Romans Chapter five

VERSES 1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,…

I don’t want to place undue emphasis on the following observation, however, note how in the NIV translation suggests the past tense – of our having been justified through faith, whereas,…

…the KJV translation of the same verse may suggest a process of ongoing, i.e. continued justification – as we continue to walk in faith and obedience to the Word of God:

Romans 5:1 (KJV) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

This verse then could be interpreted as: having (once-for-all) been justified through faith (i.e. through having believed in what Jesus has done for us through his atoning sacrifice and death), we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,…

Or it could also be interpreted as: Therefore (as we are) being justified by (continuing in) faith (believing in Jesus and trusting in his word), we (will also continue to) have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

There is some debate among Christians and teachers of the Word of God as to whether our justification is immediate and complete at the moment that we repent of our unbelief and put our trust in Jesus, based only upon what Jesus has accomplished through his death on our behalf on the cross, – or whether we are in the continued process of being justified – and that we are only finally justified if we persevere and remain faithful until the end of our lives (or until the Lord’s coming).

Some teachers have suggested that the term “justified” is very strictly a judicial court-room term.

Have we been finally judged even before the Judgment Day of the Lord and finally been justified and finally declared righteous from the moment we first believed the gospel?

The term, in which it is said that we have been “justified”, may indeed be a judicial term but I believe that it has been seriously misunderstood or distorted.

Some teachers have suggested that to be justified – means that the sentence for our sins has not only been paid on our behalf but also completely removed along with our guilt – with regard to past and future sins. They suggest that God has once for all acquitted us through Christ’s death on our behalf – without requiring for us to do anything else at all, besides “believe in Jesus”. (In that case everyone who claims to “believe in Jesus” is supposedly justified quite regardless of their continued faithful obedience to his word.)

However, as a result of believing in Jesus, we are required to walk in faith, as we are led by the Holy Spirit – and, as a result of responding to the Word of God working in us by the Holy Spirit given to us, the Lord enables us to continue to walk in faith and in so doing, so too are we being justified.

Let us pay careful attention to what the Scriptures teach elsewhere in this regard:

The following passage suggests that there is expected to be a genuine change of heart through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit which the Lord will judge when he comes. I would suggest that if people continue to carelessly indulge the sinful nature, they will not have peace with God.

So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God (1 Corinthians 4:1-5).

Paul also taught in 1 Corinthians 11:27, that we are to judge ourselves before the day of judgment – and that we should always repent and confess our sins as we respond to the Lord’s discipline, for, being disciplined by the Lord is an on-going process of sanctification and of walking in the faith:

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world (1 Corinthians 11:27-32.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test? 6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test (2 Corinthians 13:5-6).

Are we justified because the sentence for sin has been completely removed? (I would suggest not.)

Are we finally justified so that no past or even future charge may ever again be brought against us?

Are we justified immediately when we believe with no on-going faithfulness and obedience required?

Are we fully acquitted with no further obligation on our part, either now or the future?

These questions relate to the notion – or question of “once-saved-always-saved”.

Having been found guilty, and after the sentence was imposed, the term “justified” meant that the sentence had been served and/or the appropriate punishment had been fully applied.

The term to be “fully justified” meant that no further sentence nor punishment was due to that person and nor were they any longer deserving of any further sentence nor punishment – because the punishment for our sin has been fully borne by Christ.

The punishment for sin is death and Jesus died on our behalf. Does that mean that because Jesus died that we can go on living in sin and that we shall not die ourselves? Certainly not!

God’s grace enables us, through the gift of the Holy Spirit to count ourselves as also having died with Christ who died for us, so that having died to sin, we may be set free to live a new life by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This new life by the Spirit through putting to death the old sinful nature, is the essence of the teaching in the continuation of Paul’s letter, in which he also refutes the false notion that God’s grace permits us to therefore continue sinning.

Jesus was without sin and was perfect – and if righteousness could have come by our imitating his life on earth, then Jesus would not have had to die.

…for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (Galatians 2:21).

Jesus died on the cross for us, but he also taught that we are also to take up our cross to follow him, (which many of the martyrs were required to do quite literally).

The apostle Paul taught that we are to put to death the old sinful nature and live a new life through being raised to life by the Spirit who raised Jesus.

As we will see when we get to Romans 7, it is by dying to what once bound us, i.e. the old covenant and the sinful nature which it condemned, that we are released from the Law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit – and not in the old way of the written code.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death (Revelation 2:10-11).

VERSE 2 …through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

Again it is worthwhile to note the tense in the KJV, of the verse 2:

(KJV) By whom we have access by faith into his grace…

While we live in this world and live daily by faith, have we gained access into his grace once-for-all, or do we continue to have access as we persevere in faith?

Many Christians are troubled in their minds and seek assurance of their faith, but I would suggest that if we do not examine ourselves to see that we continue to walk in the faith, and if we continue to habitually sin while neglecting to confess our sins, then we would indeed be weighed down by many cares and many troubling doubts.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives (1 John 1:9-10).

I would suggest that walking in the light and walking by faith, requires the continued confessing of our sins whenever we may stumble and fall – and in such faith we shall have peace with God.

However, it is also evident from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians that not everyone judges themselves and lives according to such faith:

The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

I am not suggesting that we are justified only if and when we may reach perfection, but as we continue to walk by faith, humbly accepting the Lord’s discipline.

I will suggest to you that for us be justified by faith, means that such faith requires that we are to judge ourselves now before the Day of Judgment, and that we are to continue putting to death the old sinful nature whenever that nature appears to have, in a manner of speaking, “come alive again” – and we are to continue confessing our sin whenever we may stumble and fall into temptation.

We are justified whenever we repent and confess our sins, for through repentance and confession, we receive forgiveness and cleansing through the atoning blood of Jesus – and when we are cleansed, then we have faith and peace to enter his presence with a clear conscience.

However, some people, when tempted and if they fall into sin, may gradually drift away from the Lord due to their guilt and hardening of their hearts.

Are they justified without or without confessing their sins and do they have complete faith and peace to enter God’s holy presence without having repented and confessed their sins?

This is unfortunately somewhat of a controversial issue which confronted the church at the time of the Reformation.

I have a book written by two very well respected Christian teachers in which it appears that they are trying to give assurance of faith which is not necessarily based upon obedience and faithfulness through which believers ought to put to death the sinful nature and live by the Spirit.

In other words, they try to give assurance of faith in spite of continued sin – which is very unfortunate. They wrote:

“Many who profess to believe fall away, but they do not fall from grace for they never were in grace. True believers do fall into temptation, and they do commit grievous sins, but these sins do not cause them to lose their salvation or separate them from Christ.”

[I have chosen to refrain from giving the reference of this book because it may seem as if I am trying to discredit these teachers in everything else that they teach.]

However, Paul was aware that his teaching may – and was – being distorted so that people would imagine that he was suggesting that we may then go on sinning so that grace may abound all the more. Paul refuted this notion as we shall see leading in to the next chapter:

God’s grace enables us to die to sin and to put to death the old sinful nature in order to be set free from sin – it does provide toleration for us to recklessly continue sinning.

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

RO 6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 5:20 – 6:2).

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear (Isaiah 59:1-2).

I believe that the gospel of God’s grace is in the manner in which he effectively sets people free from sin – for it was their habitual sin which once separated them from his presence.

The old covenant did not remove sin, and so its rituals served as a continued reminder of man’s sin, but Christ came to put an end to sin through his death on the cross.

However, before we jump ahead to the next chapter, let us return to verses 3-5:

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. VERSES 3-5 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 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.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:19-23).

Jesus did not command us to repent of our sins and attain righteousness by observing the Law firstly so we could possibly become deserving of his grace and so that he would then pay the penalty for our sins.

On the contrary, Jesus died for the sins of the whole world even while people were yet sinners – and then calls them to repentance and the obedience of faith in response to what he has already done and accomplished for us. But we must appropriate the blessing and forgiveness through humbly responding to the call to the obedience that comes from faith (Romans 1:5).

VERSES 6-8 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We were put under no other obligation to repent – but only upon a response to the revelation of the magnitude of God’s love and mercy demonstrated to us through Christ even while we were yet sinners.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:16-18).

Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. 41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:36-48).

Our faithful response to the gospel is one love and gratitude for what Jesus has done for us – and through our response he floods our hearts with his love by giving us the Holy Spirit – and in turn we are transformed by the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit living within us.

Such is, I believe, the living reality of the genuine Christian faith by which we are justified, regardless of all the controversy and debate over the correctness of the “doctrine of justification by faith alone”– which was the main issue at the heart of the Reformation.

Jesus said: “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever– 17 the Spirit of truth” (John 14:15).

We are transformed by the Holy Spirit who sheds abroad in our hearts the love of God – and we are moved by the power of his love – which is the new covenant law written upon our hearts.

There was nothing, other than to believe in him, by which we receive the promised Holy Spirit and the transforming power of the love of God.

Our walk of faith is to grow in the knowledge and experience of the love and mercy of God.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19).

Jesus said: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death (1 John 3:14).

We cannot claim to walk in the light, be led by the Spirit, be justified by faith, unless we also demonstrate the love of God – through which we also fulfill the Law – love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10) and by which shall all men know that we are indeed his disciples .

RO 5:9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

As I have already mentioned, (previously in our study of Romans), God’s wrath is not removed from all sinners, but only from those who believe in Jesus. In other words it is not only by Christ’s death alone, but by our response in faith to what he has done.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

God’s wrath remains upon those who defiantly and habitually continue to sin while deliberately ignoring – or refusing to hear – the gospel of his salvation in Christ.

We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? (Hebrews 2:1-3).

God’s wrath is diverted from us when, through trusting in Christ’s death, we repent and are also baptized into his death, so that we may die to sin and be raised to new life by the Spirit.

RO 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned– 13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

As we shall see in the next chapters of Paul’s teaching – man’s problem which separates him from God – is sin, – that is the sinful nature with which we are born into this body of flesh.

The Law was given to sinners, not as the means by which they may attain righteousness, nor as the means by which they may be justified in the sight of God, but as a testimony against them and to condemn them.

Many, in fact most Rabbis argue that God would surely not have given a Law which was impossible for people to obey. However, as Paul teaches in the next chapters of Romans, the problem was not with God’s Law but with men – that they are sinners in need of a saviour and redeemer.

But sin was not really recognized as sin – and neither was it as deadly until the Law was given.

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Sin, although not as obvious until the Law was given, had entered the world through the transgression of one man, Adam – and the consequence was death for all who are the sons of Adam.

VERSES 18-19 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Note the very important prophecy spoken of in Daniel chapter 9 concerning the coming of Jesus the Messiah:

“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness,…” (Daniel 9:24).

The Aramaic refers to “transgression” in the definitive, that is: “the transgression”.

What is the transgression? It is the original and first transgression which resulted in death for all of Adam’s descendants.

And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).

The LORD said that through man’s disobedience he will surely die. God’s grace, as abundant as it is, cannot cancel his own word – and the LORD always remains faithful to the truth of his word.

Jesus died for all – and so, all die in him – so that through his death the LORD has ended Satan’s hold over man and the LORD has put an end to death.

However, those who die while still rejecting Jesus’ death on their behalf, will, therefore still die in their own sins – and will also experience the second death which is not only final, but also eternal condemnation.

However, those who put their faith in Jesus, and through such faith, also, therefore, put to death the sinful nature before they die physically, will also, therefore, participate in Christ’s resurrection from the dead through receiving the promised Holy Spirit, and instead of them experiencing the second death, they will participate, in the second resurrection which is the resurrection of their bodies to immortality.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10).

God does not remove the sentence of death for disobedience – and Jesus became a son of man to die for sinners – and to put an end to sin by destroying the sinful nature through which Satan had gained his stronghold of men.

However, having destroyed the sinful nature, Jesus was then raised from the dead on our behalf, to become the “second Adam” – through which we are made a new creation freed from the curse of sin and death.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being” ; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. 50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:42-54).

It is far too simplistic to apply faulty logic which suggests that because Jesus died for us, we will not, therefore, have to die, for in that case we ought to have gained everlasting life even in this body of sin which would, in fact be like a never-ending nightmare when we consider the wickedness and rebellion of sinful man.

Jesus died for us so that by baptism and faith in his death we too may die, by putting to death the sinful nature, so that we too may also be raised to new life.

There can be no resurrection from the dead and neither can there by new life by the power of the Spirit, unless there remains death to the old.

VERSES 20-21 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Under the old covenant Law, Israel was taught to purge the evil from among them by putting to death defiant sinners who rejected both God’s law and his mercy. We, who may have tended to judge others, must now firstly judge ourselves and:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Colossians 3:5-10).