Here, peace undoubtedly means a cessation of hostilities, a tranquillity of mind, where formerly a state of almost continual agitation had existed because of the carnal mind's innate hostility toward God and His law. These last several verses take note of the horrible contention and enmity that sin causes, for where there is no strife, there is no need for a peacemaker. All of us, however, were at war with God; Titus 3:3 catches all of us within its scope: "For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another." Before conversion, we each needed a peacemaker to mediate and make reconciliation for us.
What is missing from verses like Titus 3:3 is that they do not show how tenaciously human nature clings to our attitudes and behavior, providing a constant challenge to maintaining peace with God and others. Paul vividly describes his battle with it in Roman 7, and numerous other exhortations encourage us to employ self-control and love for God and the brethren. This leads us to understand that peacemaking involves more than mediating between disputing parties. Peacemaking is a constant responsibility. Its achievement is possible but more difficult than it first seems because many factors - both from within and without - challenge us in maintaining it.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 7: Blessed Are the Peacemakers
These verses follow a long section on justification by faith. Paul concludes chapter 4 with the fact that Christ's resurrection was God's evidence that Christ's work was accepted and thus ensures our justification.
The word "therefore" at the beginning of chapter 5 shows that the immediate benefit of justification is that we have peace with God. This is justification by faith's practical influence on the lives of those justified. Paul says in Romans 8:6-7:
For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
This plainly states that the sinner is the enemy of God, and the state of a sinner's mind is far from peace. It is at war, and his sinning proves the warfare, the rebellion in his mind. He is often agitated, alarmed, and trembling and feels alienated from God. God is not in all his thoughts (Psalm 10:4, KJV). Isaiah 57:20-21 explains:
But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. "There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked."
The sinner trembles when he thinks of God's law. He fears His judgments and is alarmed when he considers hell. But as God moves a person toward conversion, He reveals His willingness to be reconciled through His Son's sacrifice. Through faith and repentance, the obstacles arising from God's justice and law disappear, and He is willing to pardon and be at peace. When the sinner embraces it, this process produces peace of mind, a peace the world cannot give or take away because the world is powerless over sin. This peace is a work, a product, of the Spirit of God by which the sinner has been called and led to this point.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Peace
"Hope" appears three times in these verses, and it is tied to justification and the doors that open to us. In verse 2, hope motivates us to rejoice that we can look forward in positive expectation of God's glory! What an awesome opening that is to us! It is not the glory of a perfect human or even of angels, but of God! This is so hard for us to imagine because it almost sounds blasphemous. Is it any wonder that Christians can be optimistic about life in the face of all the evil we are aware of? The goal is so great that it is worth more than all the burden of being human, dealing with our sins and the repercussions of others' sins.
Our hope does not disappoint or bring us to shame because it is based in the reality of God and His promises. The common hopes of man may or may not come to pass because they are fragile and frail at best and in many cases utterly false. Yet, the believer's hope is no fantasy because it is firmly anchored in the person and promises of the Creator God.
As mentioned earlier, the activity of God among us produces hope. This is drawn in part from verses 3-4, where Paul says that trials, borne while God is part of our lives, produces perseverance, character, and hope. Because of this hope a person is never embarrassed through failure because God, who is our hope, never fails. God loves us, and He communicates His love to us through His instruction, fellowship, and discipline. Through these, we come to know Him and His faithfulness. As our admiration for Him grows, these things motivate us to purify ourselves to be like Him (I John 3:1-2).
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Three): Hope
When Adam and Eve sinned, they, representing all mankind, were expelled by God from the Garden of Eden. The Garden represents being in God's presence and thereby having easy access and communication with Him. In Genesis 2:17, God had warned Adam and Eve that in the day they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would die. Once they sinned, it became evident that God did not mean they would die immediately, but that, if they ate of that tree, they were as good as dead.
Their human life went on, but God, to emphasize the serious effect of their sin to later generations, placed a flaming sword to guard the Garden's borders. This portrayed that mankind, though still alive, was cut off from any relationship with Him. Thus, sin, which demonstrates a lack of love and fidelity for our Creator, not only seals the death penalty on each sinner, but it also denies an individual access to and thus communication with God while he lives on under Satan's continuing influence.
When Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, and we, by faith in that sacrifice, became justified, God legally cleared us of guilt before Him. It is as though the barrier of the flaming sword between us and Him were removed, opening the way for communication with Him and for the growth of a relationship with Him that never before existed for us.
The relationship we have with the Father and the Son through the work of Jesus Christ, both as the payment for our sins and as our High Priest, is everything in terms of salvation. Why is this true? Because we can now communicate with Them! Having access to God furnishes an opportunity for a relationship with the Father and the Son. The relationship is the medium of communication - holy, righteous, spiritual communication.
This communication is more than a mere counterbalance to the evil spiritual influence of this world. It decidedly tips the scales in our favor in this war for our spiritual survival, if we will but continue to believe and trust Them by taking advantage of the contact, communication, and influence freely given to us. What Jesus does ever so briefly in John 17:3 is to tie quality of life, called "eternal life," to a person's relationship with God.
Even though many in it may be religious, the world does not have a relationship with God. There is no communication from Him to them. Undoubtedly, a lot of people know many things about God, but they cannot actually know Him without access to Him. It is like a person knowing of someone from across town by reputation but really knowing nothing about him through personal contact.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Communication and Leaving Babylon (Part Three)
One can justifiably say that this expression of God's faithfulness is the pivot upon which turns His whole purpose for humanity. God calls and then through His goodness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). I John 1:9 then adds, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Since Christ has come and died that we might be pardoned and cleansed, God's faithfulness is part of His grace. He would not be faithful to His promises, His past acts in Christ's works, or His calling that has sounded in our ears unless, when we obeyed the call and confessed, He allowed us to enter into the full possession of His pardoning grace. In other words, our forgiveness and cleansing, the receiving of favor from Him, is a product of His faithfulness.
God's faithfulness in these areas has far-reaching, practical ramifications for us. That God is faithful means that His character is unchangingly consistent. The unalterable structure of the universe consists of both justice and forgiveness. God never acts in contradiction of Himself, and in all experiences we may depend on Him to be unalterably just and forgiving toward us. Because He is faithful, He can be the central and most important object of our faith. Could we trust a god if we were never sure what he would do?
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness
Justification acquits us and thus brings us into alignment with the legal standard God has established for access to Him. This, then, allows a relationship with Him to begin.
Justification absolutely cannot be earned based on any work or any combination of works of an already sinful man. In this relationship, justification is a standing that must be given as a gift of God due to the perfect works of another, Jesus Christ. Of all who have been born, only He can present a sacrifice of sufficient value to provide us with atonement. Our gracious Creator then freely accounts Christ's righteousness to those who believe and repent. Romans 4:1-5 corroborates this:
What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness. . . .
Only Christ's sacrifice and God's grace are sufficient to provide justification.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Is the Christian Required To Do Works? (Part Four)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Romans 5:1: