The Bible pictures all human beings as defendants in a courtroom: a courtroom in which God is the judge and our sins constitute the evidence against us. The judge weighs the evidence and finds every single one of us guilty of sin and announces that we, therefore, must be condemned. The marvelous news of justification is that God has himself provided for us the means of escaping that condemnation: by responding to his gracious initiative in faith, we become joined with Christ, who died for us and was raised for us. We become joined to Christ, who takes on himself the penalty for our sin and covers us with the ‘righteousness’ that we need to reverse the verdict of condemnation and receive the verdict of ‘justified’, ‘right’ with God. And because we have been joined to Christ, the holy one, and have in that union received the gift of God’s powerful holy Spirit, we, who have been justified, also find our lives transformed so that we love God and neighbor.
We notice also that Paul finds a basic unity, even identity between the love of God as it is shown in the objective, factual event of Christ’s death on the cross and as it is experienced “in the heart” by teh believer (v5b). An emotional feeling of God’s love in itself, is little comfort to th eperson who is lost, condemned, doomed for hell. But a cold, sober historical interpretation that indeed “God love the world” on the cross is of little benefit to a person until that love is experienced, is received, by faith in Christ. It is when these are properly experienced as two aspects of one great love, ultimately indivisible, that our assurance that “hope will not put us to shame” v5a will be strong and unshakable.