The Amazing Benefits of Justification (Part 4)

Romans 5:1-11

Tom Pennington  •  February 26, 2017
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Well, I invite you to take your Bibles and turn with me again to Romans 5, Romans 5, as we finish up our study of the paragraph we've been considering together, this morning. Let me read for us again what is, if not my favorite passage in the book of Romans, probably my second favorite, maybe only to the end of Romans 8, but let's read it again together as we finish our study of it this morning. Romans 5:1-11, you follow along.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

In the first four chapters of this letter Paul unfolds and explains the gospel that he preached, and of course, at the heart of that gospel is the doctrine of justification by faith alone. That's what he's been unpacking and explaining so far in this letter. That's why when he comes to chapter 5 verse 1, having fully explained that, he says this, "Therefore, having been justified by faith." He says, not only do you understand the gospel of justification by faith alone, but you have embraced it, you have been justified by faith alone. And in light of that, he then sets out to explain and to list for us and to lay out in detail the immediate benefits of justification, those benefits that accompany, that come along with, our having been declared right with God.

As I've told you before, these are the current possessions of every true Christian. And they're not just your possession, but Paul lists them here because he wants you to know them and to understand them so that from an understanding of them you receive assurance, you receive confidence, you understand your security in Christ. That's my prayer, that as we have walked through this passage, that you have been able to sink your mind into the truth of what Christ has done for you, and understanding that it has given you a greater confidence in God's love for you and in your possession of Christ.

Now, we've looked so far at several of these amazing benefits that come along with our justification. We've looked, honestly, at most of them. Let me just remind you, we saw in verse 1, the first benefit is that we have peace with God; the war is over, we now have peace with God. Secondly, we learned that we stand in God's grace. We no longer stand under His wrath, we stand, we live, we abide, in His grace. Thirdly, we discovered that we hope in God's glory. That is, we live in eager, certain anticipation that the day is coming when we will see God's glory, we will see God, and we will share God's glory; we will be made like Jesus Christ. The fourth benefit we've already discovered together is that we rejoice in our trials. We saw this in verses 3 and 4. Because we have been justified, because we have been made right with God through the work of Christ, even the troubles of this life are not wasted. God uses them for our spiritual good and we saw how He does that in these verses.

The last couple of times we've studied Romans together we've seen a fifth benefit that comes along with our justification, and that is, that we are confident of God's love. In verses 5 through 8 Paul develops this, he mentions in verse 5 that the knowledge of God's love for us "has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." At the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit convinced you, He poured out in your soul a knowledge of God's love for you. How did He do that? Through the gospel. Because the gospel itself is a message of the love of God. In its most simple form, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." So the Spirit, at the moment of your conversion, convinced you of the love of God for you, as proven in the gift of His Son.

Paul then goes on to describe the nature of God's love for us and we looked at verses 6 through 8 in detail. Let me just remind you in outline form. We learned that God's love is unconditional. It's unconditional. That is, God did not love you because of any condition in you. He loved you because He loved you. And that's very clear in this passage because of how we're described. God set His love upon us when, in verse 6, we were morally helpless, when we could do nothing to please Him. Also in verse 6, when we were ungodly. And in verse 8, when we were sinners. Christian, I want to understand something, your sin has never surprised God. It may have surprised you, but it's never surprised God. He knew it all when He set His love upon you, not because of you, but in spite of you.

We learned that it's also eternal, that God, the very first moment God ever thought about you, the very first moment in eternity past He conceived you, He loved you. And that love reached through the life of Christ to send Him to earth for you and it has been your entire life as well, it has spanned your life from the moment of conception until the day you die, and it will reach into eternity, it's eternal. It's also sacrificial love. And if you doubt that, remember that God the Father sacrificed His one of a kind, unique Son for you. It's also radical love. Human love at its very best, verse 7 says, might motivate us to die for someone who is a good person or someone who is noble and deserves our respect, somebody we love. But human love would never drive us to die for our enemy, to die for the worst of persons, and yet God did exactly that. His love is radical.

And finally, we learned that His love is categorical. That is, it's undeniable, it's irrefutable, it's proven. How was it proven? It was proven, according to verse 8, at the cross. God demonstrated, He proved His love for us, "in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." If you're ever tempted to question the love of God just let your mind go back to the cross and think about what happened there.

Now, today we come to the two final benefits that come along with our justification. Paul says in verse 1, "Therefore, having been justified by faith," and he's giving us a list of benefits that come along with that, and the sixth benefit that we enjoy is this, we will be saved from God's wrath, we will be saved from God's wrath. Look at verses 9 and 10,

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Now, to this point Paul has focused on what God has already done for us in Christ, but here in these verses he reminds us that there is still more to come, there are blessings that are not yet ours. And let me just say that the purpose behind these two verses is your assurance believer. God doesn't want you, if you're truly repentant, if you've believed in His Son, if you are following Christ, He doesn't want you to live in uncertainty and fear. He wants you to enjoy assurance and these two verses are intended to that end.

Now, verses 9 and 10 are essentially identical arguments. In fact, they are parallel statements of the same basic point. Paul here uses a logical argument in these two verses. And, by the way, just as an aside let me say that God is logical. Human logic, or logic at its best, is not a human construct. It is instead, simply an articulation of the principles that reflect the mind of God. The basic principles of logic, I can show you that God Himself, in His revelation, uses in arguing for His truth, presenting His truth to us. And one of those examples is here, Paul lays out a logical argument. It's an argument from the greater to the lesser. If the greater is true then the lesser must be true.

Let's look at the greater thing that God has already done for us in verse 9, "having now been justified by His blood," "having now been justified by His blood." Here's the greater thing God has done already for us, He has declared us to be righteous with Him when we were sinners, when we were His enemies, when we deserved His wrath. He has declared us to be right with Him. And notice, we have "been justified by His blood." It's interesting, as you go through the first few chapters of Romans, Paul modifies the word justified in different ways. Sometimes he'll say, "justified by faith." When he says that, he's talking about the means by which we receive the gift of God's righteousness, we receive it by faith. Here he says we are "justified by Jesus' blood." He means that this is the ground of our acceptance with God. This isn't the means, this is the ground. Our, the basis for our acceptance with God, the basis for our right standing with God, is not our works, it is not our faith, it is not our obedience, it's not even the work of Christ in us. The basis for our acceptance with God is the work of Christ for us at the cross; it is "by His blood."

Now, it's important to understand that when Scripture refers to that, there are a lot of passages in Scripture that talk about the blood of Christ, we sing songs about the blood of Christ, it's important to understand that when Scripture refers to Jesus' blood it is not saying that there was some kind of miraculous power in the physical fluid that flowed through the veins of Jesus Christ and that poured out at the cross. His blood was exactly like your blood, exactly like my blood, He was fully and completely human, it was blood just like yours. And so, in other words, it's not saying that if Jesus could have pricked His finger that that blood would somehow have atoned for our sins, or if Jesus had given a pint or two of blood, and I say that respectfully, that somehow that could have atoned for our sins. No, instead, when Scripture speaks of Jesus' blood, it is borrowing from the language of the Old Testament sacrificial system.

In Leviticus 17:11 it's explained to us, listen to this, "the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls," and then God says this, "for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement," "it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement." In other words, what Leviticus 17:11 is saying is that when the blood poured out of that animal sacrifice, its blood was physical proof that it had given its innocent life in exchange for the guilty life of the person who offered it. Its life was forfeit for the sake of the guilty one who was allowed to live. That's what the blood stood for, one life given in exchange for another life. So, it's important to understand that that's what is being said here, we have been justified through Jesus pouring out of His lifeblood in death, His perfect life forfeit in exchange for our life. We have "been justified by His blood."

Now, go back to verse 9 and look again at the flow of Paul's argument. He says, "having now been justified by His blood," that's the greater thing that God has already done, we are righteous in God's sight through the death of His Son, then it is logical therefore to expect that God will do the lesser thing. What's the lesser thing? Verse 9, "Much more then, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him." "Much more." Listen, if the death of Christ was sufficient for your sins and to bring you into right relationship with God, "Much more," you will be saved from God's wrath through Him.

Now, notice Paul says, "we shall be saved" or "we will be saved." He speaks in the future. Now, that's not normally how you and I speak of our salvation. Most of the time when we talk about our salvation we say, I was saved or I have been saved. And that's true, that's right, but that's not what Paul says here, he says, "we will be saved." It's important to understand that both the verb saved, and by the way, the word saved, some people get hung up, well, what does that mean? It means rescued, that's all it means, to be rescued, to be spiritually rescued. When you look at the verb saved or rescued and you look at the noun salvation or rescue, they're used in the New Testament with three different time references, or we could say, with three tenses.

The word saved in salvation, and their related words, are used, first of all, to refer to what has happened to us in the past. For example, Ephesians 2:8, one of the most famous verses in the Bible, "For by grace you," what, "have been saved." It's in the past, it's a reality that has already occurred. Titus 3:5, "God saved us," past tense, "He saved us," it's already happened. When the Bible speaks of salvation as something that happened in our past as believers, it's saying that we, in the past, were rescued at the very moment that we repented and believed in Jesus, in the past, from the guilt and the penalty of our sin. That happened. If you're a Christian you were rescued, you already have been rescued from the guilt and penalty of your sin. That's why Paul can say later in Romans 8:1, "Therefore there is no now no condemnation," it's gone, "no condemnation," no guilty verdict, it's already happened, I have been saved.

But the same word group is also used in the New Testament to refer, secondly, to what is happening in the present. For example, 1 Corinthians 1:18 says this, "For the word of the cross," that is, the message about Christ crucified for our sins, that message, "is foolishness to those who are perishing, but," and this is a reference to Christians, "but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." Notice, he doesn't talk in the past tense here, he talks in the present tense, we are being saved. Second Corinthians 2:15, Paul speaks of Christians as "those who are being saved." Now, when Scripture speaks of those who have been saved in the past from the guilt and the penalty of their sin, and says they are being saved in the present, it's speaking of our ongoing salvation or deliverance or rescue from the power and presence of sin in our lives. The guilt and penalty have been dealt with, that's in the past, but in the present God is working on our souls to continue to rescue us from the power, the control, the domination, the presence of sin in our lives, the practice of sin.

Now, the same word group, save and salvation, are used thirdly, to refer to what will happen in the future. For example, Romans 13:11, Paul says, "now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed." That's an interesting expression, "salvation is nearer to us than when," in the past, "we believed." So clearly, he's talking about a salvation that's still in the future. First Peter 1:5, "we are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." There is an aspect of our salvation that has not yet occurred. Now, when Scripture refers to the future salvation of those who have been saved from the guilt and penalty of sin, who are being saved from the power and practice of sin, and looks into the future and says they will be saved, it is usually referring to the future display of God's wrath on all sinners.

It is obviously this future sense that Paul has in mind here in verse 9, because notice what he says, "we will be saved from the wrath of God through Him." It's interesting in fact, in Romans, a book about the gospel, that the word save occurs, the verb form, occurs eight times, seven of those times it's using this future idea, we will be saved. Paul says, "already having been justified, we will be saved in the future from God's wrath."

Now, immediately when I say that, people just want to ignore this idea. They don't want to talk about wrath. I mean, in fact, there are a lot of people who want to think about that as something that's outdated and maybe even unworthy of the Christian faith. Well, that's kind of Old Testament stuff, they might say. It's kind of an unhelpful appendage even, to the Old Testament, that's better forgotten.

Listen, Jesus our Lord talks about the coming wrath of God. This is a New Testament idea. Jesus said, it's like a distant storm that's gathering on the horizon. God's wrath will be displayed. And the most powerful expression of the wrath of God comes on the day when God resurrects the bodies of unbelievers, reconnects their bodies with their suffering souls, and they stand individually, these are unbelievers, stand individually before God on the day of judgment and give an account for their sin, every thought, every word, every act God will call them to account for, and then He will call them into account for not embracing His Son, for spurning His grace, for trampling the blood of Jesus Christ under their feet, and consign them to eternal punishment. That will be the great day. In fact, Paul calls that the day of wrath.

Go back to chapter 2, chapter 2 verse 5, go back to verse 4, Paul says, to unbelievers, these are to religious unbelievers, people who have connection to God, who show up in church, but who have not yet bowed the knee to Jesus Christ, he says, "do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience?" In other words, do you enjoy all the good things God does for you in this life and you just kind of take them for granted, "not knowing that the kindness of God is intended to lead you to repentance?" Listen, if you don't repent, verse 5, "if you continue to be stubborn and unrepentant, you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds," verse 8, "to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath, and indignation." This is not an Old Testament idea, as some would argue.

In fact, go back to the very beginning of the New Testament. In Matthew 3 and in Luke 3:7 you have the ministry of John the Baptist, and John the Baptist talks about "the wrath that is coming." Jesus talked about the future wrath of God. Paul had much to say about this coming wrath.

Turn over to Ephesians 5. Ephesians 5, Paul is in the middle of a paragraph about sexual sin. He's talking about sexual sins of thought, lust. He's talking about sexual sins of speech, dirty jokes, vulgar language, double entendre, and he talks about sexual acts. And notice what he says in verse 5,

For this you know with certainty, [you just know this,] that no immoral or impure person or covetous, [and in this context covetous means a person given over to lust], who is an idolater, [sexual sin is idolatry, no one who practices these things] has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these [sexual] things [these sexual sins of word and thought and act] the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Turn over to 2 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul is talking about the second coming of Christ. In the middle of verse 7 he says,

the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, [listen to this] dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed.

The day of wrath is coming, it's coming; this is the message of the Scripture.

Turn over to Revelation, the Apostle John not only says it's coming, he describes what it will be like. Revelation 6, the end of Revelation 6, he's talking about what happens when the Lamb breaks the sixth seal on the scroll that is the title deed to the earth. John MacArthur was talking about that scroll in Revelation 5 just a couple of weeks ago at our conference. What happens when that sixth seal is broken and God unleashes His judgment, verse 15,

the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, [in other words, every human being, regardless of who they are, how important they are, what their background is, their socioeconomic condition, every man who's on the planet then] hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they will say to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and [watch this] from the wrath of the Lamb [from the anger of Jesus Christ]; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

Go over to chapter 19, Paul describes, excuse me, John the Apostle describes the second coming and he describes Christ coming back to Earth in the glory of His second coming. And notice verse 15, Revelation 19:15, "From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations." In other words, Jesus is not going to fight with typical weapons, He will simply speak and devastate His enemies. But then notice how John describes Him, in the second coming. Verse 15 ends this way, "He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty." Those who lived in an agricultural society, who were surrounded by vineyards, for them this was a powerful picture. They had seen the workers stomping the grapes, releasing the juice from the grapes there in the vat, and John says that's exactly what it will be like when Jesus comes. He will crush His enemies beneath His feet like workers in a vineyard crush grapes. This is the wrath to come. It's coming. This is the wrath, the future display of wrath that awaits all men.

It finalizes in Revelation 20. In verse 11, there was "a great white throne" and all unbelievers stand before Jesus Christ at this great judgement, "and the books were opened" and they were judged "according to their deeds" verse 12 says. And those who had not believed in Jesus, notice what Jesus does with them, verse 15, "if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." There is the ultimate eternal display of the wrath of the lamb. And that's a reality for all sinners.

Can I just say that if you're here this morning and you know about Jesus Christ, you're obviously religious, you're here, but you have never repented of your sins, you have never fallen before Jesus Christ and embraced him as Lord, this is your future, you will face the wrath of the Lamb. So I plead with you today, why would you do that? God has extended to you the offer of grace in His Son. He's offered you forgiveness and to be right with Him if you will leave your rebellious ways, if you will leave your sin, and if you will come to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Don't wait.

Scripture is equally clear that believers will not experience that future display of the wrath of God. Listen to John 5, I love this, John 5:24, our Lord says this, "'Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life.'" You have it now believer, it's already yours, you're not going to get eternal life someday, you've got it. And then He adds this, "'and does not come into judgment.'" You're not going to come into judgment, you're not going to experience the wrath of God. And He concludes this way, the Greek text actually says, "'he has passed over from death into life.'"

First Thessalonians 1:10, Paul says, "we wait for God's Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead," I love this, "Jesus who rescues us from the wrath to come." He rescues us from the wrath that's coming. First Thessalonians 5:9, "God has not destined us," as believers, "for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." But how can we be sure of this? Well, go back to Romans 5. Here's the assurance the Apostle Paul gives us. Look again at verse 9, Paul says listen, if God has already done the really hard thing, if He has justified you when you were an ungodly sinner, then you can be confident that He will do what is, by comparison, very easy, He will save you, you are already righteous in His sight, from His future wrath. Think of it this way, if Christ died for His enemies, surely He will save His friends.

Now, Paul makes the same basic argument in verse 10, but he deepens it and he enriches it for us. Look again at verse 10 and notice the greater thing God has already done for us, "while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son." We were God's enemies. We saw that back in verse 1, "we now have peace with God," which implies we were once at war with God. We now are at peace, but we were enemies, and while we were enemies, notice verse 10, "we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son."

Paul here introduces us, not to a new concept, we saw it all the way back in verse 1, but to a new word, a new term, it's the word reconcile. What does that word mean? The word reconcile just means to bring two estranged hostile parties together. To bring two estranged hostile parties together, to make peace between them. That's what happened at the cross. Paul loves this image of reconciliation for what God did at the cross. Colossians 1:20, "through Christ God reconciled all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross," and here he gets personal, "And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind," toward God, "yet He has now reconciled you in the fleshly body of Christ through His death." That's what happened at the cross. God brought two hostile parties, two estranged parties, Himself and the sinner, together.

Turn to 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 5. You know, I love this chapter and it's about reconciliation. Look at verse 18, 2 Corinthians 5:18,

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the message about reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

You say, how in the world did a righteous holy God bring rebellious evil sinners into a reconciled relationship with Himself? The answer is in verse 21, "God made Christ who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Everyone outside of Christ is God's enemy, but in reconciliation the relationship is reversed, we go from being God's enemy to being God's child. That's reconciliation, that's the greater thing that God has done.

Now, go back to Romans 5:10. What is the lesser thing? "Much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved [in or] by His life." If God reconciled us to Himself through the death of His Son when we were His enemies, then God will certainly do the lessor, "we will be saved by His life." And again, "we will be saved" here refers to the full and complete salvation from the display of the wrath and fury of God on the day of judgment, but it also stretches beyond that, into eternity, our salvation is forever. He secured our eternal peace in Christ and notice, he secured it, literally verse 10 says, "in His life."

Do you see what Paul is saying? He's saying, if in His death Christ accomplished and secured our reconciliation, how much more in His living will He guarantee our ultimate and eternal salvation? That's the point. Charles Hodge writes, "If while we were enemies we were restored to the favor of God by the death of His Son, the fact that He lives will certainly secure our final salvation." Do you see Paul's point? He's saying it is inconceivable that God who loved me when I was His enemy is suddenly going to abandon me now that I am His child. John Stott writes, "If He reconciled us to Himself when we were His enemies, much more will He finish our salvation now that we are His reconciled friends." We will be saved from God's future wrath through Christ.

Christian, let me just apply this to you. As you think about the future, as you think about your own death, as you think about a future day of judgment and the reality that you will one day stand before God the Creator, it's easy to begin to waver in your faith and to fear the future, to fear that somehow you might still face God's wrath. But Paul says listen, if the first four chapters of Romans describe you, if you have seen your sin, if you understand your hopelessness, there's nothing in you that would ever make you right with God, and if you have come in a repentant spirit to God pleading for His forgiveness, throwing yourself on His mercy, asking Him to make Jesus Christ your Lord and your Savior, if that is what has happened to you, or in the words of Romans 10, "if you have confessed with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believed in your heart that God raised Him from the dead," then you have been justified. And if God has already justified you through the death of His Son, how much more will He rescue you from His coming wrath, through Christ. You don't have to live in fear. God wants you to have security and assurance if you have repented and embraced His son.

You see, it's not that, here's how a lot of Christians think about it, it's not that you're going to stand before the great white throne of judgment and be shielded from the Father's wrath through Christ, that's not how it's going to happen. Christ will be on the throne. And you're not going to be standing in front of the throne. Jesus says, in Revelation 3:21, that every Christian "He will grant to sit with Him on His throne." In other words, you won't receive the wrath of the judge, you will be one with the judge as He meets out His wrath against an unbelieving world. We won't be standing before Christ on His great white throne, we will be seated with Christ on His great white throne.

For us the judge's decision has already been reached, we have been declared righteous. The gavel has already come down, we have been justified. There's no verdict in regard to our sin left. And it's only as you understand that that you won't have to live in fear of what happens when you die or when Christ returns. In fact, 1 John 4 talks about the fact that the more we understand God's love for us, the more it banishes our fear of the future. "Having been justified, we will be saved from God's wrath."

There's one final benefit, just to touch on briefly, that flows from our justification. It's found in verse 11, we glory in God's person, we glory in God's person. Notice verse 11, "And not only this," Paul isn't done yet, he's got one more point, "And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation." Paul says, "we exult." That's the same Greek word we've already seen back in verse 3 and in verse 4. It's a word that means to glory, to boast, to rejoice. And this time it's not in what God has done for us, but in God Himself, in the person of God. What does it mean to exult in God? It means to rejoice in God, to praise Him, to love Him, to delight in Him, to enjoy Him. It means to revel in His character and in His attributes. You see, if you really come to grips with what God has done for you in justification and the benefits that are yours in these other 10 verses that we've looked at, if you see the truth about God, then you can't help yourself, you will rejoice in God. You will rejoice in Him.

In fact, it's interesting, I wish I could take you through these 11 verses and show you the truth about God that's right here, buried in these 11 verses, truths that should cause us to exult in God. I don't have time to show them to you, let me just give you a list. I went through this passage and I documented all the attributes of God that are referred to or implied in this passage. Here they are: God's holiness, His righteousness, His justice, His mercy, His grace, His glory, His faithfulness, His wisdom, His sovereignty, His goodness, His love, His wrath, His immutability. It's all here in this passage. It's all behind the scenes in what God is doing in our salvation and when you really understand what God is doing in your salvation, in your justification, in the benefits that are yours as a result, you can't help yourself, you will glory in God, you will exult in the character of God.

By the way, this is the final stop on the path of spiritual maturity. John makes this clear. Go to 1 John 2. John here documents the growth, the spiritual growth of believers and he puts believers into three basic growth categories. There are spiritual children, there are spiritual adolescents, and there are spiritual adults. And I want you to see what he says about each group. Verse 12 of 1 John 2, "little children," here's the first and youngest category, "I am writing to you because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake." And in the end of verse 13, "I have written to you, children, because you know the Father." Here is the most basic level of spiritual life, spiritual children. What do they know? They know who the Father is, they know who Abba is, and they know their sins have been forgiven. That's all they get. They know that, they're excited about that, but that's it, that's spiritual immaturity.

Then there come spiritual adolescents. Notice what he says about the young men, verse 13, the middle of the verse, "I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one." You're making progress in your battle with sin in your life. Verse 14, "I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." As we grow in our spiritual life and maturity we learn the truth of Scripture, our roots grow into the doctrine and understanding what God is and what He's done, that causes us to grow and we begin to see progress in our battle with sin.

But that's not the destination, notice spiritual adulthood. Verse 13, "I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning." Verse 14, "I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning." As you mature in your faith you will not only study and read and meditate to gain an understanding of the facts and the doctrine of Scripture, you will do that, but you will not only do that, you will find yourself digging into every text to see what it reveals about your God. You'll begin to glory not simply in what you know, but in who you know. This is exulting in God, as you understand who He is and what He has done. And notice verse 11 of Romans 5 says, "we exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ," it's still only because of Christ "through whom we have now received the reconciliation."

Christian, do you see the amazing benefits that are yours because of justification? This is what the Father has done. Why don't we live in the light of these realities? I think Martin Lloyd Jones was right in his commentary on this passage when he gave three reasons that we don't live in the joy of these things. Let me just give them to you, you can think about them. Number one, because you don't yet grasp justification by faith alone. I know that happens, there were many years of my own Christian life when I didn't get it. And I know we've been through it, we've been through it a lot in the early chapters of Romans, but it's possible there are some sitting here who still don't get it. And if you don't get it, you're not going to live in the joy of what God has done for you in Christ. Go back, study these first chapters again, go through the messages again, study it on your own, come to grips with what justification by faith alone is and what it means.

Secondly, Lloyd Jones says, we don't really enjoy these things because we don't meditate on them. Boy, is that true. We sit in a service like this, we take notes, that's great, and then they go in the Bible and they sit there until we come and take more notes next week. Listen, you have to choose to meditate. What is meditation? It's choosing to think deeply about a passage of Scripture in order to better understand it and to plan how to do it, how to practice it. That's all meditation is. But that's how you grow in your understanding of the truth and Scripture, that's how you become a spiritual adolescent, strong in the Word, as John said.

And the third thing Lloyd Jones said is, we don't enjoy these realities because we're not applying justification to ourselves. You have to take what we have studied here in these verses and think through the ramifications on your life today, tomorrow, the ramifications in how you think about yourself, how you think about the people around you, what you do on the job, what you do at school, what you do in every context. This truth has to begin to live out through you. And that only happens with intentionality. My prayer is that God will help you to sink your roots deep in the truths of these 11 verses and that from that soil you would begin to grow up into spiritual maturity. Let's pray together.

Father, thank You for the truth of Your Word. Thank You for telling us these things. Thank You for Your heart that longed for us to know and to understand them, for our assurance, for our comfort, for our security, that we don't have to live in fear. If You've done the greater, if You've not spared Your own Son, how can we doubt that You wouldn't give us the lesser, that You won't preserve and protect us, that You won't continue the work You've begun. Father, help us to trust You and to live in light of these things, help us to think about them, to meditate on them, to apply them to our own souls, to our own struggles.

And Father, I pray as well for those who may be here this morning who are still Your enemies, who still are storing up wrath for themselves against the day of wrath. Lord, may this be the day when they humble themselves before You, confess their sin, and ask You to apply the work of Christ to them. We pray it in Jesus' name, amen.