In class Friday, our history lesson was about the origins of democracy in ancient Athens. For the bell work, I had the students write a paragraph answering the question: “What does democracy mean to you?” I use that question each year to help students recognize all the freedoms that we enjoy in a democracy compared to the lack of freedom that people in communist countries like North Korea, Cuba, and China battle every day. In several classes, students talked about our freedom of religion. I built off that truth by explaining that in many countries, Christians must worship in secret and are often arrested and tortured for their faith in Christ. In one class, a student responded by asking, “What about the people who are Christians but hide their faith and pretend not to be Christians?” I said that Jesus talked about that topic and then showed the class His words from Matthew 10:32-33: “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” According to Jesus, there is no such thing as a “secret Christian.” Jesus says that if we are not willing to publicly identify with Him, even in the face of persecution and suffering, then we are not worthy to be His disciples. But if we are willing to stand up for Jesus, then He is willing to stand up for us before a much more important audience – His holy Father in heaven.
In today’s passage from Romans 8, Paul was writing to encourage Christians who were facing serious persecution and even death for their faith in Jesus. He was writing to encourage people who were being unjustly condemned, arrested, and mistreated by the government and their neighbors. Christians still encounter such hardships today and can also take great courage from these words in verse 31: “If God is for us, then who can be against us?” The implied answer: NO ONE and NOTHING! When you know that you belong to Jesus, then you know that He is always on your side. And if Jesus is always on your side, then no amount of people laughing at you, shunning you, being mean to you, or even hurting you physically can compare to the joy of having eternal life in Him. Even more importantly, when you know that Jesus is for you, then you no longer have to fear a coming judgment by a holy God for all your sins. The thought of standing before the Judge of all earth at the end of your life does not have to terrify you any more. God gave His one and only Son up for you (verse 32); Jesus took all the punishment that you and I rightly deserved upon Himself when He shed His blood on the cross. God has justified us, or declared us “not guilty” forever, and He will never condemn us; the charges that should be brought against us for our sins have been eternally dropped from heaven’s court (verse 33). Jesus died for us and then God raised His Son up from the dead, proving that His sacrifice had been accepted. Now, that same Jesus stands before His Father’s holy throne in heaven, continually making “intercession” or pleading our case so that we can receive God’s mercy and grace (verse 34).
So how about you? Have you publicly identified yourself as Christ’s disciple? Have you taken your stand for Jesus? Have you trusted in His death and resurrection to save you from all your sins in the coming judgment? Then know that this day and every day for the rest of your life, God is and always will be for you. Keep standing up for Jesus because He will always be standing up for you.
The Text (Romans 8:31-34)
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 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? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 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.
Questions to Think About
- When do you first remember be willing to publicly identify yourself as a follower of Jesus Christ?
- Why do you think it is important for Christians to make public profession of their faith in Jesus? How does a public profession of faith help the individual Christian as well as the church as a whole?
- In what situations are you currently finding it hard to stand up for Jesus?
- If you are a Christian, how can remembering that Jesus is always on your side help you in your life right now?