At the core of every human being is the desire to be APPROVED–to be liked. Our self-esteem is often set by the opinions of others around us. And from those opinions, so many of us feel bad about ourselves. That deep down inside our soul we have a sense of failure–failed either to please those around us, ourselves or our heavenly Father.
The Apostle Paul seems to reinforce our own notions of failure in the first seven chapters of the Book of Romans in the Bible.
In my flesh, that is my old nature, Paul tells us, “dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:5).
Paul sums it up at the end of the chapter by saying, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) Then he answers his own question without taking a breath: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vs. 25).
So it’s not through our own efforts, through our family line, through our associations or deeds that we receive acceptance–but it’s through the efforts of Jesus Christ on our behalf that we are rescued, cleansed and loved and then empowered and changed by that relationship.
Acceptance Brings Security Forever!
“I DON’T WANT TO GO! DON’T MAKE ME LEAVE!”
One of the saddest stories I’ve read was about the biological mother of this young boy who had won a bitter legal battle to reclaim her son from his adoptive family. When she arrived with her lawyer to take him from the only home he had ever known, the terrified 4-year-old little boy pleaded with those he knew as Mommy and Daddy not to give him up to this complete stranger.
“Don’t make me go,” he begged. “Please, please don’t send me away!”
Without an understanding of the courts, lawyers and legal codes, the boy was removed and left to wonder what he had done to be banished from those who had always said they loved him.
Some Christians live with the terrifying insecurity that in God’s mind lurks a willingness to send them away if they fail or disappoint Him. Despite their love of God, they fear that God will withdraw His love from them and remove them from His heavenly home forever.
In the Bible, however, God promises His children that once He sets His love on them, we can be secure in that love forever!
The place to begin to understand a believer’s security with God is with God,–for a believer’s security is not rooted in the believer, but in the believer’s God.
The Believer’s Relationship with the Holy Spirit
Romans 8:1 (GNT)
“There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus.”
This one verse should be tattooed on everyone’s hand–printed on paper and posted on your fridge, and memorized by every believer.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, how you’ve acted, who you are–how much you think you’ve failed–if you are truly in Christ, you are NOT condemned anymore. Think about that, let it settle in.
God isn’t sitting in heaven with a big hammer in His hand, waiting for you to mess up so He can whap you on the head. That’s hard for us to accept–quick to judge ourselves–so Paul goes on to tell us why this is a reality.
Romans 8:2-4 (AMP)
 For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and death.
 For God has done what the law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Slirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice]. [Lev. 7:37]
 So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit].
We are under a new authority–jurisdiction now–it’s like when you leave your residing country, you are no longer under your country’s laws, but the law of whatever country you go to.
By believing in Jesus Christ, you left the country called “the world” and have joined God’s kingdom–and are now under a new law–a law called “the law of the Spirit of life.”
So, in Christ, we are not condemned because we’ve been set free–[in verses 1-4].
Set free from what?
So set your mind on the Spirit–
That’s easier said than done–but it’s important to see the distinction. I think one of Paul’s points is that we have been empowered and set free–the chains have been broken–so we can now choose which mind will control us.
Before I was a Christian my sinful nature controlled my mind. There was a little tract being passed around at the time by the Billy Graham organization during his Crusades around the country called “Have you heard of the Spirit-filled life?” Inside it showed the life of a person who doesn’t have Jesus–priorities, hope. actions–all out of whack with no order or purpose. We are controlled–either by the sin nature or by the spirit nature–the Spirit of God.
A life controlled by Jesus has order and purpose.
The order becomes more evident the more time you spend in the relationship in Christ. There’s a wonderful promise here in that even though we continue to live in bodies we live with a nature that’s opposed to God–one day our perishable bodies will put on an imperishable nature. Like Jesus, we will have a perfect, indestructible body without a flesh nature–won’t that be wonderful?
So where then does our loyalty lie?
Romans 8:12-13 (NIV)
 Therefore, brother and sisters, we have an obligation–but it is not to the flesh to live according to it.  For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
We have an obligation Paul says–it’s the idea of owing a debt to someone–like a mortgage to a bank. God gave us life through the Spirit, so we are in debt to Him, He owns us–it’s a spiritual reality we need to make in an outward reality in our lives. We are no longer indebted to our sinful nature–in fact, we need to put to death the flesh. [vs. 12-13]
In our Godly relationship, closeness to God means we lose control but given a new nature (verses 14-17).
There is so much here in the above verses and the main point is this: the fleshly nature leads to death and fear–fear of punishment and condemnation.
But when we come to Christ Jesus, we don’t get condemned and we are welcomed into a special, close relationship.
“Abba” was the cry of a child to its daddy.
Not only that but we are now heirs to God’s riches–and boy does He have riches–not the kind you spend in a store, but the kind you live off of for the rest of eternity!
Also, looking at the end, there’s something to sharing in Christ’s sufferings that’s part of the process of becoming a child of God. [vs. 17-b]
Look at what Paul says about it:
Having this new relationship with Christ Jesus means we will be changed. Right now, creation itself has been waiting since the fall of mankind for the day when we receive new bodies. It hasn’t happened yet–but it’s coming.
In the meantime, “eagerly wait for it with perseverance”, Paul says.
How–when we seem to be in constant battle with the flesh and spirit?
Keep reading on:
There’s a lot of theology in these verses–“predestination and foreknowledge”–commentary, books, etc..
It’s at the bottom of an argument between Calvinism and Arminianism:
Calvinist believe God chose who He was going to save and we had little to do with it. Armenians believe that we chose God and God had little to do with it, My position, like a few others, is in the middle–I believe God knew beforehand those that would choose Him and so predestined them–that there is a balance between actions of God and actions on man when it comes to salvation. What I want to focus on here is in verse 28.
Do people really believe this? A more literal way to translate this would be:
“to them that love God, all things work together for good according to His [not our] purpose.”
In that case, this Scripture is true:
2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Once that repentance happens, ALL THINGS work together for good.
The word, “work together” is a good one–it’s where we get the word synergy.
Synergy is where more than one thing works together well–“the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” [Dictionary.com]
An isolated event in ones’ life might seem bad at the time–like my visit to the hospital for four days last January from an acute respiratory infection. But because my illness brought me to a hospital bed, I was able to share and comfort the hospital chaplain intern who came to tears sitting in a chair next to my bed over a rebellious daughter who was living in sin. Through my sickness, God gave me the wisdom and confidence to be of some comfort. It “worked together for good”
The word “good” means: “BENEFIT”. It’s not “good” like “virtue.”
God isn’t saying “well you’re going to suffer but it’s a good thing to suffer.” “No pain, no gain!”
There’s an actual benefit that God works through circumstances–yes there will be pain and suffering at times, but know that part of this relationship we have with Jesus means in the end, God will work even the bad to our benefit.
Now we might not see that benefit till we get to heaven–and that leads to Paul’s final major point in this chapter:
Belonging to God’s family means facing death, but receiving a rich inheritance.
God is on our side and we need fear no enemy–losing our job or sickness, or hardship or even death and taxes.
What a wonderful picture God is building–accepted into a new family (the family of God). For ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD, and God, who was our enemy, is now on our side–but it gets better!
Romans 8:37 (NIV)
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
So we can CONQUER in God.
The base word for “conquer” means “a means of success.” Not only that but it’s a “super success.” An individual, a group of people, can’t be a “conqueror” and be a failure at the same time.
Sin no longer has mastery, trials no longer hold terror, life is no longer something to be dreaded…BECAUSE we ARE conquerors.
Now that doesn’t mean we are free from suffering and pain, BUT we are always connected to the One who works for our benefit–NO MATTER WHAT!
Paul puts the cap on this wonderful chapter of promises with this:
What more could we ask for that “nothing can separate us from God’s love” (vs. 38-39).
God so wants to convince His children that His eternality of His love for them that He devotes an entire chapter in His Word (Psalm 136) in which every one of the 26 verses repeats the PROMISE:
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
And so, if He ever stopped loving a believer in Christ Jesus, He would be lying about His LOVE of being “steadfast” and “forever.” If God ever allowed anything to separate one believer from His love, He would be a liar.
What great confidence we have then, There’s no one, nothing, no event, and at no time that you can be torn from God’s loves in Jesus. There’s no reason to say, “Oh, God can’t love me anymore after what I’ve done.”
Oh yes, He can and does! Far from separating from you, He wants to forgive and cleanse you (1 John 1:9).
~ CREDITS ~
Commentary: Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc., “Secure Forever” by Donald S. Whitney.
Bible Translations: Good News Translation (GNT); New King James Version (NKJV), New International Version (NIV). Amplified Bible (AMP).
Images: Google Image search.