“What then shall we say to these things?” (Romans 8:31, ESV)
Up to this point, the book of Romans has been speaking of the great salvation God has worked on our behalf. Starting with the fact that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, the book has explained how we are justified by faith. From justification by faith, the book moved into an explanation of how we are made holy by the sanctifying work of God in our lives.
Romans 8:28-30 shows us that God works in all things to shape us into the image of His Son and ultimately to glorify us.
This question, “What then shall we say to these things?” is a triumphant exclamation as we reflect on the tremendous grace and love that God has poured out on us.
We are overcomers!
Romans 8:37 says:
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37 ESV
Romans 8:37 describes us as “more than conquerors!” In other words, we are completely and overwhelmingly victorious. Romans 8:31-39 answers the question, “What shall we say to these things?” by showing how we are victorious. We will look at three different statements related to our victory. First, we will see that we are overcomers because God is for us. Second, we will see that we are overcomers because Jesus intercedes for us. And, finally, we will see that we are overcomers because God loves us.
First, let’s consider the statement that we are overcomers because God is for us. We find this statement in Romans 8:31-33.
These verses show us two facts by which we know God is for us. We know God is for us because He did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all. In addition, God justifies us. In order to understand these two facts, we must first consider what it means to say, “God is for us.”
What do we mean when we say, “God is for us?”
Two challenges to God’s goodness and support of us are presented for our consideration in the text. First, we see the challenge to God’s providence. We often feel as if we do not have enough, for example, enough strength or enough money. How much is enough? Since we are all here, alive, clothed and fed, I am not going to spend much time on this. In addition, I want to spend more time on the second challenge to God’s goodness and support of us. The second challenge concerns charges that are often brought against us.
Do you ever react defensively when asked, “Why did you _______?” (You fill in the blank. It can be something as innocuous as “Why did you not take out the trash?” or as bad as “Why did you beat your spouse?” Notice that each of these includes an accusation.) The question “Why did you ______, assumes the guilt and seeks an explanation. Therefore, it comes across as an accusation. We answer the “why question” frequently both to those close to us and within our own conscience. As Romans 2:15 says, “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them...” (Romans 2:15 ESV) In this verse, we see that our conflicting thoughts both accuse and excuse us. These accusations represent one form of charges brought against us. When we compare ourselves to the perfect standard of God’s righteous law, we all find that we do not measure up to the perfect standard. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Not only do our own consciences accuse us, in addition, we face constant accusations from the one known as the “accuser of the brethren.” Revelation 12:10 says that he accuses us before the Father day and night.
Job is an example of charges brought against a man of God. First, Satan accused Job before God, and then three of Job’s friends took turns accusing Job. Satan accuses each of us, and we all have people in our lives who, like Job’s friends, remind us of our faults.
But, God has declared us righteous. Romans 8:33 says:
Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8:33 ESV)
God has declared that we are right with Him. So, not one of the charges brought against us can stick. This reminds us of the start of the eighth chapter where it says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
This is what it means to say, “God is for us.” First, He provides for all of our needs and second He has declared us righteous. Truly, we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Because of this, we are overcomers.
Another statement that shows we are victorious is:
We are overcomers because Jesus intercedes for us.
The intercession of Jesus helps us in two things that the text points out. First, the intercession of Jesus helps us in regard to condemnation, and, second, the intercession of Jesus helps us in regard to hardship.
First, let’s look at how Jesus’s intercession helps us in regard to condemnation. After asking who will bring a charge against us, the text asks, “Who is to condemn?” Condemnation is taking the accusation to the next step and passing sentence on us. In other words, a charge is brought before the judge and the judge passes sentence.
Who is our judge?
Be careful! We are not fit to judge ourselves, not because we are biased, but because God is the judge. Scriptures teach us through the Apostle Paul that we are not fit to judge ourselves. 1 Corinthians 4:3-4 says:
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. (1 Corinthians 4:3-4 ESV)
Here, it is clear, as the Apostle says; he does not even judge himself. All judgment is in the hands of the Lord. The Lord is our judge.
We have no right to condemn or pass summary judgement on any person. James 4:11-12 says:
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11-12 ESV)
While the Scripture makes it clear that only God is the judge, we take it upon ourselves to judge ourselves. We condemn ourselves. We do not live up to the standard we have set for ourselves and therefore we condemn ourselves. We pass judgment on ourselves and live with a load of shame and guilt, and we will even punish ourselves.
What is more, the world around us reinforces this judgment. Whether the people around us condemn us or not, we feel condemned. The devil, the accuser of the brethren, specializes in condemning us.
Two things about Jesus take care of this. First, He died for us. In other words, the penalty has already been paid. Whatever the judgment against us, whatever the fine, it has been paid. Colossians 2:14 explains how our penalty has been paid when it says:
...by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:14 ESV)
Not only did Jesus pay our debt, canceling the judgment against us, but He also intercedes for us. He sits in the place of honor at the right hand of the judge and says, “Father, you can dismiss this charge. I paid for it.”
Jesus’s intercession for us helps in the charges that the devil levels against us, and, in addition, Jesus’s intercession helps us in hardship.
The text asks a question:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." (Romans 8:35-36 ESV)
This passage reflects how we are treated in this world. We experience many things that seem to us to indicate that God does not care or He is powerless to save us. We suffer, loved ones suffer and we all face death. We are tempted to doubt, which the devil would love for us to doubt. James 1:6-7 tells us:
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; (James 1:6-7 ESV)
The world lies in the power of the evil one. He is called the prince and power of the air. He is the spirit that is at work in the unbelieving. He is the enemy of our souls. While we are in this world, we suffer the consequences of sin along with all of humanity. Sickness, disease and death are in the world because of sin and although we are saved, forgiven, sanctified and cleansed, we suffer the general consequences of sin. We look forward to the day when we are glorified with Christ and have bodies that are free from all consequences and effects of sin.
In the meantime, as God’s children, we must understand that trials come as training and discipline to strengthen our faith and cause us to grow. Jesus is our example. Even Jesus learned obedience from the things He suffered. Hebrews 5:8 tells us:
Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8 ESV)
God is not insensitive to our suffering. Although we do not know the reasons, we can trust in His love for us. This is where Romans 8 takes us when it asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Jesus demonstrated His great love for us by dying in our place to pay the penalty for our sins. We can trust such great love, even in this world where we are killed all day long. Jesus, who has suffered as we suffer and who has lived in the world with the same enemy we have, understands our suffering and intercedes for us.
Because of Jesus’s intercession on our behalf, we are overcomers.
We have seen that because God is for us, we are overcomers, and because Jesus intercedes for us, we are overcomers. Now, in conclusion, we will consider that because God loves us we are overcomers.
The text says:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 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 8:38-39 ESV)
Is not our greatest fear death?
Is not our greatest challenge life?
Are not angels and rulers greater than we are?
Can we control or predict the future?
Can we reach the stars?
Can we reach the center of the earth?
Even if we conquer some or all of these things, there will always be something greater than ourselves, something over which we have no dominion, power or control. However, God is greater than all things. God is over all dominions and greater than all powers. There is a truth expressed in Job 34:14-15 that I love. Job 34:14-15 speaks of God’s power when it says:
If he should set his heart to it and gather to himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust. (Job 34:14-15 ESV)
Another version of this is found in Lamentations 3:22.
It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. (Lamentations 3:22 KJV)
God’s love never fails. God’s love never changes. As Romans 8:32 says:
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)
Why do we value the things of this world more than God? Why do we waste our time on things destined to perish? Seek God and His kingdom first and trust Him to add all things that you need. What treasure can you possibly gain that is greater than the love of God?
All who love God are more than overcomers through Christ Jesus who loves us. We have overcome sin, death, the grave, the world and the devil. We celebrate our victory in Christ. We are overcomers!