Almighty, Unfailing Love
Topic: Expository Passage: Romans 8:31-39
A year into our study, we have finally reached the halfway point in Romans. We began on 5/22/22, and this will be the 39th sermon in the series. I doubt there will be 39 more sermons because chapters 9–16 are not as dense, but I’m not making any guarantees.
Chapter 8 also concludes the most significant explanation of the gospel in Scripture. We’ve studied some amazing passages which create one incredible image that I hope will forever provide you with a solid foundation for understanding your relationship to God and the entire Christian life. This has been a vital study.
But we’re not done yet. Romans 1–8 ends climactically with today’s passage (read). This is a wonderful passage of Scripture. It is theologically rich, and it is beautiful. But it also grows on you as you mature in Christ. That’s because the more you mature, the more you appreciate the spiritual threats this passage describes. You always knew you were a sinner, but the longer you fight sin, the more you appreciate the depth of your problem. And if you have been involved in the church and engaged in ministry for long, you’ve also watched sin, Satan, and the world wreak shocking, terrible damage to others.
The carnage is real because the threats are real. Our passage doesn’t shy away from this reality. It mentions several fierce enemies. But it also assures us that none of them can stand up to the Almighty, unfailing “love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Praise the Lord that God’s love is always stronger and always more persistent. Therefore, we can trust God completely no matter what threats we may face. Verses 31–32 begin the passage by challenging us to…
I. Trust God’s character (vv. 31–32).
First, in the face of intense spiritual threats, you must believe that…
God is strong (v. 31). This verse and the entire passage use a lot of questions to get us thinking. The first question calls us to reflect on everything we have learned about the gospel in Romans 1–8. Paul asks, “What shall we say to (all) these things?” So, think back to all the gospel truth we have studied in the past 38 sermons.
And notice that Paul summarizes it all as meaning, “God is for us.” I can’t think of a better summary of Romans 1–8. At one point, I stood under God’s wrath, but God made the ultimate sacrifice by sending his Son to be the propitiation for my sin. By faith God justified me. And now all 3 members of the Trinity are helping me overcome sin and move toward glory. God is for me, and he is for you if you are in Christ.
I should note that God is not “for us” in whatever ambition I want to pursue. God determines what is best, not me. And the context is clearly focused on reaching glory. And God is absolutely for us in this pursuit. How incredible is it that? Christian, you have the power of God on your side. God is for you in the battle for godliness.
As a result, Paul asks, “Who can be against us?” Paul is not saying we don’t have spiritual enemies because he goes on to mention several of them in vv. 35–39. Satan, demons, the evil world system, and our own flesh are all hostile to our spiritual progress. And compared to us they are strong.
But compared to God, it’s as if they don’t even register. So, God taunts their impotence. “Who is against us?” No spiritual foes who can rival God.
So, when you feel overwhelmed or discouraged, remember this verse. God is for you, and he greater than your sin nature, Satan, or any human opposition to your faith. You have more than enough to overcome because God is on your side. You can also trust God because…
God is generous. This verse asks another question so that you will really ponder God’s kindness and what it means for you. So, consider God’s generosity. He “did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all.”
Verse 15 said we can be adopted into God’s family and become his sons and daughters, but Jesus is different. He is eternal God, the 2nd person of the Trinity. Yet God did not “spare” even Jesus. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.”
Jesus came, and he suffered as a man. Ultimately, God “delivered Him over for us all.” God delivered his own Son to death. Isaiah 53:10 says, “The Lord was pleased to crush Him,” so that he could become our “guilt offering.” Christ took our guilt, and he suffered our punishment so that we could be rescued from the wrath of God.
No one has ever made a more generous sacrifice than God made that day. He gave an infinite gift, the life of his Son. This tells us that our God is not stingy or cheap. He’s not selling fake Rolodexes out of his coat, while trying to squeeze every possible dime out of you. No, he proved he is generous, gracious, and compassionate.
Therefore, Paul asks, “Will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” We must recognize that “all things” does not mean anything and everything I may want. God is not promising health and wealth. He’s not promising a comfortable life of luxury.
Rather, he promises “all things” that we need to reach the ultimate good of vv. 28–30 which is that we will be conformed to the image of Christ and enjoy God’s presence for all eternity.
So, God is promising that just as he generously gave his Son, he will also generously provide every resource you need to overcome your spiritual battles, to persevere in godliness, and to reach glory someday. Ephesians 1:3 says He “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing…in Christ.” He doesn’t hold anything back.
That’s so encouraging! Spiritual warfare can be very intimidating. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed. Sometimes we think we can improve on God’s grace. Maybe there is some book out there or drug out there that can fix me better than God.
But God gave you his Son! He knows what you need, and he freely gives all that we need. Believe him and trust him. Then rejoice that our God is truly generous. God’s strength and generosity are strong reasons to trust him to sustain us through every challenge. Then vv. 33–34 challenge us to also…
II. Trust God’s saving work (vv. 33–34).
Paul highlights the work of the Father and of the Son for our salvation. First…
The Father justifies. Verse 33 places us once again in God’s courtroom. God is the judge, and you are the defendant. Paul asks, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” Is there anyone who could stand up in God’s courtroom and accuse you of sins that demand your condemnation?
Maybe you don’t find this question that concerning. You’d reply, “Of course not! Sure, I’ve made some mistakes, but I’m a good person. I haven’t done anything worthy of condemnation.” Or maybe you know that you have, but you have believed the gospel a long time, and you have grown calloused to the protection it provides. You have lost sight of your sin, and you take justification for granted.
In either case, Romans has said very clearly that apart from Christ, the question in v. 33 should be terrifying (3:9–11). Therefore, notice the conclusion in 3:19. That includes me, and it includes you. So, Satan and many others absolutely could bring charges against you in God’s courtroom that merit your condemnation.
So, if you are relying on your goodness or Christian name to survive God’s courtroom, you should be terrified. You cannot do enough good to escape God’s condemnation. You need to repent of your sin and believe on Christ because Christ makes all the difference. Notice that this verse is only for the elect, those whom God has chosen and who respond in faith. There is no security for everyone else.
But if you receive Christ, he changes everything. This verse brings joy instead of terror. Why is that? It’s because, “God is the one who justifies.” When you believe the gospel, you are placed in Christ, and his righteousness is credited to you. Therefore, God declares you righteous. And no one can overcome God’s declaration.
If you need to be saved, please receive Christ today. And if you are saved, don’t ever grow calloused to this incredible security. Do you realize that every day you commit sins which ought to obliterate your salvation? Yet your hope remains firm because God is the one who justifies.
So, don’t listen to Satan’s accusations; listen to God’s promise. Nothing can threaten our salvation because sovereign God justifies. Praise God for that security and confidence. Then v. 34 adds…
Christ intercedes (v. 34). Paul asks another probing question from a courtroom setting. He asks, “Who will condemn us?” Again, no one should skip over that question because we all deserve condemnation. Do you appreciate the condemnation you deserve? Do you know that you are safe from it? What is our hope of escaping condemnation?
Paul answers with 3 great works of Christ. First, He died on the cross. 3:25 says, “God displayed (him) publicly as a propitiation in His blood.” Christ took our sin, he became our sacrifice, and he bore God’s wrath against us.
But Christ’s death was not the end of his story. Paul adds, “Yes, rather who was raised.” Christ rose from the dead! And 1:4 says Christ “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.” As a result, Christ was exalted to the Father’s right hand. He enjoys power and glory.
And from his seat of glory he is performing to this day his 3rd great work. He “intercedes for us.” Again, imagine standing in the courtroom of God as the defendant. Satan and his demons are lobbing very legitimate accusations against us, accusations which deserve condemnation. But Jesus is at the Father’s right hand, and he answers every accusation. 1 John 2:1 calls him our “Advocate with the Father.”
So, Satan says, “Look at what Kit did this morning. He lost his temper. He despised his neighbor. He broke the 2nd great commandment. He deserves condemnation!” And Jesus replies, “He did, and it’s bad. But I already paid for that on the cross. He is justified in me.”
And the Father always responds to the Son’s intercession. “He’s right. Jesus paid for that. Kit is justified in Christ.” So, “Who is the one who condemns?” The answer is no one! Christ has saved me forever.
That’s so reassuring as I look ahead at the Christian life because I don’t trust myself. The more I mature, the less confidence I have in Kit. When you combine my weakness with the kinds of spiritual threats Paul will list in vv. 35–39, it’s a ticking time bomb of spiritual disaster. In fact, bombs are exploding every day. But although I have less confidence in myself, I have more confidence in Christ. Christ is greater than all my sin.
Remember that. Some days you fail miserably. You go to bed feeling like a failure of a Christian. You gave in again to that habitual sin. You hurt the people you love. You feel far from God and unworthy of his love.
But “When Satan tempts you to despair,” remember that your Savior is at the Father’s right hand, and he is interceding for you. God will not condemn you. His love will not end. His grace will not run out. You are safe in Christ.
Then be sure to distinguish the Spirit’s conviction from Satan’s accusations. The Spirit brings strong conviction. He will inspire hatred for your sin and deep remorse. But he never drives you away from God or God’s people or into despair and apathy. Instead, he always drives you into God’s arms and the love of the church. He inspires hope and a passion to change.
So, if you feel despair or the urge to run from God, that is not him speaking. That is Satan trying to isolate you and destroy you. Don’t listen to him. Listen to the gospel. So, vv. 33–34 challenge us to trust God’s saving work. The gospel will always be greater than every failure. The third major challenge is…
III. Trust God’s mighty love (vv. 35–39).
Verse 35 begins with another probing question, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” I must say that we live in a day where we are constantly told that’s a silly question. We love to stroke each other’s egos and talk about how great we all are. The American gospel is that you are wonderful, good, and lovely. You deserve to be happy; you deserve God’s love.
And even if you know better, the way we often preach the gospel can deaden the impact Paul intends. In our efforts to uphold eternal security, we neglect the Bible’s emphasis on our need to persevere. But remember what God said in 8:5–9. If your heart is consumed with the things of this world, and you refuse to submit to God’s Word, it doesn’t matter that you call yourself a Christian. You do not belong to God.
This truth is an essential backdrop for appreciating the question of v. 35. The concern is not that God’s love would fail; it’s that my faith might fail. What if I walk away from God, and separate myself from his love? Knowing myself and my spiritual weakness, that’s a real concern.
On top of that, these verses add that overwhelming forces are always attacking our faith. Notice again the two questions in v. 35. Paul mentions 7 harsh threats to our spiritual health. They could be the direct result of the world’s hostility to our faith, particularly persecution. But any severe suffering at the level of nakedness—you are struggling to put clothes on your back—can tempt you to be angry at God and to question your faith.
And v. 36 quotes Psalm 44:22 to say that believers have always faced these kinds of hardship (read). This is nothing new. In fact, when Paul wrote Romans, he had experienced 6 of the 7 hardships he mentions in v. 35. The only one he hadn’t endured was the sword. The sword means death. But a few years later Paul did endure the sword when Nero beheaded him.
So, this is not blind optimism. When Paul says that the grace of God is sufficient for these horrible pains, he’s not grabbing that out of thin air. He is speaking from his own horrible experiences.
That background makes v. 37 even more powerful (read). Paul uses a fascinating compound verb. The root is nikaō. It’s where Nike gets their name. It means victory.
But Paul adds a prefix, huper, to communicate emphasis. The idea is that we don’t just squeak through these threats with a one-point, triple overtime victory. No, the NASB says, “We overwhelmingly conquer.” Even the worst threat will not ruin a genuine Christian. Instead, God’s grace gives overwhelming victory. It’s a blowout!
Now, I recognize that v. 37 often doesn’t seem to match our experience. If I were to ask you to raise your hand if you feel like you are killing it in the Christian life, just dominating every spiritual foe and every trial, I’m guessing that few people would raise their hands. Most of the time, we don’t feel like overwhelming conquerors.
So, is Paul wrong, or is something wrong with you? There’s a good chance you are doing better than you feel. Spiritual warfare is intense, victory is amazing, and you’re probably making more progress than you realize.
But the bigger issue is that v. 37 is not saying that a Christian life involving the trials of v. 35 feels like a 30-point, win that never feels like a game. Rather, we should understand “overwhelming victory” in the context of 5:3–5. Being a conqueror does not mean that it’s never a struggle; rather, it means that spiritual threats do not destroy us; instead, they refine us. They don’t make us weaker; they make us stronger. And that strength produces hope for future change and future glory.
If you have been saved for long, you can probably see this kind of conquering take place. God’s grace has sustained you through some great valleys. Your faith endured. In fact, it came out stronger than before. By God’s grace you are a conqueror! You’ve proven God’s grace.
In light of that, notice Paul’s conclusion in vv. 38–39. These verses feel like an outburst of excitement. Paul lists several things which could act as enemies to our faith. All of them are not necessarily bad; rather, this is a summary of all of life’s experiences.
Life consists, first, of death and life. That sums up everything. Life and death bring many highs but also deep lows. Next Paul mentions angels and principalities. These are spiritual powers, both good and bad. Demonic powers obviously pose a great threat to our spiritual health. Ephesians 6 says that we wrestle against them.
Then Paul adds “things present (and) things to come.” Maybe you are in the thick of a deep spiritual battle today, or maybe you are afraid of something ahead. God sees it all, and he is not surprised by any of it. His grace is always sufficient. Verse 39 mentions “height, nor depth,” and Paul is probably thinking of all things in the universe, from the lowest valley to the most distant star. Finally, he mentions “any other created thing.”
Again, some of those things are good and others are bad. Of course, our sin nature can twist the best blessing into a rival of God and a spiritual threat. So, the question is, “Can anything in life, anything in your past, or anything in your future separate you from the love of God?” Is there a chance that Satan could design an overwhelming challenge that destroys the faith of God’s child?
God says, “Absolutely not.” The chapter began by promising, “There is…in Christ Jesus,” and now it concludes, that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If you are in Christ, you are safe. God will never reject his Son, and Christ has secured every grace we could possibly need for the journey ahead.
Therefore, God’s love will always be near. By God’s grace, you will persevere through every challenge, and God will refine you through them. And someday, God will finish the process, and you will reach glory. And you will spend all eternity in the presence of God’s perfect love.
God is for us. And if God is for us, who can be against us? Believe that he is good, strong, generous, and faithful. Praise him for his glory. Then look forward to heaven with that assurance. Christian, you will make it. So, run to the grace of God, persevere, and keep your eyes on the prize.