“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
What does this really mean? In what context is God for us according to the above portion of scripture? This is the question we will aim to answer.
Scripture teaches that we have an enemy, we may call him, “the evil one”, “the prince of darkness” or even “the deceiver” among other things. One of his most popular names is actually one of the most misunderstood, he is usually called “Satan”. What does Satan mean?
Satan means “the accuser” or “the adversary”. One who accuses, essentially an accuser at law or a prosecutor, hence in the book of Revelation, there is rejoicing once he is cast down from heaven,
“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” (Revelation 12:10)
So not only does Satan tempt, destroy and cause chaos, he is also a prosecutor at law. He is a legal expert. He knows the law of God inside out and above all, he knows that thanks to sin, no man on the planet is able to keep that law. In fact, and this is not known until the new testament, one of the reasons the old testament law was given was to show men their sinful and wretched state so that they recognise they stood condemned before God.
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
To know the law is to know sin, not righteousness and not the grace of God. The point of the law is to bring you to that point where like Paul, you say,
“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)
Until one gets to this point, they cannot recognise their need to be saved. They cannot recognise how far they have fallen. They cannot appreciate the distance between God’s holiness and their decadence. Hence they cannot recognise the need for Christ.
Satan, the master prosecutor at law knows this.
“…The strength of sin is the law…” (1 Corinthians 15:56)
As long as the law is the focus and is a person’s measure of a relationship with God, the accuser would always have the legal advantage. On our own, we stand condemned before God’s laws and do not have the experience to engage in a legal battle in the courts of heaven against the age-old serpent, Satan. If we are to stand a chance, we are in need of a lawyer far better and far more experienced than we are.
Enter Jesus Christ,
“And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
(1 John 2:1)
As fallen men, it is impossible to keep God’s laws so God Himself had to come into the earth as a man in the person of Jesus Christ, to fulfil the very requirements of the law He gave. Christ fulfilled every jot and title of the law and bore the full undiluted punishment for the breach of every law by His death. Afterwards He resurrected free from the law He had died to. This meant the law itself could be a thing of the past not because it was abolished, but because it was fulfilled, i.e. there was nothing left for the law to accomplish due to the perfect record of Christ in both living out all of its requirements and dying for all of the punishments under it.
Because of the works of Christ, whoever puts faith in Him would have the very righteousness of Christ, the only kind accepted by God, imputed into him. In God’s estimation, the one who believes in Christ has died for his sins, is dead to the law which facilitated knowledge of those sins and has now been made alive with Christ to a new and living relationship with God.
“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
(Romans 8: 3–4)
“Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.”
The works of Christ thus qualify Him to be our advocate. For the first time, man now has a representative in the courts of heaven who, being without sin, cannot be found wanting by Satan, the prosecutor.
Now, not only that, the very judge in the court of heaven is God, the one who gave up His only Son, Christ in order to justify the very men that stood condemned in His presence.
Worse still, the law upon which Satan’s entire case depends on is now inefficacious because the one who stood accused before God under the law has, in Christ, died to the law and is not subject to it anymore.
With all this in mind, the context of Romans 8:28–34 is this, everything favours the believer in Christ. From God Himself, the Judge who is justifying those who believe in Christ to Christ, the advocate who died for sin, rose again from the dead and is pleading the believer’s case in the heavenly courts by virtue of His presence at God’s right hand.
The heavenly courts are now in favour of the believer, the Judge of the whole earth is both the believer’s Judge and advocate. The adversary is outmatched 2 to 1 and the whole legal system is rigged towards the believer.
“But isn’t that wrong?”, I hear you ask?. Like Abraham asked, “Should the Judge of the whole earth not do right?”. Well, this is why God had to find a just basis to justify men and this just basis is Christ. The just man exchanged for unjust men,
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit”
(1 Peter 3:18)
In Christ, there is mercy because He took on an obligation that was not His for the sake of His great love for mankind. In Christ there is also justice because on His cross, there is a just punishment for sin. So the believer is not going scot-free, his sins are not denied or swept under the carpet. His sins were paid for IN FULL by the scourging and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The righteousness of Christ can only be imputed to the believer because the penalty for the believer’s sin was imputed into Christ,
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
His freedom from sin is secured by the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the law was fulfilled and thus taken away,
“Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Ephesians 2:15)
So the very strength of sin, the law upon which the adversary’s case rests, was crucified with Christ on that cross alongside all the sins of mankind from Adam till Christ’s return.
This is why God can be just in justifying the believer in the courts of heaven. Paul sums it up in these words,
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
In conclusion, God is for the believer in that He justifies the believer on the basis of His righteousness in Christ being transferred to the believer. Satan, the adversary has no claim against the believer because of the redemptive price of Christ and the fact the Judge Himself is now in favour of the believer. The judge has a just basis for favouring the believer, the cross of His son, Christ. Hence the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled,
“…And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord…”