NO CONDEMNATION IN CHRIST JESUS by Octavius Winslow

"God Is for Us"

    What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

    What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

    What can we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31

The Apostle had concluded the sublime argument which, with so much consecutiveness of reasoning, and power of language, he had been pursuing. And now he comes to the inference logically deducible from the whole. "What shall we say to these things? To what conclusion shall we arrive, touching the power of the gospel to support and console us in all our assaults and sufferings?" Then, proceeding to answer his own question, he resolves the blessed results of the entire argument into a single, animating, and comprehensive one- GOD IS FOR US! "If God be for us, who can be against us?" The question supposes the existence of a combined and powerful hostility to the Christian. Let this, briefly, be our first point of consideration.
To establish this fact, no lengthened proof is necessary. The Bible declares it- observation confirms it- and experience demonstrates it. There is, in fact, no possible form of evil- no machinations of the powers of darkness- not a single one of the noxious principles indigenous to our fallen nature, which is not in direct and deadly antagonism to the best interests of the child of God. The believer may be compared to an individual who has thrown off allegiance to his king, has disowned his country, and refuses obedience to its laws, yet continues to dwell in the land he has renounced, and close by the sovereign he has forsworn. The grace of God has called us out of the world; yet the providence of God has sent us into the world. We may, therefore, expect nothing but hostility from the god of this world, and hatred from the world itself. From these two sources, as from another, to which we may presently advert, strong opposition proceeds. There is much of mystery connected with the subject of satanic agency which we may never entirely comprehend. With a power and a ubiquity differing from Divine omnipotence and omnipresence in nothing but their reality, he sways a fearful scepter; and is everywhere, and at the same moment, accurately acquainted with every circumstance of our history, and, it would appear, with each hidden thought of the human heart. Satan is against us. All his force- all his wisdom- all his malice- all his subtlety and skill- and all his myrmidons, are exerted and marshaled in tremendous opposition to the interests of the child of God. Let the histories of David, and Job, and Joshua, and Paul, yes, of our Lord himself, testify to the truth of this. The world, too, is against us. It will never forgive the act by which we broke from its thraldom, renounced its sway, relinquished its pleasures, and resigned its friendship. Nor can it forget that the godly, self-denying, unearthly life of the Christian, is a constant and solemn rebuke of its worldliness, its irreligion, and its folly: "You are not of the world, therefore the world hates you." Sometimes veiling its opposition and concealing its malignity beneath smiles and flattery, it seeks to win back the votary it has lost. And when this effort proves unavailing, it changes its course, and, with venomed tongue, and sleepless zeal, and malignant hatred, seeks, by detraction and falsehood, to malign, and wound, and injure the sons of God. How touching the words of Jesus addressed to each disciple- "If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." But there is yet another source of opposition to the Christian. We utter but a home truth and a self-evident one, when we add to these forms of hostility- that of our own hearts! And after all that we have said, our most powerful and treacherous foe is this one which we cherish in our bosom. Oh, yes! the sin that dwells in us- "a heart deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked"- the body of corruption and death which we bear about with us forms a source of opposition to our holiness and furtherance in the Divine life, as continuous and powerful, as it is humbling and distressing to our renewed nature. Truly, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." With this mighty phalanx opposed to him, is it not a marvel that any child of God should ever maintain his stand, and at last arrive at heaven? But the wonder ceases when our eye lights upon these words, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

To this great and consoling truth let us now direct our attention. We shall find, on examination, great prominence given to this fact- God on the side of the Christian- in his holy word. It was with this assurance that Jehovah calmed the fears and strengthened the faith of his servant Abraham. It was a period of intense anxiety with the patriarch. He had just achieved a signal victory in his battle with the kings, from whose power he had generously and valorously rescued his nephew, Lot. It was natural to expect that the nations whose armies he had defeated, and whose sovereigns he had slain, should collect their scattered forces, and, with renewed strength and a fresh onset, descend upon him with overwhelming force. Just at this juncture, when trouble was near, all anxious, and fearful, and trembling as he was, God appeared to his servant, and soothed him with these words- "Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward." And all that God was to Abram he is to all those who have like precious faith with him. Christian, assailed and fearful! Jehovah is your "shield, and your exceeding great reward." Then, fear not! I ask not what your trouble is, what form of opposition assails you. I meet you- be your peril, be your trembling, be your anxiety, what it may- with this fact, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" And God is for you! Oh, but believe it, and all shall be perfect peace! His Divine shield is ever around you, and before you can be injured, that shield itself must be broken. This, too, was the truth with which God stayed the faith of Isaac. "And the Lord appeared unto him by night, and said, I am the God of Abraham your father: fear not, for I am with you." To the godly children of Christian, perhaps glorified parents, how peculiarly appropriate and precious are these words! It is an argument and a plea of no little power with God when a tried and needy Christian is led to pray, "You are the God of my parents, my father's God, faithful and loving. And since you did say to your servant, "I am the God of Abraham your father, fear not, I am emboldened in this time of necessity and fear to cast myself upon the same love, and faithfulness, power! Oh, turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give your strength unto your servant, and save the son of your handmaid." God's dealings with the prophet Elisha afford another striking illustration of the same precious truth, that he is on the side of his people. Alarmed at the overshadowing forces of the Syrian hosts, the servant of the prophet exclaims, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" And he answered, "Fear not: for those who be with us are more than those who be with them." Ah, yes! chariots of fire encircle every believer; and, best of all, the Lord is in his chariot, "riding upon the heavens in their help, and in his excellency on the sky." It was in view of this same truth that David encouraged himself. "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" And when God was about to send Jeremiah into his vineyard, what was the truth with which he strengthened his hesitating faith? "You therefore gird up your loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command you . . . . they shall fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you." And when Paul repaired to Corinth, and was met by much opposition and blasphemy in his mission of testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ, it was with this same blessed assurance- God on the side of the Christian- that his faith was strengthened and his spirit comforted. "Then spoke the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Do not be afraid, but speak, and hold not your peace; for I am with you, and no man shall set on you to hurt you." It was the Lord Jesus, who, in all the tenderness of his love, thus appeared to soothe and animate his servant. And since he is the "same yesterday, today, and forever," he is prepared to comfort our trembling hearts with the same blessed assurance- "I am with you." And what were his last words to his Church, still vibrating on the ear, "Lo! I am with you aways; even unto the end!"
God must be on the side of his people, since he has, in an everlasting covenant, made himself over to be their God. In an especial manner, and in the highest degree, he is the God of his people. In the most comprehensive meaning of the words, he is for us. His love is for us- his perfections are for us- his covenant is for us- his government, extending over all the world, and his power over all flesh, is for us. There is nothing in God, nothing in his dealings, nothing in his providences, but what is on the side of his people. Enshrined in his heart, engraved on his hand, kept as the apple of his eye, God forms a mighty bulwark for his Church. "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even forever." In Christ Jesus, holiness, justice, and truth, unite with mercy, grace, and love, in weaving an invincible shield around each believer. There is not a purpose of his mind, nor a feeling of his heart, nor an event of his providence, nor an act of his government, that is not pledged to the happiness, and security, and well-being of his people. What Joshua said to the children of Israel, trembling to encounter the giants of Anak, may be truly said to every believer in view of his foes, "The Lord is with us, fear them not."
Not the Father only, but the Son of God, is also on our side. Has he not amply proved it? Who, when there was no eye to pity, and no arm to save, undertook our cause, and embarked all his grace and glory in our salvation? Who slew our great Goliath, and rescued us from Pharaoh, discharged our debt, and released us from prison? Who extinguished the fires of our hell, and kindled the glories of our heaven? Who did all this by the sacrifice of himself? Oh, it was Jesus! Need we further proof that he is for us? Who appears on our behalf within the veil? Who sits for us as a priest upon his throne? Whose blood, first shed on Calvary, now sprinkles the Mercy Seat? Who pleads, and argues, and intercedes, and prays for us in the high court of heaven? Whose human sympathy flows down in one continuous stream from that abode of glory, blending with our every trial, and suffering, and sorrow? Who is ever near to thwart our foes, and to pluck our feet from the snare of the fowler? Oh, it is Christ! And there is not a moment of time, nor a circumstance of life, in which he does not show himself strong in behalf of his people.
And so of the Holy Spirit. Who quickened us when we were dead in trespasses and in sins? Who taught us when we were ignorant, enlightened us when we were dark, comforted us when we were distressed; and when wounded, and bleeding, and ready to die, led us, all oppressed with guilt and sorrow as we were, to Jesus? Who inspired the first pulsation of life, and lighted the first spark of love, and created the first ray of hope, in our soul, and dried the first tear of godly grief from our eye? Oh, it was the Eternal Spirit, and he, too, is for us. Survey the record of your own history, dear reader. What a chequered life yours, perhaps, has been! How dotted the map of your journeyings, how multi-colored the stones that have paved your path, how varied and blended the hues that compose the picture of your life! And yet, God constructed that map, and God laid those stones, and God pencilled and painted that picture. God went before you, and God is with you, and God is for you. He was in the dark cloud that enshrouded all with gloom, and he was in the sunshine that gilded all with beauty. "I will sing of mercy and of judgment: unto You, O Lord, will I sing." And who has carried forward the work of grace in our souls- checking our feet, restoring our wanderings, holding up our goings, raising us when we had fallen, and establishing our feet more firmly when men rose up against us? Who has healed all our diseases, and has filled our mouths with good things, so that our youth has been renewed like the eagle's? It was the Lord who was on our side, and not one good thing of all that he has promised has failed.
It may, then, well be asked, "Who can be against us?" With such a Father, such a Friend, and such a Comforter, who can urge a successful hostility to the saints of God? God himself cannot be against us, even when the clouds of his providence appear the most lowering, and his strokes are felt to be the most severe. "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." The law cannot be against him; for the Law-fulfiller has, by his obedience, magnified and made it honorable. Divine justice cannot be against us, for Jesus has, in our stead, met its demands, and his resurrection is a full discharge of all its claims. Nor sin, nor Satan, nor men, nor suffering, nor death, can be really or successfully against us- since the condemnation of sin is removed, and Satan is vanquished, and the ungodly are restrained, and suffering works for good, and the sting of death is taken away. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" With such a Being on our side, whom shall we fear? We will fear nothing but the disobedience that grieves, and the sin that offends him. Fearing this, we need fear nothing else. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not fear. Listen once more to his wondrous words- "You are my servant. I have called you, and not cast you away. Fear not; for I am with you: do not be dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness."
The subject, if most consolatory to the Christian, in its converse, a solemn one to the unregenerate. It is an awful thing not to have God for us. And if God is not for us, there is no neutral course: he must be against us. And God is against you, my unconverted reader. So long as you are in an unreconciled state, not only God, but every creature of God, is at war with you. The whole creation is an armory of destructive agencies to a soul out of Christ. All are messengers of death to a Christless sinner. Yes, God is against you! Mistake not the blessings of his providence for the smiles of his grace. The hand that prospers your worldly schemes, that drops its mercies so profusely around your path, yet holds its drawn sword of vengeance above your head. Not a night do you compose yourself to rest at peace with God through Christ Jesus. And are you prepared for the consequences? Have you thought of them and weighed them? Look at them now! When your sorrow comes- as come it will- God will mock; when your calamity approaches, he will laugh; when you stretch forth your hand, he will withdraw his, so long stretched out to you in vain. Who will then befriend you? Not an angel or a saint but will tune his harp to the holiness and the justice of your condemnation. Alas! there is no appeal from the decision of the Judge, there is no hiding place from his indignation, no cessation of his wrath. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." And yet that God loves sinners, gave his Son to die for sinners, is willing to receive sinners, and is gracious, full of compassion, and ready to forgive sinners. Let the goodness of God, then, lead you to repentance.
Would we always have God for us? then let us aim to be for God. God deals with us his creatures by an equitable rule. "The ways of the Lord are equal." "If you walk contrary unto me, then will I walk contrary unto you." Is not God for you? Has he not always, since be manifested himself to you as your covenant God, been on your side? Has he ever been a wilderness to you, a land of darkness? Has he, in any instance, been unkind, unfriendly, unfaithful? Never. Then be for God- decidedly, wholly, uncompromisingly for God. Your heart for God, your talents for God, your rank for God, your property for God, your influence for God, your all for God- a holy, unreserved consecration to him, all whose love, all whose grace, all whose perfections, all whose heaven of glory is for you. "Yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead." Trembling Christian! God is on your side. And, "if God be for us, who can be against us?"