If God is for you, who can be against you?

As we begin a new year focus on the rhetorical questions with which Paul summarizes and concludes Romans 8.  (The text Sunday morning is Romans 8:31-33, with Isaiah 50 for the Old Testament Scripture reading.)  Don’t take for granted God being for you.  Because of your sin, by nature you are against God and he against you.  But the good news Paul gives you is that now God is for you as you trust in his Son.  He is not suggesting that you have no trials or opponents (he goes on in the following context to list quite a few!).  Rather, he is assuring you of what God has done for you in Christ.  He uses the form of questions to push you to reflect on what God has done, and then to look at the impact that makes in your life.  Don’t be governed by your feelings, especially feelings of doubt and the unbelief to which they sometimes lead.  Instead focus your thinking on the good news.

Judges may be merciful and spare the guilty, parents may spare their children, but God did not spare his Son.  Paul emphasizes the breadth of Christ’s work when he says God gave him up for us all.  However, God doesn’t save men in the mass.  He delivered up Christ in the distinctiveness of the sin, guilt, and weakness of us all.  Jesus was delivered up for your sins of this past week.  That ought to make you think twice before giving in to temptation.
Just over 150 years ago Octavius Winslow wrote, “‘Delivered him up for us all.’ If any other expression were necessary to deepen our sense of the vastness of his love, we have it here. Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy — but the Father, for love.” (Octavius Winslow, “No Condemnation in Christ,” 1852.)
If God has done the greater, he will do the lesser.  He will graciously give you all things.  1 Corinthians 3:21-23 helps show you the breadth of that promise.
The God who has chosen you is the God who is perfectly holy.  He is the God who knows all things.  Yet he has still chosen you in love.  If he has loved you in Christ, who can bring any charge against you?  Paul echoes the language of Isaiah 50:8-9.  Isaiah looked forward to the coming of the Suffering Servant, the One who would obey perfectly, and who thus would be vindicated.  What Isaiah anticipated, Paul assures you, is a reality in your life if your trust is in Christ.
By God’s grace can you say, “God is for me”?  If so, conclude triumphantly, “Who can be against me?”
(In preparation for the message on January 2, 2011)

About jwm

I serve as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Newberg, Oregon.
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