Before we can understand what it means to have peace with God, we must recognize that human beings in our natural state are enemies of God. Because we inherited a sin nature from our first parents, Adam and Eve (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12), we are born with a disposition to please ourselves and be our own gods. That rebellious nature sets us at odds with our perfect Creator. His just nature cannot overlook our sin; justice demands punishment (Romans 3:23; 6:23). We cannot create peace with God because our best efforts on our best day are nothing but filthy rags compared to His holiness (Isaiah 64:6). So, in our sinful state, we cannot be reconciled, we cannot have peace with God, no matter how hard we try.
God took the initiative in pursuing peace with us by sending His Son to earth. Jesus lived a perfect life, His crucifixion paid for the sins of all who would trust in Him (Hebrews 4:15; 2 Corinthians 5:21), and His resurrection guarantees our justification before God (Romans 4:25). Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and He is the One who gives us peace with God. That’s why the message of salvation in Christ is called the “gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).
The angels’ words to the shepherds on that first Christmas were “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased” (Luke 2:14). With whom is God pleased? God’s pleasure and peace rest upon those who receive God’s Son by faith (John 1:12). “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Peace with God means that our great sin debt has been paid and God sees us as righteous (Colossians 2:14; Romans 3:22). We are no longer enemies but beloved children (1 John 3:2). His holy nature can have fellowship with us because He sees us “in Christ.”
Peace with God means our consciences are cleared (Hebrews 10:22; Titus 3:5). The overwhelming weight of guilt that plagued us all is gone, placed on Jesus on the cross (Colossians 2:14; 1 Peter 2:24). The shame that we rightly felt for the wicked deeds we had done was carried by Jesus. God the Father adopts us as His own children and invites us to “come boldly before the throne of grace” to commune with Him and ask for what we need (Hebrews 4:16). For the Christian, maintaining a sense of peace with God means we keep our ongoing sins and failures confessed (1 John 1:9). We don’t have to keep confessing in order to establish peace with God; Jesus did that at the cross when we believed. Truly born-again people live in ongoing attitudes of repentance so that no sin will take root to defile them again (John 3:3; Romans 6:1–4). Unconfessed sin mars the joyful fellowship between a child of God and his Father.
Peace with God also allows the Christian to live without fear of death or eternity. Our hope is secure in the knowledge that Jesus has done all that was necessary to make us right with God (Matthew 5:17; John 3:16–18). Our last breath on earth will be our first breath in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:6–8; Luke 16:22). The Holy Spirit has been given to us like a promise ring, a certainty that a greater event will surely take place (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5). Right now, the Holy Spirit lives within us to guide, convict, comfort, and remind us of Jesus’ completed sacrifice on our behalf (John 14:16–17; 16:8–11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Ephesians 1:13–14).
Human beings were created to live in peace with God. Sin destroyed that peace and still destroys it for everyone who refuses Jesus’ offer of salvation. However, anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord, believes in his heart that Jesus is the only way to God, and is willing to surrender to Him as Savior and Lord can have peace with God (Romans 10:9–10, 13; John 3:16, 36; Acts 2:21, 28).