Grace For The Journey
Imagine a guy falling head over heels for a girl. He is completely smitten with love for her. Finally, the day comes when he decides to ask her hand in marriage. He buys an expensive engagement ring and plans the romantic dinner. The big night arrives and he gets down on one knee. With all his happiness hanging in the balance, he awaits her answer as he says, “I LOVE you, will you marry me?!” She replies, “Yes” … “Maybe.” He’s like, “What do you mean, maybe?! Don’t you love me?” She says, “Yes” … “Maybe” … “Most of the time.” Do you think that guy went home happy? Certainly not.
Yet many Christians think of God’s love this way. God loves me – most of the time. God loves me – maybe. God loves me – perhaps. Some Christians think God’s love for them is conditional. When bad things happen to them or they fall into sin, they are tempted to think that God does not love them as much as He did before those things happened. There are other Christians who believe God loves them more when they do things right. When they avoid sin or do something noble, they are tempted to think God’s love for them increases.
Thinking in the first case leads to despair.
Thinking in the second case leads to legalism.
In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul argues that there is nothing that can separate Christians from God’s love. Nothing.
God will never love Christians
Any less nor any more
Because He loves them
With a perfect love.
God’s love for Christians is unconditional. No strings attached. No qualifications. No “ifs, ands, buts, maybes, or perhaps.’”
The Bible says in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
If you are a Christian . . .
This means that God will never
Love you any LESS than
He loved you when you
Came to faith in Christ.
He will never love you
Any MORE since you’ve
Come to faith in Christ.
God loves you in His perfect Son Jesus Christ.
He doesn’t love you
On the basis of what YOU
Have done for HIM,
He loves you
On the basis of what
HE has done for YOU.
So when bad things happen to you, and you suffer, and you’re tempted to think God must not really love you, Paul is saying, “Stop that wrong thinking!” At the conclusion of Romans 8 Paul lists no fewer than seven (7) forms of suffering Christians may undergo that could cause them to think they are not loved by God.
Verse 35 declares, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
Will Christians undergo tribulation or trouble? Yes. Jesus says in 16:33: “In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.” Trouble and tribulation are not a sign of God’s failure to love us.
Will Christians undergo distress or hardships? Yes. Hebrews 12:7, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?”
Hardships are not a sign
Of God’s failure to love us.
Indeed . . .
God often uses hardships
To strengthen our faith in Him.
So when bad things happen to you, and you suffer, and you’re tempted to think God must not really love you, Paul is saying, “Stop that wrong thinking!”
Will Christians undergo persecution? Yes. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:12, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
Your persecution may look different than persecution your brothers and sisters are facing in places like Northern Africa or Central Asia, but you will undergo persecution. It’s not a sign of God’s failure to love you.
Will you suffer famine in this life? You may. There are people hungry right now in your community. There are people hungry throughout the world. Those who have are to share with those who have not. Getting food to hungry people is not God’s problem, it’s our problem. When you hunger don’t take it as a sign of God’s failure to love you.
Will you suffer nakedness in this life? It’s possible. Not everyone has clothes. America is arguably the most developed country in the world. Many people lack suitable clothing. And perhaps we could extend and application of this word “nakedness” to the shame one faces by violent assault. Could that happen to a Christian? Unfortunately, yes. But don’t read even that a sign of God’s failure to love you.
Will the Christian face peril or danger in this world? Yes. Just consider driving down the street. Did you know there are 42,000 deaths a year on the roads of America? Yes, you will face danger. Don’t read danger as a sign of God’s failure to love you.
And finally, Paul says in verse 35 that some Christians may even face the sword. The sword means martyrdom for one’s faith. Will you have to die for your Christian faith? Perhaps. But don’t read martyrdom as a sign of God’s failure to love you.
Note what the Bible says in verse 37, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Again, God loves Christians not on the basis of what they have done for Him, but on the basis of what He has done for them. God loves Christians completely. He loves them perfectly. He loves them consistently. He will never love them any less nor any more because He loves them with a perfect love.
So Paul concludes the chapter with a magnificent statement about God’s love for Christians. He writes in Romans 9:38-39, “For I am persuaded (I am thoroughly convinced!) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
If you are a Christian, God is for you! God – the Supreme Creator of all things; Highest Judge in all the land – is for you and He loves you perfectly in Jesus Christ. There is no court higher than God’s court. If you’ve placed your faith in Jesus Christ, all of your sin is forgiven. God looks at you and says, “No condemnation; not guilty!”
Thankfully, there is no “court of appeals” or appellate process you must endure. To the charge of sin in the Christian’s life, God the Righteous Judge says, “Not guilty, case dismissed, court adjourned.”
And this is a demonstration of God’s perfect love for you in Christ.
I must measure God’s love for me
Not the basis of my
Circumstances or my feelings,
But by what He has done for me.
Use this principle as a daily guide.
So when you feel that God loves you only conditionally, based on your performance, based on your circumstances, forget those feelings. Remember . . . God loves you perfectly because of what He did for you in Christ.
Remember that principle when your heart condemns you. You cry, “How can God love me after what I just did? I let Him down again! I let my friends down again! I let my children down! I let my parents down again! How can God love me?!”
Then say to yourself, “I must measure God’s love for me not on the basis of my circumstances or my feelings, but by what God has done for me.”
That’s what matters. That’s the Christian’s secret to knowing true love and feeling truly loved.
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”