“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? 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 then is the one who condemns? No one. 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 as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these 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.”
It’s difficult to think of Paul sitting down whilst he dictated these words (of Romans 8) to his secretary. There’s so much energy here,so much passion that it’s easier to think of him striding the room, eyes flashing, as he throws question and answer in rapid sequence.
“What can we say in response to these things?” Throughout this letter to the Roman Christians, Paul had been outlining the gospel of grace in all its wonderful generosity and coherence. He began with the fact of inner sinfulness, that “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We are all in the same boat. We have all done things that are displeasing to God. There is no one who is innocent. (And Romans 3:10-18 gives a horribly detailed picture of what sin looks like in our lives).
And there are consequences to that condition – “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The punishment that we have earned for our sins is death. Not just physical death, but eternal death.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus Christ died for us! Jesus’ death paid for the price of our sins. Jesus’ resurrection proves that God accepted Jesus’ death as the payment for our sins.
So what must I do? “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Because of Jesus’ death on our behalf, all we have to do is believe in Him, trusting His death as the payment for our sins – and we are counted free! And “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and rescue us from eternal death. Salvation, the forgiveness of sins, is available to anyone who will trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Through Jesus Christ we can have a relationship of peace with God. And “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Because of Jesus’ death on our behalf, we have moved out from under the black cloud of condemnation into the light of a new day. And “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.”
And in this passage before us, he looks boldly at where we are now, as believers, and challenges the doubts and fears that sometimes rise up to threaten our confidence in God. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” God has shown himself on your side. I always think of facing my first days at school, unafraid of the big boys in the school yard because my older brother had my back. You mess with me, you mess with him! God is for us. He has proved it through the committment of Jesus to the cause of humanity. There is nothing he will not do to bring you home. So will he not give you all you need for the journey?
And “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns?” Well, we condemn ourselves. There is so much about the gospel that sounds too marvellous to be real. We just know that we don’t deserve such favour, and so we allow the memory of old sins to haunt us, and the inadequacy of our daily living to rob us of the joy of what Christ has done. Thinking these self-deprecating thoughts sounds a bit noble, but it’s not. It’s a rejection of the grace that is in Christ! God is for you! No one condemns you!
Steve Brown said: “There really is something neurotic about Christians who spend most of their time trying desperately to please a God who is already very pleased. They don’t have any freedom, and they sometimes take away the freedom of others.”
No. Let the grace and power and love of God enfold you, strengthen you. You need fear no bully (even if that bully is in your own head). Satan is the real “accuser” and his day is done.
As for you, “I will look on you with favour and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. I will put my dwelling-place among you, and I will not abhor you.I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.” (Leviticus 26)
Head held high!