I’ve been a believer for about 2 years now. As I’ve gotten deeper and deeper into biblical community and seen more and more of my own sinfulness, I’ve noticed one sin that seems to creep in on every believer, anxiety. Whether anxiety as to physical needs (or wants), or being anxious in doubting our full forgiveness. The Bible answers this. Quite a few times actually, but nowhere as profoundly than Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Anxiety is a fruit of distrust. My hope is to lay out why the Christian has every right to confidently let go of anxiety and trust God.
Now, this is a very well know verse, which is why I worry most of us breeze over it without catching the weight of what it proclaims. To catch it, we’ll need to point out two key statements.
Okay stop. God. Who is God? Paul is speaking of the God of the Bible and the Gospel, “the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Ex. 34:6). This is the God who has announced his sovereignty: “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’” (Is. 46:9-10).
He is the Creator and Sustainer of all creation. It was by his word he spoke all things into being, and still by the word of his power he sustains all. “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” (Is. 40:28).
This is the God who showed his sovereignty in bringing Israel out of slavery in Egypt and later in Babylon, and who brought Jesus up out of the grave. He is sovereign in salvation. He’s the God who calls, justifies, and glorifies all who “he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Rm. 8:29). He is the God who says to you, “you have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. (Is. 46:3-4).
If God is for us…
For us? What does that mean? “The words for us declares God’s covenant commitment to us. The goal of grace is to create a loving relationship, and the bonds of fellowship by which God binds himself to us is his covenant.” It is a unilaterally imposed covenant. Like when God says to Abraham in Gen. 17, “I am God Almighty… I will establish my covenant between you and me… to be God to you and to your offspring after you…I will be their God…you shall keep my covenant.” (vv. 1,7-9).
Covenant is an odd word to use in our culture today. The idea of covenant has been defamed and belittled, similar to the ways ‘love’ has. But, regardless of how light our culture views covenant, this covenant is an enduring one. The way it was meant to be. You see, covenant isn’t just an idea for the believer, it’s a reality. And it’s a reality because it was blood bought. We are partakers in the new covenant. The binding agreements have been made and held up by the blood of Christ. Sweet, precious blood of Christ, which holds me fast and covers me in the many moments I am unfaithful to this covenant. But God is not like me, he is ‘whole otherness.’ I can’t let my unfaithfulness be a gauge on how faithful the Lord will be. He has, is and will forever be faithful in carrying out his end of this blood bought covenant, to be ‘my God.’
So think. That’s what Paul is trying to get you to do here. Compare the two sides. Your enemy/enemies, and God. The ‘who can be’ translation actually misses the point. What Paul is asking for a is a realistic review of the opposition, human or demonic, not a romantic pretense that it does not exist. Are you afraid of ‘them?’ You need not be. Whoever or whatever circumstance it is, God is greater. Fear not Christian, the Lord your God is for you. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” (2 Chron. 32:7-8).
A sovereign protector I have,
Unseen, yet for ever at hand;
Unchangeably faithful to save,
Almighty to rule and command.
He smiles, and my comforts abound;
His grace as dew shall descend,
And walls of salvation surround
The soul He delights to defend.
Note: In the interest of full disclosure, this framework has been adapted from J.I. Packer’s chapter ‘The Adequacy of God’ in Knowing God. Any unclaimed quotations are from him.