Friday, June 19, 2015

Romans 8

    Before I left for Italy, I was working on a series through Romans. While I enjoyed doing the series very much, I've had trouble coming back to it. Thus, it's been nearly a month since I have done anything in Romans.

    Since it's been that long since we've been over Romans, let's review a little bit. Chapters 1-3 were Paul's argument for man's depravity and utter guilt before God. This was the argument for why God's wrath is kindled against every man, and why no one, Jew or Greek, can be preserved from God's anger by the Law. Chapters 4-6 deal with the atonement and justification, and our new status with God. Chapters 7 and as we'll see today 8 deal with the concept of life after salvation.

    Romans 8 opens with one of the most beautiful verses of the Bible (ok, yes, I say that a lot. There's a lot of "most beautiful verses in the Bible!). "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according ot the flesh, but according to the Spirit."

    There is no condemnation. None. We have been set free by Christ. What a beautiful thought! Our accuser has been answered, our debt paid, our status changed, our position raised, and our sins forgiven. Through Christ, we are no longer condemned. The judgment is gone, and in it's place is only freedom!

    But even here I want you to catch the language Paul uses. Constant references back to the law and reference to Christ as the sacrifice both point back to the Law. Again, Paul is reinforcing the point he made before. The Law has been fulfilled in Christ. Christ is the fulfillment that the temporary sacrifices in the Tabernacle and Temple pointed forward to. This was language that pointed to the Messiah. He is the fulfillment of the law.

    V. 5-14 discuss walking in the Spirit versus walking in the flesh. I don't have the time to discuss all these verses, but I would recommend you take the time to read them. Suffice to say, our natural state is that of the flesh, displeasing to God. In that state, we can do nothing that pleases God (v. 8). Rather, we are in complete rebellion against him. This is the state of unsaved man, referred to as depraved man.

    This unregenerate man without Christ is referred to as "dead" apart from the spirit of God. So we're talking about a dead man in rebellion against God. That's what each of us was before we were saved. This is why, when Paul pronounces us alive through Christ in v. 11, v. 12-14 makes the statement that we are "under obligation" no longer to the flesh. We are now sons of God.

    I want you to think carefully about the language Paul uses hear. It doesn't seem to reflect as if we have a choice of being under sin or not. Many people claim that sin is a choice we make, as if you can choose not to sin apart from Christ. Paul doesn't leave us that option. He clearly tells us that man's default setting is "dead" and "under obligation to the flesh". Those aren't words that imply free will and free choice. It doesn't reflect the attitude that we can just choose one day to come out from our bondage and follow Christ, particularly if seen in light of v. 8 that says that in this state, we cannot do what is pleasing to God (which would include repentance). Without a direct act of God, man is hopelessly stuck in his lost, depraved condition.

    That's what makes v. 15 so much more meaningful. If we can grasp how low we were as sinners and how undeserving we were of God's mercy, we may begin to grasp the enormity of the statement in v. 15, where we pronounced children of God, to the extent that we can cry out to Him, "Abba, Father!"

    Brennan Manning, in his well-known sermon on this topic, said that the word "Abba" was one of the simplest words in the Hebrew language, probably something very similar to our word "Da-da." This was not a deeply intellectual word or a grownup word. This was the word of a baby or very small child looking at their father. This would have been a child's first word (probably after the Hebrew equivalent of "ma-ma", but you get the idea!)

    That's where we stand now. We stand now before God as His children. And we greet Him, not as an independent, grown son no longer dependent on the Father, but with the humble love of a child, dependent on his Father for everything. We stand before Him helpless without Him. That's what "Abba" means!

    V. 16-18 I've already blogged about here, so I won't repeat what I already wrote. V. 19-25 address that the world itself is longing for hope, groaning under a yoke they don't realize they are subjected to. While they long for freedom and meaning from the bondage they're in, we hope and long for the redemption of our bodies (something that will occur only in heaven). Our hope is in (v. 24) what we cannot see, not in what we already can.

    Now, if you've missed the whole idea Paul has communicated through the book about God's gift and grace to His children, you have another chance to see the picture here. V. 26 opens up with the point that while we cannot pray as we ought, the Spirit intercedes for us, interceding in "groanings to deep to be uttered." What mercy! What we in our ignorance cannot do, God Himself does in our place! Not only does He lower Himself to die for us, but He maintains the position as our Mediator for all eternity.

    V. 29-30 (Yes, I'll come back to v. 28) point out what I believe is an evidence for the predestination of the believer. I'm not going to go deep on this idea since we'll be spending a good bit of time on it next time (Rom. 9 is a bit of an unavoidable discussion on the topic).

    V. 28-39 sum up our protection in Christ. If you don't have your Bible in front of you, look away from this screen, open up a tab, go to, and look up Rom. 8: 28-39. Paul says what needs to be said, without me adding much. Suffice to say, I'll echo the words of Paul, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

    If God is with us, who cares about the opposition? We serve a God who controls all things, and who will not allow anything to separate Him from His children. We cannot be separated from the love of God by any earthly or heavenly power. I quote this Rich Mullins quote a lot because I love how he describes the love of God so beautifully, "The reckless, raging fury that they call the love of God." We cannot be separated from it! His love is bound to His children for all eternity.

    You can't outsin God's love. You can't outrun it. You can't hide from it. No matter what you do, or where you go, or how far you run, you can't get away from the love of God. No creature, not demons or the Devil can separate you from God's love and care. You are in the hand of a loving Father, and no one will pluck you from His hand (Jn. 10:29). Rest in the loving care of your Father.

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