One of my all-time favorite verses in the Bible is: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? Romans 8:31, (New American Standard Bible 1977 or NASB 1977). I love this passage in Romans anyway because it is such an encouraging passage. Let’s take a look at it shall we?
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “FOR THY SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 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. Romans 8:1-39, (NASB 1977).
Imagine that you were a Jewish person trying to grasp the meaning of these words. You want to become a Christian, but if you do your family will turn against you, your employer will turn against you and you will lose your job, even your whole community turns against you. You are hunted down by zealous Jewish guards from your local synagogue to be killed for being a Christ follower. Imagine that you have studied the Law of Moses and that you have been taught all your life long how precious and sacred and honored the Law is and yet you read this letter written to a small group of Christians that meet in Rome. Every day is a struggle just to live. Every day you wonder where the money will come from to feed your family and yourself. Every day someone is looking for you to kill you. Would this passage be an encouragement to you under the circumstances I’ve just described?
Now imagine today that you are living in Syria or Iraq or Iran or Bangladesh or Nepal or anywhere that Christianity is hated. Imagine that you have lost your way of making a living, that your biological family have kicked you out, that your spouse is divorcing you and taking your children away from you, that everything and everyone in the entire world seems to be against you all because you want to be a follower of Jesus Christ. How encouraging would this passage be to you?
I have never been in a situation where everything I owned was taken from me just because I am a Christian. I have never been living in a place where owning a Bible could cost me my life. I have, however, been in places where I stand alone in a crowd of people and know that most likely I am the only Christian in this sea of humanity. In such a place I feel the fear, the anxiety, the distrust, and the lost going about their daily activities not knowing that demons are around them, inside of them, and prolific within their culture. Sadness comes over me when I walk in a city among those who are lost. How I wish I knew their language and could make friends to tell them of the Good News but I can’t speak their language. I can, however, pray for those who do speak their language and I can encourage them to be faithful in their work spreading the Gospel of Christ to the nations. I can send money and supplies to those who have been given the opportunity denied to me to work among the nations as a missionary. I can and should and do send such support and encouragement and supplies. I can do something more, I can pray for the lost to hear and accept the grace of Christ.
I love the fact that the Holy Spirit will pray for what I am too weak to pray for. I know that I need to pray for the lost and those faithful servants working among the lost but I so often have no clue what to pray. The Holy Spirit does know, though, and will take my weak prayer and turn it into a powerful prayer. I love that, don’t you?
Christ died and then rose victorious over death. That is the Good News that we don’t have to fear death any longer. We can live without fear, without anxiety, and without worrying about our future. We can do this because we know that our future is secure in Christ that is if we have accepted the free gift of salvation through the grace of Jesus. That is why no one can stand against us because God is for us. We live on after this fleshly earthly body of cells and dust decomposes because we belong to Christ.
For you who are being persecuted and threatened with physical death, be encouraged that death is nothing to fear. The earthly body dies but you will live on if you belong to Jesus. Death is not the ending of a life but the beginning of eternity and no more can death do harm to those in Christ Jesus. What an encouragement this should be to you and to all of us. There is life after death so live your life today in the secure knowledge that you belong to Jesus and nothing can stand against you!