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What does it mean that neither death nor life separates us from the love of God (Romans 8:38)?

neither death nor life

In Romans 8:38–39, the apostle Paul articulates one of the most profoundly comforting reassurances in Scripture: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The psalmist echoes Paul’s conviction that neither death nor life can separate us from God’s love: “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there!” (Psalm 139:7–8, NLT). God is present everywhere. There is no place we can go and be cut off from His presence. The Bible also tells us that God, by His very nature, is love (1 John 4:8, 16). And if God is love and exists everywhere, then it stands to reason that nothing and no place can isolate us from His love.

Paul relates a laundry list of things that could potentially have the power to barricade us from God’s loving presence: life, death, angels, demons, the present, the future, powers, height, depth, and anything else in all creation. With that last item, nothing is left out! And then Paul affirms that none of these things are powerful enough to create a barrier between us and the boundless love of God in Christ. Everything in all the universe, whether in this present life or the life to come, is under God’s sovereign control and the dominion of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (Ephesians 1:22; 1 Corinthians 15:27–28; Hebrews 2:8).

God displayed His great love for us on the cross (Romans 5:8; John 3:16–17). On Calvary, Jesus Christ triumphed over all things, including death and every living enemy, by offering His life in our place (Colossians 2:15). When we receive God’s gift of salvation, we are “buried with Christ” through baptism and “raised to new life” by “the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead” (Colossians 2:12, NLT). Paul continues, “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13–14, NLT).

The redeemed of the Lord are made spiritually and eternally alive in Christ. We died and were buried with Jesus and then raised and restored to newness of life. Not one thing in this life or even in death can ever cause lasting harm to us because Jesus Christ rescinded all charges against us. For this reason, nothing and no one will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ. We belong to the Lord forever (Isaiah 43:1; John 1:12; 10:28; Romans 8:15; 14:8).

We may sometimes feel like our pain, sorrow, and loss distance us from God’s affection. But to this deception, Paul asks, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? . . . No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us” (Romans 8:35–37, NLT).

When we feel separated from God’s love, the problem is not any lack on His part. The hindrance comes from our perception. When instability and insecurity threaten us, our confidence must rest securely in the knowledge of God’s love for us and not in our own feelings. Human love is often erratic, weak, fluctuating. Doubt, circumstances, and fear can obscure our awareness of the Lord’s presence. We must stand on the sure promise of God’s Word that His love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). It is never-ending (Lamentations 3:22). The Lord’s faithful love endures forever (Psalm 136:7, 13, 21).

God does not promise us a life free of affliction, but He does promise to be with us through anything and everything we face with His all-powerful, steadfast agape love. For believers in Jesus Christ, God’s love is a constant supply poured out by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). His love can be counted on in the calamities of life and leaned upon in the crisis of death.

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What does it mean that neither death nor life separates us from the love of God (Romans 8:38)?
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This page last updated: January 4, 2022