Interpreting Romans 8:28

Q. I was reading a devotional and something this author wrote has disturbed me. Speaking of Romans 8:28 he said, “God promises that he will work out everything to our good, and the good of others, as long as we obey Him”.

As far as I know this Scripture reads this way: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

I do realize that if someone loves God they are going to make every attempt to obey Him except that I know there are so many many times I do not obey God even though I always want to. So am I to believe that God is not going to work everything to my good because I’m sometimes disobedient?

A. In Romans 7:18-20 Paul admitted to having the same difficulty obeying God. But there is no Greek word in Romans 8:28 that can be translated “obey”. Some believe this verse is a conditional promise because Paul used the Greek word “agapeo” in writing it. Agapeo means to love the Lord so much we’re totally given over to Him. We would call this a sacrificial love. They say if our love for the Lord could not be described this way, then the promise wouldn’t apply to us.

But even if that’s the case the word means to love, not to obey. Even total obedience without that kind of love could not meet the requirements of the verse. I would venture to say that the author of the devotional was inserting his own opinion into his interpretation of Romans 8:28 and could not meet such a standard himself.

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