Secure in Christ

Sermon Study Sheets

Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

September 8, 2002

Secure in Christ

Romans 8:31-39

This morning we come to one of the most encouraging texts in the Bible. It is
a revelation of God’s sovereignty and character with direct application to His
loving relationship and promises to the Christian. Turn to Romans 8:31 and
follow along as I read through this passage.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God [is] for us, who [is]
against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us
all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring
a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one
who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at
the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who shall separate us from
the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,

"For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were
considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved
us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 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.


Paul begins this section with the question, "What then shall we say
to these things?"
What are the "these things" Paul is
referring to? This brings us back to the context of this passage, for the
"these things" are the sufferings that we have in this life that he
has been speaking about. We suffer in this life because of sin. There are the
consequences of our own stumbling. There are the accusations and persecutions
made against us by sinful people, and there are the general common hardships of
living in a fallen world. Paul addresses our security in Christ as we face each
of these situations, but he begins with a general statement of God’s loving
actions toward us that provide the foundation of our security in Christ.


Paul’s first sentence is not really a question, but an affirmation. The
Greek grammar here is not questioning God being for us. It is a clause of simple
condition in which the premise is presented as true and therefore the conclusion
is also true. In English, we can get a better sense of the meaning by
translating this as a statement using "since" or "because."
"Since God is for us, no one can be against us."

This same thought is expressed in Psalm 118. This is a Psalm of thanksgiving
for the Lord’s goodness in saving the Psalmist. After an opening of giving
thanks to the Lord, the Psalmist speaks of the distress that he was in and how
the Lord answered. In verse 6 he says,

"The Lord is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me? 7 The Lord
is for me among those who help me; Therefore I shall look [with satisfaction] on
those who hate me. 8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord Than to trust in
man. 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord Than to trust in princes."

Paul gives the reason we know that the Lord is for us in verse 32.


He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will
He not also with Him freely give us all things?

The Major Gift

God’s love for us is so great that He sent His only begotten Son to die as
the payment for the penalty of our sins. This is His great gift. Paul has made
it clear throughout Romans that this was not due to something attractive in us,
but out of His own love, mercy and grace.

Why did Jesus have to die? Because it was the only way for God to remain holy
and just and still have loving compassion on us to save us from our sins. God
could not overlook our sins, for to do so would make him unjust and unholy. He
has set the law and the requirements of the law must be met. For example, what
if God decided to just overlook Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden? God would
then be a liar for not carrying out His word to them about the consequences of
eating the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God could not retroactively
change the law, because that would destroy His immutability – i.e. that He is
unchanging – and make Him untrustworthy. His judgements would then become
arbitrary and therefore unjust.

It is popular in our culture to rename sin to be something else in an effort
to either remove the responsibility and therefore also the guilt, or reclassify
it as something that is not sinful. Drunkenness is renamed the disease of
alcoholism. Homosexuality and other perversions are called "alternative
lifestyles." Teen rebellion is considered normal. Sinful man can call
things whatever he wants, but it will not change God from considering them to be
abominations and rebellion against Him. God is holy and just and will carry out
His condemnation in His wrath against all who violate His laws.

God could not be holy and just if He were to either ignore or rename our
sins. God’s love satisfied His holiness and justness by paying the penalty of
the sin Himself through Jesus Christ. This is His great gift and there could be
no gift greater for there is nothing more valuable than God Himself. The
greatness of the gift speaks of the greatness of the love He has extended in
redeeming us from our sins.

I must remind you at this point that the context here limits the
"us" to referring only to those who have been justified by God’s
grace through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul makes this even
more clear by referencing the "elect" in verse 33. While God makes a
genuine universal offer of salvation to all sinners, for He is "not
willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance"
Pet. 3:9), it cannot be said that God is "for" everyone. God is
against the proud (1 Peter 5:5) and His wrath is against "all
ungodliness and unrighteous of men who suppress the truth in
(Rom. 1:18).

Minor Gifts

Paul then argues from the greater to the lesser. Since God has given such a
great gift, then God will also freely give the lesser gifts needed to live the
Christian life. The specific application in the context here would be related to
forgiveness of our sin. The Greek word her for "freely give" (carivzomai
/ charidziomai) also implies this. God gave Jesus Christ as the propitiation for
our sin so that we could be restored to a proper relationship with Him. Jesus
brought about our justification through faith in Him which then granted us God’s
forgiveness and imputes Jesus’ righteousness to us. 1 John 1:9 tells us that
after salvation as we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and righteous to
forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

But the principle in this verse goes beyond just the forgiveness of sins, for
in Christ we also receive a new nature, adoption into God’s family and an
inheritance. We have been "blessed with every spiritual blessing in the
heavenly places in Christ"
(Eph. 1:3) and "His divine power has
granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true
knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence"
Peter 1:3). This encompasses our practical needs for daily life too. In thanking
the Philippians for their gift in suppling his needs, Paul not only told them
how he had learned to be content in all circumstances, but also that "my
God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Jesus
(Phil. 4:19).

Even in the midst of suffering, we can trust God to supply our needs, both
spiritual and physical, because He has proven His love for us in His gift of
Christ Jesus.


In verse 33 Paul deals with another aspect of our suffering in this life on
this sin filled world.

Accused. Paul’s question is not rhetorical, for there are many sources
of charges made against God’s elect. Here are some of them.

The ungodly will deliberately accuse God’s people. Jesus warned us in
Matthew 5:10,11 that we would be insulted, persecuted and have all manner of
evil said against us falsely because of our relationship with Him. The godly are
concerned about truth and avoiding lies, but the ungodly do not share such a
concern. If they can get what they want by telling lies, then that is just
another tool to get ahead. If someone stands in their way, then assassinating
their character is just a way of clearing the path. If someone’s righteousness
exposes their own sinfulness by the contrast, then trashing their character is a
way to make themselves feel better, and for the ungodly, it is all about
themselves. How much hurt and damage they cause other people is of little
concern as long as they are getting what they want.

There are also times when even godly people might charge us with sin. Often
this is due to misunderstandings, but sometimes it is due to sinfulness that
they have let themselves stumble into. Sometimes is it because we have fallen
into sin. Those accusations, especially if false or made without compassion, can
hurt a lot because they are coming from people you thought would be more
careful, and be more kind.

Then there is Satan, who is also know as "the devil" which means
"slanderer" or "accuser." He is the father of lies and his
accusations against the Christian will be numerous. However, the greatest
suffering we receive from the devil’s accusations, are when the charges are
true. There are times we sin and Satan is quick to capitalize on them and seek
to discourage us with his accusations. "You can’t serve God when you have
done that" or "You can’t claim to be a Christian when you have done
that sin."

That brings us to the accusations we make against ourselves. We do stumble
into sin as Christians. Any claim that a Christian can be sinless in this life
is false. 1 John 1:8,10 tells us that Christians will sin, as does Romans 7.
When the Christian does sin, sometimes there also results a discouragement
because of the lack of perceived growth in holiness and victory over sin. We
then question whether we really can serve God, or at times even if we are a

How can the Christian deal with such discouragement whether it comes from
accusations by others or the feelings of defeat from personal failures? The
answer is that regardless of the source or validity of the accusations, God is
the one who justifies (vs. 33).

Justified. Recall again that justification means that God has declared us
"not guilty" in His court and has given to us the standing of the
righteousness of Christ before Him because we have placed our faith in the
person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have not justified ourselves. He
has justified us through Christ.

The picture here in verse 34 is that of God’s court room. The devil is
seeking to condemn us for our sin. The penalty is death and the picture is bleak
because the accuser presents his case and it clear that we are guilty. Then our
advocate stands up from His seat at the right hand of God the Father who is
judging us. Jesus points out that He has already died as the payment for the
penalty of the sins we are being charged with. Jesus also points out that He has
gained the victory over sin by being raised from the dead. Because of that, He
asks for a verdict of "not guilty" on the basis of the law’s demands
having already been satisfied by Himself. Jesus intercedes on our behalf with
God the Father. No charge can stand against us because Jesus Christ has already
satisfied the law and justified us before God.

But let me quickly add here another point. In an earlier sermon we saw that
we could be comforted in the midst of our sorrows because of the Holy Spirit’s
intercession for us. Now we find that Jesus Christ also intercedes for us. What

a blessing! Jesus, having made "one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat
down at the right hand of God"
(Heb. 10:12). Jesus is therefore the
prefect High priest who"is able to save forever those who draw near to
God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" (

Hebrews 7:25). We can take comfort that God will not forsake us regardless of
what accusations are made against us.


In verses 35-37, Paul shows that we can be confident in God in the midst of
any circumstance, because there is no circumstance that can separate us from the
love of Christ.

Hard Circumstances We Face

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or
distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
answer to the rhetorical question is of course, no! Each of the items in the
list is an impersonal circumstance that we could possibly face, yet none of them
can separate us from Christ’s love for us. The word for separation here (cwrivzw
/ choridzo) means to "leave," "separate," "divide"
or "put asunder." No circumstance can put a division between the true
Christian and the love of Christ. Nothing we may ever face can cause Christ to
abandon His love for us and leave us.

Tribulation (qli’yi" / thlipsis) is a
general term usually referring to the common troubles and trials of life, though
those trials can be severe, such as a woman in labor (Jn. 16:2). It can also
refer to specific tribulations of Christians such as in Act 11:19 where it
describes the persecution that caused the church in Jerusalem to scatter. Paul
has already said in Romans 5 that the believer should "exult in our
tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and
perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not
disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who was given to us
." Tribulation does not
separate us from the love of Christ because He matures us through it and, as 1
Cor. 1:4 says, He also comforts us in the midst of it so that we might comfort
others. Jesus said that in this world we would have tribulation, but we can take
courage, because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).

Distress (stenocwriva / stenochoria) has a
root meaning of to "be in a narrow space" or "compressed"
and hence it carries the idea of "affliction," "calamity,"
"extreme difficulty." This takes in more of the emotional element.
Paul uses it to describe the distress he had when suffering severe persecution
as an apostle of Christ. Distress which came from the beatings, imprisonments,
riots, labor and sleeplessness (2 Cor. 6:4,5). Yet, Paul was content in this
because for Christ’s sake, in his weakness, Christ was made strong (2 Cor.

Persecution (diwgmov" / diogmos)
specifically describes the sufferings, (physical, mental and emotional), the
believer receives because he is mistreated by others for his faith in Jesus
Christ. Again, Jesus told this would happen in Matthew 5:10 "Blessed are
those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven."
But even in the midst of this, we can "Rejoice,
and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the
prophets who were before you"

Famine (limov" / limos) is also
translated as "hunger." Psalm 37:25 says, "I have been young,
and now I am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Or his descendants
begging bread,"
but this does not mean that at times the Christian will
not be hungry as a result of the tribulations and persecutions they face. There
were times Paul was hungry and often without food (2 Cor. 11:27), yet he learned
to be content and trust the Lord whether he had a lot or was in need (Phil.
4:12). He understood God’s love for him even in that situation.

Nakedness (gumnovth" / gumnotas) does
not necessarily mean without any clothes, but rather to be without adequate
clothes. In 2 Cor. 11:27 this word is translated as "exposure" and is
joined with being cold. Paul did not have adequate clothing for the
circumstances he would find himself in. Yet again, Paul had learned to be

Peril (kivnduno"/ kindunos) or danger
was also something Paul often faced because of his relationship with Christ and
ministry for Him. In 2 Cor. 11:26 he lists out some of the dangers he faced on
his journeys – dangers from rivers, robbers, his countrymen, Gentiles, dangers
in the city, in the wilderness, on the sea, and among false brethren. We can
face the same dangers ourselves, but like Paul, they are never a sign of any
deficiency in Christ’s love for us.

The last circumstance Paul mentions is that of the sword. Certainly
Christians have faced the dangers that come with war, but the particular word
here (mavcaira / maxaira) refers to the short
sword or dagger, and so could also be referring to the danger of being murdered.
Many Christians have been martyred in such a manner. But even this extreme, does
not in anyway infer a diminished love of Christ for us. Though we may not
understand the circumstances God is allowing us to go through, His love for us
is still as sure as ever and it is proven in Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

God’s Plan

We do not always understand God’s plan, for sometimes it includes things we
consider only as a negative from our own perspective. Paul does not shy away
from this, but points it out directly in verse 36 with a quote from Psalm 44:22.
Just as it is written, "For Thy sake we are being put to death all day
long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

We Christians should not be surprised when we have to endure even severe
suffering for the sake of Christ. The Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 includes those
who "experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and
imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted,
they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in
goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 ([men] of whom the world
was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the

Paul told Timothy that "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus
will be persecuted."
The cost of following Jesus has always been high.
Jesus even said this cost should be considered before being His disciple for it
will require carrying a cross (Luke 14:27f). Jesus said in Matthew 10:37-39, "He
who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves
son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 "And he who does not
take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 "He who has
found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall
find it."
It is that last phrase that causes Christians’ to follow
Jesus. In Him, and only in Him, we find true life.

Conquering Through Christ

It is in the life that we have in Christ that we find we can overwhelmingly
conquer the circumstances that come upon us. Our life is no longer tied with
strong cords to this world, for our citizenship is in heaven, and we long for
our Savior’s return from there to take us to be with Him forever. His love for
us has been proven for all time and eternity on the cross in which He bore the
penalty of our sins. The true Christian can face even the most difficult
circumstance of life with a confidence that they do not in any way reflect a
lack of love on Christ’s part for us.

This does not mean that we look forward to such hardships or that we will not
struggle in the midst of them. It does mean that we can and will work through
them to learn the contentment Paul learned (Phil. 4), and we can even come to
the place of the Apostles who rejoiced that they were considered worthy to
suffer shame for Jesus’ name (Acts 5:40). We can see God being glorified in

our weakness through His strength working through us (2 Cor. 12:10). We learn to
rejoice and exult in our tribulations knowing that God is maturing us and
conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ in the process (Rom. 5; James 1). Our
foundation in the love of Christ remains unshaken.


We can be secure in Christ because there is no circumstance that can separate
us from the love of Christ. Neither is there any entity than can separate us
from the love of God. Paul states in verse 38,39,

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 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."

Paul is convinced because he believes what he has just written to the
Christians in Rome is founded in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ and in
God’s promises to those who have faith in Him. Salvation from sin is a work of
God. Therefore, it cannot be lost by man. No circumstance and no entity can
disrupt it. It is as secure as God’s promises, and since there is nothing
greater than God and because does not lie, there can be no doubt about the final
outcome no matter what may occur in this life.

As Paul said in 2 Tim. 1:12 as he encouraged Timothy with his own reflections
on what he had endured in serving Christ, "For this reason I also suffer
these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am
convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that

Not Death or life

Death is included as an entity instead of a circumstance because it is so
often spoken of in a personified way. It is an entity that each of us will meet
as the Lord tarries His return. Death is listed first because it is still our
enemy, and one that can cause great fear if we are not solid in our
understanding of and belief in Jesus Christ. The godly throughout the ages have
always found comfort in God’s promises as they faced this enemy. This was true
of David in Psalm 23 as he considered the valley of the shadow of death and
found comfort in God’s rod and staff. It was true for Paul as he even
considered it a preference to be "absent from the body and to be present
with the Lord."
We Christians comfort one another with the promise that
the "dead in Christ shall rise first, then we who are alive and remain
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,
and thus we shall always be with the Lord"
(1 Thess. 4:16,17). Death
cannot separate us from the love of God because Christ’s victory over it has
made it just a door for the Christian to go through into God’s very presence.

Some wonder why Paul includes life as a threat, but consider how many
religions view death as the final conclusion that seals the person in their
eternal destiny, but until then, where they are headed is open to question. Paul’s
statement is a reflection of the security that believers have in their salvation
through faith in Jesus Christ that He will lose none of those given to Him (John
6:39). True Christians will persevere until whichever is first, either their
death or the Lord’s coming (Rom. 15:4,5).

Not Angelic Beings

No angelic beings can separate us from God. "Angels" here is a
reference to the holy angels, and "principalities" are a reference to
the evil fallen angels, often referred to as demons (cf. Eph. 6:12). 1 John 4:4
"You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because
greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world
." James 4:7 "Submit
therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

Nothing from Any Time Period

"Nor things present, nor things to come" refer to anything that
currently exists or that may exist in the future. Obviously things that existed
in the past but do not exist now nor will exist in the future could be a threat.
Paul adds "nor powers" which includes the thought that
regardless of what miracles those things of the present or the things of the
future might be able to do.

No Creature of Any Size

"Nor height, nor depth" were common astrological terms of Paul’s
day referring to the zenith, or highest point of a star’s path, and to the
nadir, or lowest point of a star’s path. In the context of this list referring
to various creatures, it could be a reference to any creature that lived up the
highest point of the heavens or to any creature that might live to the lowest
points of hell. It could also refer to any person that lives with the greatest
amount of wealth and power and to any person that lives in the greatest amount
of misery.

No Created Thing

The final all encompassing phrase, "nor any other created
references anything that could possibly be left out from the
previous list.

There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Why?

The Guarantee of God’s Love

The love of God is guaranteed to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus put it this way in John 10:27-30. "My sheep hear My voice, and
I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they
shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. 29 "My
Father, who has given [them] to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to
snatch [them] out of the Father’s hand. 30 "I and the Father are one."

There are difficult things that Christians will face in this life. There is
real suffering we will endure because of our own sin, the sin of others and
living in a sin filled world. Yet, we have a hope for the future that is a
confident assurance of what will take place. God has given us His precious
promise of being justified through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
We are forgiven our sins. His love was demonstrated for all time and eternity in
Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself for our sin. His victory over sin was demonstrated
in His resurrection, which is also the guarantee of His promises to us of a
future resurrection. What God began in the believer in His foreknowledge,
predestination and election which stretches back into eternity past, will be
accomplished in the present in our justification and finalized in our

glorification. Our security of all this is God’s sovereignty. There is nothing
greater, nothing more powerful, nothing wiser. No one, no thing, no circumstance
can take us out of the Father’s hand and separate us from His love.

Are you secure in Christ Jesus our Lord? If you are, then step forward in
faith and live accordingly with His assurance and confidence to face whatever
may come in this life. Your future with Him is guaranteed.

If you are not secure in Jesus Christ, you can be today. 1 John 5:12 says
that, "He who has the son has the life, he who does not have the son of
God does not have the life."
You can receive Jesus Christ, the Son of
God today through simple faith in believing and trusting what He has said about
Himself and His promises to those that will seek Him. Will you seek Him? Talk
with myself or one of our church leaders, we would love to introduce to you
Jesus Christ that you too may know the forgiveness of your sins and have
security for the future in Him.



Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s
lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something
you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older
Children –
Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times security
or confidence in Christ/God is mentioned. 2) Discuss with your parents your
security in Christ and what it is based on.


Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What are the
"these things" in Romans 8:31? What does it mean that "God is for
us?" How do we know that God is for us? How could God redeem man and still
be holy and just? Is God "for" everyone? Why or why not? What are the
other things that God will "freely give" us? What are some of the
sources of charges against God’s elect? How do accusations against you make
you feel when they are false? When they are true? How can we be secure in Christ
when we are charged? What does it mean to you that Jesus Christ intercedes with
the God the Father on your behalf? Describe what each of the following mean in
Romans 8:35: tribulation; distress; persecution; famine; nakedness; peril and
the sword. As Christians we can face these circumstances which at times could be
very severe. Describe a circumstance you have faced that would fit with each
definition, then explain how you were able to overcome it. What are your
thoughts about verse 36? Have you ever given much thought to the fact that many
of the hard circumstance we face are because of our relationship to the Lord?
Have you counted the cost of following Jesus? Have you decided to follow Him?
Why or why not? What keeps you secure in knowing that God loves you? What are
each of the entities described in Romans 8:29,30? What guarantees that they
cannot separate us from God’s love? Are you secure in Christ? If not, do you
want to be? Meditate on 1 John 5:12,13.


Sermon Study Sheets

Secure in Christ – Romans 8:31-29




The Major Gift

Minor Gifts

Eph. 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3; Phil. 4:19



By the ungodly – Matt. 5:10-12

By the godly

By the devil

By our own conscience


IntercessionHeb. 10:12; Heb. 7:25


Hard Circumstances We Face

Tribulation (qli’yi" / thlipsis) : Jn.
16:2; Acts 11:19;

Romans 5:1-10; 1 Cor. 1:4; John 16:33

Distress (stenocwriva / stenochoria)

2 Cor. 6:4,5; 2 Cor. 12:10

Persecution (diwgmov" / diogmos) – Matt.

Famine (limov" / limos) Psalm 37:25; 2
Cor. 11:27; Phil. 4:12

Nakedness (gumnovth" / gumnotas) – 2 Cor.

Peril (kivnduno"/ kindunos) 2 Cor. 11:26

The sword (mavcaira / maxaira)

God’s Plan – Psalm 44:22; Hebrews 11; Luke 14:27f; Matthew 10:37-39

Conquering Through Christ Phil. 4; Acts 5:40; 2 Cor. 12:10; Rom. 5; James


Not Life or DeathPsalm 23; 1 Thess. 4:16,17; John 6:39

Not Angelic Beings

No Creature of Any Time Period

No Creature of Any Size

No Created Thing

The Guarantee of God’s LoveJohn 10:27-30 ; 1 John 5:12