For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So our Verse of the Day continues in Romans 8. I had included this passage in the commentary yesterday to share Paul’s personal conviction regarding his keen awareness and understanding of the love of God expressed to us in Christ Jesus! Paul swells with emotion as he contemplates what possibilities might exist that could remove the love of God for His creation. Paul concludes: “There is nothing!” There is nothing with the power to dissolve or diminish the love of God for us. There is nothing you or I can do or not do that will change or annul the love of God for us. He is not subjected to our mortal ideas, thoughts, or personal wills. His love is eternally existent!
Let’s consider these thoughts for a moment. The Bible is filled with physical metaphors to help us comprehend spiritual realities. For example, Jesus is called the Word who was with God in the beginning. (Cf. John 1:1-3) Jesus is called the Lamb of God. (Cf. John 1:29; 1:36) He was the unblemished, spotless lamb God provided for Himself to be the final, ultimate sacrifice for the sin of all humans. Yet, we read this Lamb (Jesus) who removed the sins of the world was slain before the foundation of the world! The names of all believers were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the earth was created. (Cf. Revelation 5:12; 13:8) So if God loved us (and He did) before you and I were ever born … and died to impute His holiness and righteousness upon us (and He did) because we were condemned and without hope because of our sinful nature … then we need to join Paul and ask: “What can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord?” Will our sin now separate us from His love? Was it not for your sin and mine that Jesus died in order to make atonement for us? (Cf. Romans 5:8) That is the love of God in action! That is the salvation of God in truth! You and I cannot save ourselves. It was HIS LOVE that saved us. O, now I have to go back to Ephesians 2!
Ephesians 2:1-10 (NKJV)
1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
My conviction is that ALL of this was done on our behalf by God … all this was done for us because of His great love with which He loved us … even before we were born into this world … and before we were born-again of the Spirit. So if we had no opportunity or ability to cause God to love us, what would make us think that we can separate ourselves from His love at all? His love IS! To me, the more pressing question we should ask is, “Why would anyone reject this great love of God?” It seems God permits human beings to have the capacity (free will) to reject the love of God. We find evidence of this rejection throughout the Old and New Testaments. For example, Israel forsook the love of God by “turning to other gods and worshipping them; rejecting God and breaking His covenant .” (Cf. Deuteronomy 31:20) God did not cease to love Israel or separate Himself from them. They refused His love for them! They broke His covenant of love with them. They rejected His call to repentance in order to obtain mercy. And we still find this state of the human heart in our time … people still in darkness who dismiss the Word of God … whose hearts are hardened and ungrateful for what God Himself has done for them.
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.” (Cf. Deuteronomy 7:9) Yes, God is faithful to keep His covenant of love with those who love Him. It is our response to the love of God that establishes this bond. Paul is correct that nothing can separate us from the love God has poured out upon His creation. It is immutable! It is everlasting! It is unfailing! And it is always available! But for purposes known only to God, He permits us to reject Him and His love. He allows us to separate our hearts from Him … not the other way around. And this brings me back to what the Apostle John wrote:
John 3:16-20 (NKJV)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
God has given us His love! And this love is in His Son, Christ Jesus! Through Jesus … in Jesus … is the love of God the Father both revealed and manifested! We cannot be separated from it, but we can reject it. It is evident we have the free will to not believe the testimony of God regarding His Son. We can refuse to believe in Him and we can live our lives with total disregard for the love God has bestowed on us through Jesus. And I wonder even now … how could I have ever done so? How could I have been so reckless … so arrogant … so ungrateful in my own heart before I came to saving faith in Jesus? Even now … I can scarcely fathom why God would have been so merciful to me. Why would He enter His covenant of love with me? Why would He redeem a wretched sinner like me? The only answer is: LOVE! And who among us can truly understand this kind of love? So can anything separate me from the love of God? Anything? Absolutely not! The sacrificial blood of Christ Jesus covers me for all eternity!
Hebrews 9:11-15 (NIV)
11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, He went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, thus having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctifies them so that they are outwardly clean; 14 how much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts (useless rituals) that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! 15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
In light of this good news … what are the implications for us? Here are some things that come to mind:
Romans 6:1-7 (NIV)
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
1 John 3:4-10 (NIV)
4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.
You see, the love of God has called us to transformed lives … transformed by the same power that raised Jesus to life again! We are to abide in Him and He in us:
1 John 3:23-24 (NKJV)
23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. 24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
1 John 4:12-14 (NKJV)
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
With these things in mind, I believe the theological corroboration of Romans 5:8 can be better understood and appreciated now:
Romans 5:1-11 (ESV)
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and let us rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation!
I just feel led to pray:
Father God, how incredible it is to know your love is inseparable … immutable … and everlasting in Christ Jesus! How can we show our gratitude for your mercies? How can we live lives worthy of what you have done for us? I pray each one of us, in view of your mercy, will offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to you Father as our true and spiritual worship. I pray each of us will not be conformed to the deception of this fallen world, but will be transformed in our minds through your living Word. Lord God, I pray that everyone, everywhere will come to know your great love so that Christ will dwell in our hearts through faith … so we might have the power and ability to comprehend how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ – and to know this love that surpasses knowledge so that we might be filled with the measure of all the fullness of God. O Lord, remind us again and again that your love never fails … that you will keep us in perfect peace whose minds are steadfast because we trust in you alone. Let our gratitude for your life and love in us be shown through our love of one another. Let us be ambassadors of reconciliation to those who do not know your great love. And let us seek holiness in our lives … that we might see you and have confidence when we stand before you when you return! Grant us all these things, Father, in the name of your Son, Jesus. Amen.