Nothing can separate us from the love of God. When we hear these words, it can be hard to envision their truth. There is so much hurt, evil, and devastation in the world. Can none of it really separate us from God? What does it mean to be separated from God’s love? Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of Paul’s words.
What Does ‘Nothing Can Separate Us from the Love of God’ Mean?
In 1 John 4:16, the apostle writes “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” We can’t have God without love so to be separated from his love means to be separated from him entirely. Living without God means living without his direction or influence on our lives.
Being separated from God is a choice. We have free will evident in the very beginning with Adam and Eve’s choices in the Garden of Eden. God wants us to choose him. If we have been presented with the Gospel message, we have the choice to join with God and his love or reject him.
The Context of Romans 8
Having been beaten and imprisoned, Paul was familiar with trials. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-25, he writes “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea.”
Yet, none of these events pulled Paul further from God. Quite the opposite could be argued, that during all his pain and despair, Paul became more familiar with the love of God. How else can one bear such suffering?
Romans 8:35-37: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
A conqueror overcomes with the tools he has with him. Warriors don’t have to charge their enemies running full steam ahead bearing swords and roaring flames. The victory can take place inside of you with the help of the Holy Spirit. To conquer can be to trust. To conquer can be to believe. To conquer can mean to fight with the inward power of Christ. No matter what trials we find ourselves in, God is with us and so is his love.
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.”
During difficult times, God is not watching his people from above, throwing them a lifeline, hoping they’ll grab on. He comes into the trenches with us. He fights with us and for us. Not only are we not separated from God’s love, but he provides the armor of his love to be able to endure our battles.
Who Is Paul Referring to When He Says ‘Us’?
In Romans, Paul is writing to fellow believers. These are people who believe in the Gospel message. They believe Jesus was the Son of God, that he died for their sins and was raised on the third day. Believers have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. This is the community Paul is speaking to. When he died, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live within his people. Therefore, believers always have a part of God with them.
Additionally, us refers to current believers. God’s word is alive. The promises written in the past are the same truths in the present. God’s love extends through all of time, therefore, the principles in Paul’s letters are the same today as they were back then.
Paul uses the pronoun “us” and includes himself in the promise. As mentioned above, he went through many trials himself including being stoned and shipwrecked. Paul is reminding himself that he too cannot be separated from the love of God.
Acts 2:42 states “And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” As a Christian community, we are together in our struggles. We’re not meant to live them alone. The love of God can also be spread when his people serve one another. God’s love goes beyond one person and stitches believers together to support each other in times of need.
Can Anyone Be Separated from the Love of God?
God wants to be with us and share his love, but he needs to be invited into our hearts. He won’t barge down a door where he’s not welcome. To accept Christ is to give that invitation and therefore inherit God’s promises, including his love.
Can people reject Christ and therefore be separated from his love? Yes. When people are separated from the love of God on earth, they reject him as the Savior of the World and the Lord of their lives. With this choice comes the unfortunate consequence of eternal separation from God.
Does This Mean a Christian Cannot Lose Salvation?
Once we invite Christ into our lives and accept him as our Savior, our name is written in his book of life. Our names cannot be blotted out. John makes this clear in Revelation 3:5 where he writes “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.”
Let’s take a look at what Matthew Henry has to say about this verse: “Christ has his book of life, a register, and roll of all who shall inherit eternal life . . . Christ will not blot the names of his chosen and faithful ones out of this book of life . . . Christ will produce this book of life, and confess the names of the faithful who stand there, before God, and all the angels; he will do this as their Judge, when the books shall be opened; he will do this as their captain and head, leading them with him triumphantly to heaven, presenting them to the Father.”
If we truly accept Christ, we become his and cannot be separated from him or his love. But what about Christians who choose to go against God? This can be a controversial topic. One viewpoint is that those that stray from God never truly accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, although this can only be known by the wanders when they examine their own hearts.
As believers, God is with us and we can never be separated from him. There may be times in our lives when it feels like God is missing, but he hasn’t left us. No matter what trials we are going through, he is there. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Praise Jesus!
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Lidiia Moor
Jenna Brooke Carlson is an elementary dual language teacher in the Chicago suburbs. As a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers, she enjoys spending time with other writers and perfecting her craft. She recently signed a contract for her first young adult novel, A Big Hot Mess, with Elk Lake Publishing. Along with writing, she’s pursuing her dreams of creating a community of brave young women, who she can encourage to live out their dreams amid challenges and imperfection. Her days are busy, but she’s determined she can conquer anything with a fuzzy blanket and a hot cup of tea. To find out more about Jenna, visit her website at jennabrookecarlson.com.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.
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