Forgiven!

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Romans 5:1–11 (NLT)  Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace* with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

There is no more beautiful word in the Bible than this one word, “Forgiven.”  To the paralytic, Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.”  And to prove that he had authority to forgive sins (Luke 5:24), he said to this same man, “Get up!  Take up your mat and go home!”  Paul also understood the power of God’s grace which through faith in Jesus Christ leads to forgiveness of sins.

In ch. 5, Paul lays out the significance of reconciliation with God.  In vv. 1-5, he spells out the new perspective on life that comes to the believer through justification by faith.  We experience an inner peace and joy, and hope even in the face of difficult situations.  In vv. 6-11, Paul describes the new relationship that believers have with God through the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Forgiveness results from nothing less than God’s grace through our faith in Jesus Christ.

The first result of justification by grace through faith is peace with God.  (v. 1)   Or another way to say it is:  justification results in peace with God.  When we think of our relationship with God before salvation, Paul is saying that we did not have peace with God.  He is not speaking about a feeling of peace or peacefulness, but rather the condition of hostility that existed between humanity and God as a result of sin.  When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, and believe that he died for our sins, then we are justified in the sight of God.  And as a result we have peace with God.  Peace with God is the end of hostility between God and sinful human beings.

Our new faith relationship with Jesus Christ results in a new right relationship with God.  We have peace with God.  We have been brought into a place of undeserved privilege.  And as a result, “we confidently look forward to sharing in God’s glory.”  (vv. 1, 2)  Peace with God is not something that Christians receive in the future, but is a present blessing which we receive the moment we first believe.  God offers us a new relationship and a new nature on the basis of our faith in his Son.  So in 2 Cor. 5:17, Paul says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come.”  We have a new life in Christ.  This is called regeneration.

In the work of justification, our standing with God has changed.  As a result, we are standing in a place of security.  One of the great blessings of salvation in Christ is this sense of security.

After his dramatic conversion, Martin Luther often struggled with doubt and with his tormenting physical ailments that discouraged him.  Whenever he was faced with these episodes of doubt and discouragement, he would find a secluded palce to pray.  He would address the devil with these words, “Satan, leave me!  I am baptized!”

Like Luther, I struggle with doubt and discouragement.  Anyone who has spent any time in the ministry will also do so.  Critics will always point out our flaws and question who we claim to be.  Even more threatening are the doubts and questions that we pose to ourselves.  We should not discount the work of the devil as the accuser.  He is still at work accusing us about our relationship with God, even as he did from the beginning.

In moments of doubt, we need to remind ourselves of where we stand.  By faith we have trusted God for our salvation, and as a result we have new standing with God.  “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

Lord, I’m standing behind the rock of my salvation, Jesus Christ.  And I stand in his righteousness, not my own, through faith in Jesus Christ, my Lord, who died for my sins and not only mine, but the sin of the whole world.  So I join Martin Luther in saying, “Get behind me Satan!  I am baptized!”  I am washed in the blood of the Lamb.  And I am a joint-heir with Jesus, looking forward joyfully and confidently to sharing with him in his Kingdom.  Amen.

 

 

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