“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Other than Philippians 4:13, 1 John 1:9, and Hebrews 10:26, Romans 8:28 is one of the most taken-out-of-context verses in the Bible. When we hear it or read it, we can easily get excited,“Yeah! Oh yeah! All things are working out together for my good!” We do this all the time, and that’s fine. I too have used this verse for biblical motivation, countless times.
I even find myself quoting this particular Scripture to people who reach out to me for advice or prayer. Those who are facing heart-wrenching circumstances which seem insurmountable. Those who have been tortured in their minds by years of trouble and heartache. People who have loved ones who refuse to turn their lives around, commit to their family, or are battling a sickness or addiction–I’ll quote this passage and say, “Everything is going to be okay. God works all things together for our good.”
But does He? Let’s be real. Let’s go past the emotionalism in which so many churches peddle. Digging deep into the feelings of those sitting in the seats, the pastors who are hoopin’ and hollering up on stage, yelling and sweating profusely–why not relax and speak precisely? I’m not saying be stiff as a board and monotone, but what good is heavy microphone-breathing and falling over doing when the congregation has to go back out into the real world? I’m all for being passionate! But let’s be clear and exude self-control, even while being passionate.
Further, why do we have to use vague threats?
“If you want God to rebuke the devour, then you need to look at your tithing record!”
“Yeah, you might have made Jesus your Savior, but did you make Him Lord?!”
C’mon, people. With all due respect, we are better than this! The Spirit is not teaching us this trash, but we are ignoring Him!
So many churches are off-base in regard to how our loving Heavenly Father works, as if we can buy His favor with a certain percentage of our money! What kind of good father would do such a thing? And the notion of us making Jesus Savior but not Lord is immature as well. As if He can save us from our sin but we must do something else to activate His lordship in our lives.
What does this do? It puts pressure on us and takes it off of Christ–that’s not how things work (see John 15:5, Galatians 5:22-23, Matthew 11:28-30). It makes us believe we didn’t fully believe. Lordship salvation is quasi-gospel, self-righteous, and it creates hierarchies of, “I’m doing more than you! I’ve made Him Lord much better!”
Do you see that I’m and I’ve is used in this? It’s wrong. It’s one of the worst ideas floating around. It’s worse than weekly demon exorcisms performed on Christians up on stage. Yes, this actually happens.
I did not know this until I saw a documentary about people thinking they need to constantly have demons cast out of them, and a pastor happily obliging. NO DEMON CAN TOUCH US. WE ARE LITERALLY POSSESSED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD! (See 1 John 5:18, 1 Corinthians 6:19). All they can do is accuse us, threaten us, lie to us, tempt us, and anything else verbally in our minds (see Revelation 12:10, John 8:44, Ephesians 6:12).
What a crazy charade I witnessed on my television as the same Christians, week by week, flipped around on the floor while speaking in deep voices as if the demon was talking through them. They were even gagging, acting like they were puking out the spirit. Do you not see how this incorrect learned behavior can give us a bad name? It’s like Paul said, “Will they not think we’re mad?” (See 1 Corinthians 14:23). There’s not a single verse in the New Testament where a demon is cast out of a child of God! Not one!
Further, Jesus is obviously our Lord as well as our Savior. If He had the supernatural ability to give us new hearts, He’s one and the same! But the enemy wants to fan the flames of self-centered religion by making things ambiguous. Friend, he’s trying to confuse us. Please recognize that!
…I need to get back on subject. So, why can’t we just be clear and answer this hard question: Does God really work all things out together for good?
When we are faced with the troublemaking of unfair, selfish people; when entitled loved ones continue to hurt us and refuse to take responsibility for their poor choices, just how does everything work out together for good? “I just don’t see it!” some will say. If we love God, like Romans 8:28 says, and we are called according to His purpose, then how in the world is our deep pain working out for good?
To answer this, we must do two things:
1. Define “good”
2. Look to the following verse, Romans 8:29
As a Christian, I know that Jesus is good! Sure, there are many other things and people which are good, but He is the only one who defines goodness in its purest form!
“Yeah right, Matt! Jesus Himself said that only God is good!” someone might rebuttal.
Friend, when Jesus said that He was stating a fact, not contradicting Himself. Jesus is God–the flesh version, the Word version. Do you not agree with that? Are you saying that Christ was not good? Of course you believe He’s good! He’s the Messiah!
This is why we have to look at Scripture as a whole and in context. If Jesus was not good then He had no right to die for our sins. That sacrifice would be void because it had to be perfect.
So in order to believe the truth of what Paul penned in Romans 8:28, in our minds let’s replace the word good with Christ. “All things work together for Jesus”...now…isn’t this starting to make sense? Somehow, someway, your difficult situation is creating something good for Jesus! The constant stress and strain of dealing with that difficult person–you may have been going through this for years–your commitment is creating something eternally valuable for Jesus! He appreciates the heck out of you!
That good you are investing in for Christ, it may come to fruition later on down the road–for humanity as a whole–or that good could be happening right now in your life, for your own benefit, and you just don’t know it! It will all make sense in the end! Jesus will show you what your undying love created for Him! He, is, with you!
Next, let’s look at the following verse, Romans 8:29. It explains how all things are working together for good:
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
Do you see what our troubles are causing? They are causing us to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ! How? Through our actions and attitudes! The way we love, the way we hold out hope, the way we forgive, the way we season our lives with grace! All of humanity has been predestined for the option of this greatness through our faith in the Son of God! All of humanity has been called to be a brother or sister in Christ!
So today, my friends, know this: Yes, all things really do work out for good, and God does want to bless you in unfathomable ways! But His blessings aren’t always in the form of easy living, everyone appreciating you, or painless circumstances. No, His blessings are usually poured out in much different ways, ways we don’t fully understand, just yet. God’s main blessing for your life is Christ’s life in you–which you have if you believe! But He also has a desire to lead you into complete dependence on Him! This is how all things truly work together for your good! Trust Him, and enjoy your life as it is!
A prayer for you: Father, as strange as this might sound, today I want to thank you for difficult trials. I know that it is in those dark times, all of my concentration is on you. So I’m grateful. Keep working everything out in my life for good! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of them are struggling to see how anything good can come out of their situation, please, ease their minds. Let them know that through these harsh experiences, their mindsets are being renewed. Also, new habits and reactions are being formed which will give them a newfound peace and confidence in you! Lead them into the deepest parts of your grace, then drown them in it! Pull them under! As they panic while breathing it in, reassure them you’re right there, smiling while saying, “Don’t be afraid.” Amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!