The First Sunday in Lent February 25, 2007
15, 159, 528(1-3,13-15), 394
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 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? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 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. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In Christ Jesus who has made us more than conquerors, dear fellow-redeemed:
The city of Jericho was large and strong and a wall of defense surrounded the entire city. God told Joshua and Israel’s men of war to march around the city once a day for six days. On the seventh day they were to march around Jericho seven times. God said that on the seventh time around the city the priests were to blow their trumpets. Then all the people were to shout with a great shout and the wall of the city would fall down flat. Joshua and the Israelites did what God said, the walls of Jericho fell down flat, and Israel destroyed the city.
After the victory at Jericho, Joshua sent spies out into the surrounding area. The men came back and told Joshua that the nearby city of Ai was small and the people of Ai were few. Joshua sent 3000 men to conquer Ai but they lost the battle and 36 Israelites were killed. At Jericho, marching, trumpet blowing, and shouting brought down the walls and the victory was easily won. In the second battle a small town defeated Israel. What was the difference?
God had commanded Israel that they were not to keep anything for themselves from Jericho. But a man named Achan kept some clothing and some money. For this reason God did not go with Israel in the second battle and they lost. When God was on their side, Israel won.
In the many and different “battles” which we fight in our lives there is one thing that is sure: When God is on our side we have nothing to fear. The Roman Christians to whom Paul wrote had their battles and difficulties too even though the mass persecutions by the Roman government had not yet begun. Paul assured the Romans that GOD IS ON YOUR SIDE I. With His love II. With His Defense and II. With His Victory.
Paul concludes a section of his letter to the Romans by asking: “What then shall we say to these things?” Paul’s exciting answer is: “If God is for us who can be against us?” [v.31] If Paul could make that kind of a conclusion based on what he had just written, he must have been speaking about something very special indeed…and he was.
Paul had been speaking about our salvation itself. Chapter 8 of Romans begins, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). From that beginning, Paul goes on to say that we are now the children of God and because we are children we are heirs and will inherit eternal life. Then just before the words we are considering, Paul wrote: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined, to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30).
God’s will is that sinners be saved from their sin and be made heirs of eternal life. This salvation doesn’t happen coincidence. It is God’s purpose to save sinners and He controls all things for that purpose. From beginning to end, your salvation is the work of God. From eternity God knew you and predestined you so that you might be His child and be as Paul says, “conformed to the image of His Son.” God also called you through the words of the Gospel. In His Word He proclaims to you that Jesus has freed you from the condemnation of your sin. Those whom God has brought to Himself are already glorified because their eternal glory is guaranteed. God alone is responsible for our salvation. Step by step He alone is working all things according to His purpose, namely your salvation.
God has done all of this for us. He is working on our side. We who have sinned against God have every reason to be excited to find out that He has done all of this for our forgiveness and salvation. It is an amazing thing! What could possibly have moved the almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, to do this for creatures who have done nothing but sin against Him? There was nothing in us to convince God that He should save us. God wasn’t bound by some law to provide salvation. Since there is no possible way that we could repay God for this salvation, He didn’t do it for that reason either.
There can only be one explanation for why God is on your side and only one explanation for what He has done: God’s love for you. It is an amazing love because it is a love for us which is totally undeserved. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It is an eternal love with which God loves you, from eternity God foreknew you and worked all things for His purpose of bringing you to Himself. “The Lord has appeared of old to me saying, ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you’” (Jeremiah 31:3).
“What then shall we say to these things? If God be for us who can be against us? 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.?” [v.31-31] God’s love for lost sinners was so great that He sacrificed His own Son, Jesus, in order to save us from our sin. God saw our hopeless condition and sent Jesus to suffer and die on the cross so that His innocent blood could be shed in place of our guilty blood. God did not spare His Son Jesus from suffering the agonies of Hell so that He could spare us from suffering those agonies. The more we consider all that God has done for our salvation with no merit of our own, we see how great His love for us must be.
If God is on our side and not only provided salvation for us through His Son but also brings us into that salvation, is there any reason we should doubt that God with His love will be on our side in everything? No. God is on Your side for all your needs. He gives you every spiritual blessing and every material blessing. God richly provides for every need and is on your side with His love.
Satan tempted Eve by leading her to doubt God. “Did God really say that you should not eat…” (Genesis 3:1). Satan still uses the same kind of temptation to cast doubts in our minds about our salvation. “Did God really say that your sins are all forgiven. Look at your life! You sin many times every day. Do you expect God to forgive all of your sins? Do you really think that just because you believe that a man named Jesus was holy and was crucified for your sins that they are all gone and that God punished Him instead you? Do you really believe that God could love you that much?” Satan loves to remind us of our many sins. He would love to drive us to despair over our sins and convince us that they are too great to be forgiven even by a gracious God.
The Devil wants to charge us with sin but God is on our side with His defense. “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 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.” [v.33-34]
Every one of our sins is against God. We commit sin against one another too but those are sins against God as well. King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband Uriah. David sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah. Because he was the king and leader of Israel, David also sinned against the nation by his sinful example. Yet, in Psalm 51, David confesses to God: “Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight” (51:4).
When we sin it is God’s law that we break, God is the One who has the right to press charges and He is also the judge. God cannot simply forget our sin. Payment must be made. God Himself, against whom we sin and who is our judge, declares that we are free from sin through Christ. God Himself declares that we are righteous in His eyes. With God’s declaration of righteousness through Christ, not Satan nor anyone else can condemn us. God has said, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
If God is for us, who can be against us? If God declares us free from sin, who can condemn us? In addition, we have someone pleading our case for us. Jesus Christ who died for our sins, who rose from the dead to defeat death, and who now rules over heaven and earth pleads our cause before God. He is our defense lawyer. We often find ourselves sinning. We do what we don’t want to do and what we want to do we don’t do. When we sin we can go to our Father in heaven and ask for His forgiveness because Christ paid for our sins, and Jesus Himself also pleads on our behalf. Jesus can say, “Yes he sinned, but I have taken that sin upon myself and given them my holiness. See they are clothed in my righteousness.” John wrote, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1 John 2:1).
When Satan does tempt us with doubts about our salvation, what then? No matter what temptation the Devil may use, the only true defense we have is the defense which God gives us. That defense is His Word. When Jesus was tempted by the Devil He defeated the him with God’s Word. When we cling to the salvation which we have in Jesus, we need never doubt whether our sins are forgiven. Tightly hold onto God’s Word and promise. Build your confidence on it. God gives you the complete, never changing, never wavering assurance, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
God Himself declares you righteous. Jesus who gives you that righteousness intercedes for you. Who can condemn you?
God is on your side with His victory and that victory is sure. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?” [v.35]
Each one of the things which Paul mentions can be found in this life and is not pleasant. Can such misery and harm rob us of the joy that is ours? Can we be robbed of God’s tremendous love?
The tribulation of which Paul speaks can be pictured as a vise clamping down and squeezing with pressure. The pressure of a society which does not love your Lord pushes you from all sides. Paul asks, “Can distress separate us?” Do you ever feel trapped in a world of unbelief with the sides closing in making your space ever smaller? Material possessions may be lost, life itself may be forfeited, but can that separated us from the love of Christ? Do any of these things change our salvation? No. Do any of these things change what Christ has done for us? No. Do any of these things, no matter how harsh and fierce they may be, rob us of our Lord? No. “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” [v.37].
Any earthly victory lasts only until the next defeat. We are more than conquerors because we are complete conquerors and the victory is forever. Jesus has made us children of God so that we will inherit eternal life. What does it matter then what may happen on this earth? Jesus told His disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
No matter what the source may be for frustrations and difficulties, they need not overtake you. Nothing can change what Christ has done for you. He has made you more than conquerors. Whenever something brings you down, listen to what Paul said: “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities (rulers, authorities), nor powers nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [v.38-39]
There is nothing to fear. Neither death nor life can separate us from our Lord. If we live, we live to the Lord and to His glory. If we die, it is the doorway to eternal life. Nothing in this life can stand in the way.
One of the names of Jesus which God gives to us in His Word is Immanuel which means, “God with us.” As you go along your way, you have Jesus, the Son of God and your Savior, with you. If God be for us who can be against us? Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.