Summary: With great eloquence the Apostle combines the evils of the natural world with the antagonists of the supernatural world to teach that - we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
ROMANS 8: 35-39
MORE THAN CONQUERORS
("THE INSEPARABLE LOVE OF GOD")
Romans chapter 8 details [some of the] reasons for a believer's confidence in Christ. Not only can no one accuse (33), and no one condemn (34) but no one or nothing can separate the Christian from the love of God in Christ. This declaration is the last step, the climax, the very summit of the mount of confidence from where the Christian both looks out over His conquered enemies and looks upward with complete faith in the glorious triumph of God's love.
God's great love for believers in Christ is the basis for this unshakable assurance of our eternal salvation. God's love for those in Christ guarantees that nothing will be able to separate Him from us.
So here with great eloquence the Apostle combines the evils of the natural world with the antagonists of the supernatural world to teach that - we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us (CIT).
I. THE NATURAL ENEMIES OF LIFE, 35-36.
II. THE CONQUERING LIFE, 37.
III. THE SUPERNATURAL ENEMIES OF LIFE, 38-39.
INSEPARABLE LOVE (35)
After having established that God works all things together for the eternal good of those who love Him, we are asked if it is possible for circumstances to separate us from the love of Christ? Verse 35 lists some of the possible harsh circumstances of life. "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"
The word used for separate (chorizo) comes from a word meaning "space" (chora). The love of Christ refers to Christ's love for the believer. Can anything or one make a distance between Christ's love and us? Can anything or one lead Christ to cease loving us? Things seem to happen between husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, friends and coworkers that people use as reasons to stop loving. What will happen to God's love for us if contrary circumstances come our way?
Paul gives a sample list of possible difficult occurrences. The first theatening circumstance is tribulation. Tribulation (thlipsis -"squeeze, put under pressure") is outward affliction. Like when you have a physical health problem or a financial crisis. It is the typical kind of general adversity that all face. Tribulation may deplete, chafe, and fatigue, but it is not able to separate us from the love of God. So don't let stresses or tribulations separate you from the fact that God loves you.
Distress (stenochoria) is inward pressures or anxieties. It comes with feeling unloved, unlovely, unintelligent, unable to cope, depressed. God's love holds when everything says that His love is a lie, and that there is no such thing as justice.
The third threatening circumstance is persecution. Persecution is evil inflicted because of one's relationship with Christ by hostile men. It attacks through snide or derogatory comments, false rumors, gossip, false accusations, etc.
Famine and nakedness are physical evils depriving one of nourishment and shelter which could be adequate housing and clothing. It suggests being vulnerable and unprotected. Peril and sword are violent antagonists. [Kíndunos is approaching danger or to be in jeopardy. The word sword (máchaira) refers to a large dagger used by assassins because it was easy to conceal.]
Paul is not talking of imaginary things, but of things that are desperately actual. God does not keep a man immune from trouble. He says-"I will be with you in trouble." It does not matter what actual troubles, or even their most extreme forms that attack a your life, not one of them can separate God from His loving relationship with you.
If the conditions mentioned here cannot separate Christ's love from us, then no circumstances on earth can. There is no attempt to exhaustively enumerate or classify the possible deterrents to Christ's love. These are simply miscellaneous masses of evil things.
These specimens of evil like billows of the sea threaten to roll us under but we that love the Lord Jesus and are called according to His purpose, know that we are shielded within the love of Christ. These evils can no more quench the light of the sun than they can separate us from Christ's love for us. The experiences of life, terrible or monumental, are incapable of touching the love of God for us, "which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (v. 39). In spite of all that life throws at us, it is impossible to separate Jesus Christ from His love for us
Notice again that the impossible separation is not our love for Christ, but Christ's love for us. All too often our love for Christ is separated from us, for we do not stand convinced that God is working all things, both the bad and the good, for our eternal benefit. So we often allow things to separate us from our joy, from our hope, from almost all that makes life desirable. Evils can strip us to the very quick but the quick, or our eternal soul and spirit, they cannot touch. The bitter cold winter comes and kills the flowers, browns the leaves, cuts off the stems, chains the sweet music of flowing streams, and darkens the world to a solitary grey face - but it does not touch the life that is in the root.