What are the benefits of justification by faith?
Before I answer that question, let reiterate what we have learned so far about Paul’s letter to the Romans:
The theme of Romans is “a righteousness that is by faith from first to last” (Romans 1.17).
- According to Romans 1.18-3.20, all people are sinners. Consequently, “no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” (3.20).
- So, according to Romans 3.21-4.25, if anyone is declared righteous in God’s sight, it is because of faith-just as in the Old Testament, Abraham’s faith “was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4.3, 22).
So, to return to our opening question, what are the benefits of justification by faith? The most obvious benefit, of course, is righteousness itself, the gift of being able to stand before God our Judge as innocent men and women-innocent because of the death of Christ for our sins and in our place (Romans 3.25-26).
But the benefits of justification do not stop there. Romans 5.1-8.39 details numerous blessings that flow to us from God through Christ. Consider, as a beginning to this detailed list, what Paul writes in Romans 5.1-5:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Two words stand out here: peace and hope.
Peace is not merely the absence of conflict between two individuals; it is also the presence of harmony. Nations at war do not achieve real peace simply by laying down their arms against one another. They achieve real peace when they establish and maintain ties of friendship and reconciliation. Similarly, we are at peace with God not merely because he is no longer angry at us because of our sin. Rather, we are at peace with God because he has given us “this grace in which we now stand.”
This peace with God gives way to “the hope of the glory of God.” Those to whom God gives grace will see him “face to face” (1 Corinthians 13.12). Such hope provides believers with an optimistic perspective on suffering. Suffering is not an obstacle to our relationship with God. Properly handled, it can become a vehicle of spiritual and moral growth: “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” And it can also be a means of drawing closer to God. Why? Because God gives us “the Holy Spirit.” This is his personal presence. And during times of suffering, as we realize that God’s Spirit is with us, we are reminded of his never-failing love for us.
Righteousness through faith produces peace and hope. That’s good news, isn’t it!