Theme: Romans 8.2 Hope (Sunday 19 July, 2020)
Series: Romans 8 (2020)
Bible Reading: Romans 8:12-25
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
We are in part two of this amazing chapter of the bible Romans 8 and did you notice what the first word in our bible reading was today? Verse 12 – Therefore! And when we see the word “therefore” we should ask the question, “What is it there for”?
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation…
It points back to all the stuff we talked about last Sunday …
- Romans Chapters 1-7 … that we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standards, that none of us can be made right with God through our actions, that God through the cross of Jesus offers us a free gift of forgiveness and grace
- Therefore, there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus!
- Paul encourages us not to let our lives be shaped by the worldly desires but live life in the Spirit – to allowing the Spirit to orientate all that we do.
So we get to today’s reading … Verse 12 … Therefore … in the light of all this … we have an obligation. If God through Jesus’ death and resurrection did all this for us, we have an obligation to (v13) put to death the misdeeds of the body – the old way of living – and instead (v14) live life being led by the spirit.
That is the challenge that we finished last sermon with … the challenge to live our whole lives orientated around what God or the Spirit desires. But Romans 8 verse 14 Paul shifts gear and introduces another image, another concept to us.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Greek word is huiothesia (hweeothesia) and it is a clever use of the word by Paul. Huiothesia it an usual Greek word because it can be culturally interpreted in different ways by different people and yet it still works.
The Jews would interpret huiothesia as “sons of God” or “Children of God” which would link them back to the OT images of God being their father and Israel being the “Children of God”. So when Paul says “those who are led by the Spirit are the “huiothesia”, all the Jews reading this would go, “yes, we are the children of God”
But the non-Jewish people use this word in a different way and yet it still works in this verse. Non-Jews would interpret huiothesia as “legal act of adoption” referring to the Greco-Roman practice where a man could formally confer on a child all the legal rights of a birth child. So for the non-Jewish reader they would understand this verse as Paul saying that when we live a Spirit-led life, God adopts us and confers on us the rights and privileges of one of God’s own children.
It doesn’t matter which way we read it … either way, the point is profound … we become God’s own children. Verse 15 says that we in response cry “Abba, Father” which is a very personal, intimate way of speaking … implying that we are not just God’s children in name only but God the relationship is real & personal & loving.
So Paul highlights this amazing flow as we move from living in the Spirit to being adopted as one of God’s loved children through to becoming heirs of God all that God has and co-heirs with Christ. Wow.
But I want to come back to what we were talking about last week … Paul’s Dichotomy. Do you remember the two list I showed last week – the two ways to live. We can live life in the spirit or live by the desires of the flesh.
But what about if you find yourself on both sides? What happens if you find yourself living in the spirit but sometimes being caught up in the desires of the flesh? This is what Paul is addressing in Romans 8. Paul is setting the goal, the high mark – yes, when we are in Christ our goal is to be totally led by the spirit and to resist all worldly influences – that is the goal, but the reality … well that is another thing. The reality is that we are not perfect, we are influenced by the desires of the flesh, there are weeds in our lives.
Lets just go back to the Romans 8 and see something.
In verse 14 Paul says that we are … the children of God.
In verse 16 Paul affirms that the Spirit testifies with our own spirit that we are indeed … the children of God.
And yet in verse 19 we read this… “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.”
And then in verse 23 Paul writes that we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies”
Just wait … Paul just said we are the children of God and now he is saying that creation is waiting, that we are waiting for our adoption to be complete?
What Paul is doing is using the classic New Testament “already but not yet” tension … the “Now and the not yet”. This is the idea that while God sees us as forgiven people – holy, pure and perfect … we are still on the way to becoming that. We are but at the same time we are not yet.
In the same way Paul is saying that those in Christ have been made God’s own children – co-heirs with Christ – but at the same time, we are not quite there yet, we are still on the journey to get there. It is both the now and the not yet.
It is in this understanding that Paul can write that we are the children of God – forgiven, redeemed, being led by the spirit … but at the same time he says that we long for that redemption to be complete. But in the meantime we are stuck in the middle – in the place between the now and the not yet.
That’s the reality. That is why we find ourselves on both sides of Paul’s dichotomy … because we are in between the now and the not yet.
It can be a slightly depressing place to be. We don’t want to be “on the way” … we want to be there. We want to experience the fullness of redemption, we want be perfectly living in the Spirit. Paul uses the phrase that we “groan inwardly” because we want it so much. We want to be at the finish.
But Paul says that our dream, our desire for redemption, for adoption as God’s children is not an impossible dream … it is going to happen because God has already declared it. That is the “Now” part of the “Now and not yet”. We may not be able to see it yet (v24) – but we can have unwavering hope that is will happen. In the same way that the pains of child birth gives way to the joy of new life … we have the hope that the pain of living between the now and the not yet will give birth to the joy of completion. But we are not there yet. Verse 24 tells us that we hope because we do not have … but it is in this hope that we are saved. In the meantime, as verse 25 says, we wait patiently.
But as we wait patiently … we start to discover something extraordinary. In the midst of the gap between the now and the not yet … we find that we are not alone.
Verse 26,27 – The Spirit helps us in our weakness – even praying for us, interceding for us in accordance to God’s will.
I love that imagery … when we are praying and just run out of words to say … the Spirit continues to pray for the stuff that words just can’t express. That just moves me. In those dark times when I literally groaning inwardly because life can be so harsh to so people and I just don’t have the words to pray … the Spirit takes over and helps me. Wow.
It is hard to stop at this point because this directly links to the rest of the chapter … And it is a good ending to the chapter but I have to push the pause button because you aren’t into hour long sermons.
Last week the two main points were:
- If you are in Christ … there is no condemnation.
- In response … we need to orientate our whole lives towards the Spirit … to be led by the Spirit.
This week I would add:
- We have an obligation to be led by the Spirit because God has adopted us as his own, loved Children! We are God’s heirs and co-heirs with Jesus!
- Although God has declared this to be true, we are stuck between the “now and the not yet” – and wait for the time when redemption will be made complete
- And while we wait … the spirit helps us, intercedes for us, prays for us when we run out of words …
And … and I groan inwardly because I want to finish the chapter … next week is so good. But we will just have to wait patiently.