Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 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.”
Scripture, being the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, paints a stunningly
realistic picture of life as a servant of the Lord. None of the biblical authors sugarcoat
what it means to obey God. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines the word “obey” as: To comply with the commands, orders or instructions of a superior, or with the requirements of law, moral, political or municipal; to do that which is commanded or required, or to forbear doing that which is prohibited. Similarly, Webster’s defines the word “obedience” as: Compliance with a command, prohibition or known law and rule of duty prescribed; the performance of what is required or enjoined by authority, or the abstaining from what is prohibited, in compliance with the command or prohibition. To constitute obedience, the act or forbearance to act must be in submission to authority; the command must be known to the person, and his compliance must be in consequence of it, or it is not obedience. Obedience is not synonymous with obsequiousness; the latter often implying meanness or servility, and obedience being merely a proper submission to authority. That which duty requires implies dignity of conduct rather than servility. Obedience may be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary obedience alone can be acceptable to God. While some people may preach as if becoming a Christian means the end to life’s problems and freedom from all tragedies, Scripture has no such ideas about the Christian life. To follow the Savior is to invite suffering, for even Jesus warns us that we “will be hated by all nations for His name’s sake” - Matthew 24:9. God will not have us pretend that suffering is an illusion, and He offers no guarantee that believers will escape it. Suffering is not the goal, but the natural consequences of serving the savior of the world Jesus Christ.
A commentary for Romans 8:38-39 states that though the Lord never minimizes suffering, He also encourages us in Romans 6:1–11 to consider it in light of the confident hope we enjoy by sharing in Christ’s death and resurrection. Christ died to all of God’s enemies - the world, the flesh, the devil, and death - but He did not stay dead. All of these did their worst, killing the Savior for His faithfulness. Yet our Creator was working through even His foes to take His own wrath upon Himself in the humanity of His Son, Jesus Christ, so that He could be reconciled to His people. Moreover, Jesus rose from the dead for our justification, demonstrating that even His enemies’ worst could not defeat Him. He could not be separated from His Father’s love; thus, He was resurrected as the conquering King over the world, the flesh, the devil, and death. Because of our union with Him, His victory is our victory. We are more than conquerors over anything that would try to separate us from the love of God for us. Though we enjoy in many ways the reality of being more than conquerors even now, until Christ returns we will sometimes not feel like conquering heroes. We may feel at times that God has departed from us, but that is when we have to believe his Word rather than our feelings.
What does God’s Word say about these things? Romans 8:38-39 gives a list of all the things that cannot separate us from God’s love. The list does not specifically include every possible agent that could potentially separate us from the love of our Father, but it is made exhaustive by adding “anything else in all creation” to the things that cannot separate us from the persevering love of the Lord. This is extremely comforting, for “anything else in all creation” includes everything that is not God Himself. Mark this well: there is nothing that can divorce God’s people from His love—not even ourselves. Many Christians will accept that nothing outside of ourselves can separate us from God’s love, but they live with the constant fear that they might jump out of the Lord’s saving hand. But we are a part of creation, and if nothing in creation can separate us from God’s love, then we cannot separate ourselves from His love. His love for His people does not wax and wane. If He loves us in Christ, He loves us forever.