This Persuasion—Part 2 (Romans 8:38-39)
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:38-39
Paul, being thus persuaded that there was a love of God, and that there was a union through love between the soul and its God, now says that he is persuaded that nothing can ever break those bonds.
He begins by mentioning some of the things that are supposed to separate, and the first is death. It sends a shiver through some when we begin to speak of death, and the bravest man who ever lived may well tremble at the thought that he must soon meet the king of terrors; but, brothers and sisters, if Christ loves us, and we love Christ, we may well be persuaded that death will not break the union which exists between us. There is nothing about death that the believer should construe it into a fear that it will separate him from the love of Christ. Christ loved you when he died; he will love you when you die. It was after death—remember that—it was after death that his heart poured out the tribute of blood and water by which we have the double cure; see, then, how he loves us in death and after death. There is nothing about death that should make Christ cease to love us; our bodies will be under his protection and guardian care, and our souls shall be with Christ, which is “far better” than being anywhere else. Do not, therefore, fear death.
The apostle says next, “nor life.” I must confess that I am more afraid of life than of death. “Oh!” says one, “but dying is such hard work.” Do you think so? Why, dying is the end of work; it is living that is hard work. If one might have his choice, one might be content to have a short warfare, and to enter upon the crown at once. But we may be permitted to live on to extreme old age; do you dread it? There is nothing about old age to separate you from the love of Christ; he hath made, and he will bear; even to hoar hairs will he carry you; therefore, be not afraid.
Then he mentions angels, principalities, and powers. Well, the good angels cannot separate us from the love of God; we are sure that they would not wish to do so, and whatever spiritual creatures may frequent the earth, they cannot separate us from the love of Christ. Does the apostle mean devils,—fallen angels, that would overthrow us, some of them as “principalities” by their dignity, others of them as “powers” by their subtle, crafty force,—does he refer to devils? I think he does, and this, then, is our comfort, that, if we have to meet the arch-fiend himself foot to foot in terrible duel—And even though he may rejoice over us for a moment, and may cast us down, he cannot separate us from the love of Christ; he may open many of our veins, and make us bleed even to utter weakness, but the life-vein he can never touch. There is a secret something about the Christian of which Satan wishes to spoil him, but which is entirely out of his reach, so the saint sings, “I am persuaded that neither angels, nor principalities, nor powers can separate me from the love of Christ.” Be confident, dear brethren, that these spiritual beings, these unseen forces, these strange and mysterious powers which you cannot fully understand, can none of them separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus your Lord.
“Things present.” Even a depressed and desponding state of mind, whatever the cause of it is, whether weariness of brain or heaviness of heart, cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Then, what can it do? Why, sometimes, it can drive us to Christ; let us pray that it may. But anyhow, things present cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
“Things to come.” I cannot help wondering what the “things to come” will be for you. With some—who can tell?—as the Lord lives, there may be but a step between you and death; and if you have no Christ, and have never tasted of his love, you are running awful risks even in going one step further. You have walked on, and on, and on, and there has hitherto always been something beneath your footfall; but the next step may precipitate you into the abyss. Wherefore, seek the Lord now ere it be too late. As for the child of God, he knows no more about his immediate future than you do; but he knows this, that there is nothing in the future that can separate him from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore, let the future bring with it what it may, all will be well with him.
Now the apostle adds two more expressions, “nor height, nor depth.” There are some brethren who dwell in the heights; I am rather pleased to meet with dear friends who never have any doubts or fears, but are always full of joy and ecstasy, and who go on to tell us that they have left all these things behind, and have risen to the heights of bliss. But what I do not like is when they look down from those awful heights upon us poor Christians and say that they cannot believe in us because we are anxious, because we practice self-examination, because we have to struggle against sin. They do not struggle; they have risen beyond all struggling, they rub their hands, and sing of everlasting victory. Well, my dear brother—you up there on the topmost bough,—you will not frighten me with all your heights, though I cannot get up there, and I could not stay there if I could get up so high. This one thing I know, I am sure that there is nothing in those heights that can separate me from the love of Christ; there is nothing in the heights—in high doctrine or in high living,—that can separate me from the love of Christ.
I am a little more acquainted with the depths, and I meet with many Christian people who are very familiar with those depths. Though you should be weary of your life, though you should never have a ray of light by the month together, there is nothing there to separate you from the love of Christ. You may go down, down, down, till you seem to have got beyond the reach of help from mortal man; but there are cords and bands which bind you to Christ that even these depths can never break, come what may.
The apostle ends the list by saying, “nor any other creature.” It may be read, “Nor anything in creation, nor anything that ever is to be created,” nothing shall ever separate us from the love of Christ. Oh, what a sweet persuasion is this! Let us go forward into the future, however dark it is, with this confidence, that, one thing at least we know—the love of Christ will hold us fast, and by his grace we will hold fast to him. We are married to him, and we shall never be divorced. We are joined to him by a living, loving, lasting union that never shall be broken.
Selected text from Charles Spurgeon. Click here for the full sermon.
Can you describe a time when you were tempted to think you would be or that you were separated from the love of Christ? Was there a fear of death? Or life? Was it due to battling angels, principalities, and powers? Was it things present? Or worry of things to come?
How did you (would you) fight this temptation? Do you have the victory over this temptation through Christ?
Read through Romans 8. Mark the various ways God has shown his covenant love for you.
Are you joined to Christ? Do you know him? Watch this short video to help you know Jesus.