Living Word Christian Magazine

Free Bible Study Magazine

Romans 8 v 31–39 The Victory of Righteousness

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(c) Joseph Sedmak

In his letter to the Roman church, Paul has considered how the righteousness of God is revealed in our salvation. God’s righteousness is: required, revealed, reckoned, received and recognized. Paul has traced man’s experience from guilt through grace to glory, ending with verses 29–30 where we found that from God’s viewpoint the glorification of every child of God has been completed. This is a truly breath-taking statement, and the verses Paul goes on to pen in Romans 8:31–39 have been described as among the most beautiful in the Bible, but that beauty is as practical as it is poetic. By using a series of questions and answers, Paul shows how Christ’s salvation silences every voice which opposes believers.

 

The Voice of Opposition

V31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Righteousness is revealed by the reality of God’s love.

V32. He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

God’s love was revealed by the sacrifice of His Son—he did not spare him. We know the story of Abraham, where God told him to offer his Son Isaac as a sacrifice. We read of Abraham gathering the wood to burn the offering, binding Isaac with rope, laying him on the wood and then lifting the knife to kill his son in sacrifice. Then God calls to him from heaven: ‘Abraham, Abraham, do not lay a hand on the boy. Now I know that you fear God, for you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.’ Do you think that having offered his son to God in this way, Abraham would have held back anything else from God? And could God go so far as to give us his only Son and after that refuse to with him freely give us all things?

God’s love is revealed in the sufficiency of God’s son. By giving His Son, God gave all things, or literally the all things. All that Paul has spoken of as being ours in Christ through this epistle—a right relationship with God by which we call him father, the peace of acceptance with God, the love and joy this relationship brings and any other blessing we could name are all ours when we take Christ.

John Phillips tells a story of a Roman centurion who had a rebellious son, and a faithful servant. As the time approached for the old soldier to die, he wrote his will. Calling his son to him he said, ‘Son, I’ve disinherited you and left everything to Marcellus. But you are my son, so before I die I want to make sure that you have just one thing from among my possessions. You can take whatever you want. What will it be?’ ‘I’ll take Marcellus’ replied the boy, for in taking Marcellus, he was taking all things.

To receive Christ is to receive all things. Christ’s sacrifice & sufficiency silences the voice of opposition.

The Voice of Accusation

V33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Righteousness is reckoned by the eternity of God’s love.

Believers are referred to as ‘God’s elect’. Paul has already explained the foreknowledge of God, and that our election is not ascribed to ourselves but God. We look back to God’s choice of us and forward to the fulfilment of that choice, for it is God who justifies.

In Zechariah 3 we read of Joshua the high priest, standing in God’s presence with Satan stood vehemently accusing him. The Lord clothes Joshua with clean garments and says “THE LORD rebuke you Satan.” Satan the accuser of the brethren is silenced by the Lord Jesus our advocate. The vision illustrates what justification means. When we trust Jesus we are clothed with His righteousness – not the result of our good works, but the gift of Christ who died and rose again to make it available for each one of us.

In this way God’s justification silences every voice of accusation.

The Voice of Condemnation

V34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Righteousness is received by the activity of God’s love. God’s love is not only real and eternal but active. God’s love was demonstrated as he brought His plan of salvation into action. Here God’s salvation is shown in its four-fold aspect:

Christ our sin bearer – Christ died for our sins. So that we could have peace with God, Christ satisfied all the demands the law, both by keeping it perfectly and taking its punishment. No wonder the cross was central to Paul’s life and message. In Corinth he said: I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 1 Cor 2:2

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Cor 1:18

We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness 1Cor 1:23

In Galatians he cries God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ Gal 6:14

Christ our Saviour – by raising Jesus from the dead, God confirmed that his death is sufficient to atone for our sins. Christ was raised again for our justification (Rom 4:25) that we might receive everlasting life.

Christ our Sovereign – Christ is not in the tomb, but sat at the right hand of God. All the priests in the OT are spoken of as ‘standing’ to minister, for their job is never over. The fire was always kept burning on Jewish altars, reminding us that animal sacrifices can never take away sins. A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out. Lev 6:13 That is no doubt why Proverbs says There are three things that are never satisfied, Four never say, “Enough!” The grave, The barren womb, The earth that is not satisfied with water—And the fire never says, “Enough!” (Prov 30:15–16). The fire of God’s judgment could never be satisfied by the blood of bulls and goats. This is a great theme of Hebrews. It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins (Heb 10:4).

But Christ by his death on the cross has consumed the fire of God’s wrath once and for all crying “It is finished” – and he sat down in heaven. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, (Heb 10:11-12).

In the OT no one was allowed to be both priest and king. Priests came from the tribe of Levi and the kings from Judah. But the writer to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus is made a high priest forever “after the order of Melchizadec” (Heb 6:20). He goes on to explain that Melchizadec was at the same time priest of God and King of Salem (Heb 7:1–2). So now we see Christ our great high priest, sat down on the throne of God, our exalted King forever.

Christ our Succourer – Though Christ’s work as sin bearer has been completed once and for all, He continues His Office of High Priest, for not only does our High Priest make atonement for us, he makes intercession for us. This is an important theme in the NT. Not only did Christ die, he lives that he might intercede for us in the presence of God. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: (Heb 9:24). Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Heb 7:25).

In the OT the high priest bore two precious stones on his shoulders and a breastplate on his chest. Both of these were symbolic of him upholding the nation of Israel before God. They were to be a memorial before God (Exod 28:12, 29). As Christ appears in God’s presence he upholds all his people by his prayers. He is able to succour – that is help, support and relieve those who are suffering temptation and trial. Christ is our compassionate High Priest As Matthew Henry says, “The remembrance of his own sorrows and temptations makes him mindful of the trials of his people, and ready to help them.”

Paul has already written about an intercessor on earth – the Holy Spirit who intercedes in and for us – so we also have an intercessor in heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ who feels for us in our infirmities. His intercession brings us strength for every circumstance of life. The crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and intercession of Christ brings us tremendous security, which is why Paul ends by dealing with:

The Voice of Separation

V35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Righteousness is realized by the security of God’s love. Paul takes a string of enemies both physical and spiritual and he parades them all before us to show that nothing can ever separate us from Christ’s love. Let’s deal with them one at a time:

Extremes of Condition

Tribulation

There are a host of afflictions which are common to God’s people in every age. Many are the afflictions of the righteous. Illnesses, joblessness, accidents and problems would be just the start of a huge list. But none of these things can separate us from the love of Christ.

Distress

The word means to be in a narrow position – in straights or dilemmas. There are times when we just don’t know what to do. In such times our distress cannot separate us from the love of Christ

Persecution

Throughout the church age believers have been persecuted by men’s tongues and by men’s swords.

Jesus said “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”   John 15:20

But persecution cannot separate us from the love of Christ

Famine

Christians are among those who are experiencing famine in many countries today. They are not immune. Paul himself had this experience when he said I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13

Paul had found that famine cannot separate us from the love of Christ.

Nakedness

Christians are not immune to poverty. Many in the early church had to run to deserts and hide in caves from their persecutors. They were no strangers to nakedness. Paul recounts his experience “ in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness- 2 Cor 11:27 But, says Paul, it can’t separate us from the love of Christ.

Perils

Paul had abundant experience of perils. He says “I was in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;” 2 Cor 11:26

Sword

The night Jesus was betrayed was perhaps the first time a sword had been held up to him. Since then many saints have been put to the sword, including James the brother of John. Pictures from countries such as Indonesia show modern day examples of Christians publicly beheaded by the Islamic militia and their heads carried around on poles. Even today God’s people are like sheep driven to slaughter.

As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” But in all these things we are “more than conquerors”.

This Greek word has no simple translation in English. It literally means Hyper/super conquerors. We are already on the winning side, we are over all and above all for Christ has won the victory for us. Stephen Olford says, “This is an entirely new order of victory, every attack is a means by which I show them who’s the winner!”

Extremes of Spiritual Powers

Angels

If Paul means bad angels then we recall that Lucifer was hurled from heaven to earth and that Christ has given us power to trample on the works of the enemy. No evil angel can separate us from the love of Christ. If he means good angels, if it were possible at some future time that these would rebel and oppose our favored position in heaven, they shall never be able to separate us from the love of Christ.

Principalities

These are the spirits of high rank mentioned in Eph 6. With all their wiles and force of darkness they cannot separate us from the love of Christ.

Powers

These wicked sinister powers are responsible for the witchcraft, Spiritism, idolatry and Satan worship in the world today, something which is made more popular by such films as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. These things are real and powerful, but mighty as they are cannot separate me from the Love of Christ.

More Extremes of State

Death
Death has been called the King of Terrors. Man is instinctively afraid of death and rightly so, for “it is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment”. Only those who are in Christ need have no fear of death, for nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Life
Life can be more dangerous than death. Many things can happen in life. Men are filled with tremendous anxiety about what life may bring. There are thousands of conditions we may find ourselves in life but none of these can ever separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Extremes of Time & Space
Neither present no future – the past is already dealt with. But nothing now or in the future. No height nor depth. Consider how vast the universe is. Christ has filled all these things. He descended to the depths of hell before rising triumphantly to the highest place in heaven. Nothing in the heavens can separate me from Christ’s love.

The breadth length depth and height of the love of God were revealed at the cross and Jesus death is enough to send me clean into his very presence.

In case he’s left anything out, Paul concludes with the words “nor any other created thing,” This eternal security is as resounding as it is reassuring.

God has included you in the reality, eternity and activity of his love, and he gives you an opportunity to be secure forever in his love which nothing can separate us from. This security will be yours as you receive the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, for in receiving him, you receive all things.

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