Key Verse: “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”
THE BASIS OF TODAY’S lesson is given with this precious promise: “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) In these words, we learn that God’s purpose during this present Gospel Age is to call out a people, referred to here as “the called,” from among mankind.
Knowing this special purpose of God at the present time helps us realize the need to “put off” the fallen fleshly characteristics and desires, and to “put on the new man,” which seeks to be transformed into the image of Jesus. (Col. 3:8-15) Jesus told his disciples, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”—Matt. 6:19-21
Such a course in life will of necessity put us at odds with the world. Peter told us to expect this, saying, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”—I Pet. 4:12,13
Such trials and suffering, however, should only strengthen our devotion to God. The Apostle Paul said he rejoiced in his sufferings and in the “afflictions of Christ,” and we also have the privilege of joining him in fulfilling this “mystery; … which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:24,27) James, likewise, said our trials are essential: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [trials]; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”—James 1:2-4
Our difficult trials of faith are tempered with the realization that God has promised he will not permit any experience to come into our life which he sees is more than we can bear—“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.” (I Cor. 10:13) We are also reassured that “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (II Cor. 4:17) Indeed, our afflictions, in comparison to the hope of our calling, are inconsequential. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”—Matt. 11:29,30
The phrase in our Key Verse, “If God be for us … ,” might at first give the impression that there is some question as to the Heavenly Father’s care over us. However, when we consider the subsequent verses of our lesson, we quickly realize that the real import of these words is that “since” God is for us, nothing can successfully work against us. Nothing, Paul concludes, “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”—Rom. 8:39