Introduction: Our goal in these Bible notes is to trace the River of God’s Victorious Peace through the conflicts with sin and Satan in Romans 7 into the peace and victory of Romans 8. My prayer is that our church family would more and more enjoy the Peace which Christ’s Cross and Empty Tomb have won. God also ensures we remain humble through all such victories by constantly reminding us of our struggle with sin. The joys of Romans 8 are to always be viewed from the lowly reality of Romans 7:24: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” and from the confident assurance of Romans 7:25: “Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Monday: read Romans 7:24-8:1. The safest place for the Christian is to lie low, abased by a sense of sin, at the feet of Jesus, like the woman who wiped Jesus’ feet with her tears (Luke 7:38). But we must not wallow in the wretchedness of Romans 7:24. In Romans 7:25 Paul looks up by faith for someone to deliver him and beholds afresh his ‘Deliverer’ in the Lord Jesus. No longer the Man of Sorrows, rejected of men – Christ is now the victorious Intercessor and King at the Father’s right hand! See Romans 8:34! This is where Paul would have us direct our weary eyes of faith when surrounded by the conflict and guilt of sin – to the place where Christ sits until all His enemies are finally vanquished and placed under his feet. For at God’s Right Hand, Christ is indeed “Omnipotent to Save,” and is able to guarantee forever that there neither is nor will be any malevolent evil power or sin able to bring us again under condemnation!
Meditate and Pray: Let us ask the Lord to lift our eyes to the Heavenly Places where Christ is seated, and to find our hope and strength to persevere in the battle against sin from that place of Absolute Peace and Sovereign, Divine Control. Use the words of that familiar Easter hymn (# 277):
Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of man and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!
Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!
Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
Tues/Weds: read Romans 8:1-4 and Acts 15:6-11. God knows how to read our hearts in such a way as to act on our behalf. What effective omniscience God possesses. Think of being a needy little child: Are there not times when an exhausted little one cannot even put his/her needs into words… and isn’t that just when a loving mother steps in to say: “I know just what you need. Here is some food; a bath and pajamas! Now go to sleep!”
Well, there is nothing which more profoundly exhausts the believer than to try in his own strength to keep God’s law. There is no place where we are more exposed in our impotence and weakness – and even naked shame – than in our inability to keep God’s law. That is why Romans 8:3 is such good news – “What the law could not do; God did… by sending His own Son!” In the same way, Peter seems to compassionately recognize our need for an omniscient God in just this area of failed law-keeping. Listen to what he says in Acts 15:6-11 in answer to the legalistic Judaizers, whose harsh spirit still harasses the church today, and who in Peter’s day were insisting that Gentile Christians undergo circumcision:
The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
Ponder and Meditate: What sweet liberty from man-made rules is found in Peter’s wise words. This Apostle has been taught by God to know and understand the human heart! From his own failed experience, Peter knows that the religious efforts of the arm of flesh will never avail. And notice one more thing: It is because God “knows the hearts” of saved sinners in Acts 15:8 that He takes upon Himself the job of purifying their hearts by faith through grace. How does the Psalmist put it in Psalm 103?
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
Thursday: read Romans 8:1-11. The river of God’s Peace never flows far from the Cross. All of our new life in Christ: the new mind of “life and peace” (Rom. 8:6); the beginning of a new way of living for our mortal bodies (Rom. 8:11); the Spirit of life which has been given to “all” those who belong to Christ, (Rom. 8:9) – all these gifts come from God’s sending His Son in the “likeness” of sinful flesh as the “sin offering” for us (Rom. 8:3). Note Paul’s careful language. Why do we have peace with God? Because Christ the sinless One took our flesh as it is identified with our guilt and wore it to the Cross. No, He did not become a “sinner,” thereby rendering it impossible to pay for others sins because He had to pay for His own. He took the “likeness” of sinful flesh and offered up a pure, spotless sacrifice for us, paying for our sins as if they were His own, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 69:4: “I am forced to restore what I did not steal.” Surely being treated as a guilty criminal was for someone like Jesus even more bitter than drinking the vinegar and gall of Psalm 69:21!
Meditate and Pray: Ask God to give you the resolve never to enjoy your spiritual blessings of life and peace without remembering the great cost which Christ paid for all your privileges of Christian living. Use hymn # 708 (vv. 1 & 4) by George Matheson to help you:
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
Friday: read Romans 8:34-39. The last word of this week’s notes must be on the total victory of Christ over all powers which would seek to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Through Christ, we are “more than conquerors….” This includes a complete victory over the person alluded to in Romans 8:33-34, the “Accuser of the brethren,” who would seek to “bring a charge against the elect.” May God give us the courage which comes from these verses to boldly face all which seeks in vain to oppose our God and His Christ, well-expressed by the 1781 Scottish paraphrase of Romans 8:34-39:
The Savior died, but rose again
Triumphant from the grave;
And pleads our cause at God’s right hand,
Omnipotent to save.
Who, then, can e’er divide us more
From Jesus and His love;
Or break the sacred chain that binds
The earth to Heav’n above?
Let troubles rise, and terrors frown,
And days of darkness fall;
Through Him all dangers we’ll defy,
And more than conquer all.
Nor death, nor life, nor earth nor hell,
Nor time’s destroying sway,
Can e’er efface us from His heart,
Or make His love decay.
Sat/Sun: read Romans 8:22-39 and John 10:11-15. Our task in this week’s Bible notes on Romans 8 has been to trace the greatly reassuring theme of God’s intimate knowledge of our every situation and need. The reason Paul knows that God’s love will hold us in the trials listed in Romans 8:35-39 is because he believes in God’s complete knowledge of every situation we will ever face. The reason Paul is sure that “all things will work for our good” in Romans 8:28 is that he trusts the Holy Spirit to knowledgeably carry our unspoken prayers to the All-Seeing Father in Romans 8:26-27. And he also knows the Son’s Heavenly intercessions in Romans 8:34 arise from the Son’s exhaustive sympathy with our every weakness. What a merciful, Triune omniscience!
But let us never fail to trace all such saving knowledge of our every need back to Christ as the chosen prophet, priest and king whose ongoing official duty is to mediate for us before God’s throne with a perfect knowledge of our human plight – since He Himself as a man was “tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.” It is especially Jesus’ job to read our heart needs on a daily basis and to respond accordingly. As Jesus Himself says about His thorough knowledge of us as our Good Shepherd in John 10:14-15:
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
Ponder and Meditate: Sing about our Shepherd’s omniscient compassion for us in the words of hymn # 647:
How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole
And calms the troubled breast;
‘Tis manna to the hungry soul
And to the weary, rest.
Dear name! The Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding-place;
My never-failing Treasury filled
With boundless stores of grace.
By Thee my prayers acceptance gain
Although with sin defiled.
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.
Jesus, my Shepherd, Guardian, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest, and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.
Weak is the effort of my heart
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.
Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath;
And may the music of Thy name
Refresh my soul in death.