Romans Bible Study (The Righteousness of God Revealed)

Romans 8:31-39, Who Will Separate Us From The Love of Christ?

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We come to the magnificent and thunderous crescendo of assurance, hope, and encouragement. Paul has been bringing us along in Christian assurance. Let’s recap Romans 8 before we look at the final verses of this chapter. Paul kicked off this section with the grand thought that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (8:1). The reason there is no condemnation now is because God has done what the Law of Moses could not do, that is, justify us (8:3). God sent his Son to deal with sin so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled. But this hope is for those who live their lives according to the Spirit (8:4). Those who live according to the Spirit are those who set their minds on spiritual things, not fleshly, worldly things. Another way to say this is that Christ lives in us (8:10) and the Spirit lives in us (8:9). If Christ is ruling our lives and we are led by the Spirit by keeping the words he has revealed through his holy scriptures, then though we are dead because of our sins, God will give us life (8:11). God has called us to be sons of God, not to be enslaved (8:15). We have been adopted as sons, and we can cry out to God as our close, intimate Father who cares for us, just as Jesus cried out, “Abba, Father.” If we have been adopted as children of God, then we are also heirs of God, prepared to receive the eternal inheritance. But we will suffer for Christ when Christ is living in us and our lives are governed by the will of God. But that suffering is not worth comparing the great glory that is to be revealed to us (8:17-18). Just as the creation eagerly longs for this glory to be revealed, so we also groan inwardly as we eagerly wait the full benefits of our adoption as children of God (8:19-25). Even as we suffer and groan, we know that God knows our hearts and is working all things together for good according to God’s purpose (8:26-28). God will not be swayed from his purpose. God knew in advance that he wanted a people for himself. Before the foundations of the world God chose in advance that to be his people we would have to be conformed to the image of his Son. God has called for people to be like Christ. Those who receive that call are justified and those that are justified are going to be fully glorified (8:29-30). With this hope, let’s look at how the apostle Paul completes this thought.

God Is For Us (8:31-32)

So what can we say about all that God has done for us? What can we say about the privileged position in which we stand? God is for us. Let those words sink in. God is not against us. God is not our prosecutor, but our vindicator. God is for us. God has shown that he is for us. There may be no better thought than to know that God is for his people. God is for us. God is on our side and God stands behind us. Who can possibly stand against us since God is for us? Paul is not saying that we do not have enemies or opponents. The enemies of the cross are numerous. The opponents that we must combat are many. But these enemies and opponents cannot successfully wage war against us because God is for us. We have enemies, but no enemy can stand against us. There is no foe that can defeat us!

How do we know that God is for us? How can we have this confidence? Look at verse 32: He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? The proof is that God gave up his Son for us all. This is how we can know that God is for us: God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for all (Jews and Gentiles). There is nothing greater God could have done to prove to us that he is for us. Notice the point that Paul makes about this. God has done the hard part in giving his Son for us all. If God has already done the hard part, he will obviously graciously give us all things! God did not hold back his Son. He will surely not hold back anything else. We know that God will freely give us all things because we see that God gave his only Son. We will be glorified! We will receive the full benefits of our adoption as God’s children! The sacrifice of Jesus is the proof.

No Charge and No Condemnation (8:33-34)

Who can bring any charge against God’s elect (God’s people)? This is similar to verse 31. Paul is not saying that there are no charges to bring against us. There are millions of charges to make against God’s people. We have not lived perfectly. We have not obeyed God’s laws. We are violators. Turn to Zechariah 3:1-5 to see this thought illustrated in Zechariah’s vision. Notice that Satan is accusing and Joshua, who represents the people of God, is wearing filthy garments. The people are stained with sins. But God gives his pure clothing because God had taken their sins away. This is the picture that Paul is related, and likely indirectly referring to for his readers. Turn back to Romans 8. Who can bring a charge against God’s elect? Satan will sure try, but no charge will stick. Why will no accusation or charge stick? Verse 33 gives the answer: It is God who justifies. God is for us and he has declared us acquitted of the charges. Because God did not spare his own Son but gave himself for us, now all the charges against God’s elect have been dropped. We deserve the charges and we deserve the accusations. But God justifies. The charges are dismissed because of the blood of Jesus. God has acquitted us.

Add in verse 34 to this thought. Who is to condemn us? The answer is: NOT GOD! God is not going to condemn us. Can anyone else condemn us? No, no one else can condemn because Jesus died for us. Jesus died and raised from the dead and is interceding on our behalf. Jesus’ death was the condemnation of sin (8:3) and his resurrection was the announcement that sin had been dealt with fully (Psalm 110:1; Romans 4:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:17). Jesus is now acting as our high priest (Hebrews 7:25), working on our behalf in the very presence of God. When we sin, there is Jesus in the presence of the Father, interceding for us. Jesus has our defense covered for us. There can be no prosecution against the people of God because Jesus died for us and his death functions as our defense.

Who Shall Separate Us From Christ’s Love (8:35-39)

This brings Paul to the final rhetorical questions. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? We have seen how Paul is working these rhetorical questions. Paul is not saying that there are not things that happen to the people of God that cause us to feel separated from God. We are afflicted with all sorts of issues. This is what verse 35 reveals. We can go through all kinds of afflictions, hardships, and tribulations. But these things do not separate us from the love of Christ. When we go through afflictions we may feel like God has left us and that we are outside of God’s love. But the assurance is that we know this is not true. These things cannot separate us from the love of Christ. Distress and anguish cannot separate us from the love of Christ. Persecution for the cause of Christ does not separate us from the love of Christ. Persecution does not mean that we are doing something wrong or that God has left us. Famine or hunger does not separate us from the love of Christ. Fitting along with this is nakedness. Not having food or not having clothing does not mean that we are separated from the love of Christ. Our lives being put into danger does not mean that we are separated from the love of Christ. Even being put to death (executed) does not mean that we are separated from the love of Christ. Not sickness, not cancer, not diseases, not syndromes can separate us from the love of Christ. These are things that can affect followers of Jesus. But the suffering of the righteous does not mean that we have been separated from God’s love or that God is no longer for us. This is the context of Psalm 44 from which Paul quotes in verse 36. Psalm 44 is the cry of the righteous who suffer as they long for vindication. How fitting that Paul would use the same thought here and apply it to all Christians, including the apostles. We are not any different from the apostles or the people of God in times past. They endured suffering for the cause of Christ. Will death separate us from God’s love?

Paul’s answer is clear in verse 37: No. No, in all things we are more than conquerers through him who loved us. The one who loves us has given us the overwhelming victory. Paul is emphasizing the total victory that God gives to his people through Christ. It does not matter what happens to us, we still win. There is no condemnation and we are not separated from the love of Christ. Verses 38-39 drive this point even deeper. There is nothing that will be able to separate us from the love of God. Not death or all the mistakes we make in this life is able to separate us from God’s love. No spiritual beings or physical powers can separate us from the love of Christ. Nothing currently happening now or anything that will happen in the future is able to separate us from the love of Christ. There is not one power that can separate us for God has power over all. God’s love is greater than the vastness of the universe. Nothing in the world above or the world below can separate us from God’s love. Nothing else in all the creation can separate us from the love of Christ. Do we feel the force of Paul’s words. NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.

Conclusion:

One of the powerful themes in Romans 8 is that the blessings that were promised to Israel have been fulfilled in the people of God, the church. Israel was promised the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-27) and that promise has been fulfilled in the New Testament people of God. Israel was promised life and resurrection and that life and resurrection has been fulfilled through the believers in Jesus. Israel was God’s son, but now disciples of Jesus are the sons of God and are adopted into the family. The future inheritance was promised to Israel, but now it is pledged to those in Christ. Israel was God’s chosen people but now the church is the one who is foreknown and chosen in advance by God. God promised to never forsake Israel and now this promise is extended to the new covenant people of God. The promises to Israel have been fulfilled in Christ and those who are in Christ are God’s family and God’s covenant people.

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