Coming up today on Renewing Your Mind... ... We come to verses 33 and 34, which read like this... Paul asks the question, beginning with the interrogative, who? Who can lay any charge against God's elect? And behind this question is Satan.
There are other factors, but it's Satan. Satan, the accuser. The damage that he does to the lives and hearts and souls of Christians by his constant accusations. He is called in Scripture, the accuser. Satan means the accuser, the accuser of the brethren. There's a very graphic picture painted for us in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, and Christian has lost his burden, and it has rolled down the hillside and disappeared into the tomb.
And he has gone through hill difficulty and onto palace beautiful, and then comes the valley of humiliation. And Satan tempts him, and more than tempts him, he makes an accusation against Christian. You have been unfaithful in your service to him. And to which Christian says, yes, and more which you left out. And that's a marvelous insight on Bunyan's part, that when Satan accuses us, and he accuses us as Christians that we're not good enough Christians, we're not obeying God's law as we should, the answer is, and you don't even know the half of it, I am much worse than your accusations make me out to be.
And my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. Spurgeon in a sermon on one of these verses in Romans 8 put it like this, Christ did not love you for your good works. They were not the cause of his beginning to love you. So he does not love you for your good works even now. They are not the cause of his continuing to love you.
He loves you because he loves you. And those are marvelous words from Charles Haddon Spurgeon because we have a tendency to be sound about justification and then think that justification gets us sort of over the first line on the, to the first step, and then it's all up to us. There's justification and then there's sanctification and sanctification is all us and our works and God may love us and bring us sort of over the line, but the rest of it all is up to us and we constantly fail and we, he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not. Who is the accuser of the brethren here?
And the accuser, of course, is Satan. There are two pastoral problems according to John Owen, John Owen the Puritan, John Owen the 17th century Puritan, Vice Chancellor of Oxford University. Those two pastoral problems are these, that Christians tend to forget that they are not under the law. One pastoral problem is to convict non-Christians that they are under the law, to convict them that they're sinners. Another pastoral problem is to convict Christians that they're no longer under the law, that they are forgiven, that they have peace with God because they revert constantly to thinking, well, yes, God loved me when I was saved, but now that I'm making such a mess of my sanctification, I'm not sure that he loves me anymore. Who shall bring any charge against God's elect?
Who is to condemn? Now one answer to that question would be conscience. Conscience condemns. It's what it does.
It's what it's good at. This inner voice, this voice that says, we're sinners, we're not good enough, we're constantly falling short. Some have said, and psychologists especially have said, this is the problem of the Western world and Western society and ever since the Reformation, ever since Martin Luther onwards, there is the introspective conscience of the West, to quote a famous lecture that was given in the 1960s by Christus Stendhal, and he was lecturing to a group of American psychologists.
It was music, of course, to their ears that the problem with mankind is this condemning conscience and if only they could get rid of it and ignore it and just be themselves and find themselves, everything would be well. But Christians are troubled this way, a condemning conscience that God has justified us. He has declared us to be right in His sight by virtue of the finished work of Jesus Christ. We come to Jesus and we say, nothing in my hands I bring simply to Thy cross.
I cling naked, look to Thee for dress, helpless, look to Thee for grace, foul I to the fountain fly, wash me, Savior, or I die. And then it's all about us. It's all about effort. It's all about striving and we come short and we backslide and we find our conscience condemning us. And so our view of the gospel becomes distorted, that Jesus saves and then it's all your effort.
He does 50% and you do 50% or He does 75% and then the next 25% is all yours or He does 99% but there's that 1% that you must do and conscience will condemn you every single time. You remember the prodigal son, the parable that Jesus told, and the older brother. And in a previous lesson, we referred to this and we can remind ourselves of it again here because it's pertinent here. Who is it that condemns? And sometimes it's you. You condemn yourself or worse, you condemn God. Because like the older brother who was all put out because the father made such a fuss of the prodigal son and gave him the fatted calf and the cloak and the ring and lots of other things perhaps and he was all put out. You've never dealt with me this way.
All these years I've slaved for you, he says in one translation. And perhaps that's how we've begun to think about our relationship with God. He saved us and then He left us to ourselves. He saved us but then He didn't treat us like He seems to treat others. Then we begin to look around and we see Christians and they seem so much better off than we are.
Not just financially better off or materially better off, but spiritually better off. And then we begin to say to ourselves, maybe I don't deserve to be loved. Maybe I don't deserve to be cherished.
Maybe God has favorites and I'm just not one of His favorites. And you see what's happening? Who is to condemn? You do. You do it to yourself. You take your eyes off the gospel. You take your eyes off Romans 8, 32 and 33, He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all. How shall He not also along with Him freely give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect?
Well, you do and I do. Our conscience does it because we have a distorted view of God and we have a distorted view of the gospel because part of what Paul wants us to understand here in Romans 8 is that the gospel brings you all the way home. The justification, when you properly understand it, brings you all the way home. And everything that follows after justification, including our progressive sanctification in which we are most certainly involved and we are to mortify the deeds of the flesh in order that we might live and we are to put on the fruits of the Spirit so as to adorn the Lord Jesus around us and display our changed character by the power of God. And yet, it's not that those acts in themselves make us any more lovable to God or make us any more justified than we already are. And that's why back in verses 30 and 31 and maybe back to verse 29 and 30, Paul had said, those whom he justifies, he glorifies. He wants you to get that, that when you have justification, you really do in one sense have everything.
But it's not just conscience, and it's not just ourselves. There's a manipulator here. There's someone who's pulling the strings a little, and he's Satan. He's the accuser.
In Zechariah 3.1, he's called Satan, in Revelation 12.10, he's called the accuser of the brethren. In Job, do you remember, does Job fear God for naught? That was the accusation he made.
The only reason Job loves you and follows you is because you've been good to him, but you take some of those things away and you'll see that Job is all out for himself. He's calling into question the purposes of Almighty God because that's what he does. He accuses. And in a sermon on this passage, Dr. Sproul made this quite outstanding point in the midst of the sermon that the devil, yes, he tempts, but what we fear of the devil more than his temptations are his accusations and slanders. You know, my mother used to say when I was a little boy and was bullied at school until my older brother would come and sort it out, and he was four years older, and you understand when you're 13 and your older brother is 17, he might as well have been 48, and he sorted those things out for me. But I remember my mother saying to me, sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you. And I didn't believe it then, and I don't believe it now because it's not true because words hurt, and they tend to stick.
When a friend makes an accusation or somebody calls you out in public and says something mean to you, it's very difficult to forget it. And this is what Satan does. This is his best, best trick that he plays. It's one of the wiles of the devil that we're to be aware of. Now, look at the answer that is given in this passage. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died.
So the first thing, and there are four things here that he points to. Number one is he points to the death of Jesus. Not just the fact of his death, not just to Calvary, not just to a crucifixion, but what did the death of Jesus mean? It was a death for us because otherwise his death makes no sense. Why did Jesus die?
He was perfect. He was sinless. Death is the wages of sin. So unless the universe isn't fair, unless God isn't fair, the only answer to that question is he died because it was an act of substitution. And he died in our room, and he died in our place, and when he died, it was the just thing to do. Do you remember how John puts that in his epistle, that God may be just and merciful?
He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. To forgive us and cleanse us is the just thing because the penalty has been paid. We don't have to pay it. It can never be called to our account.
It can never be brought and charged and leveled against us. Not yesterday's sins, not today's sins, not tomorrow's sins because Jesus died. He didn't just die for yesterday's sins or the sins up to the point of your justification, and then it's all about your effort. He died for all your sins, sins you haven't committed yet. Isn't that a wonder, isn't that an astonishment, sins that you're going to commit tomorrow and Jesus has already died? And you're saying, well, if I really believe that, wouldn't that make me say, shall I sin that grace may abound?
Yes, that's what Paul asked. But unless you're tempted to think like that, you haven't understood justification and you haven't understood the cross. It does bring you to that point where you say, well, does it matter what I do?
Of course it matters what I do because when you love someone, it matters what you do. When you know that you're loved, it matters what you do, but it doesn't matter what you do if what you're doing is trying to win God's favor because He's already shown you His favor. There's a poem written by Augustus Toplady, and it's sometimes referred to as a hymn, but I've never actually heard it sung in a service, and it contains, it's called Faith Revived, and it contains the line, payment God cannot twice demand, once at my bleeding sure at His hand and then again at mine. And Toplady is making an argument from a view of the atonement that centers on the theme of justice. Westminster Confession, for example, in the eighth chapter when it talks about the atonement speaks about satisfying the demands of divine justice. If the penalty for sin has been paid, paid in full, do you remember the time when bills came on pieces of paper, and you'd take it in to pay it, and then they would write on it, paid in full, or sometimes they'd put a stamp, paid in full, and they would sign and date it and so on.
Do you remember those? Well, that's what the cross does. It hands us a piece of paper and says, paid in full. Those transgressions, which was like a bill that was held against us, and Paul talks about that in Colossians using that very image. It's been paid in full, payment God cannot twice demand. He cannot demand payment at the cross, and then when you get to heaven and before the judgment seat, demand it of you again. That would be unjust. So the cross says, sin has been paid for in full.
It can never be reckoned to my account ever again. Not only Christ died, but also more than that, who was raised, verse 34, he was raised. The resurrection, Easter morning, when Mary is in the garden and she sees someone and she thinks it's a gardener, and John is having a little joke with you. You know, I think John had a sense of humor when he was doing this because he was tickled pink at the thought that Jesus had risen from the dead. And in one sense, he was the gardener. He'd come to restore Eden. He'd come to make a new creation. So in one sense, he was the gardener with a capital G. He's the re-creator, and he's going to fashion us to something beautiful and bring forth fruits of the Spirit to display His glory. But it was Jesus. Rabboni, Master, she said.
She recognized, I think, His voice, and perhaps the sun at first was at the back of Him or something and she didn't recognize His face initially, but when He spoke, she recognized Him. What is the resurrection? Well, it's not a conjuring trick with bones. It is a public testimony on the part of the Father that all that was required of the mediator has been accomplished, and once that work of atonement is done, once that work of atonement is over, nothing can keep Him down.
You cannot keep a good man down. He had to rise from the dead, and His resurrection was a public demonstration that justification had been accomplished. Atonement had been won.
Redemption price had been paid. It was vindicating His righteousness. It was vindicating His obedience, and at the same time vindicating us who are in Christ in union with Him. He died and He's risen. And then He sits who is at the right hand of God. Where is Jesus right now? The incarnate Jesus, the resurrected body of Jesus, the Jesus that ascended and disappeared into a cloud and who's coming again, where is He? Because He's flesh and blood. Jesus is somewhere, Yuri Gagarin in the 1960s went up in space, you remember, and he looked out of the window and he said, according to the words of his masters, no doubt that he looked for God and couldn't find Him.
And communism was happy at another assertion of complete folly because he wanted to shout out and say, you didn't go far enough, buddy, because the body of Jesus is somewhere in space and time. It's a created thing, and in its resurrected and ascended form, it is a created thing, and He's coming again. The way the New Testament speaks of it is He's sitting at the right hand of God, which is a euphemism for He's in control. He has the finger on the button. He's in charge. When Paul has been saying in this passage that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, that God is none other than the incarnate Jesus. He is working all things together for good. He sits enthroned, and one more thing, He intercedes. He's praying for you. He has you on His heart. He knows where you are right now. He knows the steps in progressive sanctification that you need to make. He knows about your backslidings, and He's praying for you.
He knows your hurts. He hears the accusations Satan is making, and He's praying for you, and He's saying to the Father, I died for this, and I died for that. I shed my blood for these sins, and the Holy Spirit is saying, and I'm applying the effects of all of that, and I will bring them home. I'll bring them all the way to glory. Who will lay any charge against God's elect? Well, Satan may try, but just put your fingers in your ears and say, Jesus has died and has risen and is sitting at the right hand of God and is praying for me.
So there. There's one more lesson in Romans 8, the greatest chapter in the Bible. That's Dr. Derek Thomas from his series on Romans chapter 8, and you're listening to Redoing Your Mind, I'm Lee Webb. Unpreservedly, Dr. Thomas calls Romans 8 the greatest chapter in the Bible.
He's not alone. It describes the assurance, the confidence, and the privilege that all Christians enjoy in Christ. We commend this series to you. There are 12 messages on two DVDs, plus we'll give you lifetime access to the digital download of the series and a PDF of the study guide with lesson outlines and questions for discussion. Contact us today with the gift of any amount and request Romans 8 by Dr. Derek Thomas.
Our phone number is 800-435-4343, or you can make your request and give your gift online at renewingyourmind.org. This chapter in the middle of Paul's letter to the Romans begins with these words. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and the chapter ends with a long list of things that will not separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. It really is a glorious chapter and worth the investment of time to study. So again, we invite you to request Dr. Thomas' series on Romans 8. Our number again is 800-435-4343, and our web address is renewingyourmind.org.
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