Why is it that though I have been saved by such amazing grace through Jesus’ death and resurrection do I continue to be a bitter, or irritable, or irate, or frustrated, or petty person? Why do I still struggle with things that I should have moved past by now? Most importantly, why do I not have the peace of God? I have asked myself these questions many times because I’m a sinner and continue to sin, hurting people I love, though I hate the sin that is there. You may have asked yourself this too. And the answer is that at the core of your being you need the peace of God reigning in your heart to change you from the inside out, the peace given by the Holy Spirit, given freely to us through Christ’s work alone.
However, we are met with a problem, because all of us naturally want to merit the peace of God through our own works and make a right-standing for ourselves on our own strength and power (which fails all the time). But in our most quiet, intimate moments when we are alone, even if we think we’ve done things “right” for the most part, we still know that we fall infinitely short, that we must continue to work to make ourselves right, to give ourselves meaning. There’s despair, fear, and no peace, but some form of turmoil, unsettledness within our souls. So how is it that we obtain the peace of God? It is through seeing that in Jesus Christ through His perfect life and work on the cross on your behalf, He has given you peace with God by bearing the weight of guilt for you, through faith. And this itself is the heart of how we change: by continuing to keep our eyes fixed on Christ and His work and letting that reality change you. Once you give up working to try and be your own savior and fix your broken, messed up, sinful heart, and instead see Christ as sufficient, only then will you begin to change. You change through giving up on yourself and your works and your righteousness and asking for the mercy of God to come and change you from the inside out, through Christ’s work, the Gospel.
Romans 5:1-2 shows us exactly how it is we are changed to live lives in glory to God. It states:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Notice that Paul doesn’t say we have the peace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ (though that is true), but he specifically says we have peace with God. Before we were saved, we were all naturally objects of wrath, God’s face was turned against us, and we were without hope. But then Christ intervened with His blood as an offering to turn away the wrath of God that was against any who believe in Him. Once you see the value of this work in Scripture and through spending time in relationship with the God of the universe, this itself is what produces true heart change, your own works will never save you or change you into a godly person. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ … and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” The glory of God revealed in the face of Jesus Christ, through His perfect moral record on your behalf and His perfect sacrificial death to give you peace with God, is the only thing that will save you and change you. Never take your eyes off of Christ, because as soon you do, just like Peter walking on the water and sinking because he took his eyes off of Him, so you will sink and give into your flesh that still desires sin and wickedness and become a person of fear, pettiness, and wickedness. There will be times that you will sin, but never give up that fight to keep Christ’s work central and remember to preach the Gospel to your heart every day, because it wants to stray at every opportunity.
Seeing that you have peace with God through Christ’s work is what will give you the peace of God and thus change you, and nothing else.
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