Ash Wednesday Evening
March 8, 2000
No one can separate us from Christ’s love.
The bumper sticker, which reads “Smile, God loves you”, may seem trite, but it does express a profound Scriptural truth. A deep need of human beings is to know that not only people love them but that God loves them. St. Paul assures us that God indeed loves us so fervently and faithfully that NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD!
I. No condemnation by anyone.
A. We frequently experience condemnation.
1. People sometimes remind us that we have not met their
expectations, and so we cannot expect their love either. We get so used to thinking that love is dependent on our good behavior that we think God’s love works the same way.
2. Even if we do not experience outright or subtle condemnation by others , an honest look at our imperfections and failings can lead us to condemn ourselves. We then draw the conclusion that God must be condemning us because He could not possibly love such sinful people as we.
B. God justifies us.
1. God condemned our sin in Christ and punished Him instead of us. For Jesus’ sake, God has accepted us; He willingly gave His own Son into death for us.
2. God responds continually to the resurrected Christ’s intercession for us.
3. God has elected us by His grace to be His own. Since He has called us by to faith, He will keep us in faith.
Transition: Since neither God nor Christ condemns us, we can be sure that no condemnation by anyone can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ. Not only these judicial assaults but also direct assaults seek to separate us from the love of God. But then cannot do it either!
II. No affliction of any kind.
A. Afflictions can cause us to think that God no longer loves us.
1. We may be influenced to think this way by people who are quick to judge us, intimating that we must have done something to merit an affliction.
2. Being conscious of our sins, we can begin to think that God is punishing us.
B. Afflictions are not proof of God’s wrath but of His love for us.
1. Afflictions are a way of entering into the fellowship of Christ’s suffering, which is a privilege (Philippians 3:10).
2. Tribulation of all kinds has always been the lot of believers since Old Testament times.
3. Afflictions, no matter where they originate or what their intensity, can never make God stop loving us. We do not have to be afraid of the affliction of death or of life or of anything in all creation; for God is with us. He will never leave us. He will never forsake us!
Conclusion: No matter how unloving or unloved we sometimes feel because of condemnation and affliction, nothing – absolutely nothing – can be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Savior. In spite of everything, we keep achieving the most brilliant victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.