I have another version that puts Romans 8:37-38 this way: “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours! I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.”
Ooh Yeah! Preach it Paul! You can almost hear his joy over his victory and his contempt for his adversaries. Then, as he finished his thought in verse 38, you can almost see him throw his shoulders back and laugh in the face of the devil and says, “You don’t have an invention in Hell that can separate me from God’s love, because he says here, at the end of verse 38, “I am persuaded . . .” How about you, are you persuaded? Until you are persuaded—beyond any doubts—you won’t see such victory! Paul was persuaded that God was able to “keep that which he had committed to Him.” Meaning himself, and in our case, ourselves.
“For I’m persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come . . .!”
If that isn’t defiance, I don’t know what is.
Leonard Ravenhill once said, A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument. Sear that into your memory. Experience Jesus! Taste and see how good victory it!
Picture Paul going down the road to Damascus, Paul was threatening the existence of the church. He had papers that would allow him to put any Christian he met to death. If you look around, this is exactly what the blundering, blind, bankrupt world that you and I live in would love to do to us, if they had the opportunity. Now Paul was expecting to kill every Christian he met—he never expected to meet with Jesus Christ Himself.
When Jesus asked him why he was persecuting him, Paul said, “Who are you, Lord?” (And here he thought he was just tormenting those followers of Jesus—amazing how Jesus took it personal—if you mess with one of his own, you’re messing with him!) “On that road,” Paul said, “God revealed Himself to me.”
At some point, Paul saw heaven. I don’t know what all he saw, except it was too marvelous to describe. The Lord said, “Don’t ever say a word about it. As long as you live, you can’t tell anything you saw.” And he never did! Sometimes I wonder if God rolled out the plans of the ages from the incarnation to the consummation. I wonder if he saw the day in which you and I live. I wonder if he saw the depravity that was going to strangle the world silent before Jesus comes.
I have no idea what God did to him, but whatever it was, it changed his life—his words, his priorities, his passions . . .
God put something in him that whatever experiences he had—he never lost faith: a storm on the Mediterranean couldn’t wash it out of him . . . he was whipped one hundred and thirty nine times—and left for dead—but he got up and left the city . . .
Did you catch that? Storms couldn’t wash away his experience—they couldn’t whip it out of him. The devils chased him; they couldn’t scare it out of him. They wouldn’t give him any food and they couldn’t starve it out of him.
I don’t know about you, but that’s the experience I want. Not necessarily the beatings and the shipwreck, but I want the revelations of God that Paul had—even if it requires the whippings and the shipwreck. I want to experience Jesus consuming me. I want to experience his life in my life. I prayed for my son to experience this during his tour in Iraq. Yes, I prayed for his safety—but I also know in my heart our Lord was drawing him nearer and was going to reveal himself to Jonathan. You will have to ask him if he did. You see, we had better get an experience like Paul’s before long, because the roof is going to fall in on us before long. YHWH has not raised you up to be a bottle-fed baby from here to eternity. He is coming to gather His jewels out of your life. He has invested a lot in you. He did not save you so you could escape eternal fire. That is a fringe benefit. He saved you so that you can be conformed to the image of His Son—whatever it costs . . .
Yes it is hard! Yes it takes discipline! Do you think Michael Jordan just decided one day to pick up a basketball and be a star athlete? Did Tiger Woods just happen to become the world’s #1 golfer? No! It took time; it took discipline; they made difficult choices about how to spend their time. Do you think you can lose weight hanging around Dunkin’ Donuts or “Mickey D’s”? Are you going to be free of that adulterous relationship while you still have her phone number on your cell phone and email address? Do you think you will become victorious over your weaknesses just by reading your Bible a couple of verses each day, or picking up books in the self-improvement section at Barnes & Noble? Of course not. It will require you to be disciplined and dedicated. You must deny yourself some things that others could enjoy, but your loss, will be your gain. You need to stay focused on the goal. You must be like young Pilgrim in Pilgrim’s Progress, and when you are being taunted and challenged, plug you ears and call out, “Life! Life! Eternal Life!”
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome