Monday, January 2, 2012

Romans 8:31-39

What shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies, who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

OK, first we have to ask the question, in response to what? Context – it is so important to read scripture as a whole as well as in little pieces. In Romans 8 Paul has talked about sin and sin nature, and the control of the Holy Spirit who lives in Believers. Paul has talked about our suffering, creation’s suffering, and the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us as well as our future hope of glorification and how God works it all out for our good. He has talked about our calling and our purpose (which came long before we did) – to be conformed to the image of Christ. He talked about our justification and our glorification. Then comes today’s passage.

Now, what is our response to all this? All too often my response to suffering is fear or depression or anger. But Paul says something different. He has reminded us of God’s love for us and the purpose for our suffering, and this should provoke a different response. Here are the facts:
· God is for us
· He gave His own Son
· He chose and justified us
· He will surely give us everything we need

We do have someone against us, someone who condemns us – Satan. But Christ died for us, and more importantly was raised and is sitting at God’s right hand interceding for us. So, both Christ and the Holy Spirit are talking to God about me and on my behalf. I like to imagine the conversations. I am sure there is plenty of, “Becky has messed up again, she needs to learn something.” But also I know there is, “God, Becky is struggling, she needs peace” and, “God, let’s surprise Becky today with a blessing.”

Here’s the cool thing. Death could not separate us from Christ’s love – He went through that for us. Sin separated us from God, Christ’s death and resurrection brings us back to Him forever. So if Death can no longer separate us, how can anything in this life separate us? Trouble and hardship I know well, we all do. Persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and sword may come; Believers in the time this was written did know those things. But none of this can separate me from Christ’s love. Notice that the list includes suffering brought by people as well as by natural disasters.

Then Paul quotes from the Psalms, and for some reason I always hear a whining voice when I read it. “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered sheep to be slaughtered.” In Paul’s response I always hear an emphatic “NO!!” shouting out from the page. God loves us and He will conquer anything that comes against us! Then Paul lists extremes in broad categories that cover anything that could possibly happen to us.

I love this entire passage; it gives me such hope when I am down. God, thank You for Your Son and salvation, for the indwelling Holy Spirit, for their love and intercession for me. Thank You for Your Word and the promises You have given me. Thank You for continuing the work of making me like Christ. Even though it is often painful, I know that You are in control and will work everything for my good. Thank you for the hope of glorification. No matter what happens on this earth, I look forward to my future in Heaven with You!
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