Romans 8:28 – 39
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Are we the called – those called by God? Have we heard his voice, has the Spirit moved upon our inner being? Have we responded to the love he extends us, in the place where we are? If so, then we know that all things – that’s pretty inclusive – work for us. We also know the calling we responded to is for his purpose, not ours. We know we will be conformed to the likeness of Jesus. Two words used here that need defining; conformed and likeness (some translations use image).
Conformed comes from the Greek word, symmorphos, which means having the same form as another, similar, conformed to… Taking from this the implication of having the same form as another does that mean we are stamped with his face and body, today we would say cloned? Rather perhaps, it means when we are in contact with others they will sense the presence of God as those did who had contact with Jesus. The presence of God, his Spirit, will be so much a part of us others will feel his touch in our touch, hear his voice in our voice. Defining the term likeness or image may help to give us a clear picture of the intent of Paul when he wrote this.
Image in this verse is the word, eikon, which is defined rather extensively this way:
an image, figure, likeness; an image of the things (the heavenly things); used of the moral likeness of renewed men to God; the image of the Son of God, into which true Christians are transformed, is likeness not only to the heavenly body, but also to the most holy and blessed state of mind, which Christ possesses. The image of one; one in whom the likeness of any one is seen; applied to man on account of his power of command; to Christ on account of his divine nature and absolute moral excellence.
From this we can gather that being conformed into his image implies we have been given a mind that is like the mind of Christ. Our mind is more than brain tissue: we make decisions, we reflect and draw conclusions, we express ourselves, we communicate from the mind. It can be described as a way of thinking. We speak of mind-sets. In the spiritual sense, we differentiate between the world’s mind-set, which is self-based, and the biblical mind-set which is Christ-centered.
Can we conclude then, that we can become like Christ but it is not of our own doing?
“…For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,…”
Paul follows this up by assuring us that once we enter into this bonding with the Spirit of God, through Jesus Christ, there is nothing that can reverse the process…we cannot be removed from his presence. More on that later.
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Our take away is: We are his, we were called, we responded, we were known before we knew or took any action (wrap your mind around that!) and we are conformed to his image with all that entails. There is no room for depression here. There is no room for doubt or any hindrance to the work of God for it is all of his doing. Take on His day!