Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 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. (Romans 8:35, 38–39)
Paul says it clearly. He has lived it and he knows. “[Nothing] shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Nothing can stop God from loving you. But evil can and does work to prevent you from believing you are loved. Over and over again, in various ways, Satan tempts us to think we are unworthy of God’s affection. “You are a disgrace,” Satan whispers into our thoughts. “How could anyone want to be with you?”
Consider the life of Saul (who became Paul) and the condemning thoughts he must have had to overcome. As a zealous young Pharisee, Saul had participated in stoning Stephen. He had persecuted and put to death believers. If anyone deserved to be cut off from God, it would have been Paul. Think of how Satan must have tempted him to think God couldn’t possibly want him after what he had done.
Another trick Satan uses to separate us is to make us think that we can earn God’s approval if we just try harder. He tempts: “Obey these rules.” “Try this program.” “Pray more.” “Give more.” “Keep trying.”
Prior to his experience on the Damascus Road, Saul was living in this trap. He was a self-described “Hebrew of Hebrews … a Pharisee … concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:5). Saul was zealously following the rules of his religion. But no religion can fix the problem of our separation from God.
Jesus is the only solution. The freeing truth is that He died for our sins. He repaired the gap. He reconciles us to the Father.
Yet another trick Satan uses is to tempt us to think that when something bad happens, it is proof that God doesn’t care. “If God really loved you,” he whispers, “why didn’t He prevent the cancer?” “The abuse and suffering?” “The child’s premature death?”
As a believer, Paul was stoned, shipwrecked, beaten, and jailed. He witnessed his friends being persecuted and killed for their faith. Yet, he remained steadfast; he knew tribulation and persecution, famine and sword were not signs that Jesus had abandoned him. In fact, he wrote, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed…. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:16–17).
My friend, your suffering is not a sign that God is unhappy with you. Your afflictions are not evidence that God has abandoned you. Rather, God uses the hard times to draw you to Him so you can come to know and trust Him in deeper ways. Through the trials, He is working His glory—His nature—into you.
Falsely believing that we can be separated from God causes us to act like it. If we don’t recognize God’s constant lovingkindness toward us, we will live life trying to get back into His favor. Instead of living from the foundation of knowing we are loved and valued, we will live struggling to earn love and value.
It isn’t our job to try to keep ourselves in God’s love. In Christ you and I are in His love. Whether you agree with it or not, whether you believe it or not, you are loved by God. Your belief does not change the truth, but believing the truth does change you.
Your position in Christ is one of inseparable union! Absolutely nothing can come between you and the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
Ponder for a Moment
Is there something that you think can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ? If so, what does this Scripture speak to you specifically about that something?
How would you personally sum up today’s Scripture?