Summary: #9 in my Romans 8 - What a Way to Live! series. This says that God is on our side, and it’s His opinion of us that matters the most. There is victory in that truth.
Romans 8:31-37 – Taking Sides
When Martin Luther was in the middle of the Reformation and the Pope was trying to bring him back to the Catholic Church, he sent a cardinal to deal with Luther and buy him with gold. The cardinal later wrote to the Pope, “The fool does not like gold.”
The cardinal, when he could not convince Luther, said to him, “What do you think the Pope cares for the opinion of a German boor? The Pope’s little finger is stronger than all Germany. Do you expect your princes to take up arms to defend you — you, a wretched worm like you? I tell you, No. And where will you be then?”
Luther’s reply was simple: “Where I am now. In the hands of the Almighty God.”
You know, the opinions of others really do affect how we live. Some people long for approval, some live to shock and offend. Either way, the thought is, What will other people think? And you know, some people never step out into the realm of courageous for fear of what others will say or think. Some worry so much about what others think of them that they have no time to worry about obedience. William Gurnall once said, “We fear men so much because we fear God so little.”
Today’s scripture passage from Romans 8 gives us a view of God’s opinion of believers. It’s meant to show us God’s perspective on the things we face, and on how others treat us. Let’s read v31-37.
V31 starts off by asking the first of many questions in this passage. “What, then, shall we say in response to this?” What is this? What needs to be responded to? Probably the whole chapter. Paul is saying, in light of what I have said over the last 30 verses, how are we to handle? What are we to do about it? Considering that there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, and Christ has made us free from the law of sin and death, and to live to please God brings life and peace, and if we walk in the spirit, the spirit of God dwells in us, and that spirit one day will bring life to our mortal bodies, just as Jesus was brought back to life, and we will rise to meet him in the air, and He has adopted us into his family, and He is making intercession for us according to the will of God, and all things work together for good to them that love him, and He called us, justified us, and He glorified us…considering all this, what is there left to say? It seems obvious, that God is on our side.
But what does that mean? What does it mean for God to be on our side? What does it mean that God is for us? Well, let’s continue on in the passage. V32 further elaborates on our conditions: v32. This situation that we find ourselves in, this great salvation that Hebrews calls it, is a salvation that anything opposed to us cannot win against. This great salvation shows that if God did not hesitate to give us His unspeakable gift, as 2 Corinthians calls it, then God will not deny us the smaller tokens of His love either. And it has so much to do with how God is with us, even when we face tough times.
Watch v33-36. The author Paul seems to present us with 3 questions that we wrestle with when we face opposition from others. The 1st question is in v33: “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?” Paul is asking, who can accuse us? Who can bring any allegation against us? The 2nd question is in v34: “Who is he that condemns?” That is, who has a right to rebuke us? Who can cast blame on us? Who has the right to sit around and criticize us? And the 3rd question Paul asks is in v35: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Who can tear us away from God’s love? Who can do anything to us that will make God love us less? What can happen to us that will disconnect us from God’s love for us? And in case you had any ideas, Paul lists some: “Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” Simply put, can any person do anything to us that will make us step out of God’s love for us?
Even though we know enough theology to know in our heads that God’s love is not stopped by hard times, we still wonder with our hearts if maybe it is. I mean, in difficulties, doesn’t it sometimes cross our minds that maybe God has stopped caring for us? That He’s forgotten us? That He’s angry with us and wants to punish us a little? When other people give us hard times, don’t we wonder if it’s from God too? How does it make you feel when other people scoff and persecute and mock and harass and torment and torture you? Do you ever feel like Robert Orben who said, “Sometimes I get the feeling the whole world is against me, but deep down I know that’s not true. Some of the smaller countries are neutral.”