by Mike Ratliff
22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” (Ezra 8:22 ESV)
Perhaps my case is unique, but I doubt it. The closer I get to being a slave for Christ, a living sacrifice, the more the things around me that make up my “comfort zones” become either obliterated, gone, or broken, or my sensory system which used to somehow find comfort in their make up loses the ability to do so. That could be the work of the anti-seizure meds I suppose, but I believe it is God’s hand in removing the idols from my heart; making me utterly dependent upon Him and Him alone for everything. In the past as I prepared to wrap my mind around God’s Word to write these posts I used to have little rituals of preparation that brought me much joy that no longer do that, but, instead, the very thought of them delivers a certain level of anxiety to my heart that is only assuaged as I prayerfully dig into the Word. It is as if there is a “Danger – Do Not Enter” sign over them. I have noticed that the tone of my writing has changed considerably as well as I have heeded that.
Either God is sovereign or He is not. If He is, and I believe He is, then I believe He also keeps He promises and protects those who are His. If we really believe this then it should be reflected in how we live and walk in this life when it comes to being known as Christians.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)
Paul tells us in this passage that all in Christ have been called according to His purpose and because of that, our circumstances will work together for good. In other words, we should not walk in fear of the things in this life. What freedom this is! Neither should we fear what evil things those who are attacking the Church and Kingdom of God are doing. God is still in control regardless of what they do.
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30 ESV)
God has our salvation completely planned out. There is no need to despair or be concerned about any of it if we are in Christ. I know some who believe they can sin and lose their salvation. They are in unbelief and what bondage that is! God did not intend for us to live that way. Look at these two verses. If we are in Christ, we are justified and our glorification awaits all because of His predestination of us.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 ESV)
Think about it. God is sovereign. I know there are some today who would actually have to think about this question, but the one who truly knows God. We have no adversary who can touch us without coming through God first.
32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32 ESV)
Christians are completely forgiven. God meets all their needs both physically and spiritually. He may not make us all rich in the world’s goods. He may not make us all super healthy in body. He may allow us to suffer diseases to keep us humble and usable as clay pots. However, our sins are forgiven and we have all we need in this life to both live and serve Him.
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:33,34 ESV)
The setting for vv33-34 is the divine courtroom. Those on trial are God’s elect. These are described in vv29-30 above. God has justified them so who can successfully accuse someone whom He has declared righteous? That is rhetorical, because the answer is obvious. There are four reasons the believer can never be found guilty. What are they? The first one is Christ’s death. The second one is His Resurrection. The third one is His exalted position. The fourth one is His continual intercession for them.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 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 8:35-39 ESV)
This list of experiences and persons that cannot separate Christians from God’s love in Christ was not just theory to Paul. He had hands-on knowledge. The love of Christ in v35 is His love for us demonstrated in our salvation. The tribulation and distress is probably common to most people in this life. However, the persecution is that suffering inflicted on us by others because of our relationship with Christ (Matthew 5:10-12). In any case, Paul quoted Psalm 44:22 from the Septuagint in v36 and in v37 used a Greek word that describes Christians conquering completely without any real threat to personal life or health. The angels mentioned in v38 are fallen angles or demons. The powers are referring to persons in positions of authority.
My brethren, our standing with God is secure. We may be clay in His hands right now, but when our sanctification is done, we will enter into His presence as completed vessels and I tell Him every day that I so want that day to be soon.
Soli Deo Gloria!