Friday, 2 August 2013
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Romans 8:35
Another verse well worth committing to memory is found in Romans 8:35. Paul has just explained that there is none who can condemn those who have faith in Christ. He died for our sins and was raised for our justification. And even more, He is there at the right hand of God interceding for us. Because of this, another rhetorical question is proposed, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” The only possible answer is, “No one.” Any alternative would be unthinkable.
To help us think this though clearly, a list of possibilities is given which would normally separate the living –
Tribulation, Greek thlipsis – This generally denotes something which applies external pressure. If one stands on a watermelon, the melon will scrunch and explode. External pressures on us cause us to fold in, either physically or mentally, until we finally lose control. No matter what presses upon us, what it leads to is temporary; it has no eternal bearing on our state before God.
Distress, Greek stenochōria – This could be equated to being stuck in a tight, confining place. If one were buried alive, this would be a word which might be used. There is no freedom of movement, but only the confinement which cause anxiety. In 2 Corinthians 7:5, Paul speaks of the distress he faced – “Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.” The external conflicts caused the internal fears. However, even though we may enter into dire, confining straights, Christ shall lead us to broad spaces where there will be eternal freedom of movement. See Psalm 18:19, for example.
Persecution, Greek diōgmos – If we walk in life and have others constantly attempting to overtake us and harm us, we are facing persecution. The intent is to destroy in name, in character, or even in person. Such is the fate of many in the world today as the Islamic and secular world attacks, reviles, and kills Christians because of their faith in the work of Jesus. No matter what they say or do, Christ is our Advocate and He is our place of refuge. There should be no fear of what the world can do. It is but a light affliction.
Famine, Greek limos – This is the complete deprivation of what is needed to remain alive. It is a lack of food; it is a lack of water; it is the deficiency of nutrition which can only lead to death. Though we may lack food or water, there is a place awaiting us where there shall be no lack. “They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat…” Revelation 7:16
Nakedness, Greek gymnotēs– This isn’t speaking of a state of immodesty, but rather a state of deprivation of the necessities for protection. It is the state of being without any clothing at all. Imagine the anguish of being stripped bare in the midst of the heat of the desert or during the falling of a heavy wet snow. There can only be one end to such treatment, misery followed by death. However, in Christ, we are granted eternal garments with which to cover ourselves. See Revelation 3:5, for example.
Peril, Greek kindynos – This is anything which would cause danger or risk. If we walk into the ocean, maybe we will step on something with a poison barb. If we flee in haste, maybe we will slip and break a limb. If we cut ourselves maybe an incurable infection will result. Peril includes anything which is a result of the curse pronounced so long ago upon creation. Whatever is against us as human beings and which could harm us, it will be forgotten someday when we are delivered into the paradise God has prepared for His people. Revelation 21:3 tells us that in the future, there shall be no more curse.
Sword, Greek machaira – This is surely speaking of the state of martydom that many Christians have faced, are facing, and will continue to face. The term “the edge of thesword” in Hebrew is actually “the mouth of the sword.” The sword is a consuming instrument which is never satisfied. It’s hunger is only for more death. However, should you – O Christian – face the sword, it can only lead you through the Door and into the world where death is swallowed up in victory. Christ has prevailed over such things. Fear not.
Life application: There are a multitude of things which can harm us or kill us, but none of them can prevail over us. In Christ, the battle is already won. If you desire to have your faith strengthened today, take time to read Hebrews 11 which tells of the faith of those who have gone before.
Heavenly Father, I have the assurance that no matter what trial or struggle comes against me, there is a better hope than this temporary, earthly walk. I know that no distress, peril, persecution, or want can keep me from the promises You have made. And so I place my life in Your capable hands, knowing that You shall lead me to waters of rest. Amen.