Romans 8:28 is one of the most memorized and quoted verses in the New Testament: “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.” This Scripture brings comfort, direction, and hope to Christians every day. Sadly, it’s also one of the most misquoted and misunderstood verses in the Bible.
Here are three things about this popular verse you may never have noticed.
First, Romans 8:28 doesn’t mean we can live any way we choose, and God will fix our messes.
To understand the truth of Romans 8:28, we can’t just quote the part of the verse we like: “And we know that in all things God works for the good. . .” and skip the rest, “of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,”
Romans 8:28 is a promise for believers. Real believers. Those who are living for Christ. Not those who claim to believe in God but are living like the devil.
This verse says to those who love God and are doing their best to obey his commands, “Even though bad/sad/evil/wicked things will touch your life, I (God) will use them to ultimately bring about good, both in your life and in the world.”
Joni Erickson Tada, an inspirational speaker, author, and singer, is a quadriplegic who has been confined to a wheelchair for more than 40 years. When people ask her why God allows suffering, she often says, “God allows what he hates to accomplish what he loves.” And what does God love? For people to enter into relationship with himself and become more like him. Joni’s life and ministry are a stunning testimony of how God can use a tragedy like a paralyzing diving accident to impact the lives of millions.
Second, Romans 8:28 tells us God can use all things together for good. He doesn’t say all things are good. No matter how rose-colored our glasses are, there’s nothing good about cancer, sex trafficking, or death. Until Jesus returns and conquers Satan once and for all, sin will continue to drag its poisonous tentacles across our world, damaging and destroying everything in its wake.
The truth of Romans 8:28 reminds us that although sin and Satan are powerful, God is more powerful He is able to redeem and restore anything for our good and his glory. All things may not be good, but God can and will use all things for good.
This brings us to the final thing you may never have noticed about Romans 8:28 and its accompanying verse, Romans 8:29 — the ultimate good God wants to accomplish in the lives of his children. “For those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (v. 29).