Overcoming Through Christ – Sermon on Romans 8:28-39
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 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.
I. Overcoming doubt through Christ – God has a plan for you. (28)
This section starts off, “And we know.” The word “know” occurs in the Bible 1,321 times. The word feeling? 5 times. God wants us to know who He is. He wants us to be certain of His character, His plan, and His relationship with us. He does not want us to doubt His goodness or His plan. He does want us to be led by our feelings.
James 1:6 – For the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
God wants you to know that He has good plans for you. And not just some of the time. Paul says that “all things work together for good.”
God is sovereign. The world is not just random chaos. God is providentially working, sometimes behind the scenes and sometimes at the front, to bring about His perfect plan for your life.
There is a condition mentioned. The condition is that He does this for those who “love God and are called according to His purposes.” In other words, His providence works on behalf of genuine believers who are seeking after Him. You cannot intentionally disobey God and say, “It’s OK, He will cause it to work together for good.” Sin has consequences. Bad choices will have bad results for you.
But when you are seeking after God, all of the seemingly random things that happen around you are overseen by God and used in your life for a reason. Sometimes they are used to develop your Christian character. Sometimes they are used to build your faith and perseverance. Sometimes they are used to to bring you to a new place, a new job, or a new calling.
Testimony: I worked at the same school for 12 years. Right before the pandemic the management changed. And then they lost all their students almost overnight. In the process, I lost my job there. But God brought us through. He provided a better situation and job than before. He caused these things to work together for my good because He is good.
From the beginning, one of Satan’s most powerful temptations has been to get God’s people to doubt His goodness. He tempted Eve in this way, implying that God was keeping them from something good by restricting them to eat the fruit. And he caused her to doubt God’s words, saying, “did God really say?”
You can overcome these doubts through Christ. Remember what Jesus suffered on your behalf. If He wasn’t good, if He didn’t care about you, He would not have died for you.
John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
God is good. He is good yesterday, today, and forever. God is good always. Know this. Believe this. When you hold in faith to this knowledge, it will help you to stand firm even when everything around you feels like it is falling apart.
II. Overcoming sin through Christ – God is sanctifying you. ( Read 29-30)
In verse 28 we see that God works things together for good for His children. He has a perfect plan for you. So what is that perfect plan?
That plan is described in verses 29-30. It is the plan of salvation.
- God foreknows.
- He predestines.
- He conforms.
- He calls.
- He justifies.
- He glorifies.
I want us to take note of several things from these verses:
A. God’s role –
See who God is and what He is doing. He chose us. He took the initiative. In Ephesians 1:5 it says, “even as He chose us in him before the foundation of the world.”
God didn’t look ahead and see what a good person you will be and then say, “I choose you.” God’s predestination is a pre-determined choice to love and save individual sinners, sinners who were not lovely and were not good.
When you look at all the things that are happening here, you see that God is the one at work. He predestines. He conforms. He calls. He justifies. He glorifies. He is sovereign. He is taking the initiative.
Your salvation is a result of His work, not your own. And your sanctification is also through Him.
Philippians 1:6 – And I am sure of this, that he who began ha good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
What He started, He is going to finish. This is very important. Our theme is not just “overcoming.” By your own strength or will power you cannot overcome sin. You cannot wake up one day and decide, “I am not going to sin. I am not going to drink that alcohol. I am not going to lust. I am not going to lose my temper.” Your own will power is not enough to change you.
How can you overcome these things? It is through Christ. He is the one changing you. The Holy Spirit regenerates your heart. God’s role is the Savior, the justifier, the sanctifier.
B. Our role – So what is our role? Can we just kick our feet back and relax? We are the ones being conformed. We are the clay and He is the potter. So we must be cooperative clay. We cooperate with Him as He works in our lives. We do this by submitting our will to His. We come to Him and say “We want to be changed by you. Have your way in my life.” Instead of resisting His will, we embrace His will.
Our role is not passive. We are to be active in turning to God and asking Him to change us.
C. The purpose – So why does God predestine us? For what purpose? Verse 29 says, “to be conformed to the image of His Son.”
God did not call you so that you could live a life of sin. He did not call you so that you would stay in your chains.
Ephesians 1:5 – Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
He called you because He wants you to overcome sin. He wants to sanctify you. God wants you to be free of the chains of sin. He wants you to live a holy and abundant life that He has prepared for you.
God may allow all kinds of difficult things to happen in your life. When it says that He works these things together for good, it means that He will use these things in your life to sanctify you. They may not be comfortable. They may not be easy. They may not be enjoyable. But if you cooperate and allow God to use these things to develop your godly character, then it is worth it.
I believe that this year God wants to sanctify you. He wants to accomplish something great in your life. He wants to set you free from sins which may be controlling you.
He wants you to overcome sin through the power of Christ.
III. Overcoming opposition through Christ – God is for you. (31-34)
A. God is for you –
Verse 31 – What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
This verse encourages us in the midst of opposition. Our confidence is not in ourselves. It is not in intelligence, abilities, or wealth. Our confidence is in the fact that God is for us. Think about that for a moment. The Creator of heavens and earth, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the sovereign ruler of the universe, is for you.
He is not just for you in a general sense. He knows you by name. As we have seen already, He is providentially arranging every detail of your life for your good.
Those with children should understand this concept. Your children probably have taken part in a sports competition or maybe in a music recital. And what were you doing? Before the competition you encourage them, during the competition you cheer for them, and after the competition you congratulate them and perhaps give them some tips for improvement. Did you root against them? Of course not. You wanted to see them succeed.
In a similar way, your heavenly Father wants to see you succeed. And if He is for you, then who can be against you?
You may feel that have been facing a lot of opposition. Maybe your boss or a parent is set against you. Maybe bureaucratic restrictions or red tape make life hard for you. These are nothing to God. If He wants, He can wipe away this opposition immediately. The fact that He hasn’t yet, means He wants to use it for good in your life.
The same is true for GICF. God is for us.
Let this be our confidence going forward. God is for us so nothing can be against us.
B. God gives you everything that is good –
God does not just say, “I am for you.” He proved this truth by action. How do we know that He is for us? When you are at a low, discouraged, surrounded by a storm and waves on every side, how can you really know that He is for you?
The answer is given here in verse 32. “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will he not also with Him graciously give us all things?”
This is called a greater than, lesser than argument. The type of logic seen here is used throughout the Bible. If the greater thing is true then the lesser thing must also be true.
For example, if I am willing to sell all my possessions and give you everything I have to help you with medical bills when you need it, then surely I am also willing to buy you a bowl of rice if you are hungry.
Because of His great love for us, God gave us His own Son. Jesus gave us His own life. If God would make this sacrifice, then surely He would be willing to give us anything else that is good for us.
And He has. Every good gift is from above.
Application: When you are discouraged about the opposition that you face, meditate on God’s goodness. Count out the good blessings in your life.
C. God justifies you in the court room –
“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? Who is to condemn?”
Some may try. Satan is the chief accuser. He accused Job before God, claiming that Job only followed God for the riches and health he could get. In this world, some may accuse as well.
But these accusations will not be successful. Verse 33 says, “It is God who justifies.” Jesus Himself died for you. He legally took the punishment for your sins. The gavel has come down. For those genuinely in Christ, the Almighty Judge has Himself declared that you are innocent.
All accusations will be summarily thrown out of court. Interestingly, God is the only one who could make a successful accusation. All sin is against God. He could accuse you and be right in doing so. But He doesn’t. Instead He justifies you, declaring you to be righteous.
D. Jesus intercedes for you –
Jesus’ work on your behalf was not ended at the cross. The work of salvation was complete. But the work of sanctification was just beginning.
Here we see an amazing glimpse into what Jesus is doing right now. He is at the right hand of God. He is not resting after mission complete. He is actively interceding for you.
Interceding is the opposite of accusing. He is advocating on your behalf.
1 John 2:1 – If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins.
Jesus is pleading on your behalf. He is like a defense lawyer arguing in your favor. He is representing your well-being in front of the highest court, the highest throne in the universe. This may include petitioning for more help or tools to fight sin and temptation. He is pleading for mercy. He is declaring the accusations of Satan to be null and void since the debt of your sin is paid in full. He is taking your prayers and bringing them to the Father, perhaps fixing them when needed.
We see that God is for us. We see He gives us everything that is good, including His Son. We see that we are justified in the divine court room. And we see that Jesus is actively interceding for us.
Application: What does that mean? That should change your attitude in how you fight against sin. It should change how you respond to opposition. You shouldn’t fear. You shouldn’t stress. You shouldn’t give up. God wants you to win. He is rooting for you. He is helping you! Place your confidence in Him. Ask Him to strengthen you. And then, fight. Don’t go backwards. Don’t’ just float along. Overcome through Christ.
IV. Overcoming obstacles through Christ – Jesus does not stop loving you. (35-39)
One key of overcoming is knowing the truth. The truth is that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
Jesus loving you does not mean you will not face these things. He doesn’t promise you an easy or carefree life. He doesn’t promise to deliver you out of all tribulation or persecution. You might face these things. But He will love you even in the midst of them.
John 16:33 – I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
In this world you will have trouble. Much of the world is becoming increasingly hostile toward believers. Right now that hostility is often a war of words. Sometimes pressure and intimidation is used to try to force believers to compromise on the truth. And sadly, it often works.
Christian writer and preacher Max Lucado was asked to speak at an event in February. Before the event, LGBTQ supporters uncovered a message he preached in 2004 defending Biblical principles of marriage. He was attacked. So he apologized. And he said, “faithful people may disagree about what the Bible says about homosexuality” and “they are beloved children of God.” The Bible is clear about this issue. And children of God are those who receive Him and believe in His name (John 1:12), not everyone.
The point is this, if you follow Jesus, there will be pressure, intimidation, opposition, persecution. The question is, whose love do you desire more. Will you seek after the world’s affirmation? Will you try to please people? Or will you try to please Jesus?
If so many Christians fall away at the first sign of pressure, what will happen when the real persecution starts?
Brothers and sisters, God does not promise an easy life. If you are looking for a comfortable, easy life, look elsewhere. But if you are looking for an abundant life, lived in the power and love of Christ, look no further.
You will face trouble. I am sure you can think of many troubles you have faced this past year and are still facing. But take heart, Jesus will not stop loving you. He will not abandon you. Verse 37 says, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Jesus has overcome the world. Through Him you can overcome too.
Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
We have seen that through Christ we can overcome, doubt, sin, obstacles, and opposition. We have seen that God has good plans for us. He is sanctifying us. He is for us. And He will not stop loving us.
Revelation 3:21 – The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.
Romans 8:37 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
I would encourage you to memorize these verses this week.
A bit later in the year after we will study the first part of Revelation and Jesus’ letters to the churches.
Now we are going to hear a few testimonies from a number of GICF brothers and sisters on how God has helped them overcome when they face trials or temptation.
I pray that this year GICF will overcome through Christ. And I pray that this will be a year in which individually you too see great breakthroughs as God sanctifies you.
So I want you to pray. Ask God to reveal to you an area where you have been entangled in sin. It could be an addiction such as alcohol or porn. It could be an attitude of complaining or pride. It could be an anger problem. It could be a poor response to a trial. Spend a moment and pray. Ask God to reveal to you what area He wants to work on in you this year.
Does something come to mind? Do you want freedom? Do you want God to sanctify you in that area? If so, tell Him. Repent of your sin. Ask Him to help you overcome through Christ. Then I want you to write down that area on a paper or on your phone. I want you to keep it this whole year. Remember that area of your life. Make it a regular matter of prayer. Make it a focus when you read His Word. At some point in the year you may want to share it with some other believers who can encourage and help you and pray for you.
Christ can sanctify you.. Through His power, you can have victory.
1. Share a testimony of how God has helped you overcome in the midst of a trial or temptation.
2. Discuss the “through Christ” part of overcoming. What are some helpful verses to keep in mind? How exactly does Christ help you to overcome? What would it look like if you depended on Him rather than yourself?
3. What is the difference between self-confidence and “God-confidence” to overcome? How can it give you confidence and strength to know that God is for you?
4. Share prayer requests. Ask the group to pray for any areas where you need Christ’s help to overcome a situation or a temptation.
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