After building a rock solid case that Jews and Gentiles can only be “justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28), Paul continued:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… (Romans 5:1, NKJV, emphasis added).
To be “justified by faith” means that we can stand completely innocent of all wrongdoing before God and His law when we repent of our sins and have faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer. 23:6), our Savior, and our best Friend. These five words, “we have peace with God,” describe a legal peace with the Lord of heaven and earth through faith in His gospel. “Not guilty!” is the blessed verdict of heaven. A direct consequence of this wondrous, judicial “acceptance” by God is an inner peace that fills our hearts. Paul continued,
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5).
Again, don’t miss the order: The legal peace (being “justified by faith,” verse 1) comes first, and this is followed by “the love of God” being “poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who [is] given to us” (verse 5). In other words, once we are first set right with God above, we can then experience His love, peace, and joy below on earth. The line, “the love of God has been poured into our hearts,” reveals that God’s own love flows into our hearts through the doorway of biblical justification by faith. This love comes from “the Holy Spirit” who is “given to us.” The word, “given,” means it is a free gift.
Now here’s a key question: when “the love of God” through the Holy Spirit enters our hearts as a free gift after we are “justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28), what about the law? Do we ignore it, and keep breaking it? Many think so, but this is not what Paul taught. Notice carefully:
Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law (Romans 3:31, emphasis added).
To “establish the law” means two things. First, it means to “establish” the law’s authority as a present, active revealer of both the character of God and human sin (see Romans 3:20) to help sinners sense their need of justification by faith. Second, it means to establish the law in the heart of a new believer in Christ so that he now joyfully chooses to obey it through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is clearly taught in Romans 8. Notice carefully:
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit …that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1,4).
Jesus Christ “fulfilled” the law (see Mat. 5:17) when He walked this earth two thousand years ago in human flesh. This is how He became “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Then He “died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3) of breaking it (see 1 John 3:4), and rose from the dead (see 1 Cor. 15:4). And now, as our resurrected High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary above (see Heb. 8:1,2), He can now justify us freely, lift our guilt, and remove our condemnation when we have faith in Him. But more than this, He can renew our hearts so that “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:4). Remember, the Holy Spirit brings “the love of God” (Romans 5:5) into our hearts, and true “love” leads to “the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10, KJV), not the breaking of it.
Thus the true, New Testament message of “righteousness by faith” and justification by faith” plainly teaches us that:
1. We are “justified by faith” in Jesus Christ apart from the deeds of the law.
2. Justified, forgiven, “peace with God,” “no condemnation” believers in Jesus will keep the law through the love and power of the Holy Spirit.
This is the word of the Lord. Don’t let “false teachers” (2 Peter 2:1) who preach “another Jesus” or “a different gospel” with “a different spirit” (2 Cor. 11:4) steer you away from it.