I recently came across a story about a daughter who was complaining to her father about how hard things were for her. She was frustrated because she felt that every time she would solve a problem in her life, another would pop up to take its place – and she was tired of struggling.
Her father, who happened to be a chef, took her to the kitchen where he filled three pots with water and placed each one on a burner set on high. Soon the pots came to a boil. In one he placed carrots, in the second, eggs, and in the last, ground coffee beans. He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
The daughter impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. After a while, he went over and turned off the burners. He fished out the carrots and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. He poured the coffee into a bowl. Turning to her he asked, "What do you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled, as she tasted its rich flavor.
She then asked her father what she was supposed to learn from his experiment. Her father explained that each of the three items had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
The egg was fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. By being in the boiling water, they changed the water.
He asked his daughter, "When adversity knocks on your door, which are you?" (From the Internet; submitted by Eric Reed, managing editor, Leadership Journal)
As we start back into the book of Romans, this week we are going to be looking at the importance of how we, as Christians, respond to the different situations and obstacles we face in life.
Romans 8:31 states, “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
A few weeks ago, we discussed the fact that anyone who accepts God’s free gift of salvation has been predestined to be conformed into the image or likeness of Jesus. We also talked about the fact that those God predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.
After letting us know some of the things God has done for us, Paul starts verse 31 by asking His audience what they, and us, are going to say in response to what God has done for us. Our relationship with God was never intended to be a one way relationship where we get to just sit back and let God do everything for us. Everything God has lovingly done for us requires a response –it requires action on our part.
After asking for a response from his audience, Paul proceeds to state a truth that really should impact the way every professing Christian lives their life. He says that, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
No one is immune to hardships and difficulties. Sooner or later everyone experiences the “crucible of life.” But the moment we surrendered our life to Christ, we experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It was also at that moment that we were justified before God. Because we have the spirit of Christ in us, and because God is for us, we have the ability to positively impact the situations and circumstances Yahweh allows us to experience for His glory and His kingdom.
Continuing on, verse 32 reads, “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?”
Both God the Father and God the Son paid a high price in order for any of us to have the opportunity to have a restored relationship with God. First of all, God knew that Jesus was the only one who could serve as the perfect sacrifice for sin – He was the only one who could pave the way for our reconciliation to a righteous, and holy, and just Heavenly Father who can't, by His very nature tolerate or accept sin. Secondly, out of love for us, Jesus freely allowed Himself to go to the cross in payment for every one of our sins.
Galatians 2:20 states, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Because God loved us enough to send Jesus to the cross and because we are united with Jesus and have the Holy Spirit in us – we can trust all of God’s promises.
In order to solidify in our minds the point that Paul was trying to make when he said “If God is for us, who can be against us,” he continues on in his letter asking and answering a series of questions, starting in verse 33 saying, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.”
We know from passages like Revelation 12:10 that Satan is constantly accusing any follower of Christ. He is constantly attacking, especially when we accidently drop the ball in our walk with God. Satan wants us to live in bondage to sin and to live a life of defeat. But in Psalm 51, David lets us know that any sin, no matter how big or how small, is actually committed against God Himself. Verse four of that Psalm reads, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.”
Since any sin that is committed is ultimately committed against God and since He is the only righteous and just judge – He is the only One who can bring charges against people and hold them accountable – or who can justify them when they repent. Because of that, when we are trying to whole-heartedly follow God and are trying to live a life of obedience; we can experience a true sense of peace even in the midst of Satan’s attacks.
Verse 34 in our main passage contains Paul’s second question. That verse reads, “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
In the past, we have discussed the fact that Jesus came to save people not condemn them, and that anyone who doesn’t accept Him stands condemned already. The fact that Jesus came into the world, lived a sinless life, and shed His blood on the cross in payment for our sins, means that He is the only one who has the authority to determine who is saved and who is condemned.
While it is true that Satan is at work as the accuser of God’s children, we have a greater force at work in our lives. Hebrews 7:23-25 reads, “Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
We don’t have to live in bondage to sin or live in fear of Satan’s attacks because even though he is always trying to make accusations against us, Jesus “is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
Paul’s final question from our main passage this morning is found in verses thirty-five and thirty-six. Those verses read, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’"
We have talked numerous times about the importance of being one hundred percent committed to God because He requires more than lip service from His followers. But serving God whole-heartedly doesn’t make someone immune to struggles and difficulties. In fact, a lot of times they will increase.
When we face hardships, it can sometimes make people question God’s love for us. That’s why Paul asks if there is anything that can separate us from the love of Christ? Can things like hardships or persecution or famine or danger?
And the obvious answer for anyone who is truly committed to their relationship with Yahweh is no. There isn’t anything that can separate us from God’s love. To emphasize that point, Paul ends the portion of his letter that we’ve been talking about this morning by saying, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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.”
We can boldly live our life for Christ no matter what we may have to face or endure because, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”