Romans 8:33-34, “33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
Paul’s emphasis throughout Romans 8 has largely been on the subjective aspects of salvation such as our freedom from sin and the ministry of the Holy Spirit toward us individually (vv. 1-25). Of course, our subjective experience of redemption is important, but the Apostle never forgets the objective realities of the gospel. Neither should we. True and lasting assurance is finally grounded not in our feelings or experience but in the reality of what Jesus has done. When we are tempted to despair of our salvation, we must remember the good news of the gospel that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are united in the work of salvation, and that what has been accomplished for the sake of those who trust in Christ alone is secure and effectual for all who believe (John 10:27-30).
What do these objective realities include? Among other things, they include the fact that the Spirit prays for us so that our crying out to the Lord is perfected and heard (Rom. 8:26-27). Furthermore, we know that God has predestined all who are justified by faith unto glorification, that is, eternal life in His presence (vv. 28-30). Also, it is true that our Father willingly handed over His Son to bear the divine wrath we are due, and His Son freely gave up Himself to this wrath for our sake (vv. 31-32). Finally, and particularly important for Paul in his letter to the Romans, the reality of full, final, and gracious justification is the objective basis for our confidence in our salvation.
Paul returns to justification in today’s passage, reminding us that it is God who justifies us, not ourselves or anyone else (v. 33-34). Consequently, the Apostle raises two rhetorical questions, and he plainly expects us to answer the same way in each case. “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” No one. “Who is to condemn?” No one. The Lord has pronounced His verdict for all who are in Christ—the verdict of righteousness. If we trust in Jesus alone, we cannot be condemned. No sin remains unatoned for. No sin is held against us. Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary Romans: “It is just as futile for anyone to lay a charge against us as it is to lay a charge against Christ, because we are clothed in his righteousness. . . . Once the supreme, sovereign judge declares us righteous in his sight, all the slander in the world can make no impact on God’s assured, final judgment.” The only conclusion, John Murray tells us in his commentary on Romans, is that because God Himself declares us righteous, “the charges of all others are worthy only of contempt.”
As if our justification were not enough, Paul also points to the objective reality of Christ’s intercession for us. In conjunction with the Holy Spirit, Jesus intercedes with us, and He has a “preoccupation with the security of his people” (Murray). He asks His Father to give us all that we need to persevere in our faith, and the perfect love between the three persons of the Trinity means this prayer is always according to God’s will and always accomplishes that for which our Lord prays.