Last week, we began a short series in this space on why we should have more confidence in Christ. We focused on the big picture of Scripture and what it reveals to us about God’s nature and purpose. In short, God is perpetually reaching out to his Creation, acting on behalf of humanity to restore the relationship he had with us in the beginning that has been broken by sin. We must always keep in mind that his heart is geared toward us, and his goal is for us to be reconciled to him.
What we find in the NT is that we are reconciled to God in Christ:
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. (Rom 5:1-2)
But to fully understand what it means to have peace with God, we need to understand we were once his enemies. Paul reminds us a bit earlier in the letter that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). The apostle John calls sin lawlessness in 1 John 3:4. So sins are acts that violate God’s law; that makes us outlaws—his enemies.
God is perfectly just, and his justice demands that he punish transgressors. Thus, we are headed for judgment, inevitably to be punished, and we are completely powerless to do anything about it. Yet Paul says we have peace with God. How is that possible?
That is where the peacemaker comes in. Paul mentions that too: through our Lord Jesus Christ. God’s justice demands that he punish sin. But his love is unwilling that any should perish, but desires all to come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9). How do we solve this dilemma? Jesus.
To really wrap our minds around that, consider that word justified in Rom 5:1. It is a passive verb—that is, it is not something we do for ourselves; it is something that is done to us. The word means “to be acquitted, be pronounced and treated as righteous.” Paul is not saying we are righteous. Rather he says we are treated as if we were righteous.