Romans Lesson 7: 8.12-25 - SECURED
LAST WEEK: In Romans 6:1-14, Paul answered the question of whether Christians, who are now under grace, should continue to sin. His answer was emphatic: we absolutely should not. First, Paul informed us that when we came to God by faith in Jesus, we died to sin and are no longer slaves to it. Second, we need to remember what living for sin did to us-it only led to shame and finally, death. The righteousness freely given to us by God in Christ Jesus leads to becoming like Jesus and prepares us to live in eternity with Him.
THIS WEEK: Romans 8 begins and ends with declarations of the Christian's absolute security before God. There is no condemnation for those in Christ, and nothing will ever be able to separate us from His love. Having believed the Gospel, we now live in the Spirit of God in a close personal relationship that allows us to call God "Abba Father." Because of our position as God's Children, we suffer along with Christ, and we suffer along with all creation while we wait for God to reveal us as His sons. Rom. 8:12-17 describes our position as Gods Children and 18-25 talks about the participation of Christians in the everyday suffering experienced by all of creation.
Read Rom 8:12-13 - YOU WILL DIE-YOU WILL LIVE
12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh- 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Note: In vv. 1-11, Paul contrasted those live according to the flesh" with those "who live according the Spirit." Those who live according to the flesh are characterized by death (v. 6) and hostility to God (v. 7), while those who live according to the Spirit are characterized by life (v. 6). The same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead will give life to those who live according the Spirit (v. 11).
v. 12: "So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh- " - The title "brethren" indicates this message is to Christian believers. We are under an obligation-in debt-to the Spirit that gained us life, whereas, life in the flesh gain us nothing and we owe it nothing. Christians have a negative and positive sphere of responsibility: We have a positive obligation to live under the control of the Holy Spirit but have no obligation to live on the terms of the flesh and allow it to dominate us. We cannot separate our justification from our sanctification-salvation provided the freedom from the rule of sin's capacity over our lives.
v. 13: "for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live" - While Paul intends the flesh/Spirit contrast as a spiritual lesson, we see it manifested in the physical realm: People who engage in fleshy excess-gluttony, drunkenness, drugs, promiscuous sex, etc.-typically live shortened lives. But Paul tells us that a Christian who lives according to the flesh suffers a far more serious penalty-spiritual death. This isn't a loss of salvation but is to "die" to God in this life (referred to as "temporal death") and lose fellowship with Him. But there is hope: Those "who put to death the deeds of the body" and repent, will live again.
TRUTH 1: Those Christians who choose to live according to the flesh are on a fatal course in their spiritual lives in real time. Even though God addresses us as His people, we can still choose to live according to the flesh and can "die" to God and lose fellowship with Him in this life-here and now.
Read Rom. 8:14-18 - LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD-CHILDREN OF GOD-GLORY REVEALED
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
v. 14: "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" - As we recently learned in the book of Numbers, in Israel's wilderness wanderings, God went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them on their way, and by night in a pillar of fire... (Num. 9:15-17). In the same way the ancient Israelites allowed themselves to be led, we now have the Holy Spirit to guide us with similar leadership. The leading of the Spirit here isn't about decision-making but being influenced by the Holy Spirit with the choices we make. Moreover, those who allow themselves to be governed by the Spirit are "sons of God," and a Spirit-led life is the manifestation of our "sonship."
v. 15: "For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" - Reference to "a spirit of "slavery" alludes to bondage in Egypt and the strict discipline of Torah Law, itself a form of bondage which instilled the "fear" of falling short again and again. But as Christians we already have the status of full acceptance because we have been "adopted," a term denoting full legal standing into God's family. "Abba" is what Jewish children call their father, a familiar term like papa, and as Christians, we are permitted this familiarity because we're not just God's people but His children.
v. 16: "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God" - This is a contrast to v. 15, where we testify about our new relationship with God to one where the Holy Spirit testifies that we are children of God. When a Christian prays, he or she does not pray alone-the Holy Spirit enters our prayer to enable us to pray effectively, bearing witness with our Spirit. The Holy Spirit also bear joint-testimony with us that we are the "children of God." Not only are believers "sons of God," but we are the children of God.
v. 17a: "and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ" - In most legal codes, an adopted child gains heirship -legal rights of inheritance from the adoptive family. Since we are adopted children of God, we inherit certain rights and privileges from God; however, Christian heirship doesn't depend on the death of the parent, because we share that inheritance with One who is eternal. Moreover, God is not only the source of our inheritance but is our inheritance. As "fellow (or joint) heirs with Christ," we share His inheritance and cannot receive it apart from Him. Thus, everything that the Father gave to Christ is ours as joint-heirs with Him, and a joint-heir means that each individual owns the whole. This is our positional guarantee of our inheritance.
v. 17b: "if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him" - Being a Christian involves more than rights and privileges given by God but also involves suffering, and suffering that's unique to being a Christian will come our way. Christians are being persecuted in many parts of the world and indeed, we live in a nation today that's becoming increasingly hostile to the Christian message. Even though we can expect to share Christ's suffering at some level, we can also look forward to being "glorified with Him." Glorified describes the radiance of the eternal state with God. We lost this glory with Adam's fall but regain it by our association with Christ. Believers will participate in enjoy God Himself, and that portion of our inheritance is all-sufficient. Think of it this way: Justification is the beginning of salvation and glorification is the end of salvation-the reward.
v. 18: "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us" - The word "consider" (Gk. logizomai) is an accounting term that means to calculate. For example, if you calculate the difference between your liabilities and your assets, it equals your net worth. If we consider that our future glory-our spiritual assets--is based upon (1) God's promises, (2) the intercession of the Holy Spirit, and (3) God's sovereign control of all things, it goes far above the sufferings-our spiritual liabilities-we might endure for Christ in this life. This is even true for people like foreign missionaries who serve in dangerous places.
Read Rom. 8:19-21 - THE CREATION WAITS WITH EAGER EXPECTATION
19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
v. 19: "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God" - After telling us that our sufferings in the present age are trivial compared the glory that God will reveal to us, Paul now writes that Christians aren't the only ones who long for the moment when suffering will be replaced by glory. In fact, the creation itself longs for it and eagerly awaits for the "revealing of the sons of God" (that's us). This is amazing in two ways: First, Paul describes creation as having an 'awareness' that something better is coming. By "creation," Paul refers to all that God has made from all manner of plants and animals to the air, water, and sky, and all of it and us are waiting for the moment when God will make everything right. Second, the other amazing fact is that the revelation of the sons of God will occur when Christ comes for His believers. When that happens, Christians will share the glory of Christ, meaning that our bodies will be redeemed and at the same time, eternally separated from sin and our fallen nature-we'll be like Christ: perfect.
v. 20: "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope" - At the fall, God not only cursed the serpent, woman, and man, but also curse the ground as part of human punishment. No longer do man and woman live in a garden of Eden, a paradise; instead, we live in world that "will yield thorns and thistles to you" and where "by the sweat of you face you will eat bread" (Gen. 3:18-19). We might view human spoilage of the environment as a factor here-and humans have made things worse by their poor stewardship-but Paul isn't speaking of this but of the curse God placed upon the "cosmos" at the very beginning.
v. 21: "that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God" - We should add to this "in hope" from v. 20, because God's final word is not "curse" but "hope." God cursed the man and the woman, and creation with them, but at the same time devised a plan for their restoration. When God completes His program for the salvation of His people, He will deliver the inanimate creation in its original pristine state. Its "slavery to corruption" refers to creation's present state of entropy where death and decay are at work and everything-people, animals, and plants-all die. Just as Christians will enter a glorified state, one day God will set the creation free from corruption and decay.
Read Rom. 8:22-25 - THE WHOLE CREATION-GROANING IN LABOR PAINS
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
v. 22: "For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now" - In v. 19, Paul told us that "the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God," but now tells us that the "revealing" will be a birth. Therefore, creation's discomfort is not due to the result of death pangs-as some people would have us believe-but birth pangs, a rebirth. Its longing and "groans" are hopeful signs (i.e., the baby is coming)-not reasons for despair.
v. 23: "And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body" - We share in the creation's discomfort , even though we enjoy the "first fruits of the Spirit." Not only does the creation groan about the fall and its consequences, but believers also groan about the consequences of sin upon themselves. Under the OT sacrificial system, the "first fruits" was the first of the harvest that was offered to God (Lev. 23:10-11). As Christians, our first fruits-a metaphor for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when we were saved-is just the first installment of the greater harvest to come-the "redemption of our bodies," which is our glorification in the eternal state.
v. 24: "For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?" - Our initial salvation was the first of three phases: (1) The first, an event in which we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior and became believers; (2) the second, a cumulative process of sanctification whereby God makes us more Christ-like day by day; and (3) the third phase is our eternal glorification in heaven. The term "hope," repeated three times here, is the opposite of what is seen, but at the same time, it's not subjective like a wish but objective in the absolute certainly that God has promised it. We have no need to hope for something we already have, do we?
v. 25: "But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it" - Although our "hope" is not something we now see, it is based on the certainty of what God has promised to do for us in the future. As believers we can persevere the temporary struggles of life in this world because we can be sure of what lies ahead for us. What makes it certain is its content: we obtain our hope from God's promise in His Word, which is inerrant and infallible-you can bank on it.