Romans 8:31 (NKJV) 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
One of the most important truths we must learn from the Word of God is that God is good. This seems obvious I know. However, most Christians do not live in this truth. The influence of life, religion and culture tell us that God is good but only to a degree. God is good but there are many reasons he cannot be good to me. God is good but my situation is beyond his goodness. God is good but his goodness does not apply to what I am facing.
God equated his goodness with his glory in Exodus 33. God’s goodness is not just an attitude that he carries. It is a dynamic force that consumes evil. If we learn to walk in the reality of the goodness of God, we will walk in victory.
Hebrews 11:6 reveals an aspect of God’s goodness. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Religious thinking does not believe this. Religious thinking believes that he is a punisher. Religion tells us that if we do anything that is wrong God is waiting to punish us. Religion provides us with ways to appease God so that we can avoid the punishment. Christianity is not a religion it is a relationship.
There is punishment for sin. To eliminate that fact is to eliminate half of the gospel. Even for those of us who are born again, sin has consequences. This is true not because it negates salvation but because it opens the door to the effect of death in our daily living. If I sin, I step into the devil’s domain. Bad things will happen to me. God is not punishing me. I have done something that has set an effect in motion.
All this being true, God is by nature a rewarder not a punisher. Reward is the manifestation of his goodness. It is possible to walk in the goodness of God. Paul is someone who did just that. He did not always have things easy. There were times when he suffered. However, the goodness of God was always at work bringing him to where he needed to be to accomplish the will of God.
If we want to live in God’s goodness, we must abandon ourselves to his will. His goodness does not always look the way we want it to. His goodness is not just about bringing blessings to us. It will do that. I believe he will heal us, prosper us and make us successful in that to which he has called us. I also believe that he wants us to be effective in his Kingdom more than the other things I have mentioned. It is not that we have to choose. We simply have to match his priorities and we will have both.
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Yesterday we read in Romans 8:28 that God works all things for our good. I do not believe this verse is saying that every bad thing that happens to us is the will of God. I believe it is saying that even in the bad things that come, the goodness of God is at work bringing about the best for us. Today I want to take it a step farther.
Paul asks a question in today’s verse. “What shall we say to these things?” What things is he talking about? I believe he is talking about the things we already read in chapter 8. We also should add verses 29 and 30. In them he reveals that we are predestined to be changed into the image of Jesus. That is God’s will for us.
What are we going to say to the fact that the Holy Spirit is helping our infirmities by praying for us? What are we going to say to the fact that God is moving us into his will? What are we going to say to the fact that he knows us now, he knew us before we were created, and he knows our destiny?
For that matter, what are we going to say about verses 32-34? God did not withhold the sacrifice of Jesus from us so what will he withhold? The answer is nothing. What are we going to say to the fact that Jesus is the one who died for us and the devil has no right to condemn us? What are we going to say to the fact that no one can bring a charge against us that God has not already dealt with? My sin is my father’s business not the devil’s.
We read what Paul says to these things. He says, “If God is for me who can be against me?” I want to say it another way. If the goodness of God is at work in all the things mentioned here, how can I fail? God’s goodness saved me from sin and God’s goodness will work to bring about the best in my life. Not only is God for me but his goodness is working for me.
Verses 35-37 could be confusing.
Romans 8:35-37 (NKJV) 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
When I look at Paul’s list, I am not sure I see the goodness of God. I do not see how tribulation and distress are good things. How can the goodness of God be at work in nakedness, peril or sword? It makes no sense. He quotes a scripture. Maybe that will clear things up. It does not. Psalm 44 speaks of being killed all day long. To my mind that is not good!
Verse 37 is the key. In all these bad things, Paul sees himself as more than a conqueror. He believes that he will come out on top somehow. This may not happen the way he might like it to. This may not happen in ways that are easy. It will happen. Why is Paul so convinced that he will win in the end?
Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV) 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 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.
We can glean many things from this verse. I want to highlight one of them as we close today. Paul knows that when bad things happen it does not mean God has stopped loving him. If God has not stopped loving him, then God’s goodness is still at work and will produce victory in the end. That is how Paul evaluates life. He does not evaluate God’s goodness according to what is happening around him. He sees what is happening around him through the prism of God’s goodness.
When I see life that way, I know that God is going to bring good things to me. Nothing that happens can shake that faith. God is going to bless me and bring me to my destiny. Nothing can stop that from happening. I may have to endure some things along the way. I may go through some detours because of the devil and my own weakness. If I trust in God, I will end up “more than a conqueror” because his goodness will never fail me.
Change what you say about life. Begin to speak according to the goodness of God. Begin to declare that nothing can separate you from his goodness. When troubles come, remind yourself and the devil that “God is for me and neither the devil nor anything else can succeed against me. I am and will be more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus, through his love for me and through his goodness at work in my life.