Lesson 3: Sacrificial Love

Love is not a feeling of happiness. Love is a willingness to sacrifice.

– Michael Novak

Devotion: Read Romans 8:31-39. Paul offers a new perspective on standing before God in judgment. The prophets teach us even righteous people should not long for the time when God comes to bring full justice because it will be a day of darkness (Amos 5:18; Joel 2:2). But Jesus’ sacrificial love gives us a new way of viewing that future moment. God our Judge cares for us more than we care for ourselves. What is the difference between standing before a holy Judge and standing before Jesus? Is there anything in your life that you have not confessed which God will bring up in your judgment? Does the thought of standing before Christ motivate you to change how you live now? If not, what does motivate you to change? Are there positives about frightening people into obedience that the Church needs to maintain and teach? What is the negative of that practice?

Personal Worship Option: Read Psalm 118:5-9. If God is on your side, what have you to fear? What unreasonable fears do you need to turn over to God? Spend time in prayer.

Dig A Little Deeper:

8:31 Read Romans 8:18-30 to see this passage’s context and understand what “these things” refer.

Obviously many people can be “against us.” Paul’s point is that, in the end, God’s love and judgment hold the final word for us. To whose words do you give too much credence? 

8:32 The language here is reminiscent of Genesis 22:15-16.  

8:33 The one who accuses and condemns God’s people might be a reference to Satan, the Law, or a person in the Roman church whose questions Paul has been answering in this letter (3:1, 9; 3:27-29; 6:1, etc.). The language sounds like that of a courtroom where Paul is presenting evidence.

8:34 In heaven, Jesus takes on the role of high priest (Heb 7:23-28; 9:23-24: 1 Jn 2:1), interceding for us. Does this metaphoric image work with or against the doctrine of the Trinity? What is being communicated about God in this set of images?

8:35 What are modern examples of the life obstacles listed in this verse? Have some of these become less threatening over time? Would you replace any on the list with others?

8:36 Paul quotes Psalm 44:23 which recounts Israel’s call to God seeking deliverance from enemies and God’s faithfulness in those moments. The Psalm is inserted here to remind the readers that God can be trusted in those moments.

8:38 The list of potential obstacles now includes angels, rulers, and powers. These latter two are terms associated with demonic influence. There is a spiritual component to the cosmos (1 Cor 15:24). Those spiritual entities which seek to do us harm are lumped in together with forces found in the physical world. The point is clear: neither visible nor invisible can keep God’s love from us. If these words are true, why do so many not experience God’s love?

8:39 “Nor height, nor depth” refers to astrological forces in the universe. Those who believe their lives are ruled by the movement of plants and stars are invited to remember the One who created those entities.

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