Your First Need
If we were to survey a random group of people with the query, as to their first need…“Peace with God” would not even make the list. Ignorance to the plight of man is related to lack of familiarity with the Word of God.
Sinful people construct their own worldview. They observe, listen, learn, and eventually form their own viscid opinions. Their collection of sentiments becomes their philosophy. Mingled into most man-centered philosophies are suppositions about God. Man speculates about deity, typically constructing the Almighty in one’s own image. It is the Bible that destroys philosophy and its conjecture.
When the apostle Paul began to expound the benefits flowing from the doctrine of justification by faith (Rom 3:21–4:25), he wrote, “Therefore, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1).”
The reality of being declared “not guilty” (justification by faith) results in a new permanent status. This status, “in Christ” is intimately a union with Christ. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep, and they know Him (Jn 10). The soldier is identified by his uniform. The branch is visibly connected to the vine (Jn 15). The tree is known by its fruit (Mt 12:33).
Union with Christ is to have His right standing before God the Father. Christ’s righteousness, as the head of His body of people, the church, ensures the same relationship benefits. The first of these benefits listed by Paul is peace with God.
It is worth noting that this is not to be confused with the “peace of God.” They are related, but different. The peace of God is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22), and this peace does pass all comprehension (Phil 4:7). In Romans 5:1, this peace with God relates more with reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18–20) than a manifestation of the Spirit’s work in sanctification.
Justification is evidence of the removal of enmity. The natural man objects. In his opinion, he is not an enemy of God (Rom 5:9–11). He that is spiritual, however, has been made new (1 Cor 2:15). He is a new creature, part of a new creation (Rom 6:4; 2 Cor 5:17). He has a new Spirit living in him (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11; Gal 4:6; 2 Tim 1:14), working transformation from within the regenerate soul.
A new mind, the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), changes the opinion of the natural sinful self. The new man is ready to confess his sins (Jas 5:16; 1 Jn 1:9). He is aware of his total depravity (Gen 6:5; Rom 3:10–12). This helps him to see the amazing nature of grace, if not mercy (Rom 9:15, 23). The electing, redemptive love of God, demonstrated in Christ’s atoning sacrifice is most humbling (Rom 5:8).
God was not obligated to make peace with His enemies, yet how magnificent is His mercy in the midst of His justice. Under delusion, people think they are right with God — that He loves them just as they are in sin. God is holy, however, and sinners do not have easy access to His presence.
Again, Paul helps us to see that it is only, “through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Those justified by faith are made that way only through our Lord Jesus Christ. The person and work of Jesus Christ has been applied to God’s elect people, who are transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col 1:13). The re-positioning of the rebel soul, without God, is only through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Each person’s first need is the remedy of her disposition. Enmity with God must be recognized, confessed, and rectified. Only regeneration by the Holy Spirit can bring this illumination to the dark foolish heart (Rom 1:21). It is the Spirit who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor 4:6).
With the light of Christ, we are able to see the truth of man’s enmity with God (Rom 1:30; Jn 7:7), his dark heart (Jer 17:9), his futile mind (Eph 4:17), his degrading passions, and his trajectory on the wide way that leads to destruction (Mt 7:13). The Christian’s ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Word of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:19), is to call all men everywhere to repent and believe in their need for peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 17:30). He alone can meet your first need.
Friend, be reconciled to God. Look to Jesus on the cross of Calvary where enmity with God is removed for those who trust in Him. Those at peace with God will never be disappointed in Him, for He Himself is our peace (Eph 2:14).
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 11, 2022