“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against 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? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor 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.” (Romans 8:35-39)The precious privileges just keep coming in this chapter - no condemnation, life, adoption, inheritance, glorification, the intercession of the Spirit, all things working together for our good, conformity to the image of Christ, a God who is for us, a sure supply of all our needs, “an answer for all accusations”, “a security for all condemnations” and here at the end “we have good assurance of our preservation and continuance in this blessed state to the very end.”
Matthew Henry writes, “The fears of the saints lest they should lose their hold of Christ are often very discouraging and disquieting, but here is that which may silence their fears, that nothing can separate them.”
Verse 35 begins with a daring, rhetorical question. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? The clear and certain answer is a resounding “No one!” Look back to verse 31-34. “What shall we say then? If God is for us, who is against 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? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yet, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” These are the things that lead up to verse 35. God is for us! He is so very much for us that He gave His Son as a propitiation for our sins. The just Judge paid the price Himself. God the Father will not mock the blood of God the Son by casting aside that which Has cost Him so much.
What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? In this life we face trouble, there’s no denying it or getting around it. Christ Himself says, “In the world you have tribulation.” Thankfully He goes on to say, “but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Paul writes, “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” James tells us to “consider it all joy, my brethren, WHEN you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” There’s no “if” to suffering in this fallen world. It is certain and sure. To go a step further it is even necessary. “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if NECESSARY, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Trials don’t separate us from the love of God – no, they knit us more closely to Him!
All of these horrible “black and dismal” maladies can never rip us out of God’s love and Fatherly care. In His economy all of our trials have purpose . Look back to dear old Isaiah, “O LORD, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will give thanks to Thy name; for Thou has worked wonders, plans formed long ago with perfect faithfulness.” (Is 25:1). The all-wise and sovereign God has formed our paths and He has formed them with perfect faithfulness. He did that with Joseph. Much tribulation fell upon him. Many trials accompanied his days. Multitudes of persecution hounded him. Yet, He knew that they did not separate him from the love of God. No, his sufferings had a loving and divine purpose – for God’s glory and for Joseph’s good – in God’s economy. The sure knowledge of that allowed Joseph to say to his brothers “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
God has not, God will not, God can not abandon you in your sufferings. He loves you no less for all that He has carved for you and His true adopted child will love Him nonetheless for frowning providence either. “A true Christian loves Christ never the less though he suffer for Him, thinks never the worse of Christ, though he lose all for Him.”
No, He loves us in our trials and He has His good reasons for them. As James reminds us, they are for the purpose of maturing us “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Romans 8:28 has just reminded us that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”And here in the very text before me this morning we are told that “in all these things we OVERWHELMINGLY conquer through Him who loved us.”
We are conquerors. No, we are MORE than conquerors. Through Christ, we OVERWHELMINGLY conquer! Think about it, in our trials and tribulations, persecutions and perils, what can man do to us? What can we lose? Mr. Henry writes, “Many conquests are dearly bought; but what do the suffering saints lose? Why, they lose that which the gold loses in the furnace, nothing but the dross.” Even if our enemies go to the greatest degree and take our lives from us, what have we lost. Nothing! No, even in that we overwhelmingly conquer for “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” In even the worst tragedies of life there is NO loss and there is great gain! Quoting Henry again, “The spoils are exceedingly rich; glory, honor, and peace, a crown of righteousness that fades not away. In this the suffering saints have triumphed. As afflictions abound, consolations much more abound (2 Cor 1:5). Those that have gone smiling to the stake, and stood singing in the flames – these were more than conquerors.”
Lest we get proud and haughty in this glorious promise we are reminded that these things are not ours because of us. They are ours through Christ! We are conquerors not in our own strength but in His. We win because he won! It is all of His free flowing grace. It is all of His tenacious love. It is all of the upholding of His righteous right hand. I have nothing to do with it, it is all of Him and in Him alone may I boast. “We are conquerors by virtue of Christ’s victory. We have nothing to do but to pursue the victory, and to divide the spoil.”
After this grand declaration Paul flows into a great anthem of certainty regarding the thing promised. Here is a song of triumph and adoration. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life ,nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created things, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul is persuaded. “And here he enumerates all those things which might separate between Christ and believers and concludes that it could not be done. 1) Neither death nor life, neither the fear of death nor the hope of life. We shall not be separated from that love either in death or in life. 2) Nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers. The good angels will not, the bad shall not; and neither can. The good angels are engaged friends, the bad are restrained enemies. 3) Nor things present, nor things to come – neither the sense of troubles present nor the fear of troubles to come. Time shall not separate us, eternity shall not, from the love of Christ, whose favor is twisted in with both present things and things to come. 4) Nor height, nor depth – neither the height of prosperity, nor the depth of adversity, nothing from heaven above, nothing on earth below. 5) Nor any other creature – anything that can be named or thought of. It will not, it cannot, separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Matthew Henry)
“Nothing does it, can do it, but sin” and sin has been paid for by Christ. If Christ, then no condemnation. If Christ, then life. If Christ, then adoption. If Christ, then eternal inheritance. If Christ, then glorification. If Christ, then intercession on our behalf. If Christ, then all things are working for my good. If Christ, then security. If Christ, then provision. If Christ, then inseparable love. I suppose the question is – are we “in Christ”? Is there any other place to be?
Thankful to be in Him,