What can stop God’s love?
Sin doesn’t have to dictate our lives1 If we put our faith in Christ Jesus, we won’t be condemned as guilty. 2 Sin was the law code you used to follow. It led you down the path of death. But because of what Christ Jesus did, the Spirit has freed you to follow the path of life.
3 God did what the Jewish law couldn’t do: put an end to sin running our lives. The law was limited by the weakness of human beings. But God sent his own Son in the flesh to sacrifice himself. 4 God did this out of respect for the rule of law, and to do what the law required: enforce consequences for sin. With that taken care of, we’re free to follow the Spirit instead of letting sin control our lives.
Selfish thinkers do selfish things5 People who live selfish lives think selfish thoughts. People who live Spirit-led lives have minds hardwired to the Spirit. 6 A selfish mind will get you killed. A Spirit-led mind will bring you peace and life. 7 A mind hardwired to selfishness can’t connect to God. It won’t submit to God’s protocol. So there’s no way it can connect to God.
8 We can’t please God if all we do is please ourselves. 9 You, however, aren’t controlled by selfishness. You’re controlled by the Spirit if God’s Spirit lives in you. But if you don’t have the Spirit of Christ, you’re disconnected from him. 10 Even though Christ is in you, your body will die because of sin. But the Spirit will give you life because everything is right between you and God.
11 I’m telling you that if God’s Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then that same Spirit who raised Christ Jesus from the dead is going to put life back into your bodies. He’s going to do this through his Spirit who lives in you. 12 So, dear family, we don’t owe a thing to selfishness. We don’t have to live that way anymore. 13 If you live a selfish life, it will be the death of you. But if you let the Spirit destroy the selfishness in you, you can count on living.
God is “Dad” to us14 I’ll tell you who the children of God are. They’re the people led by the Spirit. 15 God’s Spirit doesn’t turn you into slaves who are afraid of him. God’s Spirit has adopted us. We’re his children. He’s Dad to us; our spirit calls him Father. 16 God’s Spirit and our own spirit both confirm that we are God’s children.
17 If we are God’s children, we’re going to inherit everything God has for his children. Think of it, we share our inheritance with Christ. That’s assuming we suffer as needed, like he did, so we can one day enjoy praise and celebration with him.
Creation, all messed up, groans in pain18 We’re facing hard times right now. But this suffering is nothing compared to the glorious wonders we’re going to see one day. 19 Excitedly, creation waits for God to identify his true children.
20 Creation malfunctioned. It wasn’t creation’s fault, but it got so messed up that it became useless. God condemned it, but for a hopeful reason. 21 Creation is decaying, as though it’s a slave to decay. God plans to free it and to turn it back into a glorious place for his children to live. 22 Creation has been groaning in pain, like a woman giving birth. Even now. We all know it.
23 It even affects us, too. We groan in pain like everyone else. That’s in spite of the fact that we’ve been given the Spirit, as the first sample of what’s ahead for us. In the meantime, we wait to inherit what God will give his adopted children. One item on that list: our bodies, which he’ll save. 24 We were saved. That’s our hope. Hope isn’t something you can see. I mean, come on, who hopes for something they already have? 25 But when we hope for something that’s nowhere in sight, we patiently keep a lookout for it.
We can’t pray, but the Spirit can26 We’re weak, but the Spirit helps us. We don’t have a clue how to pray. But the Spirit does our talking for us, using a language too intense for words. 27 God reads us. He knows what the Spirit is saying when the Spirit steps in to help God’s people pray.
28 Anything that happens to people who love God can eventually produce something good. I’m talking about God’s plan, and about the people he has invited to become a part of it. 29 God knew who would become his children. That’s why he chose them to take on the characteristics of his Son and to become the first among many of God’s children. 30 The people God prepicked, he invited. The people he invited, he accepted. The people he accepted, he honored with praise.
With God, why worry who’s against us?31 So what’s it all mean? If God’s on our side, why worry who’s on the other side? 32 God didn’t spare even his own Son. He sacrificed him for us. If God did that, how’s he not going to give us everything?
33 If God says we’re okay with him, who’s going to challenge that by saying we’re not okay with him? 34 Who’s left to condemn us? No one. Christ Jesus died for us. Then he was raised from the dead. Today he’s at God’s right hand, talking for us. 35 What can stop Christ from loving us? Can any of these: trouble, crises, bullying, starvation, poverty, danger, weapons?
36 Our Bible says, “Because of you, we’re in mortal danger all day long. We’re considered no better than sheep tagged for slaughtering.”
37 Even with all this going on around us, we’re still winning a big victory. It’s all because of the one who loved us.
38 I’m sure of this: Nothing can stop the love God has for us, which he has shown through Christ Jesus our Lord. Not death or life. Not angels or rulers. Not anything today or in the days to come. Not even powerful beings. 39 From high to low, not one created thing can keep us from the love God shows us through Jesus.
The Greek word Paul uses his sarx, often translated as “flesh,” or “sinful nature.” Paul uses the same word in 8:4-9, 12.
A more literal translation says creation is “subjected to futility” (New American Standard Bible), or that it got messed up. Some Bible experts say the verse reads awkwardly, as though Paul’s thought got tangled up a bit as he dictated.
Some Bible experts say that Paul is referring back to what happened after Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit. “The LORD God said to Adam… ‘I’m putting a curse on the ground because of what you did’” (Genesis 3:17).
The more technical, theological word is “justified.”
Paul offers an explanation for why God felt compelled to send his Son to die as a sacrifice for the sins of others, much like sheep were sacrificed for the sins of their owners. “God did this out of respect for the rule of law, and to do what the law required: enforce consequences for sin. With that taken care of, we’re free to follow the Spirit instead of letting sin dictate our lives” (8:4). How do you react to that?
In the section titled “Selfish thinkers do selfish things” (8:5-13), Paul serves up several engaging one-liners. Some almost sound like they belong in the book of Proverbs. If we could keep in the Bible only one verse from this section, what do you think it should be? And what makes it better than the other verses?
Sinner or saved, Paul says we are dead either way: “Even though Christ is in you, your body will die because of sin” (8:11). If we are forgiven of our sin and have peace with God because we have faith that Jesus already died for our sins, why do we have to die, too? What sense does that make?
Bible scholars have probably spent a fair amount of salaried time trying to figure out Romans 8:20, “Creation malfunctioned. It wasn’t creation’s fault, but it got so messed up that it became useless. God condemned it, but for a hopeful reason.” What do you think Paul was talking about and what did he mean by “a hopeful reason”?
Paul says, “Creation has been groaning in pain, like a woman giving birth. Even now. We all know it” (8:22). Do we know it? Bible experts have to guess about what Paul meant by this. What do you think might be some possibilities?
Paul says “We don’t have a clue how to pray” (8:26). Is that so? If so, how so?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul says that “People who live Spirit-led lives have minds that are hardwired to the Spirit” (8:5). Then he adds, “A mind hardwired to selfishness can’t connect to God. It won’t submit to God’s protocol” (8:7). How do you think we can tell whether we are hardwired to God or to the Spirit?
LIFE APPLICATION. Not everyone has had a good experience with their father. Some have never known their father. Others only wish they had never met him. Paul says that God is “Dad to us; our spirit calls him Father” (8:15). What do you think people should do with that advice if they have had a terrible experience with their earthly father?
LIFE APPLICATION. Perhaps one of the most abused Bible verses in the Bible is Romans 8:28. A more familiar Bible translation puts it this way, “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (King James Version). Christians have told that to the freshly unemployed, raped, and evicted—to name a few categories. What do you think is a healthy way to apply that message today?
LIFE APPLICATION. In what circumstances do you think it would be helpful to remember this paraphrased quote from Paul, “If God’s on our side, why worry who’s on the other side?” (8:31)?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul says, “Nothing can stop the love God has for us” (8:38). That’s not what some people say they think. Some folks hate themselves, and they figure God hates them, too. If you made a list of people who feel this way, what kinds of people would you include? What have they done or what have they experienced to make them feel that God can’t love them?