Yesterday we concluded by looking at the first reason we might have for being defeated. The second reason is found in verses 17 to 25, where Paul talks about our present sufferings. These discourage us. How are we to know that these will not drag us down? A sinful nature is bad enough. It is within. But, in addition, we have problems without. How are we to know that in the midst of our sufferings, perhaps when we are really put to the test, when we have to pay the price for our convictions—how do we know that in situations like that we will not have cold feet, back off, and deny the very one who bought us? How do we know that circumstances will not overpower us like a wave and that we will be carried away and lost?
Third, in verses 26 and 27, Paul talks about our weakness. “The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness,” he says. He acknowledges that we have it. We have a sinful nature within. We face hostile circumstances without. We are weak. How can we triumph? How do we know that these things are not going to gang up on us, and in the end, regardless of the value of the death of Christ, overcome us and defeat us?
Well, if you have read these verses carefully, you know that Paul gives the answer and that he gives it again and again. It is the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Christ within. We have union with Christ, and because we have union with Christ, we have the spirit of Christ. Christ’s spirit is working powerfully within to overcome these circumstances. He is able to conquer our sinful nature because He is greater than the sinful nature. He is able to overcome circumstances because He is greater than circumstances. He is able to offset our weakness because He is greater than our weakness.
The last paragraph of Romans 8 talks about no separation. We fear separation. We fear separation from those we love. When we think about the end of our life we fear death, which is a separation of the soul from the body. Since those separations take place— separations between friends, between husbands and wives, between children, separations from health, and eventually from life itself—how are we to know that, in the end, these things will not separate us from the love of God in Christ?
Paul gives two reasons why we can know there will be no separation. First, there is a great chain of salvation anchored in the purposes of God: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (vv. 29, 30). This is a chain of five links, which is unbreakable because it is forged by God. It begins with foreknowledge. It proceeds to predestination, calling, and justification. Finally, it ends with glorification. Foreknowledge has to do with God setting His love upon us in advance of anything we might do. So this chain begins in eternity past. Predestination follows. It has to do with our destiny in Christ. Calling concerns the act by which we are brought to personal faith in Christ. Justification follows faith. Ultimately, to take our salvation from eternity past to eternity future, there is glorification.
How do we know that there is not going to be any separation between ourselves and God? It is because there is no separation in God’s plan. This plan was not our idea. If it were our idea, we might change our mind or we might be unable to do what we intended. You and I make plans all the time that we cannot fulfill. We might say, “My plan is to persevere to the end and be glorified.” But if it is only our plan, our desire, we do not have any confidence whatever that we will get to the end of our journey. But this is not our plan. It is God’s plan. There will be no separation, because this is what God is doing.