Where Does Our Help Come From?
The question begged by dark honesty about our present address—identified in Romans 8—is this: What does God give us to face our inevitable struggles and sufferings? The resoundingly glorious answer of Romans 8 is that God does not give us this thing or that thing to help us. No, he gives us the only thing that can truly provide the rescue, wisdom, and strength we need.
What is that one thing? I love saying this! God’s best and most precious gift to us between the already and the not yet is the gift of himself. He doesn’t promise a life free from struggle. He doesn’t promise us that we will not suffer. He doesn’t promise that our sexuality will be free from distortion and temptation. No, he promises us that in all these situations he will be with us, in us, and for us. God is the grace he offers us.
In fact, this passage carries with it one of the most powerful and concise definitions of God’s presence and grace that you will ever find. It’s there in verse 31: “If God is for us, who can be against us.” Where can hope for a healthy, godly, and morally pure sexual life be found? Here is the answer in three wonderful words, God for us. Let it echo in your mind: God for us. Let it ring in your heart: God for us.
Hope in Temptation
Let it shape the way you think about how to live God’s way sexually in a world that ignores him and rejects his wise and loving plan. Let these words give you courage in the face of confusion, misunderstanding, and temptation. Let them give you hope when you feel defeated by sexual temptation. It’s never us against the giant of seductive sexual allure, because by grace God really is for us.
So Romans 8 doesn’t just alert us to the broken, groaning world we live in, but it points to God’s presence with us and the grace he offers us.
God’s grace is often uncomfortable grace (Rom. 8:18–25). The difficulties we face in the here and now are not a sign that God has forgotten or abandoned us. He knows where he has placed us. He has placed us here because he is not after our ease; he is after our hearts.
God’s grace is intervening grace (Rom. 8:26–27). At times the battle is so great, so discouraging, and so emotionally taxing that you don’t even know how to pray. You’ve fallen again and focused your eyes on what God prohibits or used your body for what God has forbidden, and you feel so defeated. This passage says that in those moments, when the weakness is so deep, and you’re distraught and confused—so much so that you don’t know how to pray—God does not turn his back on you. No, the opposite is true. The Holy Spirit, who lives inside you, carries your intelligible cries in words of grace to the Father.
God’s grace is unstoppable grace (Rom. 8:28–30). God will absolutely finish the work of grace that he has begun in each of us. His grace is never at risk. His grace is never at stake. His grace is never up for grabs. His grace never waffles.
God’s grace is providing grace (Rom. 8:31–32). The cross is our guarantee that in all our struggles with sex, no matter who we are and what those struggles may be, God will give us everything we need. If he willingly gave us his Son, we can rest assured he will gladly supply what we are not able to supply for ourselves.
God’s grace is inseparable grace. (Rom. 8:33–39). Finally, in case any doubt still remains about the presence and reliability of God’s grace, Paul assures us that we will never encounter or struggle with anything that has the power to separate us from the love of the One who so generously blesses us with his presence and his grace. This world, with all its sexual distortion, confusion, and seduction, can’t separate you from God’s love.
Covered in Grace
Romans 8 is stunningly honest in its description of the groaning world we live in and wonderfully hopeful about the realities of God’s presence with us and grace for us. The honesty of Romans 8 doesn’t negate its hope, and the hope doesn’t weaken its honesty. And this is the way it should be. If what the Bible says is right about who God is and what he has given us in Jesus Christ, then we should be the most honest community on earth, because we know that whatever is known or exposed about us has already been fully covered by his amazing grace.
This is a guest article by Paul David Tripp, author of Sex in a Broken World: How Christ Redeems What Sin Distorts. This post originally appeared on crossway.org; used with permission.
Paul David Tripp (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a pastor, author, and international conference speaker. He is also the president of Paul Tripp Ministries. He has written a number of popular books on Christian living, including What Did You Expect?, Dangerous Calling, Parenting, and New Morning Mercies. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Luella and they have four grown children.