Romans 8:19-39 The Life of Salvation cont’d.
Romans 8:19-25-The First Fruits of the Spirit establishes our hope for the completion of redemption
In verse 19, Paul tells us that the creation (all that exists by virtue of God’s process of creation as found in Genesis 1-2) itself anxiously awaits the “revealing of the sons of God”. The word “revealing” is from the Greek word “apokalypsis”…from which we get our English word “apocalypse”. It means…
- laying bare, making naked
- a disclosure of truth, instruction
- concerning things before unknown
- used of events by which things or states or persons hitherto withdrawn from view are made visible to all
III. manifestation, appearance
In other words, the creation is inseparably tied to mankind. While man holds a unique relationship to God (among all of creation)…since only man has a spirit and can spiritually relate to God…man is also a part of the creation and what happens to man will inevitably have an affect on what happens to the rest of creation. In verse 20, Paul writes, “the creation was subjected to futility”. That statement is a reference to the fact that when man (Adam) sinned, all of creation was affected. Man has a dual nature. He is part of this physical realm and he is also a part of the spiritual realm. Man, and man alone, has this dual nature…no other creature in all of creation has it. When man sinned…the result of his sin was seen not only in him, but in all of the rest of creation. Since Adam’s first sin…creation has been in a death spiral. Originally, the creation exhibited perfection of order and governance. All of its laws operated as they were supposed to and all of creation functioned in perfect harmony. This is because creation is an extension of the nature of God. Creation itself bore a perfect reflection of its creator. Nature is not God, nor is God in nature. But, nature is a reflection, an extension, of the nature of the One Who created it. It operates on laws and principles that are in keeping with the nature of the God who created it. When Adam sinned…sin entered into creation due to the fact that Adam was a part of that creation. And consequently, all of creation began to die. God did not prohibit this from happening…but allowed it to be so (:20). The nature of God that was woven throughout the fabric of creation was corrupted…including both the laws that govern the spiritual realm and the laws that govern the physical realm. The earth itself, which had previously existed as a pristine environment in which all animals coexisted and the natural elements of the planet functioned as a cohesive unit…was now in disarray. Creation turned inward and became self-destructive. Animals fed upon animals. Weather patterns changed. Continents shifted and caused devastating upheavals. Entire species of animals were wiped out. Sin had entered into the fabric of creation. Paul writes that now the creation suffers the consequences of that sin. The creation suffers like a woman in childbirth suffers (:22; cf. Genesis 3:16). And now, the only hope for creation…lies in the hope that man can be saved from the ravages of sin (:20). Then, and only then, will the creation be “set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (:21).
Paul says that along with the rest of creation…we also anxiously await the final outcome of God’s work. This outcome will be so wonderful that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed” (:18). Right now, we already have the "first fruits" (:23) of the Spirit. In other words, because of the work that the Holy Spirit has already accomplished in us (the first fruit…His victory over the penalty of sin and His provision for victory over the power of sin) we are aware that God’s plan of redemption (His process of restoring man to what he was originally intended to be…His victory over the very presence of sin) has already begun and we anxiously look forward to its conclusion. That will happen when we are taken home to be with Him in Heaven. At that time, not only will our spirits have received a new birth, but our bodies (our physical being) will also receive a new birth, as well…”the redemption of our body” (:23). So, until that time arrives…we will persevere with hope.
Romans 8:26-30-The Intercession of the Spirit accomplishes the purpose of our salvation
In the meantime, the Spirit helps us here and now. Sometimes life can be so difficult that we don’t even know what to pray for, but the Holy Spirit does. We don't even know what kind of help we need, but the Holy Spirit does. We don’t understand God’s will or purpose in a situation, but the Holy Spirit does. It isn’t just that we can’t put the details together and arrive at an answer. Sometimes we don’t even know all of the details. The situation is simply beyond us. It is “too deep for words” (:26). So, the Holy Spirit speaks to the Father in our behalf with “groanings”…a depth of understanding that goes beyond human rational, logic and intellectual ability. To “intercede” means that the Holy Spirit goes to the Father on our behalf, for our benefit. We might paraphrase verse 27 as, “and the Father, Who is totally aware of the intention and request of the Holy Spirit, also knows that it will always be according to His will.” So, the Holy Spirit intercedes, He crafts our prayers for us in such a way…that they are both for our benefit and according to the Father’s will. And what is the result of such a prayer? God uses it for good. Whatever it is. However difficult, or painful, or sorrowful it may seem. If we love God and are willing to trust His will…He will use “all things to work together for good”.
There is something important to remember at this point. Sometimes, when it’s over, we can see what God’s purpose was. God was using some situation to directly bring about a needed change in our life. We see it. We recognize what was going on.
But sometimes we don’t see how God was using a situation for our good. There seems to be no direct correlation between the situation, what was done, and the outcome…that proves to be for our good. And in fact, that may be just the case. Perhaps God was allowing you to go through some situation…for someone else’s good. For whatever reason, in His will, God chose to use you to go through some situation in order to accomplish a purpose in someone else’s life. You don’t know what that purpose was…or perhaps, even who that person was. But God was able to use you, none-the-less…because you were submissive to His will. Now, you need to realize that there is an indirect result in your life. While God may have not used the situation to directly make a change in your life…any time that you submit your life to the will of God, He will indirectly use it for good in your life. It is easy to become so self focused that we think that everything that we go through is about us. When in reality, God may be using it for someone else’s benefit.
So, how does God use situations in our lives for good? What is it that God is developing in us through these situations? He uses whatever difficulties we encounter to conform us to the image of Jesus (:28-30)…either directly, or indirectly. He allows us to encounter situations in which we must trust Him and live by the power of the Holy Spirit. Each time we do this…we become a little bit more like Jesus. Paul says that God “foreknew” (that means to know ahead of time) who would accept Christ…and that He “predestined” (that means to determine ahead of time) those believers to be “conformed to the image of His Son”. While there are other steps involved in God’s process of conforming people…Paul mentions three. First, they are “called”. This means that they have been summoned by God to salvation. Then they are “justified”. This was a legal term that spoke of someone who had been acquitted of guilt. God took the initiative to send Jesus to pay the price for our sin. When we accept Jesus as our Savior the price is paid…and we are justified. Finally, we are “glorified”. This speaks of a future time when the process will be completed. Our bodies will be taken to Heaven and our redemption will be complete. From beginning to end…God is responsible for our salvation. He initiates our salvation. He sustains our salvation. And He concludes our salvation.
Romans 8:31-39-The Protection of the Spirit secures us in God’s love
Paul now says that if God is for us, there is absolutely nothing that can defeat us. Since God has already given His Son in our behalf, there is nothing of more value that He could withhold. Notice that Paul says that we cannot be defeated by:
- Condemnation through the Law (we are justified not because of what we have done, but because of what He did for us);
- Separation from His Love (we are loved not because of who we are, but because of Who He is).
Both Law and Love are dependent on God. Therefore, in order to condemn us, or to separate us, God would have to be defeated…not us. And that is totally impossible.
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your Spirit...that comforts me, and guides me, and helps me to grow in Christ. Thank You for the guarantee that Your Spirit brings to me. There are times when I could become discouraged...but Your Word tells me here that the Holy Spirit will protect me no matter what happens. Please, Lord, help me always to be conscious and aware of Your love and the work of the Holy Spirit in my life...no matter what the circumstances.