, Jesus Christ, can you be born again, be renewed in His image, and obtain God’s divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). God’s nature within you is the only reason why your life will ever change.
In verses 15-19 Paul now contrasts the gift of Christ and the offense of Adam. How are they different?
1. The free gift is not like the offense (Vs. 15). To receive the free gift that Christ gives, you must receive His grace and forgiveness. This is totally different from the way all men became sinners. They were born sinners having the sinful nature of Adam naturally passed down to them. To be a Christian you must be born again by the willing choice of faith. Note the word "receive" in verse 17. Grace is not automatically passed down to you, it must be received as a gift.
2. The effect of Adam’s sin contrasted with the effect of Christ’s sacrifice (Vs. 16). Condemnation came by the one offense of Adam. However, justification came to all men by many offenses being laid on Jesus. Here the gift is shown to be different from the offense of Adam because Jesus took all the offenses, not just Adam’s. Condemnation vs. justification.
3. The reign of death vs. the reign of life (Vs. 17). Adam brought the reign of death to all men, but if you will receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, you will experience life reigning as a king in your heart. All you have to do is receive the abundance of grace that God longs to give. Be assured, you can’t ever achieve God’s grace, you must receive it! This is the only way to experience the reign of life in you. Simply receive this abundant grace.
4. The results of Adam’s offense vs. Christ’s righteous act (Vs. 18-19). Here is Paul’s simple conclusion. It’s judgment or justification. The glorious thing about God’s grace is that He allows us to make the choice as to which of these we will receive. Which do you want?
Law and grace contrasted (Vs. 20-21)
Paul ends this chapter with a final encouragement to his readers to receive the grace of God. He explains that God gave the Law after man’s sin for a very important purpose. God wanted people to see their need of grace. He explains that the Law was always intended to simply give men the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20). The Law was to be a tutor (schoolmaster) to drive us to Christ (Gal. 3:24). Therefore, don’t seek to live under the Law, but seek to walk by grace.
God’s first desire has always been to show abounding grace toward mankind. How do we know this? Consider the abounding grace shown toward Adam and Eve when God provided a sacrifice for their sins and even promised to send the seed of the woman (The Messiah) to redeem mankind (Gen. 3:15). God also showed abounding grace to the patriarchs (Gen. 6:8; Ex. 33:17; Ps. 84:11). Abounding grace will be given to the nation of Israel to usher in the kingdom age (Zech. 12:10). In addition, Paul is our best example of abounding grace after his life of rebellion (1 Tim. 1:12-14). He was a man who hated Jesus, persecuted His followers and did everything he could possibly do to destroy the church. But, God apprehended Him by His grace. What an example of this principle that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.
Do you see that exceeding abundant grace working in your own life? Glory in His grace! Praise Him for His grace and how He has displayed it in your life. Don’t try and achieve it or deserve it; you can’t. Just receive it and serve Him the rest of your days!