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“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

IN THIS VERSE, PAUL WRITES OF THE JUSTIFICATION AVAILABLE TO US IN JESUS CHRIST. Our situation before God is like that of a lawbreaker in a courtroom. We have no hope of acquittal; because we are guilty (the evidence is clear that we’ve rebelled against God’s law), we rightly stand under the law’s penalty. In an “unjust” condition, what we need is to be “justified.” And the gospel will not mean much to us until we see how desperate our plight is. If our lives end while we’re still under the sentence of death for our treason, we will be banished and separated from the King forever.

Condemnation. The word “condemnation” is a strong word, but it’s not too strong to describe our situation as people who have sinned against our Creator. We can’t deny that we’ve thought, spoken, and done things that we knew were against our Father’s will, but we did them anyway, our conscience telling us all the while that we could not do these things and still be in a right relationship with God. We’re all like the ones Paul spoke of whose sin was deliberate: they “know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die” (Romans 1:32).

Justification. The good news of the gospel is that God was not willing to leave us in our lost state. He took our punishment upon Himself so we could be brought back into harmony with His justice — in other words, “justified” from our sins. Having given His Son’s life for our transgressions, God is able to be both “just” and the “justifier” of those whose faith is in Jesus (Romans 3:23–26).

Peace with God. When we obey the gospel and are justified with God, the result is that “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is not the subjective feeling of peace (although that is a by-product) but the objective status of being justified with God. We had put ourselves at enmity with God, but in Christ we have been “reconciled” to Him (Romans 5:10). This is what the gospel of Christ is about. And just as all of our worst problems stem from a wrong relationship with God, there is no real joy that does not flow from a right relationship with Him.

“The doctrine of justification is the foundation that supports all of the other benefits we receive from Christ” (Erwin W. Lutzer).

Gary Henry — +

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