Who can separate us from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:31-39)
In chapter 8:1-27, what are the main ideas shared by Apostle Paul
Rom. 8:1-4 – No more condemnation through the Spirit of Life
Rom. 8:4-11 – Holy Spirit produces New Affections
Rom. 8:11-17 – Holy Spirit enables us to intimate fellowship with God; so that through the Holy Spirit we can have the freedom to call God as our Abba-Father.
Rom. 8:18-25 – Holy Spirit enables us to persevere in hope of ultimate Redemption
Rom. 8: 26-27 – Holy Spirit enables us to pray during times of deep sorrow and anguish
Rom. 8: 28-30 – Actually, it could be taken as a conclusion to chapter 8 and also to the entire section from Rom. 1-8. What does it say? In all things, even bad things, God is able to bring good for those who love and trust in Him and are called by Him to be conformed into the image of Lord Jesus Christ.
Today’s Message: Romans 8:31-39
v. 31: What shall we say to these things?
Which things? All of what has been said in the entire book of Romans.
Chapter 1-3: All have sinned and have come under God’s judgment, but there is Good news – The righteousness of God has been revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. In Rom. 3:21-22, the Scripture says this righteousness of God is available for every sinner who believes in Lord Jesus Christ and surrenders his/her life to Him. So, by trusting in Christ, a sinner receives God’s righteousness or in other words, he comes into a right standing with God.
Chapter 4: Taking the example of Abraham, the Scripture says that even in the Old Testament, a person came into right standing with God not on the basis of law but through trusting in God’s promise. Gen. 15:6
Chapter 5: Analogy of Two Adams – those who believe in Christ (the Second Adam) identify himself in his death and therefore, they are also made part of His resurrected life. Rom. 5:11, sinners who trust in Christ are reconciled with God because Christ took upon his Himself the wrath of God that was supposed to come over us because of our sins.
Chapter 6 – 8: New Life in Christ made possible through the Holy Spirit – who now lives inside those who have trusted in Christ.
This is the summary section from verses 31-39; Apostle Paul is asking what can we conclude if all this is true?
He is saying if all this (stated in chapters 1-8) have happened in the spiritual realm, then how does it make a difference in the lives of Christ-followers in this world?
Paul asks four different questions and in asking these four questions he highlights all the possible life circumstances that a human being might go through in this earthly life. These four questions are found in verses 31, 33, 34, and 35:
v. 31 – What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
v. 33 – Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
v. 34 – Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
v. 35 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
And for each of them, what is the expected answer? Nobody!
Let us look at what can we learn from them:
I. Verse 31 – If God is for us, who can be against us?
Paul assumes that God is for us! WHY can he be so certain?
Because, 2020 years ago, something took place in space-time history that forever changed the history of the universe, when God sent His only begotten to die for the sins of the whole world. Because of which now there is no condemnation on those who are united with Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).
-Here, Paul is arguing from greater to lesser. If God did not spare His only begotten Son, but gave Him up to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins, then we can be assured that God will also take care of us in all our present difficulties.
II. Verse 33 – Who will accuse God’s chosen people?
If you remember the story of Job, you will also remember that the Devil comes to God and accuses Job that he worships God because he has been abundantly blessed by God. In Job 1:9-11, we read
9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.
10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.
11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
-He is so much into the business of accusing that in the book of revelation, he is referred to as the accuser of the Brethren. In Revelation, chapter 12, verse 10, it is written,
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
So, what has been one of his main works? He goes before the throne of Almighty God and puts accusations on those who have surrendered their lives to follow Christ. However, all of Satan’s accusations are cancelled by God. On what basis?
Rom. 8:34 tells us that Lord Jesus Christ pleads (for us) with God. And when Satan brings accusations against us, Christ says, “I have paid for all their sins through my death 2020 years ago.” As a result, God the Father declares all those who have united them in the death of Christ to be not-guilty anymore! And God’s Word is final!!
So, what can we say then? “I am not guilty anymore, because Christ has taken the punishment of all my sins when he died on the cross!”
- When we read Heb. 4:14-16, we understand more about the current ministry of Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of those who have united themselves with Him. As our great High Priest, he not only intercedes on our behalf the Father, but He also sympathizes with us and through Him, we continue to receive God’s mercy and grace.
III. Verse 34 – Who then will condemn them?
Verses 33 and 34, both talk about accusation and condemning. Is Paul repeating the same idea, as in verse 33? I believe in verse 34, Apostle Paul is referring to humans, who also have a tendency (like Satan) to accuse and condemn people.
Remember that Apostle Paul was also opposed and condemned? Let us read, 2 Cor. 10:10 – Here Paul’s opponents were condemning him by saying that he is not a genuine person – there is difference between his writings and between his actual presence.
Likewise, in 2 Cor. 1:15f, Paul responded to those, who were condemning him for not being led by the Holy Spirit because of the fact that he had to change his travel plans while he was planning his travel to Corinth.
It is important to notice that when condemnation comes from those who oppose Christ, then it is understood and bearable. But when accusations come from people who call themselves as Christ-followers, then it causes greater hurt.
Nevertheless, irrespective of the source from where condemning words come, the Word says that Christ-followers are not under any condemnation, and v. 34 says, Christ Jesus declared them no more condemned!
[Very Important Note: It does not however mean that Christ-followers can do whatever pleases them, because they are no longer under condemnation. Let us remember what Apostle Paul has already stated about Christ followers in previous sections:
Rom. 6 – we have been buried with Christ and so that life of Christ might be in us.
Rom. 8:14 – those who are led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God and verse 8, those who are led by sinful nature, cannot please God.]
IV. Verse 35 – Who or what can separate us from the love of Christ?
Here in this question, Paul is referring to all the possible circumstances that you and I may possibly face in life – trouble, hardship, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger and even death.
And as for the previous three questions, the answer for this is also none of these life-threatening situations are powerful enough to separate us from the love of Christ.
Not only these life circumstances, but Paul goes on to say that “nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate” Christ-followers from the powerful grip of God’s love over them.
That is why, we can face all situations, including the current pandemic of Covid-19 without fear, because we know whom we have believed – He is no one else, other than the Creator of the whole universe – and He has taken hold of us and Nothing can now separate us from His love and powerful presence.
Dr Vikas Ram is a Researcher based in Bangalore.
Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash