Nothing Separates Us From His Love
Ro 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (That is, put some space between us and the love of Christ) The questions with the obvious answers continue! The answer is NO ONE! There was no separation between the stripes on our Lord’s back and the cold hard wood of the cross!
Why do you think they used nails? They snugged Him up good and so it is with His love for us as well. It too is snugged up tight.
His act of sacrifice on the cross was not just for the few, the elite, “God so loved the world,” and as we read last week, “He delivered Him up for us all!” No one can possibly be excluded from that love. It was offered to all. It is His inseparable gift, an undeniable part of the history of the world! Promised from the beginning, given around 30 A.D. and still offered today.
But, the very fact that the question is asked, tells me that somebody is going to try to separate us from that love. That someone is the devil! His very name in the Greek (diabolos is taken from the preposition “dia” meaning “through.” and the verb “ballo” which means “to cast.” Diabolos- to cast through, that is to divide or separate.
He will try accusing you of your sins. He will try condemning you for your sins. He will use any means at his disposal to drive a wedge between you and Jesus. He knows it is futile to drive a wedge between the cross and Jesus, that’s a done deal.
But he will try to drive a wedge between you and the cross...oh yea, he will do every thing he can to get the cross out of your mind and out of your daily routine. When’s the last time you spent time before the cross of our Lord. Oh, I don’t mean doing your daily meditations and devotions, I mean really spending time before the cross.
Getting on your knees, and taking it all in, pondering on it’s meaning, understanding what a sinner you are and what a lover of your soul He is! Understanding and appreciating your forgiveness. The devil won’t soon separate one who practices such a daily examination. That’s why I am to be like Paul and preach the cross! Christ crucified!
If he can’t separate you from the cross, then he’ll try to drive a wedge between brothers and sisters in Christ. We’ll become judgmental of each other, gossiping about each other,. envious of each other, or self-righteous. The cure is the same. Take your brother or sister to the cross.
You will see anew your own wretched state and the love of Christ, and you will both realize that the ground is even at the cross. No one is any better than the next person and no one is any worse at the foot of the cross.
He will try to drive a wedge between husbands and wives, family members....you name it, if it’s pleasing to God, he will try to destroy it. He is an expert at division. The devil’s his name, division is his game.
Know that, and whenever you see it surface, realize where it is coming from and take it to the place where there is no separation. The snugged up wounded flesh of our Savior and that old rugged cross.
“Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
None of these things shall separate us from the love of Christ. FEAR of them, or experiencing them, might drive US away from OUR love of Christ, but when they occur, Christ does not stop loving us. His love for us is always there, always unconditional, always going beyond our present circumstances and holding out the hope of the resurrected life eternal.
The mere mention of these attempts to separate us at this point in Scripture tells us that they are a very real threat, so let’s take time to examine them, so that we may be wary when they occur or appear on the horizon.
First of all, there is tribulation. We have talked about tribulation in an earlier portion of Romans. Remember? We defined tribulation as “soul squeezing.” It’s like putting your soul into a trash compactor. There are times in our lives when we feel hemmed in or trapped.
Circumstances surround us that seem almost unbearable. These circumstances vary from individual to individual. What might seem as a dire circumstance to me, might not seem so bad to you and visa versa.
These circumstances then bring pressure to bear on us and the tendency is to focus on them instead of the unchanging love of God. In fact, many even question God’s existence as life’s pressures mount. Recognize these tribulations, recognize these seasons in your life, and remember this passage.
Christ’s love for you does not cease, though your circumstances may change..a lost job, a broken marriage, a deadly disease, a wayward child, an unexpected death....His love for you won’t change. It’s there in the midst of your tribulation, extended to you like a hand helping someone out of quicksand.
Seize the hand, don’t seize onto something else! Grab onto Christ and hold onto Him. This season will pass, and He will pull you through.
Yes, these circumstances are to be reckoned with, and the mere mention of them tell us that they are threats to our relationship with Jesus. Remember, He will never stop loving you . But like the seed that lands in stony places and withers and dies when the heat of the sun is upon it, so can these circumstances affect our relationship with Jesus if it’s not a deep relationship.
Be prepared, and remember that Jesus doesn’t pull away from us, we pull away from Him and often at those times when we need Him most! Prepare your heart for tribulations and times of distress, and you are best prepared as you practice acting on His Word. Believing His promises and seeing how faithful He is Do this when the times are good!
When the going gets tough, you’ll be able to remember His track record and He will guide you through the storm. I remember the early days of my Christian walk, oh the temptation to ditch my new found faith and return to alcohol, at the slightest hint of tribulation or distress.
I remember when those struggles would hit me. I would often get in the car and drive to a quiet place where I would tearfully cry out to God. And I would pray something like, “I don’t care if it’s only a spider’s web width of hope you are throwing my way Lord, I am going to cling to it.” And by His grace I would, and eventually, the trial would pass.
Those struggles happened more than I like to admit, but each time they occurred, He pulled me through. What did that teach me? It taught me that God is faithful and nothing can separate me from His love. What would’ve I learned if I would’ve ditched my faith and returned to the alcohol? All I would’ve done is brought more pain to myself and others.
The next item on the menu is distress. Distress and tribulation are very similar. Whereas tribulation speaks of squeezing in and crushing, distress is not as bad. It’s uncomfortable, but you know you aren’t going to get crushed.
I remember cornering a rabbit in my garage once. He seemingly had no avenue of escape. He was experiencing “narrowness of room” or distress. I will never forget the look of distress in his eyes as he frantically jumped up and down trying to find a way out. Suddenly, he saw a hole with light pouring in and he headed for the hole and escaped!
That’s the kind of distress you and I feel at times. We feel cornered, trapped, no light at the end of the tunnel, and we wonder if God will ever show us the way out. Again there is only one way to handle this distress. Say the name of Jesus and cling to Him, knowing that He loves you and will never leave you. He is that portal of light!
Next on the list is persecution. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Satan and his demons seek to make our lives miserable! The word persecution comes from the Greek word Dioko. (dee o’ ko) and it is tied in with the idea of one party pursuing and another party fleeing. The picture I get is the hounds chasing the fox.
It is a relentless pursuit. It is what Saul did to the Christians. He relentlessly pursued them.
Ac 8:3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. (NKJV)
Ac 9:1,2 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
These were organized attacks against men and women of faith carried out by unwitting agents of Satan...I mean Saul thought he was doing God a favor! When Jesus encountered him on the road to Damascus, He asked him, “why do you persecute Me?” You see Saul didn’t know what he was doing
It’s why Stephen prayed as he was being stoned, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” He knew they didn’t know what they were doing. If they really knew WHO they were persecuting, they would stop immediately as Saul did!
Remember this about spiritual warfare. “We do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12)
As grim as this may seem, remember that these villains were disarmed when Jesus rose from the grave.
Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. (NKJV)
Oh, they can make a lot of noise. They can even incite others to do you harm, but they have been spiritually disarmed and they cannot use any spiritual swords or knives to cut you away from the love of Christ!
I think it is very important for the Christian to recognize that these circumstances, mentioned by Paul, that afflict us often come from unbelievers and earthly authorities who wittingly or unwittingly act as agents of Satan to wreak havoc against Christians.
Remember Job? The devil used the Sabeans to get at Job by killing his servants. And he used the Chaldeans to take away his camels. (His wheels) He even used nature to kill Job’s sheep and his children. Satan and his demons will do whatever it takes to bring all kinds of pressure and distress against those who follow Christ. But they cannot separate you from the love of Christ.
They will persecute them, take away there means of providing or receiving food and clothing. (famine and nakedness) They do this in subtle and not so subtle ways. They subject Christians to peril (dangers on every side) and to the sword. The sword here can be physical danger OR judicial punishment as well. (Sometimes the state unjustly wields it’s sword against Christians.)
We see just an inkling of it in our country as secular humanists and others try to remove any semblance of faith from the schools and the public square. “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” They know not what they do.
In reality though, our persecution in America pales to what is going on in other portions of the world. Places like China, Vietnam, Rwanda, and elsewhere. People are being jailed, boycotted, and killed simply because they profess that Jesus is their Lord.
Several years ago I read about a Vietnamese pastor who had been arrested for his faith, but the authorities were forced to release him after he had led 1000 other prisoners to Christ. He was doing more damage inside then out!
Did that pastor allow persecution to separate him from his love for Christ? Absolutely not. Incidentally, there is an unusual phenomena connected with persecution. Persecution almost always produces an increase in conversions. It’s one of the reasons many churches are exploding overseas and the American church has more or less remained stagnant.
36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."
This is a very difficult verse for you and I to identify with. Here we sit on our padded chairs. Thermostats controlling the temperature in front of the church and in the back. After church many of you will head over to the Golden Flame for a nice warm, satisfying meal, (perhaps neglecting to pray publicly, lest you be scorned)
It’s not like that elsewhere folks! It is downright dangerous to bring the gospel to other parts of the world where people are hungering to be set free from the bonds of Satan. He won’t let go without a fight!
If you don’t think it’s dangerous, read the Jim Eliot story sometime. Read how he and four other missionaries were killed as they tried to reach the Auca Indians in South America. Jim Eliot wrote in his diary, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” He knew the truth of Ro 8:18:
“ For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
2Co 1:9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead,
10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,
11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many. (NKJV)
This is what drives the great missionaries! They have no fear of earthly death, confident that God will one day raise them....their only fear it seems is that of not helping as many people as possible find their way to heaven by preaching the gospel.
It is reassuring to know that we can be of help, (even from our padded chairs) as we read of Paul’s appreciation of prayers offered and financial support rendered. Isn’t it interesting that this portion of Scripture pops up on the Sunday when we have a guest missionary?
Let me take this opportunity to encourage you to financially support a missionary on a monthly basis. Pray for them as well. Remember, they are not wrestling against flesh and blood! Prayerfully consider getting involved in mission work yourself. Maybe short term...maybe long term. Dream with me that one day Living Word will be a missionary sending and supporting church.
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”
37 Yet in all these things (in all what things? In tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, and even death.) “we are more than conquerors”
I cannot help but to think again of the Jim Eliot story. Some of you have heard it, some of you haven’t. It seemed like such a waste. 5 young men struck down in the prime of their lives....where was the conquering in that?
In the 1950's five men took it upon themselves to bring the Word of God to the savage Aucan Indians in Ecuador. After trying for months to contact them, the first contact was made on Jan. 8, 1956. The people whom Jim Eliot had started praying for six years before finally met him.
And they killed him along with his 4 companions. Doesn’t seem like much of a conquering job does it? Their bodies bloated and floating in the river, their plane stripped. These were conquerors?
But listen, when word got out of the martyrdom of these five men, God raised up missionaries to take their place. Not only in South America, but all over the world. The inspiring diary writings of Jim Eliot lit a fire in many a believer’s heart to see the great commission carried out!
In July of 1952 he had written, “Give me a faith that will take sufficient quiver out of me so that I may sing. Over the Auca Father, I want to sing.” Years later after faithful missionary work by some of the widows of the men slain, a breakthrough occurred and the gospel was preached to the Auca.
Many were converted. The same water that had carried the bodies of the missionaries was used to baptize the Indians into their new found faith, and if that’s not enough, one of the Indians involved in the slayings, later actually baptized the son of one of the men killed....Steve Saint.
Was Jim Eliot’s prayer of singing over the Auca answered or not? I have heard stories of the Indian women observing the slaughter actually looking up to the sky and seeing a band of angels singing over the death of these martyrs. O Lord give us such a heart for the lost!
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 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. (NKJV)
Paul is convinced, Jim Eliot was convinced and so ought we to be for this is a promise of God. It is as certain as the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are super conquerors through Him who loves us and none of these things,
Death - gone, lost it’s sting
Life - Lo I am with you always
Angels? - (read that deceiving angels) We have the gospel in black and white and read, we don’t need any other brand of God’s Word. .
Ga 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
Principalities or powers? - They have been disarmed (Col 2:15)
Things present or things to come? - Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, that kind of covers everything in between.
Height or depth? - He is seated in the heavenlies high above His creation.
Any other created thing? - I don’t think so, for nothing exists apart from being created by Him.
Know that! Nothing exists, apart from being created by Him and that includes you! How shall something created by Him, be able to separate YOU, also created by Him, from His love that we see wrapped up in the cross.
Jesus, God’s only Son, nailed to a tree, the wounded flesh on His back snugged up to the gnarled wood of the cross. He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things.?
Everything we need to be super conquerors in all circumstances and against all tactics of the enemy. Things like joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are all fruits of the Spirit who is given to us for the asking.
Lu 11:13 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (NKJV)
We have His promise of grace, (divine influence on our hearts.) Grace for every moment, every attack, every temptation, all we need do is avail ourselves of it.
Let’s pray: Father, Paul said, “he was persuaded,” Persuade us this morning, persuade us anew of Your deep love for us, and let us rejoice in the forgiveness of our sins and the fact that You are with us and nothing can separate us from Your love!