More Than a Conqueror

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Romans 8:31-39:

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 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.

What is Paul referring to when he says, “What then shall we say to these things?”  “These things” refers to the entire breadth of God’s grace to lost sinners in the letter to this point.  For the Christian, God’s grace and our relationship with Him are the foundation for everything else in our lives.

When Paul asks, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” he does not mean that Christians will never face opposition;  rather, he is emphasizing that the conflicts we do face are greatly overshadowed by God’s love and grace toward us.  The basis for our confidence in God is that He “gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).  Since God the Father was willing to sacrifice His own Son in order to be reconciled with us, we can be confident that He will also give us the protection and security we need to follow Him.

What does Paul mean when he rhetorically asks, “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?”  In Revelation 12:10, Satan is called the “accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night.”  Because those of us who have received Jesus Christ as Savior are justified before God the Father through the blood of Jesus Christ, God sees the Christian as if they had never sinned.  The perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for my sin; therefore, God considers me blameless before Him.  Satan has no basis for accusing the Christian before God; the Christian’s sins have already been paid for.  As Paul puts it, Christ makes intercession for us. When Satan accuses the Christian before the Father, Jesus says, “I’ve already got it covered.”

Paul then rhetorically asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” He then lists a catalog of situations that we think might be able to separate us from God: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and the sword.  Often, Christians think that when bad things happen, it’s because God has somehow rejected us.  We think God’s angry, so He’s punishing us by allowing us to suffer.  To emphasize his point, Paul quotes Psalm 44:22:

Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Paul’s point here is that God does not punish the Christian; Jesus Christ already took the punishment.  God does allow bad things to happen to the Christian, but not because God is punishing us.  Rather, God uses trials to produce character and hope.  In Romans 5:3-5, Paul tells the Christian:

3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Paul finishes Romans chapter 8 with one of the most profound promises found in Scripture.  Through Jesus Christ, the Christian is promised victory – and nothing can take that away from us.  Whether dead, or alive, we have victory in the love of Jesus Christ.  Angels cannot take our God’s love away; neither can demons (“principalities”) or human authorities (“powers”).  Time cannot affect our standing before God; nor can anything else in the universe.  We cannot even throw it away ourselves!  Our relationship with God through Jesus Christ is completely sealed; absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When I am struggling with my faith, or going through difficult times, I come back time and again to this promise for the strength and courage to press onward.  Times may be difficult – but nothing can separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord!  I may be overwhelmed by my sin – but nothing can separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord!  Those I love may let me down – but nothing can separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord!

Yet in all these things I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me.

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