And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
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 over 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 will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Just as it is written, “For Your 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, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:28-39 NAS)
A good friend told me that a young clean cut man entered his office complex and announced, in the most friendly manner,”I am Jesus and I just want you to know that everything is going to be OK.” Then he casually turned and left, leaving the employees with something to talk about during coffee break.
According to Paul, this is just the kind of thing Jesus would say;
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NAS)
In our passage, Paul then goes on to explain some of the how’s and why’s of this announcement … Why this is true for you is that you have been called according to His purpose. You are foreknown. You are predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son. You are now one of Jesus’ siblings. You are called. You are justified, which means you are acquitted, made righteous, put into right standing with God. You are also glorified which means you have been raised to a heavenly dignity and condition or state of being (according the Amplified Bible). We now have a rock solid basis for the notion that things are going to be OK. Paul then asks,
What then shall we say to these things?
Indeed, what is our response to Paul’s words? Many respond, “Ah yes, its good to be saved. I am a wretch at the moment but I certainly look forward to these nice things after I die.” One of the primary themes of MwM (and I believe, the New Testament) is that the kingdom of God is here on earth right now. Yes, its also coming but it has also come. Because it came with Christ, many glorious things are intended for us before we die. This reality brings now import to passages such as this. I believe this is how Paul would have us respond;
We should announce that with God being for us, no one can prevail against us because He did not spare His own Son. He delivered Jesus over for us all. In Christ, God has freely given us everything. No one can successfully bring a charge against us. Since it is God who has justified us, no one is in a position to condemn us. Yes, things are OK because Jesus died, but He has been resurrected and currently sits at the right hand of God, interceding for us. No one, no thing, can separate us from the love of Christ, not even tribulation, distress, persecution, famine,nakedness, peril, or sword. Nothing!
The odd intruder may have been insane but he was eerily on point. We absolutely do have a strong basis for concluding that everything is OK between God and us. If we are to continue in transforming our minds, along with Paul, we must continue with our announcement;
Even in our distresses, we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loves us. 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, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
In contrast to Paul’s perspective on redeemed men, many of us seem to harbor an exponentially negative view of ourselves. Thinking of ourselves in such favorable light as Paul casts provokes fearful tremblings among the devout, “Why, if all this were really true about me, I am sure I would indulge my flesh without constraint.” Paul seems to say, “Absolutely not! As Jesus’ siblings, you are now constrained by the love of God. With His Spirit in you, you are no longer empowered by your will alone. You have the life of God in you. Get this and things will be OK, and then some.”
Unfortunately, the devout will wrangle with this, “But you don’t know my flesh. You don’t know my sin.” They will then attempt to work out their salvation with misapplied scripture, “For the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom”….and…”God shall not despise a broken heart. I am a wretch and I know it.” I have sympathy for this person because I have been him. I have been that believer whose conscience alternately accuses then exalts him. I will testify, this is a brutal and exhausting trail. Father wants to rescue all His children from this path of bondage. Nothing good can come of it except guilt and religion. Our minds must be renewed; nothing can separates us from Father’s love and kindness. This issue has to be settled in-heart before we can leave this trail of false righteousness.
Father, help us to believe the highest good about ourselves, in Christ, even if its true. Amen.