25 yrs ago Charles Sykes wrote a book called A Nation of Victims: The Decay of the American Character. In that book Sykes decried the dev’t of a “victim mentality” or “cult of victimhood” that had emerged in American society, so that everyone saw themselves as the “victim” of something & all behavior was explained in terms of victimhood. Result: There’s nothing wrong with any of us or with our behavior; we’ve just been victimized in some way, & that’s why we’re the way we are & live the way we do.
- Has 2 effects: (1) Causes us to excuse ourselves for things we ought to accept respty for. (2) It diminishes the plight of people who really are victims, who really do suffer b/c of the wrongdoing of others or b/c of their circumstances.
- It would have been easy for the early Chrs to see themselves as “victims.” After all, they were hated by many in 1st-Cent Roman society. Frequently slandered & persecuted & faced all kinds of hardship & suffering. Rom 8:17. Suffering was their normal experience.
- Chrs still suffer for their faith. Thousands die every year simply b/c they believe in Jesus. Others experience other forms of persecution, sometimes very personal & unobserved by others, but real nevertheless.
- And then there is the suffering that comes to all of us b/c we live in a sinful, fallen world. It isn’t personal or directed against our faith – but it’s real nevertheless, & it hurts just as much.
- But those who live in the Spirit, as Paul describes in Rom 8, don’t see ourselves as “victims” of anything.
- In 8:31-39, Paul asks 4 Questions, each of which anticipates the same answer:
- Ques #1 – V. 31 – “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
- Ques #2 – V. 33 – “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?”
- Ques #3 – Vs 33-34 – “It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn?”
- Ques #4 – V. 35 – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
- The answer to all: “NO ONE!” No person & no thing can separate us from God’s love, or cause God’s plans for us to fail. In spite of all hardship, our salvation is secure. That’s our “Blessed Assurance.”
- But how do we know that? How can we be so sure that we are never defeated & never separated from God’s love? Paul gives 4 Reasons:
- B/c God gave up His own Son for us. – V. 32 – “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” – If God would do that for us, there’s nothing He won’t do for us.
- B/c God is the One who justifies us. That means no one is in any position to condemn us. V. 33 – “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” – Who would dare!?
- B/c Jesus is interceding for us. – V. 34 – “Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” As we live day by day – even when we err & commit sin – “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One” (1 Jn 2:1-2). His work wasn’t finished when He died & rose!
- B/c we are “more than conquerors” through Him who loved us.
(1) Vs. 35-36 contain a pretty scary list of all the things that might intimidate us spiritually, make us think we are/will be defeated: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword. Sometimes feels that way, living in a way so thoroughly corrupted by sin & evil.
(2) Still, v. 37 – “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
(3) “More than conquerors” is literally, “hyper-conquerors.” Means we don’t just “squeak by” or “eke out a victory.” We win hands down – no contest!
(4) Why? B/c Jesus has won the victory FOR us! – Message of Bk of Rev: “Be faithful unto death, & I will give you the crown of life.”
- Sometimes we get the wrong idea about salvation. B/c we know we’re sinners, we imagine that being saved means we’re just barely saved; we have just enough positive points on our side to tip the scales almost imperceptibly toward salvation.
(1) Why? B/c we ARE thinking terms of merit, of what we deserve, being saved by our own righteousness plus a little help from Jesus.
(2) Truth is, not saved by our righteousness at all – as Paul has
already carefully explained in 3:21-25. We’re saved by “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” We’re “justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” It’s got nothing to do with how much or little we deserve it.
(3) As a result, Paul says in 5:1-2, “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, & we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
- Paul can say what he does in 8:31-39 b/c of what he’s already said in chaps. 3 & 5 – indeed, throughout the entire first 8 chaps of Romans.
- Rom 8:31-39 is actually summing up & bringing to a climax all that Paul has said earlier in the letter. With all of that being true, we are “more than conquerors”!
- Now, I want to ask you to apply this very personally to your own life.
- Maybe you’re not undergoing persecution, but maybe there’s something else scaring you. Not “tribulation or distress or famine or nakedness or danger or sword.”
- But maybe it’s a difficult & painful relationship with someone you love, or it’s a sense of inadequacy in the face of the many demands life is making on you. Maybe it’s an illness that just won’t go away & never seems to get any better – or the fear that it won’t, or the constant frustration of not being able to attain the goals you’ve set for yourself in life.
- Make your own list; it doesn’t matter what’s on it. The truth is still the same: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
- B/c you’re in Christ, b/c you belong to God, He isn’t about to let you fall to the ground, after all He’s done to save you. You can count on that. That’s your “blessed assurance.” And it’s all b/c of Jesus & what He’s done for us.
If you want that assurance but don’t yet have it, it can be yours today!