- God Is For You
- Romans 8:31-39
- Lyndol Loyd November 3, 2019
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. – Romans 8:31-34
God is for you! He really is. The apostle Paul declares it with incredible boldness, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” No matter where you are on your journey of faith, God is cheering you on and longing for you to take the next step.
GOD IS FOR YOU — MORE THAN YOU KNOW
Let’s start by reminding ourselves of the price God has paid, to prove that he is for us, – his one and only Son, Jesus. God’s love for us is so great that he did not spare what was most precious to him.
We are made right in Jesus, and freed from all charges and accusations that might come from people or even the pit of hell. In Christ we are cleansed.
Along with the infinitely valuable gift of salvation in Jesus, we discover that God will graciously give us all things. This is a picture of the generosity of God, who is eager to provide for his children. It is not a promise that every whim we have will be satisfied.
In addition we are told that Jesus, even now, is at the right hand of God, interceding for us. What assurance and hope this should bring us when we face the harsh struggles and realities of this life.
There is no one else on planet Earth that God wants to help more than you. There’s nothing in God that would make him want to withhold something that would be good for you. Because of the price Christ paid for your redemption, God’s inclination is to listen to you, care for you, and help you. He is for you.
Sadly, too many followers of Jesus think that God is out to get them. They see him as an angry judge who can’t wait to slam down his gavel and scream, “guilty!”
That is not a picture your heavenly Father wants to rule your mind or guide your heart. God is always accessible, available, and open-armed. He wants you to know that he will be at your side, no matter what you face.
One of the most colorful parables that Jesus ever told is found in Luke 18:1-8. Jesus describes a judge quite graphically: he doesn’t honor God and he doesn’t respect people. In other words, this man has a lot of power, but no moral imperative – a recipe for disaster.
The other main character in this parable is a widow. In the day Jesus told this parable, widows were typically poor, disconnected, and powerless. This particular widow has a problem: she’s being oppressed. The only one who can help her is the judge – another problem.
Despite the widow’s frequent visits to plead her case before this judge, he basically tells her each time, “Get lost.” So she puts together a strategic plan that goes something like this:
“I’m going to become this judge’s worst nightmare. I’m going to show up every day, so often that I’ll wear him down and force him to help me.” And sure enough, the judge finally gives in out of sheer exhaustion and frustration with her.
If we didn’t read further, we could easily conclude that Jesus is saying that we are like the widow, and God is like the judge. As a matter of fact, many have wrongly interpreted this parable this way:
God is the being who really doesn’t want to bother with penniless and powerless people like us; we are an irritation to him. The only way to get him to help us is to pester, harass, and bug him until he is so sick of us that the gives into our demands. What a sad picture that would be.
But if we do look further in the story, we discover that Jesus actually flips the message, and informs the reader that this story is meant to illustrate that God is totally unlike the judge- and we don’t have to be like the widow.
This parable is a contrast, not a comparison. The message is that God’s basic inclination is to bless and help his children. We are not powerless, penniless and disconnected; We are not strangers before some heavenly court. We are loved and adopted sons and daughters. We can call God Abba… Father. God is for us.
GOD IS FOR YOU IN EVERY SITUATION
God is not just for you in some ethereal, spiritual way that makes you feel all tingly inside, but He does not impact your daily life. This idea of God being for me is central to practical biblical theology.
When we embrace this truth, it changes everything about how we approach life. An assurance of God’s support, love, and presence impacts our attitudes, motives and actions.
When you’re going into a tough meeting at work, and you’re hoping the presentation goes well, you can remember, “God is for me in this process. He wants me to do my best, and he’s going to help me.” Then you can lift up a childlike prayer to our Abba Father, Daddy, who has promised you his calming presence.
You need to have a tough talk with your teenager. You think, “The stakes are high. I hope I don’t mess this up.” In that moment you can remember, “God is for me in this situation, cheering me on. He cares about my teenager more than I do. I can do this… in his strength and with his help.”
A powerful temptation confronts you. You think, “I hope I can fight this one off. If I fall, I will feel horrible in the morning. I don’t want to dishonor God and given in.” God is for you in that moment.
Listen and hear him saying, “I don’t want you to fall. I’m for you. My son died on the cross and rose again to unleash the power you need to say no. My Spirit lives in you. Let’s handle this one together. I’ll give you the strength.”
If we can integrate this spiritual reality into every situation of life, we will be amazed at the power God gives. In every situation we can declare, “God is for me in this, cheering me on. I don’t have to figure out how to get his attention and whether or not he’s with me. I already know and can press forward with confidence.”
WHEN WE GET IT WRONG
God is for us, no doubt about it. But if we are not careful, our tendency toward sin and self-centeredness can twist this beautiful truth and turn it into a trap. We can end up believing that God promises to give us whatever we want, and to do whatever we tell him.
We can think that God is for our all-American dream, guaranteeing us the big promotion, the fancy award, the financial windfall. Rather than being the Lord of our life and the universe, we reduce God to a divine errand runner for our personal agenda.
In much of Western culture the biblical truth that God is for us has been twisted. The enemy has taken the beautiful assurance and turned it into a recipe for self-centered living.
Instead of living with the assurance that whatever we face, God is with us, ready to help us through, we can begin to use this truth as a license to believe that God must give us whatever we want.
And we can behave like spoiled children in a candy shop yelling, “Give me, give me, give me!” This is not the point at all. Sometimes the most loving answer a parent gives a child is no.
SOLD OUT AND SURRENDERED
If we contemplate the Christian journey some people think that the greatest chasm exists between the time when a person is exploring faith in Christ, and when someone becomes a new believer. To be sure, this is a large chasm that only Christ can bridge.
But as the years pass by, I am discovering that a huge chasm also exists between someone living as a “growing Christian”, and a “Christ-centered Christian.” To make this jump we must be sold out and radically surrendered to the Holy Spirit, and that’s a leap many believers fail to make.
God’s vision to redeem and restore a broken world goes far beyond the vision of self-interest and personal promotion that many of us find contentment in.
This vision will only become a reality when followers of Christ enter a level of spiritual devotion that includes self-surrender, complete obedience, a willingness to suffer, and a commitment to take up the cross of Jesus every day.
Christians who only ever get to the point of trusting God to help them with their own program, needs, and desires, miss out on the adventure and glory that a life of mission, service and sacrifice demands.
Paul was very clear in declaring this. His life wasn’t all about him and what he wanted to do, his personal desires and whims. Nor was it about getting more money, grater pleasure, or more of life’s “good stuff.”
Instead, he understood that following Jesus just might mean surrendering his whole life, even to the point of dying for his Savior. What a refreshing perspective in a time when some people would tell you that God’s primary job is to bless you and meet your every desire.
I think back to when I was a teenager, and I asked Jesus to be my Savior. I grew up learning about Christ’s work on the cross, and how his sacrifice resolved my sin problem if I would only believe and receive him.
I learned all about how, through humility and repentance, God would accept me into his family, and invite me to call him Father. He would help me, give me strength beyond my own, guide my life, and secure my eternity. What an amazing gift I received from a loving God.
But how did this gift cost me anything? About all I was giving up was the notion that I could be good enough to save myself. It didn’t cost me much to come to faith in Jesus. But it cost Christ a great deal.
He left the glory of heaven, was rejected, abused, beaten, and crucified. He took my sins on himself and paid the ultimate price – death on a cross.
How can I not follow him? How can I not surrender my plans for the sake of following his?
With all he has done for me, it is a small thing for me to commit to live as a fully devoted follower of Jesus, with my life centered on him, and offer all I have and am to the One who gave everything for me.
MORE THAN CONQUERERS
Romans 8:35-39 rounds out Romans 8 with these closing thoughts.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[a]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What does it mean to be a conqueror? What does that look like in everyday life? Every day we shop in stores, go to meetings, get on airplanes, and interact with neighbors and other people in numerous ways. Every one of these daily life experiences can be an opportunity to show that we are more than conquerors because of our faith in Jesus Christ.
- When someone cuts in and grabs a parking space we were waiting for.
- When our flight is delayed and we have to stand in line.
- When a server at a restaurant seems cranky or inattentive.
- When a person at the grocery store has 23 items in the 10 or less lane.
- When the driver in front of you isn’t driving the speed limit.
- When they baby spits up on your outfit and you have to change.
- When a person who grates on your nerves walks into the room.
These moments and countless others like them, are opportunities to prove that we are more than conquerors. It is in the furnace of daily life that we are refined and tested and yes, can even come out like pure gold on the other side.
A person who lives as a conqueror in Jesus Christ understands that they can experience daily victory and obedience that was never a possibility before the power of God was unleashed in their life.
- Conquerors say no to the endless little temptations that pop up every day, even when no one will ever see or know what they did.
- They love their kids and pray for them in the middle of the night when bodies are weary and minds are numb.
- They hang in there and humbly serve a spouse who is dealing with sorrow, depression or deep pain.
- They do business with honesty even when it costs them a deal or a client.
- They study hard for the big test even when someone offers to give them the answers that will guarantee an “A”.
- Conquerors make space and time in their lives to sit at the feet of Jesus, feed on the Word, talk with Jesus even when life is busy and other things cry out for attention.
Every time someone decides to live as a fully devoted follower of Jesus and commits to God’s will, heaven looks on with pride. This is what it looks like to live as more than a conqueror.