Ellet J. Waggoner
The Signs of the Times : January 26, 1891
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1
The preceding chapters set before us man’s lost condition, in rebellion against God, the standard of righteousness, and the only way by which it can be obtained. The necessity and the fact of justification by faith are very clearly set forth in chapter three, and in chapter four Abraham is cited as an example. Those who have light upon God’s law, as did the Jews, are in danger of trusting to their own works for salvation; therefore the apostle shows that Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, was not righteous by his own works, but by faith. This is the only way that men can become righteous.
“Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” To be justified is to be accounted righteous. Peace is the inevitable result of such a condition. Sin is rebellion; it is warfare against God. When a rebel lays down his arms, peace must result. Peace is the absence of war. The warfare has been all on our side, God does not fight against man, but man is fighting against God. “Not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” In such a case it is clear that when we cease to fight against God, when we surrender, peace must be the result.
The trouble with too many is that they look for peace without surrendering. They expect God to give them peace while they are still in arms against him. This is impossibility. If he were fighting against us, then he could give us peace, by ceasing to fight us. But since the fighting is all on our part, the matter of peace rests with us. God has opened the way for us to surrender; our part is to lay hold of the peace which he offers us. Peace is ours whenever we will cease our rebellion.
This peace which comes to the justified soul is no common peace. Says the Saviour: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” John 14:27. And the apostle Paul declares that the peace of God “passes all understanding.” Philippians 4:7. It has power, too, for he declares that it will keep us, and he exhorts us to let the peace of God rule in our hearts. Colossians 3:15
Since man’s rebellion against God consists in violating his law (Isaiah 30:9) it is evident that peace is found only in obedience. “Great peace have those who love your law,” says the psalmist, “and nothing causes them to stumble.” Psalm 119:165. The Lord says, “Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:18. “There is no peace, says the Lord, for the wicked.” Verse 22. It is dangerous for a person to seek for peace while living in the commission of known sin; for Satan may give him a fictitious peace, a satisfied feeling that passes for peace. What the sinner should seek for is forgiveness and reconciliation with God; he should make a complete surrender, because his rebellion is displeasing to God, and then he will have true peace.
Peace is rest. It is the same that the Saviour offers, when he says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. A restless spirit, unholy ambition, and unsatisfied longings, are not compatible with the peace that God bestows. The peace of God keeps the mind and heart. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You; because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3. The mind that is fixed on Christ is not wavering, not easily distracted, even though cares and troubles press. It is not diverted by frivolity. “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.” Proverbs 16:3. How many students complain of inability to concentrate their minds on one subject. If they would but commit their ways to the Lord, they would find that “godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
A man cannot have peace with God, and be at enmity with his neighbor. “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” 1 John 4:20. The peace of God is the result of obedience to his commandments, and one of the great commandments is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the fulfilling of the law; and love “suffers long, and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.” 1 Corinthians 13:4, 5. A disposition to find fault, to criticize harshly, to envy, to complain, to speak bitter, cutting words, is a sure evidence that one has not the peace of God ruling in his heart; and if he has not the peace of God in his heart, then he is a sinner, and condemned.
Christ is our peace. Ephesians 2:14. He has made peace through the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:20. He is our peace because in him we are made the righteousness of God. Christ and the Father work together for peace among men. The angels announced at the birth of Christ, “On earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14. And since Christ himself is peace, it follows that all who are Christ’s will be at peace. “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and willing to yield.” James 3:17. Purity, righteousness, comes alone through faith in Christ, and peace naturally follows, as stated in our text. All who are really Christ’s will heed the inspired injunction:—
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice; and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31, 32