Posted April 01, 2015
 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
In the verses prior (31-34), Paul asked a series of 5 questions revealing that God is resoundingly for His own people, that He is so generous toward us that He did not spare His own Son, that none can bring a charge against His elect because He justified them (or declared them righteous), that none could condemn them either for Jesus not only died but was raised and now is at the right hand of God actively interceding for us. Here in verse 35, Paul asks an additional two-part question as he continues to shine a light on the persistent covenantal love of Christ. Basically Paul is asking: if all the things we read in 31-34 are true, is there anything in the world that could potentially step in between us and this love that God has given us?
If we’re honest, often our physical circumstances dictate how we think God is postured toward us. We get in certain “karmic ruts” where we assume that as long as we are doing A, B, and C, God should act favorably toward us in keeping us from any form of difficulty. We think that God owes us something based on us following through with our end of the deal. Like Job’s friends, we assume that something must be wrong if things are not going our way. Paul answers his own question in two ways: first indirectly, by quoting from Psalm 44:22 and then directly by pointing to our identity with and in Christ.
God’s People As Slaughtered Sheep
Paul quotes from Psalm 44:22, reminding the New Testament believers that suffering and even death has always been a mark of God’s people throughout the ages. Christ’s love for us doesn’t mean we won’t suffer, but rather that the suffering cannot take us away from Christ’s love. There’s a huge difference there! He actually is reminding us that we suffer because of our identification with Christ (“for your sake…”). Friends, if Jesus suffered, why do we think we would not also suffer? Today we find too many people who love to identify with the heavenly blessings attained for us through Christ’s crucifixion and the power associated with Christ’s resurrection, but very few want to identify with His suffering and death in their own experience. The truth is you don’t get to pick and choose. Either He is Lord and Savior, or He is nothing.
God’s People As More Than Conquerors
Paul answers his question by saying, “No!” The list of things we generally associate with losing and abandonment don’t equate with true loss and separation from the love of Christ. It turns out Job’s friends were wrong! In a surprising turn, Paul actually says that, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors…” Not just semi-conquerors, not just mere conquerors, but more than conquerors. There is no question about how complete and thorough this conquering is. Note also that we are not simply more than conquerors through our own strength and will power, but rather “through him who loved us.” Apart from Christ, we are hopeless and helpless. We conquer not in the way the world would conquer, but rather through the saving work of Jesus in our lives.
Paul tries to speak as clearly as he can: our outer condition does not reflect our spiritual status before God. Are you going through distress or difficulty of any form (be it direct opposition from others or simply a lack of provision)? Christian, do not buy the lie that God has abandoned you or that you’ve been separated from His love, but rather may you be encouraged that your suffering is not in vain and that just as Jesus suffered and died and was raised, so in Him we too are more than conquerors.
Song by Seth Dady.
Artwork by Danny Rankin.