Summary: You may not have even known you were God’s enemy. You started the war, but you couldn’t end it, only God could. And how He did it and what He did for you will blow you away!
We are in a war. We don’t see many signs of the war, at least not that we equate with this war. It’s one we can’t win but have committed to anyway, or at least have been committed to by others. We started it but cannot end it. It could be called “The War of Independence.” It’s not independence from a dictatorial foreign power but independence from the only One who is really good. If you haven’t gotten the idea by now, the war is between us and the Creator. It started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve fired the first shots, declaring their independence from God. That evil has permeated the souls of mankind ever since.
At that point we made God our enemy—not that He stopped loving us, but that He could no longer be with us. God hates evil because it is not like Him in all His goodness. Evil cannot exist with God’s glory or it will be destroyed.
But this is the oddest war you’ve ever heard about—a war where the enemy loves us, sought a way to bring peace and then found that peace by offering Himself to die so the evil in us would die as well. It’s that peace, and what it means to us that Paul begins to talk about in Chapter 5. This begins the “meat and potatoes” section of Romans, as Paul goes into detail how this salvation thing works.
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Peace - In chapter 4 Paul explained that we get into right standing with God by believing His promises fulfilled through Jesus Christ. First he says we have peace with God. It means that the hostilities are over and a new relationship has begun. It’s not a cease fire or a cold war or a truce or the Pax Romana of the day (forced peace). It’s peace because we are now on the same side because we are the same and His life is now our life. We couldn’t before because of the evil in us.
Access – Jesus provides us access to this free gift. “Access” can mean permission to enter or the act of entering itself. But the idea here is not of us standing outside of God’s grace and wanting the bouncer to let us in. It is the idea of being ushered into His grace, invited, encouraged, welcomed. You can’t just assume that because Jesus died for the sins of the world that everyone will automatically get free access to God. The gift has to be appropriated. Forgiveness does not equal relationship. We have to enter into that relationship by faith (which is trust and reliance). And it’s not just that we get to hang out for a few minutes. We “stand” in this grace, which means to abide, and continue.
What happens to us in this new position? In a word: rejoice! (It can also mean “glory” or “boast.”)
Rejoice in hope of God’s glory—that we will be like Him. The Bible talks about this process in various ways. Two that come to mind are “metamorphosis” and “renovation.” Renovation is that breaking down of the old ways and the old flesh, and metamorphosis is the miraculous creation of a new person without our effort.
How do we get there? By:
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Rejoicing in suffering
Endurance – “to wait” not just stubborn refusal to move but a choice to submit to God and wait for him. This purposeful waiting produces:
Character - “tried integrity.” “A state of mind that has withstood the test.” (Vincent). And what is that “approvedness?”:
Hope (of God’s character being made ours through God’s love poured out through the Holy Spirit, the agent of change in our hearts).
Suffering enables us to withstand difficulty without giving in or giving up. Paul said “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:21-22). It’s not that hardship earns us the right, but it shapes us on the way.
Hardship does several things:
1) It helps remove the chaff – 1 Peter 4:1 “Whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”
2) It helps instill trust in God
3) It’s not punishment but process (James 1:2-4)
4) It changes us into God’s image
5) It allows us to endure more and more and be more effective in battle
6) It gets God’s work done
7) Ultimately our suffering brings glory to God (1 Peter 1:7)
Why can we rejoice? Because we are not alone. Jesus said in John 16:33 “In the world you will have tribulation but take heart (or be of good cheer) for I have overcome the world.”
Rejoice in God (verse 11)
Why? Because we “have received reconciliation.” We can now simply enjoy our relationship with God. No more do we have to worry about God’s wrath because Jesus absorbed it. No more do we need worry about what we are like, because God is changing us into His image. No longer do we need to worry about what life brings us, because God works through our difficulties to bring about His character in us. No more do we need worry about our needs both now and in the future as God will supply all our needs.