“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”–Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, He makes this bold and emphatic statement about God’s love. But if we don’t read this passage with the care with which Paul wrote it, it can be misleading. You see, there is something that can separate us from God’s love—and that something is us. If we choose to be separated from God’s love, He will honor that choice, even though it grieves Him. God knows that love which is not freely chosen is not love at all. God also knows that love which is not mutual is not love either.
So is Paul’s assertion wrong?
No! Paul is talking about the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. This love is both chosen and mutual, and it constitutes the eternal love shared between God and those who love Him.
But Paul’s list of potential “love separators” is daunting! Let’s go through it item by item.
Death: Death actually joins us with God! If we have chosen eternal life in Jesus, we begin our new life in eternity with God after our earthly lives end in death (Romans 6:4-5).
Life: The “stuff” of life—our choices, circumstances, relationships, thoughts, and actions—can play a big role in the richness of our relationship with God. However, it cannot cause us to lose God’s love in Christ Jesus. No matter what we do, say, think, or feel in life, we cannot change Jesus, who is the way to God’s love (Romans 5:8).
Angels and Demons: Now, these are some powerful folks! But they are still creations of God, and thus subject to His Lordship (1 Peter 3:21-22, Matthew 8:16).
Present and Future: These expressions relate to the passage of time. The passage of time does not limit eternity, which lasts forever. Since there is no passage of time in eternity, passing from present to future on this earth can have no bearing on the eternal love that is in Christ Jesus (Jeremiah 29:11).
Powers: Earthly power arises from riches, position, and physical strength—all of which only have power over material, or earthly things. God’s love is the greatest force in the universe. It is also eternal, and therefore it extends above and beyond all such temporary sources of power (Psalm 147:5, Psalm 24).
Height and Depth: Like time, distance is a limitation of this earth. Distance does not limit God in any way. From the top of the highest mountain to the depths of the deepest sea, there is no place you can go where God’s love cannot reach you (Psalm 139:7-10).
In summary, the love of God that is in Christ Jesus is actually God’s own nature expressed to us. Since nothing can change God, then nothing can separate us from His love. That’s the truth.
I am convinced that nothing will be able to separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus: death can’t separate you from it; life can’t separate you from it; angels can’t separate you from it; demons can’t separate you from it; nothing in the present or the future can separate you from it; no earthly power can separate you from it; height can’t separate you from it; depth can’t separate you from it. In fact, nothing in all creation can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.
That’s the YouTruth. Nothing can separate you.
© 2009, 2011 Dan Buckhout