Neither Death Nor Life - Romans 8:38-39

Romans 8:38-39 - Neither Death Nor Life
Photo Source: Pixabay / Composition: Sue Chastain

What do you dread most in life? What is your greatest fear? In Romans 8:38-39, the Apostle Paul lists some of the most dreadful things we encounter in life: fear of death, unseen forces, demons, powerful rulers, unknown future events, and even the fear of heights and drowning, to name a few.

Paul is thoroughly convinced that none of these dreaded things—and he includes anything else in all the world—can alienate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.

Key Verse: Romans 8:38–39

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)

Paul begins his list of ten of the most feared things with death. That's a big one for most people. With certainty and finality, we will all face death. Not one of us will escape it. We fear death because it is cloaked in mystery. No one knows exactly when it will happen, how it will happen, or what will happen to us after death.

But if we belong to Jesus Christ, this one thing we do know with all assurance, God will be there with us in all of his great love. He will take our hand and walk with us through whatever we must face:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4, ESV)

It may seem odd that life is the next item on Paul's list. But if you think about, anything else that we may fear except for death happens in life. Paul could have listed thousands of things we fear in life, and in every case, he could say, "This will not be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus." 

Nothing in the course of a lifetime can sever the children of God from their Father's love, secured to them in Jesus Christ.

God's Love Is All-Consuming

Here is a great illustration to explain why God's love is so reliable:

One day a single friend asked a father of four, “Why do you love your kids?” The father thought for a minute, but the only answer he could come up with was, “Because they’re mine.”

So it is with God's love for us. He loves us because we are his in Jesus Christ. We belong to him. We are his kids. Absolutely nothing that can ever drive a wedge between the children of God and their heavenly Father. No matter where we go, what we do, who we face, or what we fear, God will always be there with us and for us in all of his great love. We can walk securely knowing this truth.

Earlier in Romans 8:31, Paul asked the rhetorical question: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The eloquent fourth-century preacher John Chrysostom pointed out that even those who are against us and oppose God, will, in the end, glorify him:

“Yet those that be against us, so far are they from thwarting us at all, that even without their will they become to us the causes of crowns, and procurers of countless blessings, in that God’s wisdom turneth their plots unto our salvation and glory. See how really no one is against us!” 

Paul's unshakable trust in God allows him to lay the cards out on the table. He boldly asks the hard and haunting questions we all grapple with. What if [insert your greatest fear here] happens?" Paul's answer is ours too: God will be there.

We are eternally united with the One who is perfect love. Absolutely nothing in the universe can separate you from God's all-consuming, ever-present love for you. Nothing. God's love is greater than your greatest fear. So, when that most dreaded fear confronts you, hold on to this promise.

Source

  • 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (p. 169).
  • Holman’s New Testament Commentary: Romans (Vol. 6, p. 262).