ROMANS STUDY – SESSION 12

Romans 8:31-39

 

In this session we are concluding our study of Romans 8, one of the greatest chapters in the Bible.  We have seen that Romans 8 gives us a beautiful description of a life controlled by the Spirit of God.  Essentially, the Scripture tells us in this passage that a life controlled by the Spirit is a life of freedom.  As Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”  A life controlled by God’s Spirit is a life characterized by:

  • Freedom from condemnation (vv. 1-11)
    • Romans 8:1 – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
  • Freedom from rejection (vv. 12-17)
    • Romans 8:15 – “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’”
  • Freedom from despair (vv.18-30)
    • Romans 8:18 - ”For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” 
    • Romans 8:28 - "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
  • Freedom from defeat (vv.31-39)

 

Freedom from Defeat (vv.31-39)

      The key verse in this section is Romans 8:37 - “But in all these things (that phrase refers to the things listed in v.35) we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us...” In other words, no matter what we experience in this life, no matter how difficult things may become, we have the assurance of being victorious in those things and not being defeated by those things.  Carefully and slowly read Romans 8:31-39.  Dr. Jack MacGorman in his commentary on Romans calls those verses “The grandest passage on Christian assurance in the Bible.” [LBC, p.71]  This passage tells us why we can live with the assurance that our lives will not end in defeat but in victory. 

 

We can be sure that our lives will end in victory and not defeat because God is on our side

 

Notice the question at the end of v.31...”If (carries idea of since...not intended raise doubt but express fact) God is for us, who is against us?”  The wording of that question is particularly important.  The question is not merely “Who is against us?”  If you leave off the introductory clause “If God is for us...” there are many possible ways to answer the questions “Who is against us?”  God’s people in the 1st century and God’s people in our day face many formidable enemies.

·         As Paul wrote these words, all the power of Rome was about to come down on Christians.  And we live in a culture in which the storm clouds of hostility toward Christianity are becoming increasingly dark.

·         The Jewish religious establishment, of which Paul had once been a part, was doing all it could to squelch Christianity.  And in our world are powerful religious forces constantly attacking and distorting Christianity.

·         Those 1st century Christians struggled with the same human weaknesses—pride, greed, selfishness, lust—with which we struggle today.

·         Satan, himself, never ceased to attack and accuse them just as he never ceases to attack and accuse Christians today.

 

There are many obvious answers to the question “Who is against us?”  But adding the introductory clause “If God is for us...” changes the whole tone of the question. Since God is on our side, nothing—not evil powers in the world, not our own sinful tendencies, not Satan himself—shall be able to stand against us. 

 

Why could Paul say that?  What made him so certain that God is on our side?  Was it merely idle speculation?  Was he speaking from unsupported hope?  No!  The confidence that God is on our side is based on solid evidence—the evidence of what God has already done for us.  In verses 32, 33, and 34 Paul spells out what God has already done for us.

o   Verse 32 reminds us that He gave His Son for us – “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” 

o   Verses 33-34a remind us that God has justified us (pronounced us not guilty!) – “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?  God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns?

o   Verse 34b reminds us Christ is continually interceding for us with God – “Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”

In other words, Paul is saying, “The confidence/assurance I have that God is on our side is based on what God has already done for us in Christ.”

 

And knowing that God is on our side when we face those difficult moments in life makes all the difference in the world.  When you come to that time in life, which you surely will at some point, when it seems that everything is against you, remembering that God is on your side can make all the difference in the world.  With God on our side—

    • No medical diagnoses, no matter how bleak it may be, can ultimately defeat us.
    • No broken relationship, no matter how painful and devastating it may feel, can ultimately defeat us.
    • No financial crisis, no matter how hopeless the situation may seem, can ultimately defeat us.
    • Not even death itself, no matter how final it may appear, can ultimately defeat us.

 

For the nation Israel the unthinkable had happened.  Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians and the Temple, the place they viewed as the very abode of God, had been plundered.  The leaders of the nation had been taken off into captivity.  In the midst of their despair, God came to them through the prophet Isaiah and made a wonderful promise.  He told them, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you.  Surely, I will help you.  Surely, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” [Isaiah 41:10]  And we have that same promise today.  We can be sure our lives will end in victory and not in defeat because God is on our side.

 

We can be sure that our lives will end in victory and not defeat because God’s love for us is unshakeable

 

The last half of the final paragraph in Romans 8 is dedicated to answering the questions posed in v.35 – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”  The basic question is, “Is there anything in all of the universe which can separate us from the love God has demonstrated for us in Christ?”  Look at what Paul asks in v.35...

·         Will pressures from an ungodly world (“tribulation, distress, or persecution”) separate us from God’s love?

·         Will physical needs (“famine” – the lack of food...”nakedness” – the lack of clothing) separate us from God’s love?

·         Will the uncertainty of life in this world (“peril” – the threat of death...”sword” – death, itself) separate us from God’s love?

 

The answer to those questions is in vv.38-39.  For I am convinced (it is my fixed, unshakeable opinion) that neither death, nor life, things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  In other words Paul is saying that nothing in all creation (and the list in vv.38-39 covers it all) is able to separate us from God’s love.

 

The deepest need in our lives is simply the need to be loved and accepted.  And while we all need people in our lives who love us, ultimately our need for love can only be met by the One who made us. Knowing that God loves us and that nothing can ever separate us from His love helps us to live in victory instead of defeat.

 

Sometimes, when the pressures and disappointments of life begin to build up on us, it is easy for us to conclude that God has forgotten us and that He no longer cares about us.  And the great assurance of this part of God’s word is that no matter what, God’s love for us is unshakeable.  Nothing will ever separate us from the love of God. As God said through the prophet Jeremiah, “I have loved you with an everlasting love...” [Jeremiah 31:3]. And that assurance helps us to live as victors instead of victims.

 

We have come now to the end of our journey through Romans 8.  One thing this chapter makes abundantly clear is that Jesus came to liberate us and to set us free.  He did not come to burden us with more rules and regulations.  He did not come to make our lives more complicated or more difficult.  He came to set us free.  We have seen in this great chapter that in Jesus we have been set free from:

·         Condemnation and guilt because in Jesus our sins have been forgiven.

·         Rejection because we’ve been accepted into/adopted into God’s family.

·         Despair because in Christ we have hope for today and hope for tomorrow.

·         Defeat because God is on our side and God never stops loving us.

And may we never forget that “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” [Galatians 5:1]

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