by Mike Ratliff
22 For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, “The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him.” Ezra 8:22 (NASB)
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. 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. Of course, this is a work in progress. 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 God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NASB)
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 become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Romans 8:29-30 (NASB)
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 is against us? Romans 8:31 (NASB)
Think about it. God is sovereign. I know there are some today who would actually have to think about this question, but not those who truly know God. We have no adversary who can touch us without coming through God first.
32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Romans 8:32 (NASB)
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 will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Romans 8:33-34 (NASB)
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 will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
WE were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 (NASB)
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 using 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!