Nothing Can Separate Us (Romans 8:35-39)
The Work and Ministry of the Holy Spirit
Nothing Can Separate Us
Tonight we come to the final message of our study of Romans 8 which was primarily designed to help us understand the specific work and ministry of the Holy Spirit in regard to our salvation..
And while I feel like I need to apologize for how long it has taken us to cover these verses and the number of time we've had to skip a week and perhaps lose the continuity of it, I do think it is important that we cover it thoroughly.
The main reason I believe that is because there is such an attack on the plain and clear teaching of Scripture regarding the security of salvation. It is so obvious that you almost have to ignore it to miss it, or come to Scripture with a pre-conceived bias against it. And yet there are many today who miss the security and assurance that is given to them by the Holy Spirit.
Now just to refresh our memory, this chapter tells us about the very intimate and personal involvement the Holy Spirit has in every part of our salvation from start to finish. He regenerates us, He participates in our justification, He sanctifies us, He confirms our adoption as sons of God, He indwells us, He baptizes us, immerses us into the union with other believers that we call the body of Christ. He gives us spiritual gifts by which we minister to one another. He strengthens us in the inner man for all righteousness. He guides us. He produces right attitudes in us. He delivers us from sin.
He illuminates the Scripture to our understanding. But His greatest work and that which brings us the greatest joy is that He guarantees our future glory, And that is really where this chapter ultimately takes us.
That becomes the theme of Romans 8 starting in verse 17. Verse 17, you first read the word “glorified,” and from then on to verse 39, it is all focused on our future glory and the plans that God has to secure us to that end. We’ve gone through all of that in great detail.
We’ve learned in verses 26 and 27 that the Holy Spirit constantly from within every true believer is interceding for us in a communion that is not in any language. It is too deep for words. It is inter-Trinitarian groaning in which the Spirit intercedes, praying for our eternal glory consistently with God who knows what His plans are and has purposed our glory.
And the Spirit, as well, knows the plans of God, the heart of God. So God has a plan. Christ provided for the fulfillment of that plan. The Spirit prays for the completion of that plan in accord with the Will of God.
As a result, verse 28 says, “Everything works together for good.” Things, as we live life, God has a good purpose in them, that is true for His glory. But this is primarily talking about ultimate, final good. All things are working together for good because we have been loved by God and love Him in return according to His purpose.
So the Spirit then effects the good intention and ending and purpose of God on our behalf. The plan of God, He foreknew us, He predestined us, He called us, He justified us, and He will glorify us, and our glory will be conforming us to the image of His Son, verse 29 says. We’ve gone through all of that in detail.
God has a plan to choose people that He will glorify. Christ provides the sacrifice that pays for their sin to make the plan possible. The Holy Spirit becomes the power of the plan. He regenerates us, sanctifies us, protects us, and one day will raise us to glory. We are caught up in that plan. We are as secure as the Father’s plan because what God purposes, He does.
We are as secure as the Son’s provision. Christ actually paid in full for all our sins – not a potential payment, but an actual payment.
And we are, thirdly, as secure as the power of the Holy Spirit who intercedes and who keeps us to glory.
Now, having said all of that great theology, we come to verse 31, where we dropped off last time, and Paul knows there will be some objections. So he assumes that there would be objections from some who would say, “Well, maybe there are some persons who can change this."
And we need to know if that is possible. Paul answers that question in
Are there humans stronger than God? If God is for us, does it really matter who might be against us? Does it matter who might want to destroy our faith? If God is for us, that settles it because there is no power greater than God. There is no human or human system or human religion or human influence or human society or human form of education or human pressure that is greater than God.
“Well,” you say, “maybe God would do it. Maybe God would be weary of us.” God? Verse 32 answers that. “He who didn’t spare His own Son but delivered Him over for us all”? You mean God who when we were enemies gave us the best gift, His Son? He would turn against us? The end of verse 32: “How will He not also with Him, with His Son, freely give us all things?”
That’s an argument from the greater to the lesser. If when we were enemies He gave the best gift to save us, will He not now that we are children of His give us lesser gifts to keep us? That’s just logical. That’s the argument from the greater to the lesser. God, who did the most for us, gave the best gift when we were enemies of His, will do whatever lesser things He needs to do now that we’re His sons to keep us.
Somebody might say, “Well, what about Satan? Maybe Satan can pull us out of the hands of God, he’s very powerful.” He tried it with Job, he tried it with Peter, he tried it with Paul and he tried it with the high priest in Zechariah chapter 3. You have four illustrations of it in Scripture. He is identified here in verse 33: “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?”
Or verse 34: Who is the one who condemns? Who is the one who is that’s always before God condemning us? Who’s the accuser of the brethren? Revelation 12:10. Satan and his demons as well gather around the presence of God and bring endless accusations against believers night and day, it says in Scripture.
Can he succeed, the accuser of the brethren? Could he break Job’s faith? No. Could he break Peter’s faith when he tried to sift Peter? Could he break Paul when messenger demons literally were tearing into the ministry of Paul? Was that enough to shatter Paul? Can he successfully bring a condemning accusation that’ll cause God to turn?
Well, for one thing, saving faith can’t be broken, the purpose of God can’t be thwarted, but you also have the additional reality of Christ at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us against all accusations and saying again and again, “For that I paid in full in My death.”
Well then, somebody might suggest, “Boy, we’re in trouble if Christ turns against us. What if Christ were to turn against us?” Verse 34: What? Christ Jesus is He who died, yea rather, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God. In other words, He died for us, He was raised for us, His death and resurrection were the perfect satisfaction of God, and thus He was exalted at the right hand of God, having fully accomplished our redemption and who also intercedes for us. He is the great high priest who intercedes for us, our great heavenly advocate.
So, it won’t be any humans because God is more powerful than they. It won’t be God because He gave us the best when we were enemies. It won’t be Satan because he can’t successfully bring a condemnation against us – Christ has already paid in full for them.
It won’t be Christ – He ever lives to make intercession for us. Only one possibility remains and that is Us. Maybe you can break the seal the Holy Spirit has placed on your life.
So why would anyone do that? Maybe circumstances in life. Well, life could get pretty tough. As long as everything is going good – that was the argument with Job, wasn’t it? He’s blessed, he’s rich, he’s got it all, family, crops, animals, wealth – no wonder he’s faithful. Can we literally exercise power to sever our relationship to the Lord? Can our faith dissolve, break, crumble under certain circumstances?
So we go from persons in verses 31 to 34, to circumstances in verses 35 to 37. Is there anything that can separate us from God and His love?
Now this is worst-case scenario. Can extreme circumstances destroy our faith, cause us to abandon the Holy Spirit? Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Just a reminder that what holds us is the love of Christ for us. That’s what’s hold us, the love of Christ for us.
It’s mentioned in verse 39, by the way, as the love of God – the love of God. And I might add, it encompasses the love of the Holy Spirit. We are loved by the Trinity. Can something happen to cause that love to be broken?
Well, let’s paint a picture of extremity.
Paul mentions seven hypothetical, escalating realities.
He begins with
That’s outside pressure. Things are going bad on the outside and this assumes attacks coming at us. The word used speaks of being squeezed. It might be outward difficulty, rejection, trouble, harm. It’s putting pressure on us on the outside.
The next word is
Now he's talking about inward pressure. It means to be crunched into a narrow space but it has to do with the inside. When outside pressure comes, it has an effect on the inside, right? You start to react to it, fear, anxiety, doubt, questions, dread, and you become victimized by a certain level of panic. You lose your sense of confidence because the pressure is so great.
Can pressures that come on the outside cause you to be so compressed on the inside that you literally are led into fear and anxiety?
Then it gets worse because next he adds
This is in particular suffering because you are a follower of Jesus Christ. This is abuse for the testimony of Jesus, physical suffering, mental suffering. So things are really going badly for you now. This is the worst-case scenario.
You got all kinds of issues on the outside crushing you in, they get on the inside and they begin to produce anxiety, fear, and dread and then it gets worse, as outright persecution breaks out through the hands of Christ rejecters.
It gets extreme because
You don’t get food. You’re deprived, maybe you’re in jail, you’re in prison. But that's not the end of it because next, you end up in
There is no provisions available. You are in rags. You needs clothes, but it's still gets worse because you are in
There is danger on every hand, and finally comes
7. The Sword
And the end comes.
So what about it? Can any one of those things or a combination of those things, or suffering all of those things separate us from the love of God? Now that's about as bad as it gets. You’re about to be martyred, maybe have your head hacked off. By the way, that’s Paul’s personal testimony, and it happened more than once that he got to the brink of peril.
And it finally happened that his head was cut off by a sword. Can that drive you to doubt? Can that drive you to reject Jesus Christ? Can that drive you to turn away from Christ? Turn away from God? Can that do it?
Notice that Paul quotes from Psalm 44 to say that this is kind of the experience that the people of God have had through history, not just us. The Psalm he quotes is a plea from the people of God in the Old Testament for God to deliver them because they’re in distress.
They were suffering in the past. As you know, Israel suffered at the hands of its enemies many times. Being connected to God can be a very dangerous situation. It happened then, it happens now. And when it happens, is that enough to shatter us and smash the seal?
We love Him because what? He loved us first. No, there’s no circumstance that’s going to break this. There is no circumstance that’ll separate us from the love of Christ. There’s no circumstance that will separate us from the love of God.
There is no person who will separate us from that love, the love of the Trinity. It is not possible. There is no power that can shatter our faith. There is no power that can break the seal of the Spirit. There is no accusation against us that Christ has not paid for in full. There is no higher court than God, and there’s no greater power than the secure power of the Holy Spirit.
We come out more than conquerors. That is word from which we get the word "Nike". It is the Greek verb to describe a super-conquerer. We are more than just conquerors; we overwhelmingly conquer, and not in our own strength, but through Him who loved us.
No wonder Paul ended the way he did.
I am persuaded, I am confident, I have come to a settled conclusion that neither death, the great enemy, or life with all its dangers and difficulties, its temptations and troubles, nor angels, holy angels, hypothetically, nor principalities, unholy angels, demons, nor things present, nor things to come, the here and now or the future, nor powers – that’s plural in the New Testament and when it’s used plural in the New Testament, the Greek form, it refers to miracles, mighty works, some supernatural power – nothing, so far, not death, not life, not holy angels, not fallen angels, not anything happening now or anything in the future, not any supernatural, mighty, transcendent power, nor height – that is a term that refers to a star at the apex of its orbit –
nor depth, – that’s the star at the lowest point of its orbit, nothing at the highest point of the universe or the lowest point of the universe – nothing, nor any other created thing, nothing in life, nothing in death, nothing in the world of angels, nothing in the world of demons, nothing in time, nothing in eternity, no miracle power, nothing on earth, nothing in heaven from the edges of space, nothing, no created thing in the entire created universe will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul says, "For I am convinced" Are you? Are you convinced of this great truth?
You know what I wish? I wish all those that spend their time trying to discredit the security of the believer would instead, just spend their time reading those verses and let the blessed Holy Spirit convince them of the love of God.
Jeremiah 31:3: God says, “I’ve loved you with an everlasting love.” That, dear friends, is because we are kept by the Holy Spirit. We need to worship Him for that gracious work. Let’s pray.