Romans 8:26-30 God is Sovereign

 

Romans 8:26-30

God is totally Sovereign

Good Morning! Please go ahead and turn with me in your Bible to Romans chapter 8. As always, if you do not own a Bible, if you do not have one, please take one from the back table as our gift to you.
So, Romans chapter 8. We have kind of camped out here for a while. From what I figure, we have this week and next week left in Romans chapter 8. I said when we started this chapter that many consider this the greatest chapter in the Bible. Paul has packed so much in this section of scripture.

Paul wrote this letter to the churches at Rome. He loved the churches in Rome, and he wanted to come to them, wanted to meet them, wanted to spend time with them. As of yet, he had been unable. And so, in this letter, Paul lays everything out here. Everything that you need to know about the human condition, about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Everything you need to know about sin and death and salvation and the cross. Everything you need to know about the promises and assurances of God. Everything you need to know about practically living life as a Christian.

And while there is theory and practical in both sections, Chapter 8 seems to be the crux of that. It is the combination of it all. It brings together everything that Paul has been talking about prior to this chapter and it lays all the groundwork for what is to come.
And what we looked at last week, is an incredible sense of encouragement and assurance from God. There will be suffering, there will be sin and pain, there will be death, but Paul says in verse 18,
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
God promises us that, those of us who are children of God, those who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, those who have repented and believed in the [perfect and all-sufficient work of Christ, what is waiting for us in eternity future is so far beyond what we can even begin to imagine that when we get there, the things we are dealing with today will pale in comparison.
God makes that promise and we look forward to the answer, the fulfillment of that promise, we have put our hope in that guarantee that God gives us. That hope, that knowledge of Gods fulfillment of his promise is one of the biggest things that helps us get through today.
So with all that build up, let’s go ahead and look at the passage of scripture we will be studying today. Paul’s picks right up in Romans chapter 8,and we will look at verses 26-30. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Romans 8:26-30.
Paul writes:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
So Paul here in this section is looking at some more of the specific things that we can take assurance in, that we can hang our hope on and how we can do that. First up is the Holy Spirit and prayer. This first verse here, verse 26 is a verse that I read wrong for a long time.
I read this verse as saying if we happen to not know how to pray in that moment. When you stumble over your words in prayer. In those moments and in those times, The Holy Spirit will pick up your slack. But that’s not what the text says. There is no IF in the text. instead it says simply, We Do Not Know What To Pray For As We Ought.
We don’t. Not if or when. We don’t. We pray as best we can. We pray to petition God. We pray to lay our hearts and our wants and needs out to Him. We pray to align ourselves with his will. We pray to confess our sins. We pray to thank him for his grace and his blessings. Prayer is an expression of all that we think and feel about God. But we don’t pray on our own.
Just like we can not achieve our salvation, we can not receive salvation without God giving it to us. We cannot receive salvation without the Holy Spirit changing our hearts from stone to flesh, without Jesus lifting the veil from our eyes. Just like that, we cannot know what to pray for as we ought, not without the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. Our weakness. That weakness which makes God such a great and grace filled, merciful God. Paul recount is 2 Corinthians 12:9, that the LORD said to him,
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
We see in scripture that the Holy Spirit is our Helper. The same role, the same description, the same wording that was given to Eve in the Garden as the Helper to Adam is Given to the Holy Spirit. We helps us with out walk, helps us with our sanctification, and so much more. And he helps us with prayer.
Now, how often do you go to pray and you find that you just cant. So much is going on. So much that we only get glimpses of, or rumors of. Things that we don’t know what the will of God is.
But the Holy Spirit helps us in that weakness. The Holy Spirit knows what the will of God is because the Holy Spirit is God. And he takes our heartfelt, deep, guttural, internal prayers that we can’t communicate and He takes them and delivers them to Jesus Christ, who is our intercessor, our advocate, THE WAY to God the Father.
The Holy Spirit is who gives grace to our imperfect prayers. The Holy Spirit is who give mercy to our wrong prayers. The Holy spirit is the one who changes our prayers over time. The Holy Spirit is the one who helps us in our weakness, which is to help us pray the will of God.
Words are easy to say. To believe and to mean the words that we say, that is hard. It is easy to say, “God, your will be done.” We say it all the time. We pray it all the time. But do we really mean it? Do we really mean, LORD, Not my will, but your will be done.
Because the natural tendency for human beings is to chose to twist Gods will, or ignore Gods will. It is to choose to hear the Gods will is what we already want to do, what we are comfortable with or what we are already doing.
Jesus of Nazareth, as in addition to fully 100% God, was also 100% fully, physically human, was a perfect example that he would rather not do what God the Father was having him do. He says in the Garden, right before he is arrested, says this very thing. He says, Father, I know this is the only way to achieve what we decide needed to be achieved, but if there is any other way, I would rather do that. But there’s not, so not my will, but your will be done.
Perfect submission to Gods will. Thats what we are called to. Thats what the Holy Spirit will help us move towards. And Gods will does not always have to be a mystery towards us. It is in certain circumstances, certain situations, maybe even certain seasons.
But God has perfectly revealed his will to us. He has given us his Word, the Bible. The Bible is all sufficient. It is complete and it is perfect and there is no special revelation from God outside of the scripture. And so, how does the Holy Spirit help us? The Holy Spirit helps us to have a desire to know Gods Word. He gives us a want to know what Gods will is. He helps us to rightly understand the scriptures, so that we can rightly understand from the bible what Gods will is. He opens our eyes, helps us to see things in scripture as we read, as we mature, as we memorize scripture, the Holy Spirit helps us to see things in the scripture that we had not seen before. His glories are new every morning.
The Holy Spirit reveals the meaning of scripture to us as we read Gods Word. And so we have access to Gods revealed will. We can know what his will is in a great many things and situations, IF, IF we are willing to submit to Gods will. Jesus knew. He said it first, he said, I don’t want to do it. But I know its Gods will so I will.
But why? Why would we do Gods will if we don’t want to? Why would we choose to suppress his will? Why would we submit to his will if it isnt good for us? Well, Paul addresses that here too. First, verse 28, And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Those that love God, another way of identifying the children of God, genuine, legitimate Christians. For those, Gods will, when it plays out is always for the best. Always.
We could say, and give lip service to we do Gods will because God said so. And that’s technically true. But why does it matter that God said so? Who is God? What are his motivations, his purposes?  We could  try to use human leaders as examples. If King David told us that we were to do something, we know that he was a godly man, a man after Gods own heart. Not perfect mind you, no human example will be. but we can generally trust him to have whats best in mind when he, as King, gives us a command. We can do what he said, because he said so.
But what about the other side. It would be easy to use recent or current American Politics here, but I’ll resist that temptation. Instead, imagine living in Eastern Europe in the 30’s and 40’s. Hitler is reigning supreme. He says to do something. You know that he does not have whats best for anyone other than himself in mind. IF you chose to obey what he says, it would generally be done out of fear, fear for safety or causing waves or being noticed. You may choose to obey, but there is no confidence in the motivations or the purposes behind his commands.
We are shown that God is perfectly Good and perfectly just. God is perfectly perfect. And God works all things together for the good of those who are called, according to his purposes. I shared last week, this does not mean that all things are good. It does not negate the pain, the suffering, the hardships that we are going through today. But it means the same thing Joseph said to his brothers in Egypt back in Genesis 50, verse 20:
 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive. God is not the author of sin or evil, but he has authority over it and will use it to bring about his purposes, to bring about good.
Now, many know that verse, Romans 8:28. It’s a popular verse and many know that God works all things together for good. But we also need to remember the context. The verses before and after. So I will often say you can’t read, or maybe more accurately you can’t understand the right meaning of Romans 8:28 without Romans 8:29.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
As we have looked at over the last couple of weeks, we have to go through SOME of the discipline and problems that we go through in order to be sanctified, to work through our sin and to kill the sin that keeps coming back at us. And we see here, some more details regarding that. All those things that God works together for the good of those who are called. The good that is being done is that we are being conformed to the image of his Son, the image and likeness of Christ Jesus.
What our sin means for evil, to tear us away from God, to give in to our flesh. What our sin means for evil, God uses for good. And one of the overarching points, which will become even more apparent in verse 30, is that what God wills, what he willed before the beginning of the world, will come to pass. Period. Whatever God said is going to happen, will happen.
Those whom he foreknew, he also predestined. This can be scary for many people. God knows all. And he knew it all before the beginning of time. He is omniscient. He knows all. But if that was all, then we could not be assured that what he has determined as his will will come to pass, but also, that means that he only knew but didn’t cause it to happen. If he only foreknew, he would be omniscient, but not omnipotent, all powerful. All it would mean is that God could see the future.
But not only can he see the future, but he is in control of all things. He is in control of what happens and so, not only can see the future , but determines it as well. And if he determines it, we can trust in it and we can, as we dealt with last week, put our hope in the future, because we know that God leaves nothing to chance, but works all things together for good.
And so, if you are in Christ, if you are a fellow heir with Christ, you can rest in that, you can be assured of that, secure in that because God determined that it would be so from the beginning of time. And that leads us into verse 30, where we will finish up today.
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
And this is where we can stand firm with assurance. This has the same point, different process, different context of what is being talked about, but same point as what Paul is saying in Philippians 1:6,
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
We see a bit of a timeline here in Romans 8:30. First, before the beginning of time, God predestined those whom would be saved. Again, if you struggle with that term, that phrase, that doctrine, Paul points it out as a comfort, as a reassurance, it is designed to give you peace about your salvation.
But that determination by God comes first. Then, at some point in our life, at some point God calls us to him. We don’t start by searching for him, he reaches out to us and calls us to him. sometimes that process takes a long time. Sometimes it starts to take effect, it changes something in us, and we do start searching for him. Sometimes we resist. Sometimes we respond quickly and emphatically. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit ends up dragging us kicking and screaming to God. But those whom he calls will, ultimately respond to that call, and they will be justified.
Remember some of these words Paul has spent time establishing earlier in this letter. Justification is what happens when we respond to that call. It is what happens when we believe, when we are saved through faith alone by grace alone, in Christ alone. We are justified. Our sins make us guilty in the eyes of God. That guilt required blood atonement. We cannot provide perfect enough blood to cover it ourselves. Christs blood on the Cross, his death on the cross covers it for us. When we are justified, that blood is applied to us. And So, when we are justified, we are no longer seen as guilty in Gods eyes, but he sees Christs righteousness covering us and we are declared innocent.
And those whom he justifies, he also glorifies. This is the end. This is when we pass from our broken sin filled bodies to our physical, spiritual, glorified, perfect, eternal bodies. This is when we enter into the eternal Kingdom of God where we will eternally worship and reign with christ for eternity.
It is interesting that the past tense of glorification is used here. We already mentioned Gods omniscience, his omnipotence and now we see his omnipresence. This is the fact of God that he is in all places at once. He is everywhere at the same time. But that’s not all. I feel like an infomercial, But wait, there’s more!
Not only is God everywhere all at once, but he is at all times at the same time. He is outside of time. He created time. That means he is in the Garden with Adam and Eve at the same time he is protecting David from his enemies, at the same time he is telling the crowd at jesus baptism that he is please with his Son, at the same time Christ is crucified, at the same time he is right here, right now, at the same time he is at the end when all will stand before him in judgment and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. Which means, for the purposes of this section of scripture, that our glorification is already done. Not in our timeline because we are not in all times, we are not outside of time, But in Gods eyes, we are already glorified. The job is done. It is finished. Nothing can undo it.
And that glorification is when the glory that will be revealed to us will render the sufferings of this present time over and dead. God shows us his revealed will and he gives us all we need to know at the moment, in this time, as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 13,  
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
God through the Holy Spirits inspiration of Paul, writing this letter, is giving us assurance. If you are a Christian, if you have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, if you have been justified, if you have been saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, then you will be glorified. You will spend eternity with Christ. As we read earlier, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Lets Pray

Romans 6:1-14 Sin is still Bad

Romans 6:1-14

Sin is still bad

Good Morning, please go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Romans chapter 6. If you do not have a Bible, we should have one left in the back table and will be getting more soon and we would love them to be our gift to you.

As we continue in Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome, are in the middle of a section of the letter dealing with sin. Last week we saw how through one man, Adam, sin entered the World and humanity. We also saw that through one man, God Jesus, sin was conquered and the death that came from sin was defeated. From that, we are all either in Adam, and therefore in Sin, or we are in Christ and therefore, in eternal life. Adam brought sin and death, and Christ brought life and forgiveness.

Before we jump into our section in Romans 6, I want to set the stage with the last two verses we looked at last week in Romans 5, verses 20-21. In those verses, Paul wrote:

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now, as we finished up with last week, what is Paul’s point here? His point is that Jesus is greater than Adam. His point is that Jesus act of obedience is greater than Adams act of disobedience. His point is that The result of Jesus and his act, are far greater and trump the results of Adam and his act.

But Paul knew that one of his comments was going to bring misunderstanding, leading wither to mocking or to wrong application. Paul knows people. Especially the people who will be reading his letters and hearing his claims. He knows his audience. He has been doing this for awhile. I think I referenced this a few weeks ago, but the common assumption of biblical scholars is that this letter was written about 20 years after Paul’s conversion and therefore, likely about 15 years after the start of his ministry of spreading the Gospel.

And in that, he has heard the misunderstandings, the arguments, the hardened hearts, the closed ears of those around him and those whom he is talking to. So, when he said what he did in Chapter 5, verse 20, he knew what misunderstanding was coming next. He starts off this section by addressing that.

Lets go ahead and jump into todays text. Ill be reading Romans chapter 6, verses 1-14, and Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version.

Paul writes:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

The misunderstanding that Paul starts by addressing is that our sin longer matters and that we can continue to sin with no negative consequences because Gods grace is greater than sin and the more sin that exists, the more sin that Gods grace needs to cover and counter  act, the more glory God will end up receiving. Similar to what Paul briefly addressed in Romans 3 as well.

Paul’s immediate response, aside from, “Of Course Not!” is that if we are justified, as we have looked at over the past couple of weeks, if we are in Christ, if we are new creations, if we have been changed by the Holy Spirit, if we are saved, then we are dead to sin. And If we are dead to sin, how can sin continue to live in us? If we are in Christ, we our bondage to sin is broken. We are no longer slaves to sin. Paul is going to say later in this chapter that we have now become instead, slaves of righteousness.

And so, with our changed hearts and changed spirits, we desire to serve God. 1 John 5:3 reads,  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. When we are in Christ, we have a desire to keep his commands, to do what he says and to present ourselves as pleasing to him.

We have been united with Christ. As Christ died and rose again physically, to pay the wages of sin and defeat death, we are baptized with him, which is another way of saying we are in him, or brought into union with him. But as he died and rose physically, we die to sin and rise again spiritually, living an eternal life with Him. Paul is also referencing what things will look like after this world is burned away and we will be in our heavenly bodies. He goes into greater detail n this in 1 Corinthians 15, which we will not be getting into today, but I recommend you reading this week, as it adds depth and fullness to parts of what Paul is saying here.

We were brought into Christ so that we would become like Christ. Paul writes a few chapters after this, Romans 8, starting in verse 28, And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. And that good, but Paul follows up with verse 29, saying, For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

We are born again, we are justified in order to be glorified and we are glorified when are like Jesus Christ. Now, it may not always feel like, which we will touch on next, but, we also need to remember and be encouraged that Paul writes in Philippians 1:6, And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. We will be conformed to the Image of the Son, Jesus Christ.

That process starts in an instant, when we are brought into Christ. If you continue in Romans 8, onto verse 30, it talks of us being glorified in present tense, because thats how sure this will be. The process is started and it will be completed.

Because the process is started, and we are no longer enslaved to sin. We have died to sin, and if we are dead with Christ, then we will also be alive with him as well. Christ defeated death. He came back, physically, to be alive again. He cant and wont die again. He has eternal life. If we are in Him, with Him, we too will, after we physically die, have eternal life with him. We will be given our new, heavenly bodies and we cant and wont die again. We will be glorified and live forever in the image of him and with him.

And with that, because we, as Christians, starting the moment we become Christians we are now becoming Christ-like, our lives are now not our own. We belong to Christ and we are to do what Christ has called us too. And he has called us to get the sin out of our lives. 2 Examples of this.

First, 1 Peter 1:15&16, Peter writes, as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” Jesus said similarly and first, in Matthew 5:48,  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

We are called to God’s Holy Standard. Paul says that we are not to let sin reign in us. One time sins, actions or thoughts that happen in the Heat of the moment, these things will happen and we need to work on limiting them as much as possible. The author if Hebrews writes in chapter 12, verses 1 & 2, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,

The picture that comes to my mind is that we, when we are walking with Christ, we are on a path in the woods. As long as we stay on the path, as long as we stay in focused on Christ, there is not much to worry about. But, if we take our focus off of him, even for a moment. If we step off the path into the weeds and trees, and brush, its easy to get tripped up, to stumble, to fall, to sin. That’s going to happen. That’s not permission, that’s not enabling, unfortunately, its fact.

But what the author of Hebrews is saying is that we don’t let ourselves get tangled up in that sin. We don’t let ourselves fall down and stay down. A vine wraps itself around our foot, we don’t just sit down and stay there. We repent, refocus on Jesus and we break the vine and we continue walking.

In addition to our call to come as close as we can to Gods Holy Standard, there is another reason why we cant let this occasional, one time sin be permitted or be allowed to sit and fester without snuffing it out. We need to repent because if we don’t, sin will creep back in and it will grow. Sin is very much like a weed. If you do not pull it our by its root, it will continue to come back forever and ever. Remember what God told Cain in Genesis 4, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to[c] you, but you must rule over it.”

Specific, habitual sin very much becomes like an addiction. The best example I’ve heard explaining this is like sugar. Sugar is addictive. When you have had it a lot, you keep wanting it. Often, when you have had it a lot, you don’t realize how much you want it or that you are having so much of it. Then, you are able to stop having it for awhile. And its hard at first, you realize that you want it, crave it even. But after a while it gets easier and easier. One day, you slip and have some. Now those cravings are back, and if you are not careful, its easy to slip back into old habits and let sugar consume you. That’s sin.

And here is one of the problems. We like our sins. They feel good and they make us comfortable. We don’t particularly want to stop our sins. And since we wont do it ourselves, it takes the Holy Spirit changing us, convicting us, enabling us to repent, to repent of the fleshly desires that we have grown accustomed to and that we have come to rely on. And we do, we rely on our sins and the feelings they give us when things get tough, when things are stressful, when we are bored, when we are sinned against, when we are attacked by the enemy, and when we are convicted of the sin we are already committing.

But while we are just fine to stay in our own sins and to try to keep them in our back pocket, we sure are quick to point out in others those sins and how they need to stop what they are doing. Others sins are what make us uncomfortable. When we see people struggling with sins we don’t understand, or that we don’t struggle with, we see them as weak, or lazy, or not really saved, or whatever. And yet, its our own sins that we try to justify and continue to allow.

But as we grow in Christ, as we continue to walk with him, that sin will be rooted out and we will see progress in resisting the temptation of sin. The promises that sin makes are lies. The fulfillment of those promises are, at best, temporary, or cover ups. They are nothing compared to the total and eternal fulfillment that we have in Christ. As we grow more and more like Jesus, we see more and more what that ultimate fulfillment looks and feels like.

This process is called Sanctification. Wayne Grudem simply defies Sanctification as: A progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.

Sanctification is incredibly practical because it is how we live everyday. You can look back at your Christian walk and you can see the growth, see the sanctification as it happens over time. It ahs a definite beginning, and end, and it very active in between. It begins the moment we are regenerated, the moment the Holy Spirit takes hold of us and changes us into the new creations that we are now. It ends at physical death. By saying it ends, what we mean is that it is instantly compete then. When we stand before him at the end, Paul writes in Philippians 3:21, Jesus will, transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

That’s when our journey ends. Between the beginning and the end, we live a life of continual sanctification. Not a straight line upwards. Not completed so that we are sinless or perfect in this life. But like the stock market. Constantly going up, with some dips, some dips bigger and more of a drop off than others, some dips take longer to recover from than others. But despite those dips, our sanctification is always moving upwards towards being conformed to the image of Christ.

Take heed and be encouraged, as I said earlier, I say to you again, that that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. I cant say it any better than Paul himself, Im not that creative, and trust me, that s a good quality in a Pastor, let the Bible say it best, but Paul says here, the end of the passage we are looking at;  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

We are free from the chains of sin. Do not pick those chains back up and wrap your self in them. We will trip over the chain occasionally, but it no longer binds us. It does not have dominion over us. It is not our master, but we have one master, our LORD and savior Jesus Christ. Our forgiveness, our regeneration, our justification, our active sanctification, and our future glorification, have all been already given or promised to us by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone and revealed to us in one way, through the scriptures alone.

And we are his alone. Our lives belong to him and to nothing else. One of the things that I have not focused on, or made entirely clear yet today, needs to be said. Yes, we are dead to sin and alive in Christ. Yes, we will stumble and we will still sin in this life. We will not be able to always resist temptation because we are comfortable with them. But, when we become knew creations, when the Holy Spirit changes us, not only is sin rooted out and eliminated but our desires change too. We have a continually growing desire to please God and to do his will and to eliminate those sins that grieve him so. Charles Spurgeon says this:

The believer, if spiritually buried with Christ, is dead to the desire of any such power. “What!” say you, “do not godly men have sinful desires?” Alas, they do. The old nature that is in them lusteth towards sin; but the true man, the real ego, desires to be purged of every speck or trace of evil.”

That’s one of the great signs, one of the ways we can have some assurance, that we hate the sin that we used to love. That we hate the sin that we commit. That we hate the sin and we turn from it, repent of it and turn straight into the arms of the God that loves us. How much does he love us? God loves us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Now, this is the first Sunday of the month. We are going to celebrate communion this morning. Jesus not only knew ahead of time, the trinity planned before the creation of the World that this sacrifice, his death, this act of perfect love would be required and how it would take place, but Jesus told his disciples that it was about to happen and instituted this sacrament as a remembrance of it.

We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.

We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.

Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.

Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.

I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. Whats important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.

Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:

 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.

Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.

Romans 8:18-25 Waiting with a Purpose

Romans 8:18-25

Our hope is our Assurance

Good Morning! Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Romans chapter 8. As you hear every week here, If you do not own a Bible, please let us gift one to you from the table in the back. Please take one if you do not have one.

So, we are continuing through Romans chapter 8 this week. Paul is establishing our identity, who we are in Christ, who the Holy Spirit is and what His ministry is. He is establishing what God has promised and assured us of and what we can expect to see coming up in our Christian walk.

Last week, we established that those who know Christ, those that have been changed by the Holy Spirt, Christians have been given the right to be called children of God. And with that, God is our father. And with that, as our Father, and as Perfect and true in all forms and senses, once were are in Gods arms, he will never let us go. Romans 8:16 & 17, the end of what we looked at last week, Paul tells us: The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

We are given a promise, an inheritance now, that we will receive in the future, at the right and proper time. But, in the mean time, for a variety of reasons, some of which we touched on last week, we will endure suffering. That suffering, those trials, the things that we are dealing with every day, Paul is going to tell us later in this chapter that it will all work together for Gods glory and that it will help conform us to Jesus’ image. But that doesn’t always help us in the moment as much as it is supposed to. Paul is going to remind us that our focus is not to be on this world, but on God and his Glory in eternity.

Lets go ahead and read this mornings text. Ill be reading Romans chapter 8, verses 18-25, and Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Romans 8:18-25, Paul writes:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing 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 will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Pauls first point here is that, yes, there are sufferings, there is pain in this present world. Some of the things we have touched on over the last couple of weeks that manifest this pain and suffering include, but are not limited to spiritual warfare between the enemy and his forces and God and his forces. It includes times when God disciplines us, either punishing us for things done wrong, or, and I think more often than that, growing us in discipline, disciplining our bodies to be conform onto the image of his Son, to grow in holiness and sanctification. It includes the evil of people and things around us having an effect on us, due to nothing that we have done. It includes the consequences to good and bad decisions, results of our sin and persecution and mockery for our holiness. All of those and more fall into the fact that we do indeed experience pain, suffering and troubles in this world.

But Paul says its not all bad news…And he is certainly not dismissing the pain and the struggles. What he is saying is that whatever it is that each one of us is going through, no matter how bad it is, no matter how tough things seem to be, how infinitely greater it will be when we get to eternity future and get to spend it reigning and ruling along side our co-heir, Christ Jesus, the King of Kings, the LORD of Lords.

Humanity got a glimpse of this, to what extent, we honestly dont know, but we got a glimpse of this in the Garden of Eden. God created, God spoke creation into perfect existence. Scripture records that after God created different aspects, It was good. When God created Adam and Eve, they were made perfectly in his image and likeness. Creation, including mankind, was made to perfectly reflect his glory and his majesty.

But, as we know, from the Bible of course, but also, just by opening our eyes and looking around us, humanity and creation do not stay in this perfect, glorified state. Sin came and brought death, corruption, entropy, decay, imperfection.

We became sinful and we fell from Gods favor. We lost all righteousness. We spent the past 7 plus chapters looking at the results of the moment in Genesis 3 that Adam and Eve sin in their lack of faith in God and his Word. And people go back and forth. People try to have both sides. They want to believe that people are generally and naturally good. That left to their own devices, people will do the right thing. The Bible says thats wrong. Paul has pointed out numerous times in this letter that this is wrong. Read chapters1 & 3, its crystal clear. The heart is deceitful above all things.

And so, for 6000 plus years, creation and mankind have failed to fully and rightfully reflect Gods glory and power and have failed to give Him the full honor that He is deserved. And yet, something in creation remembers. Psalm 19:1, David observes and points out, 19 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Something inside of us knows. It is deep down and sometimes just beyond the edge of our mental awareness, but something in us remembers. We just don’t do anything with it. Way back in Romans 1, Paul writes in verse 18, that by our unrighteousness we suppress the truth.

But the truth is there. And it is known, remembered even. We have a desire to get back to that, though our heart and our mind lie to us about how to get back to that. And so, when we attempt to fix the ails of this world, while listening to our hearts and our mind, we are desiring to build heaven. We are desiring to return to Eden, the perfect utopia that we were created to inhabit. We intrinsically know that this world is wrong, that it is broken and we either try to take advantage of that, the “every man for themselves,” mindset, the survival of the fittest idea of evolution. Do unto others before they do unto you. That’s the broken part of the world. Some people give in to that and give in to the desires of the flesh. That’s how the enemy helps to keep them from examining the brokenness of the world and trying to do something about it.

Others go a different route. Many genuinely see the brokenness of this world, they see inequity, they see injustices, they see systems and processes that are designed to protect those who take advantage of this broken world and its vulnerability. They see these things that are not right and they want to fix them and they fight for those whom they think are being oppressed, where they think they see injustice. This means things like racial inequality, this means businesses and owners oppressing the workers. This means equal rights for all, unless you disagree with these “rights.” This means righting wrongs, whether real or perceived. This stems from a desire to fix the world of its brokenness and recreate the Garden of Eden. The desire that this stems from is there as a remembrance for Genesis 1 & 2. But without God, the one, true God, with the Gospel, with out the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, without the truth being “un suppressed,” by the Holy Spirit, without those things, it is nothing. It is a failure, before it ever gets started. Often, its perceptions of what is right, what is being fought for, and its perception of what is wrong, what is being fought against, those perceptions are just plain wrong. But the desires to remake, to recreate, to bring us back to Eden are there.

CS Lewis wrote, If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

And that’s true. We are made for a different world than this. Partly. I want us to be careful with this. As with many things in the scriptures, if its is misunderstood or misconstrued, it can sound like permission to be unbiblical. We are not here by accident. We are not here simply to wait for Christ to come back. We are not here to wait until we die and then go to Heaven. We are here, right here, right now, to glorify and honor Jesus Christ as LORD and to do the will of the Father.

We are here for a reason. We are to be in the world, not of it, but we are to be in it. God is in control of everything in the world, in the universe and beyond and in control of time and everything else you can think of. He put you right here, right now for a very specific reason. We may or may not know what that very specific reason is, but we can rest assured that it exists. We have a God given purpose, as does creation. So we are created for this world.

But we have also been created for a different world. Not “out there,” or “up there,” but this world, only different. Revelations tells us that in the end, this world will be cleansed by fire, whether thats literal or metaphorical is for a different day, but out of that, God will recreate the world, we will have New Heavens and the New Earth, there will be a New Jerusalem. This world, creation itself, that has been broken and fallen, will be recreated into what it was always, and originally created to be.

But we are not there yet. Creation recognizes it better than we do at times and Paul says, it eagerly waits, it cries out, it groans with labor pains for that moment when we, as adopted children of God, get to redeem our bodies and take hold of our inheritance.

We have talked about that, Already and Not Yet. The tension that this creates. The tendency of us to forget about today, to ignore it and just focus on getting to heave. Or the tendency to forget about eternity and simply focus on living our best lives now.

But one of the terms that Paul uses to describe our longings and waiting and crying out is the pains of childbirth. Having, of course, not experienced this physically, my self, but having been with Hope for 5 births so far, having talked to her about this phrasing, having heard her and other moms, especially among themselves, talking about their experiences, some things about this make more sense than they used to or otherwise would.

One of the things that was explained, maybe expressed would be a better word, hopefully accurately out into my own words, is that labor has a similar tension of the already and the not yet. There is the intense focus on what is going on right there at the moment. There is the inability, and I don’t say that as a bad thing, but the inability to see past that purpose and that moment and reason why God put you in that spot. And there is pain, there is tiredness, there can be frustration. It can, at times, feel like it will never end. I can feel like all the work, all the pushing, is for nothing and its not working. It can feel like there is no progress being made. It can feel that way, In That Moment.

But, God designed this all for a reason, for a purpose. And God has given that purpose to mothers along with the knowledge that, in just a little while, all of it will be over and the mom will be in a euphoric state holding their newborn and, Moms, testify to this, in that moment, holding your baby, the pain that you felt while in labor, and while you were pushing, the pain is completely forgotten. Now, alter as the kid is growing up, terrible twos, not napping, waking up at 4 AM EVERY MORNING, or in their teenage years, hormone riddle, sure, you remember, in your mind, the pain, and you make sure that the kids know what you went through to bring them into this world, but when you are holding your baby, feeding that newborn, seeing their perfect little faces, their perfect little fingers holding onto ours, none of that pain, exhaustion, struggle, none of it exists.  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

There was a Christian pop rock band when I first became a Christian called Reliant K. In one of their songs, that has stuck with me since I heard it, they are in a conversation with God and their lyrics here could have been inspired by this passage of scripture. Listen to this:

And you said I know that this will hurt
But if I don’t break your heart
Then things will just get worse
If the burden seems too much to bear
Remember the end will justify
The pain it took to get us there

Read more: Relient K – Let It All Out Lyrics | MetroLyrics
https://youtu.be/9rUtyfB6gVU

I love that. God has a purpose for everything that we are going through. Careful, that doesnt mean that everything we are going through is good. We go back to last week. Sometimes is God doing things to discipline or get our attention. But, sometimes, sometimes it is an attack from the enemy. Sometimes, its a result of others sinning against you. Sometimes its a result of our own sin. Not everything we go through is good.

It hurts. Its painful. It breaks us down. It stinks. Out of that all, John Piper sums up this passage with three words; Its Worth It. All that stuff, when we get to see the glory of God that will be revealed to us, It will be forgotten and it will be worth it. We will be redeemed and glorified to the glory of God and not only us, but ALL of creation will also be freed from the corruption and bondage that is here and now because of sin.

Thats what creation is waiting for and thats why we are going through this life. We are in this life for a reason and purpose. We are to make sure that we are focusing on why and where God has placed us. We have jobs to do here in this world, and that job is not to bunker down, with our admission ticket to heaven and wait for Christ to return. Our job is to do the will of God in the community, on the family, in the job or the school where God has placed us.

That might seem like a natural stopping point, but we still have a couple of verses that we haven’t touch on. Lets reread these verses, starting in the second half on verse 23:

we groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

We finish up this passage with Hope. And our Hope is in the promises that God has made to us, that we are the adoptive sons of God and that, as the sons of God, we will receive the redemption of our bodies. Again, our hope is in the promises of God. Which means that our hope is in the character of God, because if God makes a promise, he will keep it. Our Hope is in what God has done, not what he have or will do. Our hope is in Jesus Christ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. For in this hope, we are saved.

Now, Paul uses the word hope very purposefully. Because Hope that is seen is not hope. We are looking forward, we are longing, desiring the promise of God to be fulfilled. We know it will be, it already has, but we are not there yet. We have it already, but not yet. Hope is not a wish. Hope, as used in the Bible, is not used as, I hope this thing happens,” when it might not. Instead hope is the knowledge that it will happen, it just hasn’t yet.

Look around, we don’t hope right now that we are all getting together for worship this morning. We already are gathered together, as a part of Gods family. We hope that next week, we will get together again, for worship and fellowship. We don’t hope that we have the Word of God from which to learn Gods will. We hope that we will encounter and spend eternity with the Word, and the Word was God and the Word is God.

Paul finishes this passage if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. We hope for Jesus to come back. We hope for the new creation. We hope for the redemption of our bodies and of creation and we hope to be eternally in the presence of Gods glory. We don’t see that right now. We see our broken, disease riddled, decaying bodies. We see the broken, sin filled world around us, the injustice, the inequity, the attempts to fix it in our own power and the temptation to take advantage of the brokenness. We see problems in nature. Animals going extinct. Forests burning out of control. Pollution, droughts, smog, all sorts of things.

All of which will disappear when our hopes are realized. All of which will disappear when Christ comes back and this world, creation itself and each and every one of us who are sons of God will be redeemed and created anew. All of which will disappear when Gods promises are kept and fulfilled and he is glorified above all.

We do not yet see what we hope for, and Paul says that we are to eagerly wait for it with patience. Does that sound contradictory to you? On the surface it absolutely does. But to me, it fits. We are here and now, doing the will of God, and we can and should be excited and waiting eagerly for Christ to come back. But we should be waiting eagerly with patience.

One of the things that Hope and I tell the kids, when we are teaching them when they are young, is What is patience. Patience is waiting with a purpose. We can and should eagerly wait, but we do so with a purpose. We eagerly wait while focusing on why we are here. We eagerly wait while fulfilling our purpose. We eagerly wait while doing Gods will and living our lives for his glory. We eagerly wait, and we wait with a purpose. It will be worth it.

Lets Pray

Romans 8:12-17 Heirs of God, co-heirs of Christ

Romans 8:12-17

We become Children of God

(Editor’s note: Having some issues uploading the audio. As soon as it is available, I will edit this post and add the audio to it. Thanks for your understanding)

(Editor’s note: Audio is now included! Thanks for your patience.)

Good morning! Please go ahead and grab your Bibles. Just a reminder that if you do not own a Bible, we do have a stack on the back table that we would like to be our gift to you.

As you turn to the book of Romans, we will be in Chapter 8 this morning. Paul, the author of this letter, has been pointing out the line that is drawn by God. You are either in Christ, or you are in the flesh. You are either aligned with the world or you are aligned with God. He has started to show the person and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, developing the theology of the Trinity. He has shown how, in Christ, we are free from the power and bondage of sin and death.

Paul is going to follow up on all these things, even in the section we are looking at today, but throughout the rest of the chapter especially, of basically, who we are in Christ. He has established, in the section we saw last week, the difference in Christians and non Christians, In walking in the Spirit and walking in the flesh. Paul keeps mentioning, IF YOU are in Christ, IF YOU are in the Spirit, IF YOU…

And that’s what Paul is picking up with in this section today. Lets go ahead and look at the verses we are looking at this morning. Im going to read Romans 8:12-17, and Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Romans 8:12-17, Paul writes:

So then, brothers,[e] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Amen? So, a lot of great things in there. A lot of encouragement, and looking to the eternal future that we get to share with God. He lays down one last, dividing line, IF. If you live by the flesh, or if you live by the spirit. And as we looked at last week, the physical, earthly results are the same. We live in sinful bodies, in a broken world and our bodies will die a physical death. What happens after that depends on that IF. if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Again, not physical life and death in this world, but spiritual life and death in eternity. If you live by the flesh, you will experience the same death that God told Adam about, that would be the result of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What Paul is writing in the section we are looking at today is the wonderful encouragement, the light at the end of the tunnel, if you will, the hope that we trust in and look towards IF we are sons of God.

And what are going to look at today are things that Paul assures us of if we are on the right side of that IF. So Paul points out 4 things that are true to all believers here. 4 things that are true if we are on the right side of that IF. If we have repented of our sins and trusted in Jesus Christ and his sufficient and complete work on the cross.

First, If we are led by the Spirit, then we are Sons of God. Now, this can be tough for some of us to think of and understand for a variety of reasons. First of all, everything in this world, all of the things that point to God, all of the things that we say or understand about God, all of the analogies, illustrations and examples in this world are incomplete. We live in a sin corrupted, broken world.

God gives us things in this world to understand him better, to understand why and how we should relate to him and to point towards him. In this case, the example would God as our Father.

But that tough for us to imagine and understand. Because God the Father is a perfect Father. He is what Fathers are supposed to be. And one of the reasons we have fathers is to point us to who God is and what he is like. So, what’s the obvious problem? Our human fathers. What’s their problem, well, they’re human. Even the best of human fathers fall woefully short of the example that God the father sets for us.

The role of father is a type, its a shadow, its a pointing towards the character of God. As such, its not going to be a perfect representation. The author of Hebrews talks about the correlation between our human fathers and God the father. Hebrews 12:7-11 reads:

 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Now, this is also going to come in to play later on with one of the points we look at, but just want to quickly point out a couple of phrases in here. we have had earthly fathers, & they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good.

Our fathers are supposed to do the best that they are able. They are supposed to do whats best for us and that is supposed to point towards Christ. But, how many fathers are actually like that? One of the most common problems that believers have is in seeing God the Father actually as a Father. The reason is because of who they had as their human, earthly fathers.

Many of the people in this room, I can say this confidently, even without knowing most of your stories yet, many of you in this room have experience what could be most politely described as terrible. In more truth, many of the fathers have been absolutely evil. Many more have been misguided, incompetent or indifferent. Some precious few have been good. If you have an evil father, how can you see God as a good, good father?

Again, the scripture will address this. Im not saying there does not need to be healing. Im not saying its easy. But Jesus tells us that God the Father is infinitely a better father than us and our earthly fathers. Matthew 7: 9-11, Jesus says:

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

God is our perfect father and he loves us perfectly, in ways that all of our human earthly fathers fall short, to whatever extent. He loves us. He saves us. He disciplines us, as we saw in the passage in Hebrews. He guides us, and teaches us. He created us and knows what’s best for us and provides for our needs. Jesus’ half brother James reminds us that every good and perfect gift is from God above. Psalm 68:5 says: Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. And our father will never turn his back on us. He will always welcome us into his arms, and nothing is strong enough to rip us from his hands. God is our father. We are his children.

The second if, If we are in Christ, you have received the Holy Spirit. And, as Paul writes here, you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons

Im going down a planned rabbit trail and I think this is a good spot for it. God is our Father. We are his children. Who is We? This phrase gets tossed around today as if it applies to every one. That all who God created are his children. Scripture doesn’t say that.

Now, before I go any farther, All Human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. All human beings are image bearers of God. Therefore, all human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. But, not all who are created in Gods image and likeness are Gods children. Paul writes to the Galatians, chapter 3, verse 26: for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

More explicitly, in Johns Gospel, he writes in chapter 1, verses 9-13:

 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

So, if you are in Christ, if you receive him, if you believe on his name, if you have the Holy Spirit, you have been giving the right to become Children of God. 1 John 3:10 tells us : By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

And we cry out to God as Father by the Spirt of Adoption, the Holy Spirit. The term Adoption is used here to denote and whole new relationship. God has adopted us as his children. He has justified us, as we have seen in previous chapters. We are now in a right relationship with God. Our relationship that was broken the moment that Adam and Eve fell.

Another we have seen as we have gone through Romans, is that this new relationship, this promise of eternal life, these promises that God has made and will fulfill, are not necessarily fulfilled in this physical, immediate instance. But God the Father gives us the Holy Spirit almost as a down payment. He gives us the Holy Spirit, as the courts official stamp on the adoption papers, making it legal and binding and forever. Ephesians 1:14 says that the Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory”

What God has not given us is a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. The Holy Spirit is an assurance of the promises of God. He is the sign of the freedom that we now have, the freedom from death, the freedom to live. The freedom from the law, the freedom to follow the law. The enemy, while engaging in spiritual warfare, sends fear and tries to keep us in slavery.

Not all spiritual stuff is from God. God tells us that we are to test the spirits by the scriptures. God gives us certain spirit, but not others. 2 Timothy 1:7,  for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Fear is not from God. Freedom, power, love, self control. Those things are form God. The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are indeed the adopted children of God.

Thirdly, if we are in Christ, I we are the children of God, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. So that leads to the question, of what are we heirs to? What do we inherit? Galatians 3:29 tells us: And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Then a moment later in Galatians 4:7:  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

We are heirs to the promise of Abraham. We are heirs to the kingdom of God. We are heirs to eternal life. We are heirs to salvation. We are co heirs with Christ.

Christ, who is the firstborn of all creation, is the rightful heir to all that is the Fathers. With our adoption into Gods family as children of God, we take our place along side Christ as heirs to what is his.

Gotquestions.org sums up:

The New Testament portrays Jesus Christ as God’s “firstborn” Son; that is, Jesus holds the “birthright” and is the heir of all the Father has. God has given Christ all of creation as a gift, because all was created for Him. The inheritance that Christ receives includes believers, those whom the Father has given to the Son.
Believers are co-heirs with Christ. Meaning, believers have been given the privilege of sharing Christ’s inheritance. As adopted sons of God, Christians are treated as firstborn heirs. Our inheritance includes salvation, eternal life, and even a measure of the throne of Christ.
The heirs of God’s promises receive their inheritance through faith: “It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith”. The promise given to Abraham concerning his “offspring” was a promise of Jesus the Messiah. So an heir of God is someone who, through faith, receives Christ, who fulfilled the Abrahamic promise of being a blessing to all nations

What wonderful, undeserved, encouraging news! If we believe, if we trust in Christ, if we, as Jesus says, repent and believe, we will receive the Holy Spirit, we will be justified, we will be adopted as children of God and we will be heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ.

Paul ends verse 17 with reminder of physical present reality mix in with the promise and the hope of what is to come. The last IF. IF we suffer with Christ, we will also be glorified with him.

A couple of notes on this before we wrap up here today. Becoming a Christian will not make all your problems go away. In fact, in many cases, especially in the short term, it may make them worse. I should see a lot of heads nodding out of understanding from experience to that.

Jesus says we will face persecution, not going to get too deep into that right now, but it is what Jesus said and it is something we can expect. Paul talks often about the spiritual warfare gong on around us. We talked about this Wednesday morning and Dave even shared about the Armor of God that Paul talks about in Ephesians chapter 6. Some suffering is given to us by God as discipline. We read a section of Hebrews 12 earlier, just rereading verse 11 real quick, For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

I see God using the word discipline in this section in both understanding sof the word. It is to correct wrong behavior and change us from who we were to who we are to become, to make us more like Christ. And it is used in the sense of an athlete or student who disciplines themselves to do the work needed to accomplish their goals.

That discipline is hard. Read your Bible every day. Spend time in prayer everyday. Turn to God and his word first, before other things. Wake up Sunday morning, maybe even Wednesday morning to make it to gather with the fellow saints. It seems painful, but produces fruit.

One commentator, while speaking on this verse, and also looking ahead to some of the verse for next week says,

Suffering is not evidence of separation from God, but a sign of living in the conflict zone between “this present time” and the “age to come,” a sign of being indwelled by the Spirit of God which is at odds with the rule of sin and death (Romans 8:1-10). It is a suffering we share with the whole creation in bondage, waiting with eager longing for “the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:18-21). We, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan together with creation “while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23).

The thing I keep pulling out of the section In Hebrews 12 is that the discipline that we are facing is a reminder that God is loving us and working on us. It is a reminder that he has not turned us over toour sins and that we are indeed his children.

Lastly, Ill leave you with this reminder that what we see and experience now, is but a foretaste of what is to come:

Jesus Christ holds the position of firstborn and is the heir of all creation. What’s truly amazing is that He has promised to share His inheritance with us. When He returns in glory to take up His rightful place as King of Kings on earth, we will rule with Him, under His authority (Revelation 2:26-27). The Christian life is filled with undeserved favor. What we experience now of God’s grace is only the tip of the iceberg.

Lets Pray.

Romans 8:1-11, pt 2 The Holy Spirit

 

Romans 8:1-11

The Spirit is Greater than the Flesh pt 2

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn to Romans chapter 8. If you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please take one from the back table as our gift to you. After a brief break last week, to look at VBS and our responsibilities to plant and sow the seeds of the Gospel, this week we pick back up looking at Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome.

Two weeks ago, we started looking at this passage. The passage this week is Romans 8:1-11. We started looking at it but we focused on the very first verse. Paul has spent the past 7 chapters dealing with practical and deep theological issues, such as salvation, justification, sanctification, regeneration, Original Sin, total Depravity, a whole lot of big words for clear, sometimes simple, sometimes not, Biblical truths. And he continues here into chapter 8, with this first part, the part we are dealing with this morning. Paul will deal especially the freedom we have in Christ and the Holy Spirit who gives us that freedom. He deals with the difference between the flesh and the Spirit.

He has, most recently, been showing what the law is and is not designed for. And within in that, how we can or cannot keep or fulfill that. And we get some answers here in this section of Romans. Lets go ahead and read the text. Romans 8:1-11, and Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version.

Paul writes:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

There is a lot in there, in those 11 verses. We spent the last sermon, two weeks ago, just looking at verse 1. That, IF we are in Christ, there is no condemnation, that we are forgiven and we have been justified, regenerated and adopted in the family of God as His children. IF. And the rest of this section is all predicated on that IF. If you are in the flesh, or if you are in the spirit. That’s the distinction the Paul is drawing here. And then, IF you are in Christ, what does that look like? And he brings in some new elements that he hasn’t truly focused on as of yet in the letter.

Paul here begins to show us the ministry, the power and the role of the Holy Spirit in what’s going on here. Now, Paul has mentioned the Spirit 4 times over the previous 7 chapters. So this is not coming out of nowhere. The Spirit has been a part of Paul’s theology and his writing from the beginning. However, in these 11 verses, Paul mentions the Spirit 11 times.

We definitely see a shift in emphasis here. We will continue to see the Holy Spirit emphasized over the course of, especially the rest of this chapter. And over the course of the next couple weeks, as we look at this chapter of Romans, we will learn a lot of about who the Spirit is and what he does.

To start off, before we start looking at what Paul is saying here, just a couple of introductory bullet points about the Holy Spirit. First, the Holy Spirit is God. He is one-third of the trinity. One God, Three Persons. Not One God, three personalities. Not three Gods. One God, three distinct persons. God the Father is not God the Son. God the Son is not God the Holy Spirit. God the Holy spirit is not God the Father. But they are all God and there is only one God.

If you don’t fully grasp this, don’t worry. Theologians have been trying to study this and figure out the specifics and the intricacies of this for 2000 years now. It is something that is described in Scripture enough to know what I just shared, but its also something that is, what’s called an Incommunicable attribute of God. Gods attributes come in two categories. Communicable and Incommunicable.

Communicable attributes are the ones that we can know, not just intellectually, but take part of and share. Of course, not to the perfect extent that God has them, but humans can know them, can experience them. These are things like love, mercy, jealousy, hate, justice, knowledge, and many more. You and I can love. You and I can have mercy. You and I can be jealous, can hate, can have knowledge. You get the idea.

His incommunicable attributes are ones that we can’t identify with, we cant have any part of, we cant experience in any way. God’s Omnipresence, for example. We cant, in any way shape or form, be in more than one place at once, let alone everywhere, at the same time. God’s omnipotence. We cannot do whatever we want. We are bound by physical and intellectual limits. We can be in relationships with others, but we cannot understand the eternal, perfect, equal, relationship of the trinity.

So, you don’t have to understand the Trinity in full. But, this is a key doctrine to Christianity, you must understand that the doctrine is true, You have to believe that the trinity is true, because the Bible says it is, even if its full grasp is beyond us in its totality.

Another bullet point truth about the Holy Spirit, and this is intricately related to the first. The Holy Spirit is a person, He is referred to as a He every single time in scriptures, not as “it.” The Holy Spirit is not some mysterious “force,” it is not the wind, or anything like that. The Holy spirit is a person with all the qualities associated with the personhood of God.

Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit in John chapter 16. he says in verse 7, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

Then down in verses 13-15,  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

There is so much more to say and share and teach about the Holy spirit and we will get to some more of that in the upcoming weeks as Paul continues to talk about the Spirit. But for now, we will look specifically at what Paul is saying here.

So, we see Paul here differentiate between the law of the Spirt of life and the law of sin and death. This is what we have spent some time looking at over the last few chapters. We have been looking at what the Law does and does not do. We have seen that adherence or obedience to the Law, the moral law that God gave down to Moses back in the book of Exodus, obedience to that Law does not and cannot save us.

Attempting to earn our salvation, to earn forgiveness, or to live perfectly enough to not need salvation or forgiveness, instead of freeing us, actually binds us to sin and death. When we accept Gods grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, the bondage to sin and death is broken and we are given life eternal through the acts and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

God did what the law could not do. The Law, will good and holy and given by God for our good, was then corrupted by our sinful flesh. And so, again, the law cannot and would not save, would not and could not give us righteousness, especially the righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus says is required to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

And so, he sent his Son. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, making the same point as he does here,  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. God the Father, sent God the Son, to be born a human, fully man, wrapped in the same flesh we are, though himself sinless, took the punishment of our sin. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law. Jesus showed his perfect righteousness, the righteousness required to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. God the Father did so because we cannot have our own righteousness by ourselves, but we can have Christs righteousness through the Spirit.

But there is a requirement for receiving Christ’s righteousness. We need to walk, not in the flesh, but walk in the Spirit. So, we need to be good to earn it? We need to do something in order to receive it? No, the Holy Spirit is the Key.

Back to what Jesus said in John 16, that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. He reveals the truth of Scripture. He reveals in our hearts and in our minds that Jesus is God, that He is the Christ, the Messiah and that Jesus is the Word. The Spirit is the one who reveals to us, by revealing what Scripture says, how we are to live, how we are to act and how we are to believe. The Holy Spirit is the one who changes us from the inside, who changes our heart and desires, who breaks the bondage to sin.

And so we again, see a clear distinction, a clear divide between the many, who reject the Holy spirit, reject Scripture as the all sufficient, and inerrant Word of God, who reject Jesus as our savior and reject God the Father as the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent sovereign deity that created us and those of us who accept and affirm those facts.

One of the things that we pull out from what Paul is saying, is that we will walk with what our minds are set on. We will align ourselves with what we are walking with. So, what is that? Is it the flesh? Or is that the Spirit?

We all start out walking with our minds set on the flesh. We care about man’s acceptance. We see things through the lens of the culture. We seek out the wide and the easy path. We live life as if there are no consequences. We live a life hostile to God. The author of Hebrews writes that, without faith, it is impossible to please God.

But, Paul again, brings up the IF, verse 9,  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

If we are in the Spirit, we are in direct opposition to walking in the flesh. God changes us from the inside. He calls us to a higher standard. He does so because he has given us grace through faith, not to get the same grace. The mind set on the flesh does not submit to the Law. That’s what Paul says. Instead of submitting to it, the mind set on the flesh can trick itself into thinking its mind is set on God and it tries to conquer the law, tries to master it and fulfill it.

But the mind set on the Spirit is learning the truth and it will know better. AW Tozer writes, The Holy Spirit never enters a man and then lets him live like the world. You can be sure of that. He doesn’t just change the behavior, that wouldn’t be enough. He changes the heart, changes our desires. He changes what we set our mind on and we turn from the flesh, to the Spirit.

How many things can you say that have truly changed your life? What can you talk to any stranger about, whether they are interested or not? Sports, Nutrition, music, kids, work, love, etc Where is Jesus on that list? Where is the Holy Spirit on that list? Where is the Bible on that list?

Because, sure, events, or thoughts, or circumstances or whatever happens when we are focused on the flesh, some of those can change some of our life here and now. Look again at verses 10 where Paul writes,  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11

Paul brings it back around with that big, long, huge word, IF. If Christ is in you. There is no both. Fact one, the body is dead because of sin. That is true either way. Whether you have been saved by Grace through Faith in Christ, or whether you have not. Whether you have a mind and a life set on the Spirit or a mind and a life set on the flesh. The body is dead because of sin. What happens after that?

There are only those two options. Leading to only two different results in eternity. If the Spirit is not in you, than your eternity will be spent feeling the eternal pouring out of Gods wrath on you. Eternity in Hell.

But, Paul writes in verse 11,  If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Citizenship in the kingdom of Heaven. Adoption into Gods Family. Fellow Heirs with Christ. New, Heavenly, Immortal bodies. Perfect, sinless bodies. Eternal worship and glorification of God. Perfect communion with Jesus Christ on the throne. No pain, no tears, no hurt, no death. Eternal life.

If Christ is in you, if your mind is set on the Spirt, not only do you get these benefits, the best of them all, but your life today will also reflect it. You will be at odds with the world, at odds with the flesh. You will have to turn away from everything this world has to offer, and say, NO. What you, the world has to offer is death. I choose life. I choose the Sprit, I choose Christ.

And many wont understand. Many wont agree or appreciate it. Many wont see that the choice has to be either/or. “Well, I am a Christian and I still…” How often do we here that. Or, Love is more important than being right. Its not true, but even if it was, it wouldn’t be in the way that they say that. We are to do all things in love. Especially when dealing with people who continue to choose to have their mind set on the flesh. We cant respond back at them how they respond to us.

We are to do all things out of love. And it is loving to warn people that if they do not turn from their life set on the flesh and turn their lives to be set on the spirit, salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone.

It is love to have a right doctrine on what the Bible says. It is love to love God first, and to then let the love of Christ flow out of us. We cannot love without knowing Christ.

What do we know about Christ. Romans 5:8. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, we will remember here this morning as we do every first Sunday of the month.

Jesus not only knew ahead of time, the Trinity planned before the creation of the World that this sacrifice, this act of perfect love would be required and how it would take place, but Jesus told his disciples that it was about to happen and instituted this sacrament as a remembrance of it.

We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.

We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.

Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.

Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.

I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.

Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:

 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.

Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.

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