Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Herein lies love: all things work together for good for those who love God. Within our world, one might dare to ask, “What about those who don’t love God? What about my friend or neighbor or co-worker who is basically a good guy or gal? What about them?”
But what is goodness? Is it good/better/best or a quality that is wholesome and pure and without sin or evilness?
While we cannot assume the opposite is true in some cases, we can actually make that statement here: all things do not work together for good for those who do not love God. Or if things do work together for good, then it is for good/better/best and not at all for goodness according to the God.
Paul is saying nothing new. There is a distinction between those who love God and do not love God. We just got done reading at the beginning of Romans 8: “For those who live according to the flesh, set their minds on things of the flesh… Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” 1
Perhaps you might think Paul is too harsh. Let’s think through things for just a moment:
There are always talks about harmonizing the Gospels of the New Testament but when you study the teachings of Christ and the writings of Paul, what I think is happening that Paul is simply giving a theological explanation to the words and deeds of Christ.
I dare to say that Paul is not giving anything new outside of what Jesus Christ has already said and done.
So when Paul talks “mind set on the flesh and spirit” or in our case “for those who love God”, how is that different than when Christ spoke of those on his left hand and his right, goats, and sheep, child of hell versus sons of God?
Or here: Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. 2
Paul is simply going into a more detailed explanation of what Christ said.
Why is this so important? All the promises of God are both yes and amen, but the promises for you, if you are a child of God, go many more AND deeper, more meaningful, more lovely and beautiful than anything we could have imagined.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 3
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 4
So who loves God? We just read that “And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” 5 That God knows the heart and that is such good news that he looks and sees us intimately.
So, what are all things? That circumstances and sin and wickedness do not dictate the statuses and the faiths of the children of God. Abuse does not. Trauma does not. Being ignored does not. Being betrayed does not. Being tempted does not. Being poor does not.
Let the world take everything–my innocence, my money, my family, my job, my education–everything that I could put all of my identity in and fall into idol worship. But because I have God, I have everything.
How’s that you say? Again, let us use the words of Paul:
Let me live and I will live to Christ.
Kill me and Christ is my gain!
Take my job and force me into poverty and I will be content.
Throw me in prison and I will preach the gospel and see that the guard’s and their households are saved.
Let all things come my way and try to destroy me.
But God, let me see more of you to where the things of this world no longer entertain me.
God, set me on fire so the rest of the world can watch me burn.
God will because He loves me and will keep me forever.
Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. So we then have to ask, what is love? This series is my attempt to answer that question as theologically and biblically as possible.