Paul’s Five Questions in Romans 8:31-39
Romans 8 is marked by five questions. These questions are not new to you. What is new is not the questions, but the answers.
The first is the question of protection
Paul asks in Romans 8:31, ‘if God is for us, who can be against us?’
What a great question? He does not ask who can be against us. You can answer that question quickly. Couldn’t you? Who is against you? May be it seems the economy is against you. In laws are against you. Odds are against you. Your health is against you. Sin is against you. If the question is who is against us, we can easily list out the foes against us. But Paul’s question is this, if God is for us who can be against us. His encouragement is God changes our situation. When God shows up, everything changes for the better because God is for us.
A group of friends played football every Sunday. One team against another. Every often one of their dads would come out and play. Everything changed when a dad was in the huddle.
When your heavenly Father is for us, the situation changes. You have an unfair advantage over the devil because God is for you. Paul says God is for us. Not just anyone, but God. The one who runs the universe. He is for us.
In the book of Isaiah, we read:
Isaiah 49:15 Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
Knowing that God is for you, who can be against you? Debt, death, disease, not really. Even hell itself might set itself against you but hell will fail because God is for you. This is Pauls question of protection in Romans 8 and he is saying because God is for us, we have protection.
Then he follows up with a question of provision
Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Having seen what God did for us on good Friday, and resurrection Sunday, will He not also sustain you on Monday, bless you on Tuesday, provide for you on Wednesday.
Having defeated our sin and death, will He not walk me through my traffic jams? My difficulties? My struggles and pain? Having established that He will take care of my sin and death, can’t I turn over to Him about my concerns about my life. Want He graciously give us all things?
This is Paul’s question that tells us we can be worry free people. We don’t have to worry. Do you ever worry? Some of us have postgraduate degrees in worry. We worry about everything. We worry about education, recreation and constipation. We worry that we won’t have enough money, and then when we have enough money, we worry that we will spend it too fast. Did God save you so that you will worry? He did He teach you to walk so that he could watch you fall. Would he be nailed to the cross for your sins and would then disregard your fears?
You think the scripture is just teasing us when it reads he has put his angels in charge of you to watch over you wherever you go (Psalm 91:11)?
God provides! So the question of protection is followed by the question of provision.
Then two questions come in rapid succession. Questions about guilt and grace
Romans 8:33-34 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one--for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one--for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God's right hand, appealing to God for us.
There is story of a youngster named Johhny who was shooting rocks from a slingshot. He never could hit his target. As he returned to grandma’s backyard, he spied her grandma’s pet duck. He let a rock fly and lo and behold, the stone hit and the duck was dead. The boy panicked and he hid grandma’s pet duck in a wood pile only to look up and see his big sister watching the whole time. After lunch that day, grandma told the big sister to help her with the dishes. Big sister said Johnny told me he wants to help in the kitchen today. And she whispered to him, remember the duck. What choice did he have? So for several weeks he was at the kitchen sink. Finally, so weary of washing dishes he decided any punishment was better than washing dishes. So, He confessed to grandma that he killed the duck. I know Johnny. Grandma said. I was standing at the window. I saw the whole thing. But because I love you, I forgave you. I wondered how long you were going to make the big sister make a slave out of you.
Johhny had been pardoned but he thought he was guilty. If we repent, and confess our wrongs, God forgives us. We have been pardoned, but we think we are guilty. Why?
Because we are listening to the voice of our accuser.
Paul says who can accuse the people God has chosen? (Romans 8:33)
We have an accuser. He is the devil. He cannot take your salvation, but he can take your joy. He cannot take you to hellfire, He can take your peace; He can take your sleep. Every moment of your life, the accuser files charges against you. He notices your every move. If you forget your promises, he will make a note and he will remind you. He lives to accuse you.
The bible calls the devil the accuser of our brothers and sisters who accuse us day and night before God (Revelation 12:10). We hear him accusing us in our conscience.
He says to God, that child of God is a sinner even after He has repented. He is lazy. He forgets to keep his promises, to obey you. As the devil speaks in our heads, we say, I think he is just right. I am just guilty your honour. Satan says what is the sentence God? God our judge says the wages of our sin is death but in this case, the death has already occurred; Christ died for our sins. And Satan has no response to that. Satan is suddenly silent and you are jubilant because you realise that Satan cannot accuse you because of your genuine faith in Jesus. A faith that has accepted Christ's righteousness entirely. Satan can try. His accusations doesn’t work. No more dirty dish washing water for you. No more nagging accusations. It is as though you have already stood before the judge and judge has declared you not guilty.
You can agree with Isaiah, who said:
‘The Lord God helps me, so I will not be ashamed. I will be determined, and I know I will not be disgraced. 8 He shows that I am innocent, and he is close to me. So who can accuse me? If there is someone, let us go to court together. If someone wants to prove I have done wrong, he should come and tell me. 9 Look! It is the Lord God who helps me. So who can prove me guilty? (Isaiah 50:7-9)
Because the judge is your father, the court is no place to fear. The judgement will be given in your favour (Daniel 7:22). No more condemnation for you because you belong to Jesus (Romans 8:1).
That’s the question of guilt and grace.
One question remains. The question of God's faithfulness and enduring love
‘Can anything separate us from the love Christ has for us?’ (Romans 8:35)
That’s what we want to know. We want to know if we are loved. We want to know how long God’s love will endure. Does God really love us forever? Is there truly in this universe a source of unconditional love? All the rest of the love we know is conditional. If you are pretty, I love you more. If you are successful, I love you more. If you are kind I love you back. All the rest of the love we have is based on our performance.
Can I slip too many times? Can I misspeak too many times? Can I cross the line so that I may be less loved? That’s the question you may have.
Paul is telling us that there is love that is offered to you that is greater than any love you will find anywhere else. You don’t have to be rich to accept it. You don’t have to dress nicely to receive it. This is a love beyond you that doesn’t depend on you. It just depends on God. God’s unconditional love depends on the faithfulness of God who gives it. And to show how faithful He is, and how committed He is, he left heaven and came to earth. He took our sins on him so that we can have his righteousness. When we truly turn to God and place our faith in Him, He covers us with his grace. That grace also changes us to be like Jesus. If we fall, He gives us another chance. Now can anything separate them that belong to Jesus from such a love? Can anything separate us from God’s forgiving and transforming love?
And the answer is:
‘And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’. Romans 8:38, 39.
Here’s the message in the questions in Romans 8:31-39. God protects. God provides. God declares you right because of you faith in Him alone. Nothing can separate us from His love.