The Power of God
This week we will conclude our mini-series in Romans as we work through Romans 8:31-39. As you recall, Romans 1-5 is all about justification. We are justified in Christ by His grace. Romans 6-8 focuses on sanctification. We are not perfect but live under the progressive influence of His holiness. Because of His active work we are also free from condemnation. Romans 8:31-39 reminds us that there is nothing that can separate us from His love. We are His adopted children and nothing can change the progressive work of His grace in our lives!
I’m reminded of a story concerning Augustine, the early church father. Augustine has influenced Christians across the centuries because he is not simply a model of devotion and piety, but a redeemed sinner who understood that he was secure in Christ. Before his conversion, Augustine lived a reckless life. In his spiritual autobiography, Confessions, he writes that in his youth he had prayed, “God, give me chastity… just not yet." It was his lifelong inability to tame the lusts of his flesh that ultimately drove him. Eventually he experienced the irresistible drawing
of the Holy Spirit, to fall on the grace of God in repentance and faith in the year 386.
The notable concerning Augustine’s self-disclosure in Confessions is that he was already an aged, respected, and influential bishop when he wrote of his reckless behavior. It was risky and bold for him to acknowledge the truth about his former life. The word “confession” in Greek literally means, “to say the same,” meaning to acknowledge what’s true. This is what we do when we confess sin - we’re telling the truth. Augustine was not too ensnared by pride, self-righteousness and the embarrassment of condemnation to tell the truth about himself. What gave Augustine the strength to do that, and where can we find that power? It was the security of the gospel and the power of being a new creation no longer living under the condemnation of sin.
One day, years after his conversion, Augustine is said to have been walking down the street when a former mistress called out to him. The bishop did not answer her; she called out again saying, "Augustine, it is I!" According to the story, Augustine turned and responded, "Yes, but it is no longer I."
What a beautiful picture of the transformation the gospel brings about in us. Augustine wasn’t the same person. The old Augustine died to sin and his life was hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). Augustine had been crucified with Christ, and it was no longer he who lived, but Christ who lived in him (Galatians 2:20). And because of the world-changing power of this truth Augustine was, from his high position of authority and influence, freed to tell the truth about himself because he was fully secure in Christ (Romans 8:34).
My prayer for us today is that we understand the power of God working in our justification, sanctification, and glorification. Because God is at work in our lives we are free from condemnation and by His grace we experience the beauty and transforming power of the gospel. We are great sinners, but Christ is a greater Savior. I pray you have the joy of securely walking with Christ.
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