16/08/15 – Romans 8:31-39 “Christians cannot lose unless they choose to lose”
Last week we looked at the suffering that genuine Christians will endure, especially if they are seeking to serve God fully. Romans 8:18 (For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.) clearly shows that our sufferings must be significant, even substantial, if they have to be compared with our future glory in order to understand how we might endure such suffering. And it is quite difficult to see where the notion of suffering fits in with the majority of alleged ‘Christians’ today, especially their leaders who are supposedly the ‘best’ Christians of today(?).
Like the blind leading the blind, false teachers of today lead their unsuspecting congregations into the pit.
Matthew 15:12-14 – 12Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? 13But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 14Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
Paul taught that the pharisees should have been guides for the blind, not blind themselves!
Romans 2:19 – And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
So where does all this suffering come from? Remember that even Jesus stated as an undeniable fact that Christians would have tribulation.
John 16:33 – These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
But from whom? The enemy of the Christian is satan and his demons, who, though able to be defeated, often gain the victory because Christians do not know the full extent of their authority in Christ Jesus. They lose through satan’s deception.
Ephesians 6:11-13 – 11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
There are many reasons for suffering. Paul touched on this in the following:
Romans 5:3 – And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
Today’s message, though, focuses on the victory of the Christian over all these forces of evil that are constantly opposed to those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:10-12 – 10But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of [them] all the Lord delivered me. 12Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Christians can only lose if they choose to lose. And how does a Christian choose to lose? Firstly, by thinking that he or she cannot possibly win from what seems like an impossible situation. Or the cost is far too high to warrant engaging the enemy in battle. Or he or she doesn’t want to make trouble for the church or their social group. Secondly, by ignoring the battle, hoping it will go away. Thirdly, by foolishly taking on the enemy in his stronghold without a calling from God to tackle the enemy there.
Of course, with that third group, the following verse is often too much of a temptation to claim that they are invincible and cannot be hurt, even.
Romans 8:31 – What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us?
In other words, cry some, we cannot lose, we cannot even be harmed. Not even a hair on our head will be lost! But when we look at that statement of Jesus to that effect (below), we see that it related to the persecution, even death of such people, such that even in such tribulation, every hair on their heads would be still be accounted for in the end. They would still be “hated by all”!
Luke 21:14-19 – 14Settle [it] therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: 15For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. 16And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and [some] of you shall they cause to be put to death. 17And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name’s sake. 18But there shall not an hair of your head perish. 19In your patience possess ye your souls.
God never said we would win the battle by being kept safe and unharmed by the attacks of the enemy. Jesus said we would be hated by the world because it first hated Him.
John 15:18-19 – 18If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you. 19If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
As we saw in John 16:33 above, we are to be “of good cheer” concerning tribulation because Jesus has overcome the world. But how does that help us? The world still seems to be very much in control of things today. However, this world’s power (satan) has been defeated on the cross and is therefore heading toward certain defeat one day perhaps not so far into the future. Until then, though, we are to trust in the promise that no matter what, God has never, will never, desert us.
Hebrews 13:5-6 – 5[Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6So that we may boldly say, The Lord [is] my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
This is quoted from the following:
Psalm 118:6-12 – 6The Lord [is] on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? 7The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see [my desire] upon them that hate me. 8[It is] better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. 9[It is] better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. 10All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them. 11They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them. 12They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
Do not fear those who can harm you physically; instead fear Him (God as Judge) who can destroy both body and soul in hell.
Matthew 10:28 – And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Romans 8:32 – He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Is there any greater gift than to die for someone else? To freely give us all things is of less value than to give a life!
John 15:13 – Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
If God were prepared to give the life of His son, then how can we doubt that God would refuse to give us what has to be seen as a lesser gift? If we place God first, therefore, He promises to supply our every need.
Philippians 4:19 – But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Matthew 6:32-33 – 32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Romans 8:33 – Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? [It is] God that justifieth.
Who would indeed dare to lay a charge against those whom God has justified? To do so would be found in contempt of court, I would think. God the Judge has spoken, “This one is justified!” Let no-one answer back to Him! It is a dangerous thing indeed to oppose the children of God.
Luke 17:1-4 – 1Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. 3“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4“And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
Zechariah 2:8 – For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.
God rebukes those who dare accuse His own.
Zechariah 3:1-2 – 1And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. 2And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: [is] not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
It is God’s right to justify whom He chooses to justify. No-one else has this authority! If God states that a person is justified, then that is the end of the story. No-one should dare oppose the justification of God of one of His children by accusing him/her of an offense against God.
Romans 8:34 – Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Who is it that dares to condemn those who have been claimed as Christ’s own.
Zechariah 3:1-5 – 1And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. 2And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: [is] not this a brand plucked out of the fire? 3Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 4And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. 5And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by.
If Christ has died for us, and risen again to prove His power over life and death, who stands at the right hand of God as our great High Priest (see Hebrews) in order to intercede as our advocate for us, who would dare oppose such counsel?
1 John 2:1 – My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
The One who died and rose again has the qualification of being eternal and omnipotent (all-powerful). He is truly God. There is none with greater, nor even equal, qualification for the task of standing in court as our Advocate, the One who always intercedes for us before the Father. There is no higher authority!
Hebrews 6:13-14 – 13For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, 14Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
Romans 8:35 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
separate – can mean to be divorced; put asunder. Thus, divorced from the love of Christ.
The picture here is one of clinging on to Christ (because of His love for us) in spite of extreme suffering. It is this same attitude to suffering that prompted the following passage from Habakkuk.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 – 17Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither [shall] fruit [be] in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and [there shall be] no herd in the stalls: 18Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
Nothing can come in between us and the love of Christ; no-one can drive a wedge between Christ and His own.
Romans 8:36 – As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Refer to Psalm 44:22-26 – 22Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. 23Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast [us] not off for ever. 24Wherefore hidest thou thy face, [and] forgettest our affliction and our oppression? 25For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth. 26Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies’ sake.
killed – put to death; mortified.
The picture of the slaughterhouse is very graphic indeed.
Compare with Zechariah 11:4-5 – 4Thus saith the Lord my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; 5Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed [be] the Lord; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not.
But it all has a purpose (as noted in Romans 8:28 last week) that the life of Jesus may be revealed in us.
2 Corinthians 4:8-11 – 8[We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; 9Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
We are following His example of suffering as taught by Peter.
1 Peter 2:21 – For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
We keep coming back to the reality of being a Christian in this world: that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).
Romans 8:37 – Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
We cannot lose the battle unless we choose to lose! “more than conquerors” means that we don’t just win the battle; we win so clearly that there can be no question of the enemy ever having had a chance of overcoming! We win resoundingly.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 – 57But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Jesus won the victory over death and satan’s power. 1 John 3:8 – He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Note that it is His victory that we have; we cannot win the battle without Him who loved us!
Those who are partakers of His suffering will also be partakers of His victory. We looked at this a couple of weeks ago in Romans 8:17 – And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together.
Even though the appearance is of the world offering delights, it is but vanity, a mist that passes away before noon. Heaven is eternal!
James 4:13-16 – 13Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15For that ye [ought] to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. 16But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
Romans 8:38-39 – 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This, along with Vs 35 appears to cover all areas that might oppose our right standing with God through Jesus Christ. Not one being, not one circumstance, can conspire to oppose us such that Christ as our Advocate (1 John 2:1) cannot deal with it. Our right standing with God (our righteousness) is secure in this knowledge. But it’s like that statement I made earlier on, that we cannot lose unless we choose to lose. We have indeed been given a free will to choose right and wrong. Even as a Christian, we may still be able to take ourselves out of God’s hand, if we haven’t given God the overruling right like a Power of Attorney. What we control, we can lose. What God controls, He will not lose! Give it all to Him! Note that nowhere in the Bible does it preclude being able to take ourselves out of God’s hand, if we have retained the right to do so by refusing God lordship over our lives, that is, if we love this present world too much (2 Timothy 4:10). However, the main point of this lesson today is that there is not one creature or situation at all that can cause us to be separated from the love of God through Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – 16For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward [man] is renewed day by day. 17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory; 18While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.
Footnote – in calvinist teaching, if all decisions are fore-ordained by God before the beginning of time, then even demons cannot tempt us, nor attack us, unless God should have fore-ordained it from the beginning. Demons, even satan, become somewhat irrelevant under calvinist teaching. For the calvinist, suffering is ordained by God, regardless of the spiritual battle going on behind the scenes. Under calvinist teaching, Paul’s teaching on the spiritual battle is just as irrelevant as his teaching on the foreknowledge of God!
Some notes on winning the battle….
There are certain truths in the Bible that give great support to our victory over the enemy.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.
There is nothing that can come into our lives (except that which we invite by our own action or approval) that can work together for bad! All things means all things. It may (and probably will) bring suffering and trials, but God has promised that He will permit nothing into our lives that will oppose His will in any way.
1 John 4:4 – Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
No matter what the enemy is permitted to throw at you, God has promised that He is always going to be infinitely stronger than the one who opposes you. If God’s Spirit indwells you, then He will only permit that which will win the battle from God’s point of view (which is that it must work together for good!).
James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
So submit to God’s authority. The victory will always be in God’s strength, not ours. Submission acknowledges God’s authority in all matters. The devil will indeed flee, but not necessarily immediately. If God has permitted satan and his demons to oppose you, then this will occur until God’s purpose for this has been achieved. Submission to God ensures that God runs the show, not us, and certainly not satan. Victory is assured because we have kept our personal ideas from interfering with the victory.
Romans 8:37 – Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
In spite of appearances (enemy attack will always have a significant element of deception) we are always going to be clear winners, as long as we continue to trust in God’s promises. We can’t lose unless we choose to lose!
Ephesians 5:20 – Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
If all things do indeed work together for good (and bad things may still be a part of that greater good) then there is nothing that God allows into our lives that we can logically complain about. This means giving thanks for those things that even seek to destroy our physical lives, knowing that if it weren’t working together for good, than God would not have permitted it.
Hebrews 13:5b-6 – for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6So that we may boldly say, The Lord [is] my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
God never leaves us alone to fight any battle, ever. We might think we can do it on our own, but the victory is only through God being with us in the battle. The only time we are alone in fighting the battle is by our own choice to fight in our own strength and wisdom.
Remember, there’s no battle without a cost and no victory without a battle.