EXIf God Is For Us, Who Can Be Against Us?
Many people come to Jesus to find peace in their lives because He promised to give peace to His disciples. Some people, in particular, hope that by drawing near to the Almighty God, the creator of all things, their worries will cease to exist, thinking that the peace promised by Jesus is a peace from worldly cares: acquiring financial stability, living in a good neighborhood, and having good health.
In the book of Romans, Paul encourages the church, writing, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom 8:31). Taken out of its context, this verse implies that nothing can oppose us if God is with us, for who can counter our success? So, we imagine living as a member of the upper class, being the president of a flourishing company, and being in vigorous health.
Paul further asks, "How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom 8:32) and tells us that "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom 8:28).
However, this letter, placed in its context, was written while the church was under terrible persecution. We learn that the believers were distressed, persecuted, and killed (Rom 8:35-36), and being a chosen heir of God meant suffering with Christ in order to be glorified with Him (Rom 8:17).
From this, we see clearly that the world opposes those who give their heart to God. By measuring faith against material blessings or our vision of peace, we risk deceiving ourselves or, worse, setting ourselves up for failure.
If we use an incorrect standard to assess the events in our life, we could come to fear that the slightest problem we encounter means we have been cursed, that becoming ill means we are being punished for having sinned, and that failure means God no longer loves us, even though we have been chosen for sanctification.
What, then, is the meaning of "God is with us"?
RENEW OUR MIND
First, the Bible teaches us that we must be renewed in our mind and must put on the new man, because relying on human understanding could estrange us from a life in God (Rom 8:17-24).
For this reason, our Lord Jesus proclaimed that we must be born again to see the kingdom of God. Otherwise, we risk being like the crowds who trailed after Jesus for miracles, for healing, and for bread and failed to understand the true reason for following Christ.
In fact, we could receive many types of material blessings yet pass by the word of God and the way to eternal life.
Our Lord Jesus, therefore, commanded us to renew our mind, in order that we are not only able to see but also able to enter His kingdom and become a person pleasing to Him.
For this purpose, He told us to seek first the kingdom of God and He would take care of our material needs, so that worldly matters would not occupy our thoughts and our time while we strived to do so.
The mother of the sons of Zebedee was under the same misconception as the crowds when she asked Jesus to allow her sons to sit, one on His right and the other on His left, in His kingdom (Mt 20:20, 21). She was hoping that Jesus would make them His chief ministers.
During this historical era, many believers were waiting for Christ to expel the Romans from their country and to take control. Jesus, seeing their lack of understanding, taught them to seek humility rather than the glory of the world.
This new way of thinking is gained through a strict faith and sincere trust in the words of the prophets, Jesus, and the apostles. This trust in the Bible allows us to accept spiritual truth, which surpasses our wisdom, and to experience the grace and power of God in our life. The assiduous and genuine application that follows will ensure that we walk with God in His way.
WALK IN THE WAY OF THE LORD
To keep from becoming discouraged, we must strengthen ourselves through our trials, bearing in mind that all things work together for our good and that tribulations are a part of the way shown by the Lord.
In fact, after Jesus received water baptism and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove, He was lead by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And He was subjected to various forms of injustice and attack up until His death on the cross.
Similarly, the apostles encountered persecution, slander, and sufferings shortly after the establishment of the church on the Day of Pentecost.
We, too, may encounter difficulties in proportion to our strength. In our trials, we must remember that, as written by the apostle Paul to believers walking in the way of the Lord, "all things work together for good"!
Of course, we must discern between a test from God and a temptation from the devil—the former edifies us and the latter causes us to fall when we forget to be vigilant.
It is also for this reason that Paul emphasizes the fact that a blessing is, nevertheless, conditional and that we must walk according to the Spirit and not the flesh to please God.
After baptism, we abide in Christ, and sin no longer has dominion over us (Rom 6:14-18), but we will still be tempted by carnal desires (Rom 8:1-8).
To live in grace, therefore, we must become slaves of righteousness (Rom 6:19), bearing fruits that lead to holiness and eternal life (Gal 5:16, 24-25). By remaining firmly on this path, we will not fall into temptation.
But how do tribulations and spiritual combat benefit us?
SUFFERING FOR GOD IS A BLESSING
By faith, we can easily accept going to battle for the Lord: it is a natural expression of our faith, our gratitude, and our love for Him. The apostles testified that fighting by His side is a wonderful experience and a tremendous privilege. We will not forsake those whom we love!
After the apostle Paul escaped death at Lystra, he and Barnabas taught that tribulations lead to victory. From his experience, he saw that difficulties sanctify us by way of perseverance and hope. And we overcome our sufferings through the love of God.
Like Stephen at his stoning, those who suffer for Christ will be shown the kingdom of God. They will be strengthened while serving Him, knowing that their temporary suffering is nothing compared to the indescribable joy that will await them when they can be by His side for eternity.
The apostle Peter also exhorts us to rejoice when we are reproached for the name of Christ, because to suffer for doing good is a grace before God. We should not forget that our Lord Jesus, at the beginning of His ministry, taught this very principle in the beatitudes, saying that the kingdom of heaven is for those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
Sufferings are not failings but are a grace of God. Common sense is reversed! True failure occurs when we return to sin and draw away from the love of both God and men.
The purpose of these explanations is not to disclaim the material blessings of God, because they are abundant and do bring us much happiness, much like how nature flourishes after the rain. Rather, it is to help us understand that the blessings given by Him must not become an objective.
Our goal is to make progress in our relationship with Him.
Although Jesus, the Almighty, is with us as we travel on this path, we must understand that tribulations may arise, but they may also, by the miracle of faith and the grace of God, strengthen us and fill us with joy.
This may be foolishness for men, but it is grace for the children of God. The injustice we suffer will sanctify us and strengthen us as we strive to love God and love men.
God is with us to guide us in the way of excellence, a way that will bring us indescribable joy and peace beyond our comprehension—a profound peace within the storm. And nothing can stop this from happening if we remain faithful, steadfast, and vigilant in His way.