“To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:7, esv).”
You may or may not have noticed this, but almost every one of Paul’s epistles in the New Testament contains a similar if not identical phrase. It’s in Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, all the way down the line. And always the same thing: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peace from God.
“Peace from God” is the realization that you’re living under this awesome covenant with God – which means great things about your life and your future because of His grace toward you.
If you’ve had a conversion experience, you’ve been given peace with God. As Paul said, “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Only through faith in God do you make your peace with Him—not in being a good person, not in being religious, not in saying your prayers. You recognize you have a sin problem, then you embrace what God has prescribed as the solution.
Peace from God, however, is something different. Notice in Romans 1:7, how the verse starts: “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints.” Those are His children who’ve experienced conversion, who’ve been forgiven of their sins—like you have, I hope. If so, you have peace with God. But you also have something more. You have “peace from God.”
It’s the sense of living in covenant relationship with Him. It’s actually the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament concept of shalom. People would greet one another in the streets, “Shalom, Shalom,” wishing them not just peace, but a complete state of wholeness and well-being. “Peace from God” is the realization that you’re living under this awesome covenant with Him that means great things about your life and your future because of His grace toward you.
If God had made a contract with us, we wouldn’t feel this peace. Contracts, you know, are agreements we make that say if we’ll do A-B-C, they’ll do X-Y-Z. We sign our name, and hope it all works out—hope everybody holds up their side of the bargain.
But God hasn’t made a contract with us. He’s made a covenant with us. It’s so much better than a contract. He doesn’t say to us, if we’ll do A-B-C, He’ll do X-Y-Z. He says, since we’re one of His children, since we’re one of those who’ve come into a covenant relationship with Him, He’ll do A-B-C—regardless of what we do.
Do you think you could experience some peace from that? By believing that?
That’s what covenant is. Because of the merits of Christ, because you’ve made peace with God through faith in Jesus, you’ve entered into a covenant relationship with Him where some days you’re going to be more committed than other days. Some days you’re going to be on, and some days you’re going to be off. Some days you’re going to be moving forward, and some days you’re going to be struggling. And yet on every single one of those days, God will be the exact same toward you. Nothing will change His love and His commitment to you.
And that’s peace. From God.
Every time you come across that line again in your Bible—“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”—remember what it means. Remember what He’s done for you and given you.
He’s given you peace.
O Lord, thank You that You are a covenant-keeping God. Thank You for understanding how my heart is prone to wander, that I’m hopeless without Your love, mercy, and power. Please replace my fear, doubt, and anxiety with faith and the calm assurance that You are good and You always keep Your Word. Thank You for the wondrous gifts of peace with God and peace from God. Fill me with gratitude for what You’ve done, and let Your peace in me be a witness of Your grace and might to the watching world. I pray these things in the awesome Name of Jesus, amen.
But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code (Romans 7:6, esv).
What are the five things Christians aren’t supposed to do?
Maybe for you and your church, it’s more than just a Filthy Five. Maybe it’s more like a Dirty Dozen. Depends on how fired up you are.
Change comes through an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus who lives His life through us by His Spirit within us.
But these lists do exist out there, right? Rules for what to do. Definitely rules for what not to do. Rules, rules, rules, and more rules!
The problem with rules, however, is that rules only inflame our desire for sin.
I remember playing in the backyard with my brothers as a kid, having all kinds of fun doing whatever we were doing. Then Mom would come out onto the porch and say, “I’m going to the store. Don’t you boys leave the backyard.”
In that moment, the fence I hadn’t even noticed being there before took on the appearance of a forty-foot wall. Suddenly I became oddly aware of hearing my friends’ voices carrying from a distance, as if their hands were cupped around their mouths, shouting, “Come over and play! Come play with us!”
That’s like what legalism does. It just makes you want to sin.
Paul said it this way: “If it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness” (Romans 7:7–8).
If you’re like most people, there are things about yourself that you want to change. And you’ve tried to change them. But the reason we fail is not because God doesn’t want to change us. The reason we fail to change is because we use faulty methods for doing it. We think God has failed us when in reality we haven’t even attempted to change God’s way.
Rules are not God’s way—rules that we’ve boiled down into a system, rules that we’ve elevated to mean everything while we’re missing half the things the Bible actually says. Rules only force our sin under the surface. They don’t really change anything.
But God’s way does.
And here it is. Real change, biblical change, comes first from admitting we have a heart problem. “Wretched man that I am” (Romans 7:24)! “Wretched”—distressed and miserable through exhaustion from hard labor. “Wretched”—exhausted from the work of trying to change ourselves without 100 percent submission to God. Change begins with admitting we’re broken because of our sin.
Then, turning. Only God can change a heart. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25)! Change comes through an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus who lives His life through us by His Spirit within us. It doesn’t come from panting and straining to keep up with somebody else’s list of rules.
Enough with rules! “We are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive.” Instead bring your sins—all of them—to the One who can change you. Not by forcing you onto the straight and narrow, but by offering you a life beyond legalism, “the new way of the Spirit.” The kind of life that actually makes you want to obey.
Lord, I desire for my life to line up with what Your Word says. I want to be a person of character, purity, and total obedience to Your way. Thank You for making the path to change possible, and help me see that any experience of abundant life will never come through a deeper commitment to strict rule-keeping. Please give me greater glimpse of Yourself, and let my obedience flow out of knowing that I’m dearly loved by the God of the universe. Thank You for making redemption possible through the gift of Your Son, Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.