For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Last month I discussed the three pairs of expressions which powerfully portray the security we as believers have in Christ. Nothing can separate us from His love. Nothing in this life or in death. Nothing in our present or in our future. Nothing in all of the universe, no matter how “high” or “low” we might go. Nothing.
Paul also used two non-pairs of expressions. One is a triplet and one is a single image. Let’s consider those now.
Nor Angels Nor Principalities Nor Powers
This triplet refers to angelic and demonic powers. Paul has already made it crystal clear that nothing can separate us from Christ’s love. However, he decided to mention a specific concern that his readers might have had. Angels and demons are more powerful than we are. They are unseen. Yet there is nothing that can separate us from His love-including angels and demons. While the devil and demons can make believer’s present lives miserable if we yield to their influence, they cannot take away our eternal life.
Nor Any Other Created Thing
I have met a few people who have seen in this phrase an escape clause. They argue this way: “No other created thing can separate me from God’s love. However, I can separate myself from his love by ceasing to believe or by falling into a life of gross sin.”
Such a view has absolutely nothing to commend it. Paul clearly does not mean “no created thing other than ourselves.” If that were so, then what he said previously was false. When Paul said that nothing in our present or future experience can separate us from God’s love, that had to include the possibility of failure, even major failure, on our part. Nothing to come can separate us from His love. That includes anything that we as believers might do, think, or say.
Paul’s reason for including this last element is to fill out the list. Angels and demons are created beings. They can’t separate us from God. Neither can any other created being. Rather than adding an exception, as Murray says, “This concluding negation is for the purpose of leaving no loophole-no being or thing in the whole realm of created reality is excluded” (Romans, p.334; italics mine).
I have never met a human being yet (other than Jesus, of course) who was uncreated. Every human being falls in the category of a created being.
Before turning off my Mac I feel compelled to respond to a very dangerous assurance teaching which is about today. There are many who would agree that one cannot lose his salvation and yet they say that no one can be sure he personally is saved. They suggest that no one can know for sure if he has been saved yet-at least not till death.
How on earth could anyone get that from the text? What would be comforting about Paul saying that saved people can’t lose their salvation if it is impossible to know if I personally am saved? In 2 Corinthians 5:14 Paul says that the love of Christ compels us to serve God. That would be a ridiculous statement if I can’t know that Christ loves me. As long as I doubt his love for me I will be robbed of the motivating power of gratitude.
The moment we place our trust in Christ alone to save us, we can and should know that we are completely forgiven and secure in the love of Christ.
Memorize it. Rejoice in it. Embrace it. Nothing can separate us from His love. Nothing. Now that is really something!