So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us?
(Romans 8:31-32 The Message)
In other translations, this passage begins with the words, "If God be for us, who then can be against us..." Well, I think our worst enemy is not some demonic agent of hell, but US! It is amazing to me to see the things we believe about ourselves that keep us limited in our lives. The passage begins with a very telling question: "What do YOU think?" The answer to this question goes a long way in us walking INTO growth as we should and not AWAY FROM it!
The truth we often fail to embrace is that God did not hesitate to embrace us - in our sin, aware fully of our fickleness of heart, and knowing full well that every promise we'd make him would always be with the best of intentions! We often want to accept God's forgiveness only when we FEEL forgiven - like when we FEEL we have DONE enough to truly be forgiven. The truth is that God already forgave at the cross and once he forgives, it is final!
The way we "view" ourselves often determines the way we walk. For example, if we see ourselves as a failure, we often won't try new things because we don't think we can accomplish them. If we see ourselves as unattractive, we portray that "image" of ourselves in how we dress, the way we hold ourselves, etc. The "image" we have of ourselves in our "mind's eye" is often overriding of the image God holds of us in his.
The verse says, "If God be for us, who can stand against us?" I would like to say no one, but I know from practical experience that we can indeed be our worst enemy! I want us to refer back to the beginning verses of this chapter for a moment:
Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.
(Romans 8:1-2 The Message)
A new power is in operation in our lives - we can come out from under that black cloud of doubt, feelings of worthlessness, and spirit of oppression that keeps us focusing on the OLD us. The Spirit of Christ - like a strong wind - frees us. Living in Arizona, I know the power of a strong wind! Monsoon season around here can see winds into the 50 mph range. Roofs take a beating, trees are uprooted, and dust billows across the baron desert floor. Think about the power of one monsoon wind and multiply that by about a billion. Now, maybe you have some idea of the work of the Spirit of Christ within you!
We are freed, not because of what we do or say, but because of the Spirit that works within us as children of the Most High. If that is not enough, here is what else this chapter points out for us:
Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.
(Romans 8:5-7 The Message)
Our own moral "muscle" is really a pretty flabby one! Try as we might, we will never change our nature - only Christ is capable of doing that. Attention to God, and the activity of his Spirit within us, is what leads us into places of freedom beyond our wildest imagination.
Isn't it time that we begin to examine ourselves in the mirror of the Word and not the mirror of our minds?