Bible Studies For Life

Florida Baptist Convention, BCF, Richard Elligson

Richard Elligson

Richard Elligson is associate professor of missions and chair of the theology division at The Baptist College of Florida.  Archives

Session 5

October 4, 2020


Exodus 20:14; 2 Samuel 11:1-5

“Do not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14).

The God who created life is the same God who created the institution of marriage. Immediately following the Commandment to respect another’s life, is that of respecting this most basic of human relationships. Therefore, those who want to preserve their relationship with God must also preserve their relationship with their spouse. In 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds the church that sexual immorality is a sin against one’s self (6:18). But when that sin is adultery, the number of victims is doubled…at the very least.

To illustrate the ease with which even the most respected fall into this sin, we need look no further than to King David, a man after God’s own heart (see 1 Sam. 13:14). The classic pattern characterizing the slippery slope of sin stated in 1 John 2:16 is evident in this tragic event. All three “lusts” are present, albeit in a different order than presented by John.

The “boastful pride of life” (2 Sam. 11:1-2). The first two verses of the chapter set the stage for what would follow. Spring meant that winter rains had ceased and the ground dried. With new grass and firm pathways, armies left poised for conflict could once again engage their adversaries. David, who customarily led Israel’s forces, instead turned the reigns of leadership over to Joab, his able commander. The most telling phrase in verse 1, however, is the last: “But David remained in Jerusalem” (v. 1). Many a commentator has rightly pointed out this decision as the turning point in King David’s reign. As God’s chosen king over God’s chosen people, his personal liberties as king should not have taken priority over his obligations as king. But David is older now (certainly in his late 50s); his kingdom solidified under his rule, and he had plenty of able men to run things. He no doubt considered his position and his prosperity, and felt he deserved opportunity to relax and bask in the warmth of his success. While soldiers did his duties on the battlefield, he dozed in the comfort of his bed. While others ran the lowly kingdom business, he strolled the lofty roof of his palace (v. 2). For reflection: Is the relative comfort of your current success, or the hum-drum routine of your daily life becoming fertile ground for worldly temptations? What can we do to protect ourselves from these same kinds of pitfalls?

The “lust of the eyes” (vv. 2-3). Apparently, King David had wandering eyes to accompany his wandering feet. From the lofty perch of his palace, he could look down upon his capital city and his loyal subjects. Unaware of the prying eyes from above, Bathsheba tended the business of her bath. Few details are provided, and none that would impugn the virtue of the woman who caught his eye. Bathing was normally done from a basin in the privacy of a garden, courtyard, or bedroom. Bathsheba had every right and every expectation to bathe in private. Her only “sins” (thus far), were circumstantial. She happened to be in the view of the king…and she happened to be very beautiful. The wording of the messenger’s response in verse 3 (literally, “Is this not…?”) allows for the possibility that David might well have had an idea who she was, as does the proximity of her residence to the palace. Yet his move to find out betrayed his intention (see James 1:14-15). For reflection: At what point could David have stopped along this path to sin? How is that done? Why didn’t he stop?

The “lust of the flesh” (vv. 4 ff). The evil that was lurking in the king’s mind and enhanced by his eyes, was here fully conceived into sin. Having been swept away by the power of both David’s position and his own powers of persuasion, Bathsheba willingly consented to his advances and was now as guilty as he. The parenthetical phrase that she was done “purifying herself” may refer to the reason for her bathing earlier in the day, or to her intimate experience with the king, both of which were under sanction of Levitical law. But no ceremonial washing could absolve either the immediate guilt or the ongoing consequences of their adultery. For reflection: Once the sin was committed, what should have been the proper response? Why do you think David took so long to confess it?

Session 6

October 11, 2020


Exodus 20:15-17; Psalm 37:1-6

When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:36-40). Indeed, the first set of the Ten Commandments is all about loving God (Ex. 20:2-11) The second set is all about loving your neighbor (Ex. 20:12-17). This requires respecting people and respecting their property.

The law is stated (Ex. 20:15-17). You will recall that the sixth commandment protects one’s life. The seventh protects one’s relationships. The final three of the Ten Commandments protect one’s property.

“Do not steal.” Interestingly, while some political philosophies suggest that no one should own personal property, the Bible assumes inherent ownership of personal belongings, and makes moves to protect it (v. 15). The statement is dogmatic and leaves no room for justifying the pilfering of anything belonging to another, whether material or intellectual, regardless of how grand or trivial an item it may be. As 17th century Bible commentator Matthew Henry put it, “Godliness and honesty must go together.”

“Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.” Tangible personal property taken can easily be returned or replaced. But the impugning of one’s character is both costlier and more painful. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be chosen over great wealth; and favor is better than silver and gold.” Bearing false testimony about someone can be done formally, under oath in a court of law; or, it can be done less formally, in the court of public (or even private) opinion, through inuendo, insinuation, malicious gossip, or outright slander. Both formal and informal infractions are prohibited by the Law (see also Ex. 23:1), because of the severe (and at times irreversible) damage they can cause.

“Do not covet your neighbor’s…” The examples given in verse 17 serve to clarify the motive behind theft and malicious personal attacks: covetousness. It’s an old word that indicates strong or inordinate desire; a craving for something that is not ours to own. The list starts large with houses and lands, moves through human relationships, animals owned, and ends with the small but most stringent, “anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Once again, sin is conceived in the mind (coveting) and birthed through action (theft) (see James 1:14-15).

The law is illustrated (Ps. 37:1-6). Motivational writer Dale Carnegie once said, “Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” Unfortunately, even Christians are often willing to sacrifice happiness in their quest for success. In this Psalm, David suggests that neither happiness nor success can be found by taking it from others! It is certainly aggravating that the wicked seem to prosper while the righteous find themselves struggling (see Job 21; Jer. 12; et. al). And the temptation to covet their apparent success in the world is tough to overcome. But the promise of God is true; the prosperity of the wicked is temporary and fleeting. Deep, heartfelt, and life-long contentment is only found in the Lord. Notice the active words David uses to encourage devotion: trust; do what is good; dwell and live securely (v. 3); take delight (v. 4); commit and trust (v. 5). Then, notice the Lord’s response to such devotion. First, He will give you the desires of your heart (v. 4); Second, He will act on your behalf, making your righteousness and justice far outshine the temporary and tarnished prosperity of the evildoers condemned in verse 1.

Session 1

October 18, 2020


Romans 5:6-12; 18-21

The first verses of Romans 5 reflect on the wonderful benefits of receiving Christ’s glorious salvation. We have peace (v. 1), access (v. 2), joy, and hope (v. 3). Verse 5 declares that this hope will never disappoint, because God’s love “has been poured out in our hearts.” And it all comes because of Christ’s unwavering commitment to His children. Here, Paul highlights three ways that Jesus Christ demonstrates that commitment to us.

By His love (vv. 6-8). John 3:16 reminds us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” In Romans 5, we are reminded that, in true trinitarian form, Christ Himself also loved and also gave. Jesus said, “No one takes My life from Me, but I lay it down Myself” (John 10:18). Love is demonstrated in sacrifice; the greater the love, the greater the sacrifice. In our text, we get an idea how much love Christ has for the lost. Look how we are described: In verse 6, we are helpless. The word literally means “without strength” or “lacking the ability.” The lost are powerless to do anything about their own sinful condition. Second, we are ungodly. This word means “wicked,” but in an impious, irreverent way. In other words, lost people have no respect for the things of God. In verse 7, we are described as sinners.Here the radical love of Christ is described. We were not “just,” nor were we “good.” But while we were still in the depths of our depravity, Christ died for us! The grammatical construction emphasizes this as well. Christ died for us (past tense) while we continued being in sin (present tense). The Lord Jesus was certainly right: “Greater love has no man than this!” (John 15:13).                             For reflection: The doctrine of “total depravity” doesn’t mean that a lost person is always as evil as he can possibly be, but rather that every aspect of the human being has been tainted by sin. What does this say about God’s incredible love for us?

By His reconciliation (vv. 9-11). The second way that Christ demonstrates His unwavering commitment to His children is by providing reconciliation. The phrase “Much more then” (v. 9) continues the flow of Paul’s argument highlighting the benefits we receive as Christ’s beloved. It’s like saying, “It’s quite logical and easy to see that…” First, there is justification. This is what Paul means by being “declared righteous by His blood.” If we are declared “not guilty” in God’s sight here on earth, then we most certainly will be “saved” through that same blood sacrifice from God’s future wrath (see Rom. 1: 18 ff). What’s more, if we are declared not guilty, then the sin and enmity that separated us from God is null and void. The barrier between us is removed, and we are reconciled to our Creator (v. 10). In addition, the strife that existed since we were enemies of God (v. 10) is now replaced by rejoicing (v. 11). Imagine that! We who were once enemies of God are now treated as His friends…and called His children! For reflection: What kind of example does Christ set with His reconciliatory death? How might we apply this in our own lives?

By His grace (vv. 12; 18-21). Verse 12 sets up the argument that follows. Literally and historically, sin entered the human race by the disobedience of the very first human, Adam (see Genesis 3). While even some believers argue against the idea of an inherited sin nature, the truth is firmly entrenched in the Scripture. Here is one such example (see Eph. 2:3 for another). Since Adam’s very nature was corrupted by sin, that sin nature was passed through succeeding generations (and it didn’t take long! The first sin occurred in Genesis 3; the first murder in Genesis 4!). The result is that all are sinners. Simply put, we are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are, by our inherited nature, sinners! Here is Paul’s illustration (v. 19): just as sin entered the human race through one man’s act (Adam’s disobedience), so salvation entered through one man’s act (Christ’s sacrificial death). And that was before any law was given! Once Moses brought the law, the guilt of sin was multiplied (v. 20). Even so, God’s grace is more than sufficient. The result of His unwavering grace? The penalty of eternal death brought on by Adam was replaced by the blessing of eternal life available in Christ (v. 21). For reflection: Apart from the Bible, what tangible evidence exists that all humans possess a sin nature?  

Session 2

October 25, 2020


Mark 10:13-22

Last time, we saw how Christ committed Himself to us “while we were yet sinners.” Our commitment to Him (while shaky and weak compared to His), is still required. In this week’s lesson, The Lord Jesus describes three simple expectations He has for His children when it comes to our commitment to Him.

Childlike faith (vv. 13-16). First, our commitment to Christ begins with simple faith. So popular was Jesus, and so impressed with Him were the crowds, that many brought their children to meet Jesus and to be blessed by His touch. This age-old tradition was meant to honor the parents by making a fuss over their little ones, but also as a memorable moment to be brought up over and over as the children grew up. His disciples—no doubt assuming that Jesus had better things to do—rebuked the parents, discouraging them from bothering the Lord (v. 13). Jesus, however, used the occasion as a teaching moment. First, His reaction taught the disciples that they had overstepped their boundaries and misrepresented Him. The word indignant (v. 14) means “greatly angered,” or “painfully afflicted.” Second, He taught the parents the importance and significance of their children. Third, He taught the children that He loved them. Finally, returning to the disciples, He taught them that a simple, innocent, and pure faith—like that of a child—is the kind of faith required to be saved (v. 15). For reflection: What impression do parents get when they bring their children to your church? Are the children swept-up and loved? Or instead, hushed-up and pushed aside?

Honest evaluation (vv. 17-20). Second, our commitment to Christ is built on honest evaluation; that is, understanding clearly who we are, and who He is. In this story, the “Rich Young Ruler” failed on both counts. At first, he showed some potential. He treated Jesus with respect, kneeling before Him and giving Him the title, “Good Teacher” (v. 17). Jesus was not chiding him when He said that only God was good (v. 18). Rather, He was likely inquiring if this man really knew who he was talking to. Did he legitimately think this teacher was God incarnate? Nevertheless, the young man’s theology was all wrong. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” demonstrates the belief that one must do something to earnsalvation. Following the young man’s reasoning, Jesus paraphrased and recited several of the Ten Commandments (v. 19). The young man’s prideful answer in verse 20 indicates his state of self-deception. The Law does not highlight one’s righteousness, but rather exposes one’s shortcomings! (see Rom. 3:20). In the end, he demonstrates just how wrong he is. He (1) does not admit the truth of just how sinful he really is; (2) does not understand the true goodness that stands before him as God incarnate; and (3) makes the blunder that he can somehow earn entrance to heaven by his own efforts. For reflection: Do you see how common these same misunderstandings are in our world today? What Bible verses can you find to counter the false assumptions that this man brings to Jesus?

Selfless submission (vv. 21-22). Third, our commitment to Christ means dying to self. To help this young man see the errors in his thinking, the Lord confronted him directly, but with compassion (v. 21). If the young man was true to his word, then the First Commandment would be honored as well: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). Those who desire eternal life must be willing to “die” to the present life, including one’s claim to material wealth (see Matt. 16:24 ff). The word stunned in verse 22 indicates a sudden sorrow, or disappointment. Obviously, the young man was far too committed to his earthly possessions than to the Lord and His offer of “treasure in heaven” (v. 22). For reflection: How often do we find ourselves stuck between two worlds: the material and the spiritual? Short of selling all we have, what can we do to “die to self” and live for Christ in the here-and-now?

Explore The Bible

Sherard Burns, Florida Baptist Witness, Explore the Bible

Sherard Burns

Sherard Burns is the senior pastor of Renewing Life Church in Miami, FL. Archives


ROMANS 3:31-4:3

Boasting is received in the world as acceptable. We almost expect it in may circles – business, sports, etc. We almost laud those who are confident and self-assured so much so that it bleeds into every area of our lives, including our relationship with the Lord. Boasting, however, is dangerous in anyone, but none more so than in Christians. Whether Jew or Gentile all stood guilty in our sin before God. We were not just guilty, however.  We were guilty and without a way in ourselves to be otherwise. For such people the wrath of God is certain (Romans 1:18). Having established this fact Paul, now, with the darkness of humanity clearly pictured Paul makes a shift in his language about the beauty of gospel.

THROUGH FAITH (Romans 3:21-24)
Paul starts this section off with the contrast of “But now” (Romans 3:21). There was a moment when all, even the Jews were without the saving hope of the gospel. They were lost and trapped in their own sin and its eternal implications. But now, in Christ, the righteousness that God demands has broken through and is now accessible; not through works, but through faith (Romans 3:22). Having faith means that our eyes must turn away from our achievement, effort, work and activities as the basis for our being one with the Lord. Instead we must focus on the need to place our faith in Christ. Jews have no greater advantage than the Gentiles in this way even with their history of faith. “For there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift…” (Romans 3:22b-24). While we must live holy lives that reflect the glory of God we must never be led to the false belief that our actions establish our relationship with the Lord. Faith, alone does this. Our actions simply prove our faith (see James 2:14ff). As in the Latin orthodox phrase sola fide (faith alone) we have our sins washed away and our eternal destiny shifted from damnation to glorification only when we shift our faith away from self and, singularly, toward Christ.

IN JESUS (Romans 3:25-26)
The anger and wrath of God is a serious reality for those who do not believe in Christ. One might also call this a serious matter to God! The major question Paul is answering in these verses is this: How can God be righteous and at the same time reconcile sinners to Himself? In other words if man is actually in the sinful condition we have read about (Romans 1-3:18) and God is righteous, how can a sinner ever be one with the holy Lord? The answer: Christ Jesus. While the language Paul uses here is rich and beyond the scope of our space let us sum it up in this way. Christ has come to demonstrate what the sacrifices only symbolized in an incomplete manner. Because they were incomplete, in that they did not remove sin, God’s acceptance of them was an expression of divine restraint. Thus Paul says “in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed” (Romans 3:25b). Now, God has “presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time” (Romans 3:25a). In this way, with Christ being the Perfect sacrifice as the God-man, God remains righteous when reconciling sinful men, because their faith in Christ has removed their guilt.

 FOR ALL PEOPLE (Romans 3:27-31)
The power of the work of Christ is that it completed the mission of God to have a people who would be from every nation on the globe (See Genesis 12:1). In this way no one, not even Jews, could boast about their relationship with the Lord. Boasting was only to be done in the faith the Lord provided (Romans 3:27-28). This language of Paul would certainly cut to the heart of Jews who saw Gentiles as dogs and second class people. Yet Paul pushes even deeper the implications of the gospel. He says that God is the God of all people and there is a path for the circumcised “by faith” and for the uncircumcised “through faith” (Romans 3:30) in Christ alone. This is a driving text for the priority of missions. God is the God of everyone and therefore, everyonemust hear the gospel!

This is a shocking truth for Jews to hear. Abraham, the father of the faith, is now counted as one with Gentile believers in that he is said to be justified, not by circumcision, but by faith! Not even the giant Abraham could boast. When he responded to the call of God in Genesis 12:1ff he did so by faith. Circumcision would not happen until later, but Paul says that Abraham became the patriarch of it all, by faith! Now, with this established, it is clear that nothing that has ever been of value has been such because of action. It has all been because of faith.

How powerful a word this is for a busy people who measure our value in achievements? This may be the way of the world, but it is not the way of the Lord. The only achievement that matters to the Lord is that which was accomplished on Golgotha. May we rest, by faith, in that.


ROMANS 5:1-11

One lyrical theologian rapped the following lyrics: “It feels so good to be justified…” (Shai Linne). Wait a minute! Justification is something I can feel? In truth, yes. To be justified means to be made right with God and, if that truth does not produce all kinds of joy and delight in the soul I am not sure that soul is justified. We make Christianity out to be singularly about what we think, etc. Paul shows us in this session that justification produces affections consistent with it. When we truly know what justification we, ourselves, will say: “It feels so good to be justified.…”

As I look at this section we can identify these benefits in two categories: relational and character. Relationally, we have and should rejoice in the peace, access and hope of glory we have in Christ (Romans 5:1-2). Peacerefers to the absence of eternal conflict between God and those who have faith. Access speaks to the removal of barriers that once prevented us from nearness to the Lord. Hope of glory pertains to this newfound eternal joy that is now, but not yet fully yet. Now, to understand Paul at times we need to read him backwards. In this light Paul is saying this: because we have a sure and steady hope of glory opened to us through Christ (Romans 5:2b), we now have access to Him at all times (Romans 5:2a) because anything that prevent our peace with Him was crushed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). These benefits are the foundation for our character benefits: afflictions and endurance (Romans 5:3-5). Afflictions relate to those experiences we go through because of our faith and endurance is the internal resolve not to quit or give in.  Again, let’s read Paul backwards: because you know that endurance  is being fueled by your afflictionsrejoice and do not give up in the tough times. Rather, let the hope, access and peace you have with God in Christ be your focus and joy.

What is amazing about the gift of God to us in Christ Jesus is that He gave Christ to and for us “while we were still helpless” (Romans 5:6). Helpless refers not simply to our weakness to do anything that pleased God but also to our resolved will to only do that which offended Him. We are never so weak as when we willingly go against the will of God. That God did this at the right time (Romans 5:6) is not because there was ever a wrong time. Paul’s language speaks to the Lord’s sovereign design to rescue men when He wills; at the time that He determined to do so. To do die for the ungodly is amazing when it is contrasted against the reality that, as Paul says, “For rarely will someone die for a just person — though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die” (Romans 5:7). In other words, people would rarely give their lives for another individual who is morally good and doing the right thing. So, who would give their life for those who are actively and aggressively going against them? God Himself!; and He did so without condition – “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8) and by demonstration – “Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We should rejoice, not that the Bible says God loves us, but that He proved it!

Paul begins with a shocking truth: “How much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath” (Romans 5:9)? What is both shocking and compelling in this verse is that Paul is saying this: “We are saved by God from God”! How incredibly mind blowing is this thought! God the Son’s blood was shed for us so that we could be saved from God the Father’s wrath! All of this “while we were enemies” (Romans 5:10). It is the life of the Son that saves us as He lives His life through us (Galatians 2:20). If God would go through such extraordinary lengths to reconcile us to Himself, while we were in the heart of our sin, it is assured to us that He will keep us to the end. The Lord has done this for you and I. He has come to the place of our depravity and rescued us who were not seeking rescue. He came and got us and then, in peace, showed us our pit of depravity crushed under the weight of His cross. We can truly be at peace.

What sin are you struggling with now? What thought(s) or past event(s) shake you to the core at the very thought of it? Christ wants you to know that He has won and conquered death and sin…yes, even that one that seems to always shake you. Be at peace in Him.


ROMANS 6:1-14

DEAD TO SIN (Romans 6:1-7)
Sometimes the truth that our eternity is secured by faith in Jesus can lead people to think and behave as if what we do, now, does not matter. If I am saved and secured and if where sin abounds grace super abounds (Roman 5:21) doesn’t my sin bring about more grace? Paul answers this rhetorical question by saying, “Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:2). Another way to say it is “May it never be!” Paul is literally saying that it cannot be that one who is justified by faith would live ungodly. It cannot be since our souls have been united with Christ in a powerful and transformative way such that our lives must follow this newness of life (Romans 6:3-4). This union with Christ is not simply experienced with His death but with His life as well. Yes, Christ died for my sins, but by faith in Him, I – the old self – died too! When Christ rose from the grave (symbolic of death) with life, so too I, when I believed, rose with him in new life. That’s Paul’s point when he says: “For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection” (Romans 6:5). To die to something is to have its life taken. When, by faith, we died to sin, we were freed its life and the power of its penalty. Christians cannot (will not) live in that which they died to (Romans 6:7).

ALIVE IN CHRIST (Romans 6:8-11)
To be alive in Christ is to be dead to sin because the power of sin’s penalty, symbolized as death, no longer rules (Romans 6:9). This should not be mistaken to mean that sin no longer has the power to influence our actions and thinking. It does and it can. So being alive in Christ means that the life of God now resides within us but the choice to live by it is ours to make every moment. This is why Paul says that we should “consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). This is a powerful statement that deserves our attention. To consider means to reckon or to think a certain way as something that is really true. Paul is saying that believers have the life of God in them and yet we must always keep in the front of our minds: “I am dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” This is not motivational, pump yourself up gimmick to face the challenges of the day, ritual. It is the mindset that believers must always have in order to choose the life of God in the face of sin. What is instructive is that Paul calls us to look at Christ’s example: “because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over him” (Romans 6:9). In other words when Christ died, He died once. Death would not take Him again. So, with us, Paul is saying you cannot die to sin multiple times; you died to sin once with Christ. Now we are to live like we are dead to it. So, Christians are not called to die to sin daily. We are called to kill it (Colossians 3:5). If sin is ruling, Christ is not reigning; death is.

When I consistently remind myself that I am dead to sin and alive to God I set before me the distinction of right and wrong, sin and righteousness.  I call my mind to live in a way that reflects and honors the life of God in me through the powerful witness of the Holy Spirit. I empower my choice for God over my choice for sin and self. That’s why Paul now commands us: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires” (Romans 6:12). Sin is always present in the heart of a believer but its presence in the life of a Christian is based on our giving it permission. We are in Christ with the power of God within us therefore we have control over what has prominence in our souls and, consequently, our actions. Pay tells us to not let sin have a control that your faith in Christ killed. To do so is to wage war against oneself and soul when we use our bodies for things that bring death (Romans 6:13). That is not what believers do. We are alive to God and as such we live our lives as weapons of righteousness. Not the righteousness that comes from the law but that which is from grace. In other words, we live righteous not in order to be saved but because, by grace, we have been saved (Romans 6:13-14).

An old hymn that used to be sung my church when I was younger had these words: “I am free, praise the Lord I’m free. No longer bound. No more chains holding me. My soul is restin. It’s just a blessin’. Praise the Lord, hallelujah I’m free.” May that be our daily anthem!


ROMANS 8:12-25 

Chapter 8 of Romans is simply majestic. It is filled with wonder and glory in ways, perhaps more than any other chapter in the Bible, that capture the essence of God’s purpose.  It is a tightly packed argument. It sets in context the necessity of a life lived for God to see the salvation of the Lord. It is all by grace, but grace empowers an ethic that reflects His glory. That is the heart of Romans 8.

ETERNAL FUTURE (Romans 8:12-13)
Paul has just masterfully dissected the idea of the mind set on the flesh, in comparison with the mind set on the Spirit (Romans 8:5-11). The flesh leads to condemnation and the Spirit leads to a life of peace. Therefore, Paul says “we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh” (Romans 8:12). The flesh will push and pry and try to figure its way into our lives but with this push, know that you are not obligated to give it expression. Sin shouts so loudly at times arguing its necessity in our lives, but we must hear Paul’s word: we are no longer under its obligatory power! It is not simply that we are no longer under its power that is the reason, however.  It is our eternal future that should guide our living. Paul writes that “if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die” (Romans 8:12). Spiritual death and eternal separation from the Lord is the end of those who simply cannot live without satisfying the passions of the flesh. He adds, “But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:12). Standing in the balance of our lifestyle is the truth of who we are and the proof of whose we are.  Our eternal future demands our present holiness. 

Jonathan Edwards’ work, Religious Affections, makes the masterful point that genuine believers will show signs that prove their union with the Lord. Those that do not, prove their allegiance lay elsewhere. When Paul says the “all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons” he is saying what Edward’s said before Edward’s was born: Christians look like Christ! (Romans 8:14).  We cannot expect to receive the inheritance that the Son of God will receive if we are living in opposition to the Father. Paul says the we “did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father! ” (Romans 8:15). It is intimacy with the Father that we share because of Christ (Romans 8:16) and, therefore, those who profess to be in Christ and live intimately with the flesh will not receive God’s inheritance. Living according to the flesh is often a temptation when we desire to escape suffering that comes with our confession of faith in Christ. Paul says as children of God we are “also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:17). Paul is reminding them and us, that our inheritance, however crazy and odd it may seem, is connected to our endurance in suffering. Heaven is granted to us who believe at the moment of our belief. Heaven, however, will not be entered without pain and struggle and trials. We are encouraged with these words, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Our endurance to gain the eternal inheritance comes, not by looking and focusing on the momentary and light challenges, but in contrasting them with weighty and eternity glory.

CREATION RESTORED (Romans 8:19-22)
The finality of reconciliation - that time in which all will be restored - is not simply related to humanity. Often time we think that reconciliation is about man and it is. But reconciliation is about the whole of God’s creation. Nothing the Lord created should be given over to the flames of evil or eternal hell.  All parts of creation were created good but, Paul says, and as such should be seen as worthy of our efforts to bring the kingdom to bear upon it. Everything is awaiting change. But the whole “creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed” (Romans 8:19). Creation is waiting on the children of God to be the children of God; to bring the reality of the kingdom upon all aspects of life “that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children” (Romans 8:21). It was Adam whose sin brought chaos to the world and it was the last Adam that brought redemption to it. Now it is the sons of this Adam whose purpose in life is to live in such a way as to bring about the consummation of all things when true, and ultimate reconciliation will take place. Creation groans for this with labor pains, ready for the birth of renewal when Savior comes.

For what do you groan or long? The answer will prove so much. Our lives always reflect and move in the direction of that for which we groan and long.

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