“Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let me, in the last place, offer some counsel to all who have peace with God, and desire to keep up a lively sense of it.
It must never be forgotten that a believer’s sense of his own justification and acceptance with God admits of many degrees and variations. At one time it may be bright and clear; at another dull and dim. At one time it may be high and full, like the flood tide; at another low, like the ebb. Our justification is a fixed, changeless, immovable thing. But our sense of justification is liable to many changes.
What then are the best means of preserving in a believer’s heart that lively sense of justification which is so precious to the soul that knows it? I offer a few hints to believers. I lay no claim to infallibility in setting down these hints, for I am only a man. But such as they are I offer them.
(a) To keep up a lively sense of peace, there must be constant looking to Jesus. As the pilot keeps his eye on the mark by which he steers, so must we keep our eye on Christ.
(b) There must be constant communion with Jesus. We must use Him daily as our soul’s Physician, and High Priest. There must be daily conference, daily confession, and daily absolution.
(c) There must be constant watchfulness against the enemies of your soul. He who would have peace must be always prepared for war.
(d) There must be constant following after holiness in every relation of life—in our tempers, in our tongues, abroad and at home. A small speck on the lens of a telescope is enough to prevent our seeing distant objects clearly. A little dust will soon make a watch go incorrectly.
(e) There must be a constant laboring after humility. Pride goes before a fall. Self-confidence is often the mother of sloth, of hurried Bible-reading, and sleepy prayers. Peter first said he would never forsake his Lord, though all others did—then he slept when he should have prayed—then he denied Him three times, and only found wisdom after bitter weeping.
(f) There must be constant boldness in confessing our Lord before people. Those who honor Christ, Christ will honor with much of His company. When the disciples forsook our Lord they were wretched and miserable. When they confessed Him before the council, they were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
(g) There must be constant diligence about means of grace. Here are the ways in which Jesus loves to walk. No disciple must expect to see much of his Master, who does not delight in public worship, Bible-reading, and private prayer.
(h) Lastly, there must be constant jealousy over our own souls, and frequent self-examination. We must be careful to distinguish between justification and sanctification. We must beware that we do not make a Christ of holiness.
I lay these hints before all believing readers. I might easily add to them. But I am sure they are among the first things to be attended to by true Christian believers, if they wish to keep up a lively sense of their own justification and acceptance with God.
I conclude all by expressing my heart’s desire and prayer that all who read these pages may know what it is to have the peace of God which passes all understanding in their souls.
If you never had “peace” yet, may it be recorded in the book of God that this year you sought peace in Christ and found it!
If you have tasted “peace” already—may your sense of peace mightily increase!
Excerpted from a J.C. Ryle work that discusses our present and eternal justification before God and our peace (assurance) of it.