As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:36-39 ESV
There are those two words again: “These things.” It is as if Paul is presenting us with a juxtaposition that presents all of the “these things” related to our position in Christ and all of the “these things” that are tied to our time of suffering in this world. They appear contradictory and in conflict with one another. On the one hand, we are sons and daughters of God. We are joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. We have the Holy Spirit living within us, empowering us to deny our sin natures and live godly lives. He helps us in our times of weakness, even interpreting our prayers and bringing them into alignment with God’s will. We have the assurance of God’s unstoppable purpose for our lives and the promise of our future glorification. And yet, while we live on this earth, we suffer just as Jesus did. We face temptation. We have to constantly fight our own sin nature and fend off the attacks of the enemy. But Paul asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35 ESV). Then he goes on to list just a few of the obstacles standing in our way: Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and the sword. These are just a few of the “these things” Paul is referring to in verse 37. And he adds to the list in verses 38-39: Death, life, angels, rulers, things present, things to come, powers, heights, depths, or anything else in creation. The New Testament In Modern English puts those two verses in language we can understand.
I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, neither messenger of Heaven nor monarch of earth, neither what happens today nor what may happen tomorrow, neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God’s whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord!
We are more than conquerors, Paul emphatically states. We are over-comers and, ultimately, victors over anything and everything that stands in our way in this life. Why? Because of Christ’s finished work on the cross. He loved us enough to die for us. He loved us so much He rose for us. He loved us even though He left us, because He sent His Spirit to live within us. He loves us enough to intercede for us with His Father. He loves us enough that one day He is returning for us. Jesus told His disciples, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3 ESV).
The problem we face is the constant temptation to judge the love of God based on what is happening to us at a particular moment in time. If we find ourselves in a desperate circumstance, we can easily begin to wonder whether God really loves us. We can be tempted to doubt His faithfulness. We may begin to question His power or even debate His presence. But rather than focusing on what is happening, we need to learn to keep our attention on has already happened. God has already sent His Son to die for us. He has redeemed us with the blood of His innocent, sinless Son. He has adopted us as His Son and daughters. He has justified us – removing our sin and replacing it with His Son’s righteousness. He has given us His Spirit to live within us, providing us with the same power that raised Jesus from death to life. He has conquered sin and death. He has written our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life. In other words, God HAS loved us, all the way to the end. And NOTHING will ever separate us from that love. Nothing can snatch us from His hands. No one can change what God has ALREADY done.
The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:12-14 ESV). Look at what he says. “He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” That is us. All who have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ are being perfected for all time. His sanctifying work in our lives is not yet finished, but it will be. The day is coming when we will be like Him. We will see Him. We will be with Him. The purpose of God for our lives will be finalized. We have been saved. We are being sanctified. And we will one day be glorified. We are more than conquerors, we are victors.
There is a wonderful song we tend to sing only at Christmas. It is by Thomas Kinkade and is called Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee. The closing lines fit perfectly with our verses for today.
Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us,
Brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward
In the triumph song of life.