A chapter of the Bible I turn to often is Romans 8. Perhaps it is because this is the chapter JC instructed me to read and re-read after she first led me to Jesus nearly three years ago. The final 12 verses of the chapter represent some of the most powerful words ever written in human history, and I find them uplifting whenever life seems a mess.
Becoming a follower of Jesus is not a magic elixir to fix all of your woes. Bad things happen to Christians every day. What it does change, or at least what it should change, is your perspective on dealing with those situations. In 2019, I faced an onslaught of events that no doubt would have emotionally and spiritually crippled me had it not been for my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I was fired from my job, signed away my house, and saw my ex-spouse for the last time. And that was just one day out of that year.
Through it all, I did my best to stay focused on Jesus. I trusted Him and He gave me hope. He surrounded me with love, including by sending JC to me. A verse that we both turn to when facing challenging events is:
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
As humans we are, of course, incapable of comprehending God’s Plan in its full nature. Our minds can only grasp bits and pieces of it. One of the amazing and exhilarating aspects of being a Christian is occasionally seeing God put Romans 8:28 into practice.
When I lost my job, for example, He also provided for me. I was able to take the time to really heal from an emotionally and financially abusive marriage. I was able to take the time to really learn to trust Him. Would such depths of discovery have been possible while I was still pulling 50 or more hours a week at a toxic organization? These are just a few ways that He used losing my job for good. I could name several more.
I should be clear, we won’t always see how God uses apparent negative events for good. We may never see the connections this side of Heaven. But when we do, wow. We are seeing God’s fingerprints.
While I read the Bible in full about twice a year, I don’t separately refer to Romans 7 nearly as often as I do Romans 8. So, this next excerpt only recently jumped out at me.
“Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes.”
from Romans 7:13
In many ways, this verse represents the opposite of Romans 8:28. While Romans 8:28 reassures us that God will use everything, including evil, for good, Romans 7:13 tells us that sin can use good for evil.
For me, this is a reminder of how humans corrupt everything – even when we begin with good intentions. It is unfortunately part of our sinful nature.
We ultimately know that we fight from victory. Not because of any strengths we bring to the battle, but because we are part of God’s Army. Our Father is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving. While sin may be able temporarily to bring about evil, God indeed is able to use even that as part of His Plan.
“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”
1 John 4:4
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Sin might attack us even when we did nothing to invite those circumstances. Romans 8:28 is God protecting us from those attacks. Even when we do sin, however, He still uses the consequences for good.
Romans 7:13 represents a full-on attack. Evil is using God’s commands to come at us. It is a warning to be on guard and fight temptation.
Sin mocks God because:
- Satan hates him
- Sin cannot create
- It is easier to lure humans with the slightly twisted rather than the completely outlandish
It is like the serpent with Eve. Compare what God actually said about the tree to what the serpent claims He said and to what Eve thinks He said.
“The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the LORD God warned him, ‘You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.'”
“The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?'”
“‘It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, “You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.”‘ ‘You won’t die!’ the serpent replied to the woman. ‘God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.'”
Satan knows Scripture. He even quotes it to Jesus.
“Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, “He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.”‘ Jesus responded, ‘The Scriptures also say, “You must not test the LORD your God.”‘”
In that vein, evil can literally use the Bible as the map to attack us. That is why we must know the Word of God and wield it as Jesus did.
Romans 7:13 shows us that evil knows the Bible. How much more should believers know it?