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At the time Paul writes, somewhere between 56-58 A.D, the Israelites are dispersed and Christians are persecuted by both Jews and Rome. Rome holds the political power and the territory, while the Jews have a longer established religious power which they are allowed to wield under the authority of Rome. It is not an “easy” time to live – Christians face famine, persecution, distress, and death. There are countless things within and without attempting to shake their faith, pull them away, and get them to deny Christ. Some of the specific things potentially discouraging early Christians were: most of the Israelites were rejecting the gospel (Rom 9,); push-back from pagan merchants who viewed both Judiasm and Christianity as threats (Acts 19:23-41;) beatings and imprisonments (I Cor 6:4;) the general decay and brokenness of the physical world (Rom 8:18-21;) famines, such as the great famine in Syria from 46-47 A.D., earthly trials by Rome, the Sanhedrin, or other courts; sickness and diseases, like leprosy, and a general low life expectancy; general mockery and derision from the Jews; claims made by false antichrists; and various philosophies seeking to distort or deny the gospel. Yet Paul encourages the Roman Christians that they "overhwhelmingly conquer" through these various hardships. It is not just our eventual victory over death at the Resurrection he has in mind (though this is part of it,) but also the growth trials bring believers. "Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-3 Christ came as a lamb and went to the slaughter, willingly laying down His own life. To the world, it would have looked for a moment as if He lost and was utterly defeated – a King crucified by His enemies and rejected by His own people. But, He rose again! It was a victory far beyond that of any Earthly conqueror, as Jesus won dominion over Earth and sat down at the right hand of God. Because believers are in Him, we share in this victory. Though we are "regarded as sheep to be slaughtered," we will one day rise again as well. As we go through the trials of life, even unto physical death, Christ is interceding for us. God is giving us his power that we might stand firm in our faith, no matter the world throws at us, knowing that even if we die we will have victory, in Christ, to enter the Promised Land of God’s eternal rest. Humans may oppress, torture, or even kill us – but they have no power or authority to separate us from Christ's love, nor can they take away our future inheritance or the indwelling Holy Spirit. Not only this, but the Spirit gives us life and guidance so that we may endure through all the trials of life. Those trials will not overcome us, but we will overcome them in faith and trust God all the more. We are in a period of waiting, building ourselves up in faith, praying in the Spirit, and guarding ourselves in the love of God as we await the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ to bring us to eternal life. (Jd. 1:21) Jesus was the first to overcome the world. Even in times of tribulation, we too can overcome the world by faith, for we are united with Him. By the love of Christ whom we abide in, and His intercession and protection, we share in His overwhelming victory. God will bring justice for us, and usher us into the gates of His eternal Kingdom, the Promised Land, while the enemies of God will perish. "But if we hope for what we do not see, through perseverance we wait eagerly for it." Rom 8:25 Until that final battle and the revelation of God's sons and daughters, we continue to overwhelmingly conquer the trials of life, by humble trust and hope in the Son of God, the one with the power to defeat all enemies (I John 5:3-5.)
We overwhelmingly conquer as we "put our trust in" and "walk by faith in" the TRUTH and PROMISES of God. In all the verses in Romans chapter 8, Paul provides the evidence to support his audacious claim that we are more than conquerors. Truth 1 - No Condemnation We are set free from the law of sin and death and now we live according to the Spirit who lives in us Christians (Romans 8:1-4). Truth 2 - New Focus Our minds are now set on what the Spirit desires so we experience life (abundantly fulfilling & deeply satisfying) and peace (the peace of Christ surpasses all understanding & is not dependant on circumstances), so we willingly and eagerly submit to the will of God (Romans 8:5-9). Promise 1 - Resurrection Though our bodies will die because of sin, because the Spirit lives in us, God will resurrect our bodies from the dead and give us glorious new bodies and life eternal (Romans 8:10-13). Promise 2 - Children of God When we accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord we become children of God and we are set free from all our fears. The Spirit testifies to our spirit that we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17) Promise 3 - Future Glory We share in Christ's sufferings now but we will share in his glory in the future. Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:17-21) Promise 4 - Future Redemption The whole creation is groaning for the redemption that Jesus will bring. We too groan inwardly as we eagerly await our full adoption to Sonship - the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:22-25) Truth 3 - Intercession The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We don't know what to pray for but the Spirit intercedes for us. The Spirit searches our hearts for anything displeasing to God and reveals the will of God so we can walk in it (Romans 8: 26-27) Truth 4 - Goodness of God God always works for the good of those who love him [every Christian]. He foreknew, predestined, called, justified and glorified us so we will fulfil his every purpose for our lives (Romans 8:28-30) Truth 5 - God is For Us The God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere is for us, so could be against us. God did not even spare his own Son so we could become his children. God graciously gives us all the things we need for this life because Jesus is constantly interceding for us (Romans 8:31-34) Promise 5 - Always Experience the Love of Christ Nothing that the world could throw at us - trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or sword will ever be able to separate us from experiencing the love [presence] of Christ every day of our lives. Nothing that all of creation could throw at us - death, life, angels, demons, present, future, powers, height, depth, nor anything else will ever be able to separate us from experiencing the love [presence] of Christ forever (Romans 8:35-39).
Four passages come to my mind regarding our triumph in Christ: 1 Corinthians 15:57 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ. Romans 8:37 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 16:20 20The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our LORD Jesus be with you. Romans 7:21-25 21So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our LORD! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
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