My wife (Joy) had a birthday last month. One of the young adults along with some of the teens from the youth ministry asked to “decorate” the house while Joy was at work. When I came home the house was decorated inside with Christmas lights, balloons, and pictures of Dale Earnhardt (Don’t ask. It was some inside joke). Those pictures were not only placed in prominent locations, they were also stashed in all kinds of obscure places. After a week, I thought we had found them all and relegated them to the “circular file.” However, almost a month later I came across one in a most random and unexpected place.
Those who profess to be Christian, to be followers of Jesus, believe in the complete forgiveness of sins. We believe it in our heads. It is there in black and white in our Bibles. Yet, past sins, or more specifically the weight of those sins, seem to be like the Dale Earnhardt picture. They show up in random places in our lives. The result is we believe in forgiveness but really struggle with the idea of being fully pleasing to God. Let’s face it; we are not pleased with some of our past sins. There are others who are not pleased with our past sins and plainly treat us as such. Therefore, our reasoning goes, how can God be fully pleased with me?
The result of a thought process of not being fully pleasing to God limits what God has planned for us. It limits our life of joy. It damages others around us. And, it prevents people from coming to Christ. Who would want to choose Christ if all you have to look forward to is to feel guilty all the time?
Romans 5:1 explains how we are fully pleasing to God, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is as we surrender to the truths in this verse that a believer can be fully pleasing to God not only in principle, but in the real world of daily life.
We must surrender to the truth that we have peace with God. Through Jesus we have peace with God. We “have” peace; not “achieve peace”, not “one day will receive peace when Christ returns”, not “find peace by comparing myself to others.” We have peace with God. Peace through what Jesus did in being our substitute at the cross. Peace with God rooted completely in Jesus not in what we do.
A fully pleasing life before God is ours by surrendering to the truth of what He does for us. Notice the phrase, “since we have been justified by faith.” In the English language, as well as in the Greek, we have what is referred to as active and passive voice. For example, active voice is, “I am going outside”, whereas passive voice is, “I am being taken outside.” In active voice we are doing the action. In the passive voice the action is being done to us, for us. This phrase in Romans is the passive voice. In other words, God is doing the action of justifying us, of making us right with Himself. Our faith is only the conduit for what He does in us when we believe in Jesus. We can live fully pleasing lives because God has done all the heavy lifting in dealing with sin in us. A fully pleasing life with and before God is ours because He has taken care of it all. It doesn’t rest on our shoulders.
In Christ, we are completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God because we surrender to Jesus. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God, THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.” As Christians we can hurry past this phrase because we see it in Scripture and use it often. But, what if there is significance to these words “Lord Jesus Christ.?” We cal live by faith as fully pleasing to God because Jesus is a real person in real time. There were still people alive at the time of Paul’s writing that had seen the real Jesus. Some were even witnesses to His resurrection. We are fully pleasing to God because a real, historical Jesus lived, died, and rose again on our behalf.
“Lord” is a title not a name. Jesus is “Lord” by virtue of being God become man. However, it is our personal surrendering to Him as Lord of our lives that makes us fully pleasing to God. Sometimes we lack this sense of being fully pleasing because He is not Lord, or master of some element of our lives: home, relationships, work priorities, etc. This lack of being Lord of all areas of life creates a tension with what we are already given in Christ. When we make Him Lord of all of our life that tension goes away.
“Christ” also is a title. It specifically is a reference to Jesus as “The Anointed One.” When we surrender to Jesus being “The One” in our lives peace reigns. But, if other things, people, goals, hobbies, interests are vying for the number one spot this too creates that internal-external tension of having peace yet not living up to it. As we surrender to Him being One and Only we experience what is ours in promise – completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God.
To strengthen your faith in who you are in Christ consider reviewing the following Affirmations of Faith pertaining to who we are in Christ every day for a week.
I am completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God (Romans 5:1)
I am free from all condemnation (Romans 8:1)
I am righteous and holy (Ephesians 4:24)
I am forgiven of all my sin (Ephesians 1:13-14)
One of the fully pleasing,