Romans 8:31 is a verse we tend to associate with loud, rocking and rolling, call and response sermons.
“If God is for us…”
“Yes sir! Amen.”
“There is no one.”
[murmurs of approval]
“No one! That’s right!”
“Who can stand against us!”
Or we associate the verse with that blessing hiding right around the corner, that Chris Tomlin song about angel armies on our side, or general spiritual warfare.
But I think that too often, we can apply this verse too quickly, without digging deep into what it really means. We correctly use it as a spiritual weapon, but without understanding how to properly deploy it, kind of like using a rifle as a bo staff.
We celebrate the victory before fighting the battle.
Yes, it’s true that if God is for us, nothing can stand against us.
But it’s also true that if God is for us, a whole lot of things can (and will) be against us.
What Will Stand Against Us? Everything
Throughout our lives, many, many things will stand against us. Right now, I’ve got a lengthy list of things causing distress in my life, including but not limited to:
Relentless back pain
Some ongoing family issues
Health problems that Jen is having
A child who believes she is correct about every subject ever invented, including geography, science, matters of the heart, and the proper bedtime procedures for children
I pray about these things a lot. Pretty much every day. And they don’t seem to be going anywhere.
So what gives?
I thought God was for me.
What about all those angel armies?
And it’s not like I’m the only one. Every Christian I know finds themselves in the same place, beset by trials, enemies, weird health problems, financial hardship, and a lot more.
This also seems to be the story throughout Scripture. If Jesus had things stand against him to the point of execution on a cross, then maybe this verse is a little deeper than it seems on the surface.
If God Is For Us, Nothing Can Stand Against Us
Romans 8:31 is like the final crescendo in a symphony of previous verses.
Nothing can stand against the glory that is going to be revealed to me.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Ro 8:18–19)
The suffering I experience right now is going to pale in comparison to the astounding glory that will be soon revealed to me.
In fact, the glory that’s coming will be so breathtaking, so glorious, so overwhelmingly valuable, that I’ll look back at what I suffered and say, “That was nothing! It was all so worth it! Following Christ through the valley of pain and suffering was nothing compared to this!”
When Christ returns, I’ll finally be set free from the corruption of sin and sorrow. Creation will be restored, I will receive a resurrection body, and life will reign.
Nothing can stand against that and nothing I experience now can compare to that.
Nothing can stand against the Holy Spirit helping me.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Ro 8:26)
Life is utterly perplexing. Honestly, I have no idea how to handle 90% of the struggles I encounter every day. I don’t even know how to pray about them. Do I ask God to remove the obstacle altogether? Do I pray for strength to endure? Do I ask for miraculous intervention?
WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?????
But I don’t need to solve this problem. The Holy Spirit himself intercedes on my behalf. What a beautiful thing. The Spirit comes to the Father on my behalf, but unlike me, the Spirit knows exactly what I need. He’ll never pray the wrong thing. The Spirit will ask God to give me what I need and God will always give it to me.
The whole world may stand against me, but it can’t destroy me because the Holy Spirit is interceding for me.
What. A. Relief.
Nothing can stand against God’s purpose for me.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Ro 8:28)
Though I may be buffeted by a hurricane of pain, strife, sorrow, temptation, and spiritual attack, God calmly controls every gust of that hurricane.
He is orchestrating all things for my good and his purpose, strategically using this trial to build my trust in him, this relationship to increase my joy, and this hurdle to hurdle to give me a deep experience of his love for me.
No matter what stands against me, it can’t thwart God’s purpose. From start to finish, first breath to last, cradle to grave, I’m his.
Come hell, high water, or the apocalypse, nothing can stand against me.
More Than Conquerors
Given all these things, Paul then says:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
If God is for us, there truly is nothing that can stand against us. And many things WILL stand against us. That’s guaranteed.
But our end is sure. We WILL arrive in glory, and when that time comes, we’ll chuckle at how insignificant our sufferings really were. Christ will be all in all, and we’ll be experiencing joy we didn’t know was possible.
That is something worth stomping and clapping about.