Craig Smith - Seven Critical Questions
Hey, welcome to Mission Hills. So good to have you here today. We’re wrapping up our series, “Fresh Wind.” The last several weeks we’ve been kind of leaning into a truth that’s at the very heart of Christianity but somehow seems to get pushed off to the edges way too often. And it’s basically…this is the way we said it, it’s that following Jesus isn’t about rowing hard. It’s not about trying harder. It’s actually about raising sails to catch the fresh wind of God’s Spirit.
So when we say yes to Jesus, Jesus gives us two things. Number one, he gives us forgiveness. He forgives all the ways we haven’t been righteous. The second thing he gives us, he gives us his Holy Spirit, who’s the power of God, to actually make us become what trying hard never really could. He actually begins to change me inside out, so we actually become righteous. We become the people that God’s laws point us towards. So we said it last week, Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit so that we could be everything that the rules tell us we should be.
The rules tell us how God intended us to live, what kind of people we should be if we’re really righteous. But we can’t get there by trying hard. But Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit so we could actually make progress in becoming those kinds of people. The kinds of peoples we saw last week that are, to use God’s Word, glorious. The kinds of people that if we saw ourselves now, if you could see yourself as the man or the woman that you will become, you wouldn’t believe that could possibly be you. But God is in the process of transforming you into that by the power of his Holy Spirit.
Now, for the last number of weeks, we’ve covered a lot of ground. What we’re gonna see today as Paul wraps up Chapter 8 in the Book of Romans is that he kind of brings everything together in…well, it’s really kind of boils it down to one clear idea. One very simple idea, but as is often the case, it’s also a slippery idea. It’s an idea that’s a little hard to believe could actually be true. And I’m kind of excited to share it with you, so why don’t you go and grab a Bible. Start making your way to the Book of Romans. We’re gonna be Romans Chapter 8, starting in verse 31 today.
And what Paul is gonna do here as he kind of brings everything to conclusion. From this chapter he’s gonna ask us seven critical questions. There’s seven different questions he asks. And his understanding is that we’ll actually know how to answer these questions because of what we’ve seen throughout the Book. And here’s what he says, this is Romans 8:31, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things?” What should we say in response to these things?
And of course, the first question we’re gonna ask is, well, what are these things? And the answer is, this is all the truth that we’ve seen in Romans 8 throughout the series. It’s the truth that “There’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That if you said yes to Jesus, God no longer has any condemnation for you. It’s the truth that the righteous requirements of the Law have been met not by us, but in us, by faith in what Jesus has done for us. Because of what Jesus did, all the requirements of righteousness have been met for us, just not by us. It’s the truth that we’re adopted as God’s sons and daughters, we’re no longer slaves to sin, we’re sons and daughters of God.
It’s the truth that the Holy Spirit brings resurrection power into all the areas of our lives where there are dry bones, he brings new life. It’s the truth that the Holy Spirit speaks of God’s affection for us, not just that God loves us, but that he actually likes us as his children. The Spirit gives us hope when we’re waiting, and the Spirit gives us strength when we’re weak.
And throughout all of this, the Holy Spirit is moving us forward in becoming everything that God designed us to be, as we saw last week, that we would become like Jesus. That we would be conformed to the image of his Son. That we would become, well, brothers and sisters, that Jesus would be the firstborn of many brothers and sisters. We saw that last week, that we would become glorious.
All the truths that Paul has been unpacking in this chapter, he now asked the question, “Okay, so what do we say in response to that?” Like, what does that mean? If you boil it all down, what does this say? And his answer is essentially it says that God is for us. Says that God is for us, so maybe let’s make that a little bit more personal. Did you know that God is for you?
God, your Creator, the King of the universe, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, God is for you. He’s on your side, he’s in your corner, he’s got your back. He’s longing to see you succeed. He’s not actually looking for you to fail. He’s not waiting for an opportunity to condemn you because you didn’t quite measure up. He’s actually for you. He’s not just watching and waiting. He’s waiting in and doing for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. God is for you.
And then I realized that might be a slippery truth. It might be something that’s a little hard to believe. And maybe that’s because you grew up in a church, or you grew up in a home that showed you a God that, honestly, he was more like a stern judge than he was a loving Father. Or maybe, honestly, maybe you didn’t grow up in church, maybe what you heard about God, you only heard from other Christians who were condemning you, and who were judging you for your sin. And it felt like God wasn’t for you, it felt like God must be against you because they were against you. And if that’s your experience, it may be very hard to grab hold of this idea that God is for you.
But that’s the essence of what Paul has been saying throughout this chapter. And it’s the essence of how he wants us to answer the question, what shall we say? If God’s done all these things, why has he done it? And the answer is because God is for you. And I know that because he goes to the next question, he says this, he says, “If God is for us…” I mean, that’s how you’re supposed to answer the first question. “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
And you understand what he’s saying is if God’s on your team, guess what? You’re on the right team. If God’s on your team, your team wins, like, you know that, right? Like, if God’s on your team, if God’s on your side, there’s no question what the outcome of this whole thing is gonna be. God’s going to succeed. If God is for us, who can possibly be against us, right? Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have people that are against us, doesn’t mean we don’t have things that are against us. We all do. We do have enemies, right? Other people can be against us. You might have people in your life who are not followers of Jesus, and as a follower of Jesus, you may feel the tension there, you may feel conflict there, they may be against you.
And I wish it was just people who aren’t followers of Jesus, the truth of matter is, other followers of Jesus might be against you. Unfortunately, as Christians, we often draw these little circles, we’re like, “Well, I’m this kind of follower of Jesus, you’re that kind of follower of Jesus.” And pretty soon as we draw these smaller circles, we begin to go, “I’m not really sure you are a follower of Jesus because you’re not in here, you’re not checking off the boxes, you’re not exactly like me.” And so sometimes there’s friendly fire within Christianity.
We end up spending so much time kind of fighting with each other over things, the little things that divide us, that we don’t pay nearly enough attention to the big things that unite us as followers of Jesus. But you may have that experience, that even other followers of Jesus are against you in some way. And governments might be against you.
We’ve got a global partner in India right now that that particular state in India where he serves, they’ve made it illegal to share their faith in Jesus with anybody. So governments might be against you. We have spiritual forces of evil that are against you. There is a devil, there are demonic spirits, they are enemies of ours. So it’s not that Paul is saying we don’t have any enemies. What he’s saying is we have no enemy with any hope of victory, you understand that?
He’s not saying, you know, you’re not gonna face difficulty, you’re not gonna face adversaries, or you’re not gonna have an enemy. He’s saying no, you’re gonna have those, but none of them have any hope of victory. None of them can win. None of them can keep you from becoming everything that God designed you to be. No one can stop the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. You have no enemy with any hope of victory.
It’s a little bit like there’s a commercial out there right now that there’s a couple kids on a basketball court, and they’re picking teams for a game. And NBA legend Charles Barkley is in the lineup. And he’s, like, three times taller than any other child there. And the first girl picks, she’s like “I’m gonna take him.” And everybody else is like, “We should just go home,” right, because if Charles Barkley is on your team, your team’s gonna win, right?
So Paul is saying if God’s on your side, nobody can actually have any victory. Except that it’s actually better than that because Charles Barkley could, like, step on a child and, like, twist an ankle or something and be out for the game. That’s never gonna happen with Jesus. Nothing is ever gonna take Jesus out of the battle. Nothing is ever going to make it so that Jesus can’t win. It’s just never gonna happen. So we have no enemy with any hope of victory.
Paul asks the third question. He says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for all of us, how will he not also, along with him,” along with Jesus, “graciously give us all things?” Understand the point of the question is, hey, if God hasn’t refused to give us his only Son, what exactly would God refuse to give us? If God has been willing to give us that incredible gift, at what point would you expect God to go, “No, that’s just too much?” And it’s just there’s no such thing, it doesn’t make any sense. I mean, if somebody writes you a check for $100 million and you come back and go, I need a $100 loan, it’s not gonna be like, “Sorry, I’m tapped out.” No, if someone is willing to go to that length for you, then there’s really no length that they’re not willing to go for you. That his point.
Now, I do wanna say, though, this because it’s important. What Paul is saying is essentially that God’s grace has no limits, okay. God’s grace has no limits. You’re not gonna run out of forgiveness. You’re not gonna run out of strength. You’re not gonna have to go back to your Father for anything that you need, and have him go, “No, you’re just asking too much now.” It’s just never gonna happen. God’s grace has no limits.
But we do often find ourselves in positions where we lack things, don’t we? Where we don’t feel like we have all things. And in fact, I’ve heard people use this verse, they’ve twisted this verse to say, “Well, it says that God will give us all things, so if you don’t have all things, it’s your fault. You don’t have enough faith, you’re not praying hard enough, you’re not believing enough, or something like that. Because it says right there in black and white, it says, ‘He’ll give you all things,’ so you should have plenty. And if you have anything less than plenty, then there’s something wrong with you because God made this promise.” And that’s a twisting of what God’s saying here, okay.
The reality is, as followers of Jesus, we will often find ourselves in positions where we don’t have something. I’ve been there and probably you have, too. There have been times in my life where I wasn’t really sure how I was gonna put food on the table. There have been times in my life that I didn’t know where the next mortgage or the rent check was coming from. There have been people in my life who didn’t experience the healing that I was praying for and longing for. We’ve probably all had those experiences. You can go through your own list.
And sometimes what happens is we read a verse like this, and we begin to go, “Well, I don’t understand. If this says that God will graciously give me all things, then why don’t I have these things?” And what we need to understand is that this isn’t a promise that God will give us everything that we want. This isn’t a promise that God will give us everything that we wish we had. This isn’t even a promise that God will give us everything that we think we need from our limited perspective. What this is, is it’s a promise that God’s purpose will be accomplished. He will give us everything necessary to accomplish his purpose in our lives.
In other words, this isn’t a promise of plenty. This is a promise of purpose. It’s not a promise of plenty. It’s a promise of purpose. It’s a promise that God’s purpose in your life will be accomplished. What’s that purpose? That we would be glorious, his Word, we saw it last week. That we will be conformed to the image of his Son, that we will become like Jesus. That Jesus would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters, that’s you. That we would actually become men and women that God longs to see us become. It’s gonna happen, he says.
We’re gonna become those people that if we could see ourselves now, we’d go, “There’s no way that could ever be true of me.” But he says it will happen. God will never withhold anything that’s necessary for us to become those people that he designed us to be. There’s nothing that God will hold back that’s necessary for us to experience his purpose in our lives. It’s not a promise of plenty. It’s a promise of purpose.
He says, “Who, then, is the one who…” I’m sorry, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It’s God who justifies.” Says, “Who will bring any charge against those that God has chosen? It’s God who’s justified.” And justified is really another word for forgiveness. The point is, God’s forgiven our sins. So if God’s forgiven our sins, who else is gonna come back and say, “No, no, no. You’re still under condemnation for your sin. You’re still guilty, you’re still a sinner, you’re still not worthy.” If God has forgiven us, who’s gonna do that? His point, basically, is that we’ve been cleared of all charges at the highest possible level. If God has done it, there’s no one else to bring them up again.
I mean, imagine that I didn’t pay my taxes, and so the town of Castle Rock, where I live, they came, and they said, “Hey, you didn’t pay your taxes.” And I go, “Yeah, I don’t have the money.” And they’re like, “Okay, well, you know what, we’re gonna forgive your tax debt.” Awesome. It’s great that Castle Rock did that, but Douglas County could still come at me and go, “Yeah, that’s great that they did that, but you still owe us.” And Douglas County might forgive it, but the State of Colorado could still come and say, “Yeah, that’s great that they did it, but we’re a higher level, and we’re saying you gotta pay up.” And even if the State of Colorado forgave it, the IRS, who is not known for mercy and grace, right, the IRS could go, “Yeah, it’s great that they did that, but you still owe, we’re at a higher level.”
And his point, though, is that when God has forgiven, there’s no one higher to do the accusation again. There’s no one higher to bring in the charges again. The charges have been cleared at the highest possible level. And so there is no one to bring a charge against us and say that we’re not God’s sons or daughters, that we’re not forgiven, that we’re not free. And then he asked this question, he says, “Who, then, is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus, who died, more than that, who was raised to life, is that the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
Jesus is for us. Jesus is standing before the Father for us. And so who’s gonna bring a charge against us? If Jesus who died and then rose to life is acting on our behalf, then who’s going to possibly condemn us? And he’s kind of answering or asking and answering the same question he just asked. You know, who’s gonna bring a charge? No one. Well, who’s gonna condemn? It’s no one. But he’s explaining why it is that there’s never gonna be another charge against us. And how we know that we can be free, that we don’t have to worry about that charge.
He says we know that there’s not gonna be another charge against us because Jesus died for us. In other words, God didn’t just drop the charges, he paid the price. God didn’t just drop the charges, he didn’t just go, “Yeah, let’s just pretend like you never sinned.” Because that wouldn’t be just, because we did. We are sinners. We’ve all sinned. We’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. We have not met the requirements of righteousness by our own behavior. We’re not capable of doing it. We’ve actually done wrong things, and the Bible is very clear that there’s a wage to sin, it’s death. But Jesus died for us. He paid our debt with his death.
And because of that, it’s not like we have to worry that, you know, it didn’t take or it doesn’t count. No, Jesus paid the price. The debt has been canceled; the account has been closed. And we know that because he didn’t just die, he rose from the dead, right? And that’s so important, right? Because if Jesus was on the cross, and even if he said, as he was hanging on the cross between the two thieves, if he said, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing,” we could look at that and go, “I think that means I’m forgiven. I think that means Jesus’ death paid my debt. I think that I’m free from condemnation. I think that’s true.” And it might have been true, but there’d be no way to know if it was true if Jesus had stayed dead.
See, it was Jesus rising from the dead that proved that he actually purchased our forgiveness. It is his rising from the dead that proved that death no longer had power over him. And of course, death is kind of a lapdog of sin. Sin has a price. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.” But if death no longer has any power, then it means that sin itself has lost its hold. So the resurrection of Jesus is the proof that this has actually happened, that he’s canceled this debt, that we are truly free.
So Paul says, “Stop worrying.” You might condemn yourself, you might hold shame, and guilt, and condemnation over your own head, and other people might do that. But as far as God’s concerned, it’s just not true of you anymore. And you don’t have to worry that it’s ever gonna come back again to haunt you. No, it’s forgiven, you’re free. I love the way Jesus himself said it. Jesus said, John 8:36, he said, “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” He’s the only one who can do that, but he has done that, so you’re free.
He says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Who is capable of getting in between you and Jesus and separating you from the hold that Jesus has on you because of his love? And the answer is no one. “Who shall separate us from love of Christ,?” No one can separate us from Jesus, no one. Can’t be done. And he leans in a little harder. He says, “Shall trouble, or hardship, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake, we face death all day long, we are considered a sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
And he’s asking a very similar question to the last one. And the last one was, you know, who can separate us? And it was a who question, who can do it? And the answer is no one, no one, there’s nobody. There’s no person, there’s no government, there’s no devil, there’s no demon. No who can separate you from Jesus. And now he goes into kind of the other category, which is the what category. Because you might be going, “Okay, I know that none of them can do that, but what about these things?”
And he goes through a list of things to say, hey, there’s no thing that can do it either. I mean, really, what he says is no one can separate from Jesus, and no thing can separate us from Jesus. Which, I don’t want to get too complex here, but I think if he said no one can do it, and no thing can do it, that’s all the things, right? Like, there’s nothing that you might think, “Well, what about…” that doesn’t fit into one of those categories. It’s either a one or a thing. And he says there’s no one, there’s no thing, which means that nothing you can come up with.
And we come up with stuff all the time. We’re like, “Well, hey, but, Paul, well, did you think about maybe this could?” He’s like, “No.” “Well, but what about that?” “No.” “Well, did you think about this one thing that…?” “No.” No one, no thing, nothing can separate us from Jesus. It’s just not gonna happen.
Now, it’s interesting the list that he chooses to use to illustrate that idea. He uses interesting list of things, trouble, and hardship, and persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword. And the reason he’s chosen those things is because those are things that the followers of Jesus in the first century, especially, these are the things that they faced because of their faith. These are things that happened to them because of their faith in Jesus.
Some of those are obvious, right? Trouble, and hardship, persecutions, religious persecution. You might go, “Why famine and nakedness? How does that have anything to do with Jesus?” Well, in the first century, the followers of Jesus were often…they were sort of pushed out of their communities. They weren’t really part of families because they didn’t follow either the Jewish traditions or the Roman religions and the Emperor’s, and so they were kind of off on their own.
And so when a famine would hit, or when there would be kind of a lack of materials for making clothing and things like that, the communities would often band together and share what they had so that people could survive. But the Christians were left out of that because they had put their allegiance with Jesus. And so Paul says, “Hey, you might have been separated from that community by your faith, but nothing can separate you from the one that you have faith in. Nothing can separate you from Jesus.” And the reality is, is we have to recognize this, that following Jesus doesn’t guarantee peace with the world. But it does guarantee victory over the world.
I can’t tell you that following Jesus doesn’t mean that you’re not gonna have trouble. I wish I could. Can I say the least favorite thing of mine that Jesus ever said? Is that even okay to say? Like, I have a list. There may be a sermon series there, my least favorite things Jesus ever said. And at the very top of that list is when Jesus said, “Hey, in this world, you will have trouble.” And specifically, he meant trouble because you’re following me. He said it’s gonna happen. I really wish he hadn’t said that.
But what Paul’s saying here is, yeah, in this world, you may have trouble. I can’t promise you peace with the world. But he says from faith in Jesus, you do have a promise of victory over the world. I love the way he says that. He says, “In all these things, we are more than conquerors.” And he uses an interesting word in the original Greek this was written in, that word “more than conquerors,” it was very rarely used. But it was used of someone who had such an incredible victory, that it really kind of felt like it hadn’t even been a contest.
It’s like if you won a battle, and you won it so decisively. Or you won an event in the Olympics so decisively that, honestly, it didn’t even feel like you were competing. I mean, imagine for a second, it’s Usain Bolt running against a toddler, okay. Like, there’s no question. And you don’t even call that a win, right? I mean, they take off on the track, Usain covers, you know, that thing five times while the toddler is trying to make his way past the first 100 yards. Is that a victory? Oh, yeah, but it’s a hyper victory, right? It’s almost its own thing.
And that’s what Paul says here, he says in all these things that come against us, we are more than conquerors, we’re hyper victorious. And I think what he’s referring to is what we looked at last week. It’s this idea that God works in the midst of all things, bringing good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. What’s his purpose? To make us into the men and women he designed us to be. To make us, to use his Word, glorious.
And he says in all things, God works in the middle of them, doing what? He’s bringing good. In other words, all the things that Paul’s talking about here, all these things that come against us because our faith in Jesus, not only do they not keep us from becoming what Jesus made us to be, but they actually become the instruments by which God accomplishes us becoming what he made us to be. Those things that we face actually deepen our faith, they deepen our perseverance, they deepen our trust in Jesus, they give us strength to move on, they give us so many things.
So those things not only don’t stop us, they actually become the instruments of our advancement. Which, I gotta think, has to tick the devil off to no end, right? The devil is like, “Okay they wanna follow Jesus? All right. Let’s send this persecution against them.” And then the persecution actually serves to deepen our faith and make us more like Jesus. And the devil’s like, “Dag gummit, that’s not what I meant. Okay, all right let’s try…how about this one? We’ll send this against them. That did it, too. What the…” Right? It’s what Paul is getting at.
Even those things that look like they ought to be slowing us down in becoming what Jesus made us to be, they actually become the instruments of our advancement. We’re hyper conquerors, we’re more than conquerors. Says, “For I’m convinced,” not I hope, not I think maybe, but I’m convinced, so I’ve become persuaded of it. “That neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” He says nothing can separate us. Nothing.
And it’s interesting how he goes about making that point that literally nothing can separate us. He uses a figure of speech. Some of you are gonna love this. This is a little bonus for you. He used a figure of speech called a merismus. A merismus is a figure of speech where you talk about a package of things by describing the outside ends of it. You just name the outside extremes, but you really mean the whole package.
It’s like we do it all the time, we say, “I’ve been thinking about you night and day,” right? Meaning I’ve been thinking about you all the time. Or we go, you know, like, “I covered the manual from A to Z,” meaning I covered not only those two letters but everything in between, right, you know. I covered the story from start to finish. And the point is it’s all of the things, right?
And that’s what Paul’s using, but it’s interesting, he only really needed one of those. He really only needed to say, “I’m convinced that neither height nor depth can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus,” and that would have immediately meant all the things that you can think of are incapable of separating us. Nothing can separate us. But he didn’t just do one thing, right, he, like, piled them on. He goes, you know, so, “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demons, nor the present, nor the future, nor any powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation.” Which, honestly, that last phrase, “Nor anything else in all creation,” is a little insulting.
Because it’s almost like Paul is assuming you guys might be a little dense. I’m trying to communicate that nothing could do it, and I’m and I’m piling on merismuses…or is it merismi? My Latin teacher would be very disappointed in me, I don’t know. But it’s merismus upon merismus, it’s piling layer upon layer, “Hey, nothing can do it.” And then he kind of breaks the pattern to go, “Nor anything else,” as though, “Just in case you’re a little stupid.” Or just in case you’re a little bit slow and you’re thinking, “Well, but what about…?” No. No matter what you can think up, it can’t do it. It can’t separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Nothing can separate us.
And I think it’s important to understand that what Paul is saying here is one of the clearest teachings of a doctrine that we call the doctrine of eternal security. The doctrine of eternal security says that when we begin a relationship with God through faith in his Son, Jesus, that that’s a relationship that is secure. We don’t have to worry about it going away because we didn’t somehow match up to his standards, that we didn’t somehow check off enough boxes of righteousness, that we didn’t fail too many times, this is not gonna change anything.
I mean, we didn’t get into a relationship with God because we got righteous. We got into a relationship with God by faith in Jesus. And so failing to be righteous, falling short, continuing to struggle with sin, none of that is gonna change the nature of the relationship. And God’s love that we can’t be separate from, it’s not a static love. It’s a love that actually keeps moving us forward towards God’s purpose for us.
Another verse that says basically the same thing is in the Book of Philippians. Philippians 1:6 says, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The love of God that we can’t be separated from, it’s not just holding us fast, it is moving us forward, becoming more and more of what Jesus always designed us to be.
Now, let me be perfectly honest, not everybody believes the doctrine of eternal security. This is one of those places that some Christians disagree. In my opinion, I’m not gonna get all the nuances that this verse in Romans as well as in Philippians and several other places, the clearest teaching of Scripture is that our adoption is irrevocable. And the reason I say it that way, sometimes people go, “Well, you know, once saved, always saved.” Or, you know, “Even eternal security is kind of the same thing.”
But a better way to say it is that our adoption is irrevocable because all of this is in the context of our adoption as sons and daughters. We’ve seen that several times in our study of Romans 8, that we weren’t just forgiven, we were adopted into the family. Jesus didn’t give us the Holy Spirit to keep us in line, he gave us Holy Spirit to bring us into the family. We’re adopted as sons and daughters. And adoption is irrevocable.
That was especially true in ancient Roman society. This was written, of course, to Christians who were living in Rome. And in Rome, they had this idea of adoption, a father could adopt a child. But what’s interesting is that there was no way to end it, at least on the part of the child. The child couldn’t emancipate themselves. In the modern world, we have this thing called emancipation, where a child can actually basically sue their parents to be set free from them. So they’re no longer in that relationship with them.
But that didn’t exist in ancient Rome. They’d never heard of that. They wouldn’t even begin to imagine that. No, if you’ve been adopted, that’s permanent. The only one who could break that adoption would be the father who adopted you. And what Paul has just said very clearly is God will not do that. He will never do that. And so our adoption is irrevocable. God’s purpose for us is undeniable. The Spirit’s mark on us is indelible. His love for us is unassailable.
Why? Why do we have that confidence? Because that’s what it is. Some people sometimes struggle, they go, “Well, the problem with the doctrine of eternal security is that it’s a license to sin.” You know, if you know, you can’t lose your salvation, you’re just gonna go out and do whatever you want. That’s an abuse. And it’s not what’s really meant here at all. Eternal security isn’t a license to sin, it’s the confidence to keep going. It’s the confidence to know that you can always come back to your Father, and his grace has no limits. You’re never gonna come back one too many times, and he goes, “I’m done with the forgiveness, I’m done with you.” It’s just never gonna happen.
It’s the confidence to move forward. It’s the confidence that emerges from, as you began this passage, it emerges from this truth that God is for you. He’s for you. He’s not waiting and watching for you to mess up, he is for you. He’s waiting in and doing for you what you couldn’t do for yourself. He’s waiting in through the power of the Holy Spirit and helping you to actually begin to move forward in becoming what he always intended you to be. God’s for you. In some ways, the entire eighth chapter of Romans boils down to this simple truth. God is for you.
So as we wrap this up, I wanna ask you two questions. Two things that I’d encourage you to wrestle with. First question is just this, what’s working against me believing that God is for me? Because chances are you have someplace in your life where you struggle with that belief.
If you sit down this week with a life group, or a men’s group, or a women’s group, and you talk about this, I think you’re gonna find that almost all of us have some level or at least some place of struggle in our lives where we sort of know it intellectually that God is for us. He didn’t die for us because he was disappointed in us. He didn’t die for us because he was so angry at us. He died for us because he loves us, because he likes us, because he’s for us. We get it here, but sometimes it’s hard to hold on to here. Sometimes it’s hard to take to heart.
And I think it’s important to wrestle with the question what’s working against me believing that? It might be as we said earlier, it might be that you grew up in a home where God was pictured more as a stern judge than a loving Father. It might be because other followers of Jesus gave you that picture of the Father. It might be because you’re caught in a performance mindset. Because the world teaches a performance mindset, right? If you perform well enough, you get accepted. And if you don’t perform well enough, then you’re on the outskirts, you’re on the outs. It’s easy to bring that into our relationship with God.
Maybe it’s because you’re listening to the voice of sin. We can still listen to the voice of sin, and it not only leads us away from the Father who is for us, but it also…it speaks guilt, and condemnation, and shame upon us. “Look at all the ways you screwed up, there’s no way that God’s for you anymore. Look what you did, you did it again. There’s no way that God is still for you.” That voice speaks that lie. And maybe that’s where your struggle is. But ask yourself that question, what’s working against me believing that God is for me?
Second question is this, what enemy do I need to remember has no hope of victory? What are you facing in your life right now that feels strong, it feels big, it feels scary. And it feels like it’s keeping you from moving forward in everything that God designed you for and called you into? What do you need to remember this truth that if God is for us, that we have no enemy with any hope of victory? Where do you need to hold on to that truth?
Maybe there’s somebody speaking the lie that, “No this is big enough,” into your life. Maybe somebody else is coming against you and saying something like that. But honestly, maybe it’s just you. Maybe you are your enemy. Anybody else ever feel like their own worst enemy? I know I do. Maybe it’s your own voice that’s speaking guilt, and shame, and condemnation, making it hard to hold on to that truth. That nothing we face can possibly keep us from what God’s called us to.
We’re gonna start a new series next week, I wanna encourage you to make sure you don’t miss this. It’s called “Come Find Your Mercy.” And it’s gonna be important for two different kinds of people. One kind is a person that who’s their own worst enemy. The person who feels like, “Surely God can’t love me. Surely God can’t like me. Surely God can’t be for me because I’m a mess.” You know, we live under that cloud of guilt and shame, and what does it look like to get out from under that cloud and to step into the light of God’s mercy. That may be something that you really need to hear.
The other person that this series is gonna be powerful for those of us who wanna be on mission with Jesus, not just becoming like Jesus but joining him on a mission. Because the reality is what we’re gonna do in this series, we’re gonna take a look at stories from the Gospels, where Jesus accepted people before they cleaned up their act. And it was actually his acceptance, it was his love, it was his affection, that changed them from the inside out. And so it may be that we need to recognize that as the hands and feet of Jesus in the world, that we’re supposed to have mercy on others as well. So that we can give them a picture of a Father who is for them rather than a judge who’s against them.
So it may be that you need to step out from under the cloud of shame and experience God’s mercy for yourself, we’re gonna see that. But it may mean that you need to find your mercy to share it with others so that they see the truth of a God who is for them. Because that’s an incredible truth, isn’t it? I mean, just think about it for a minute. God is for you. If you can hold on to that, it will change everything. God is for you. The King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Creator of all things. He knows your name, and he is for you. Is that good news, church? Can I get an amen?
I’m not sure you feel it yet. Let’s ask it again. I’m gonna say it again, and if you know that this should be life-changing truth, if you know that if you could take hold of this, this would change everything, even if you’re struggling to actually grab hold of it but if you know how powerful it is when I say this, just give me an Amen, right? God is for you. He’s not against you, God is for you. He doesn’t hate you. Does he hate your sin? Yeah. Please don’t think that, you know, anything I’m saying means that God doesn’t care about sin or that we’re making light of it. No sin is serious business. Jesus died for it. It’s clearly a big deal. But I’m saying God hates your sin. He does not hate you. And the reason God hates your sin is because God is for you.
You’re getting it. The reason God hates sin is because your sin separates you from him, and he is for you. God hates the fact that your sin draws you away from him, and it slows you down in becoming everything that he designed you for. It slows you down in experiencing everything that he has for you. God hates what sin does because God is for you. God is for you. Would you pray with me?
God, it really is a simple truth, but it’s a hard truth to remember. It’s so easy to find ourselves, honestly, just worn down under the sense of guilt, and shame, and frustration. Lord, it’s hard enough to believe that nothing can separate us from you. Even our sin. But to go beyond that and to believe that not only can we not be separated from you, but that you are for us, it’s an incredible truth, Lord, and it’s just way too slippery. So Lord, would you us give sticky fingers and sticky hearts to allow us to get ahold of that truth, take it in, to plant it deep. And in that truth, to find the confidence to keep raising the sails to catch the fresh wind of the Spirit, leading us into everything that you have for us.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, would you just take a moment right now, just pray for the people listening to this message who aren’t followers of Jesus, who don’t have a relationship with God through faith and what Jesus did on the cross. And if that’s you, can I just speak to you for a minute? This may be the first time that you’ve ever heard of the idea that God is for you. But yeah, God hates sin, but he hates sin because he loves you. And he loves you so much that he sent his own Son to pay the price of your sins so you wouldn’t have to be separated from him. That he did all this because he is for you.
And if that’s hitting you for the first time and you’re going, “That’s a God I wanna know. That’s a God I want a relationship with,” then I want you to know that God longs for that relationship more than you can imagine. And everything we’ve been talking about in this series, everything we were talking about today, all these promises, all this security, all this good news, it’s ours in Christ Jesus. It’s ours in a relationship with God through faith in Jesus.
And if you’ve never said yes to following him, if you’ve never begun that relationship, you can begin it right here right now. I’ll tell you how, just close your eyes, bow your head. You’re just gonna have a conversation with God. You can do it out loud, you can do it in the quietness of your heart, it doesn’t matter. But you’re gonna basically say something like this, just repeat something like this. Say it to God.
God, I’ve done wrong. I’ve sinned. I’m not righteous. I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying to pay the price of my sin. I believe you rose from the dead to prove that you’d done it. I understand you’re offering me forgiveness, a relationship with a God who is for me. The Holy Spirit to move me forward into everything that God has for me. I’m ready to accept your gift. I’m ready to begin a relationship. So I’m making a decision right now to follow you, Jesus. I’m gonna put my trust in you, Jesus. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.