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Bible Studies For Life
June 28, 2020
THE ENDURANCE OF OUR HOPE
1 Peter 3:8-17
The consistent theme of hope in Peter’s epistle should be just that: consistent. Hope is not some sense of future deliverance that treats life like a fairy tale with a happy ending. Rather, it is a consistent and essential attribute that allows Christ-followers to rise above the challenges and struggles of our earthly sojourn and live a life of fulfillment here while preparing for eternity there.
Hope shines in daily life (vv. 8-12). When Jesus called for believers to be “salt” and “light” in Matthew 5:13-14, He was referring not only to a distinctive presence, but also a positive presence. Peter continued that theme here, encouraging believers to impact their world with distinctly positive reputations. This section explains how to do that.
First, in verse 8, he mentions what believers should be. What the apostle Paul called “of the same mind” (2 Cor. 13:11), Peter called like-minded. The meaning is the same: believers should be united and consistent in what they believe (the word unanimous comes to mind). Next, believers should be sympathetic, showing compassion and sharing emotion with one another. The translation loving believers is a bit misleading. Actually, Peter employs a single word in the Greek (philadelphoi), meaning to have a “brotherly love,” presumably for all people. The word compassionate means “good hearted” and in the context, humble alludes to being friendly or likeable.
In verse 9, Peter mentions what believers should do. The central idea is that of blessing others. Unlike the world that selfishly deals in tit-for-tat evil and insult, Christ-followers should bless others knowing that’s how God deals with us.
Then, in verses 10 and 11, Peter mentions what believers must do. The quote comes from Psalm 34, building upon the blessing God promised in verse 9. There is a subtle turn here that emphasizes the believer’s obligation. God’s blessings—while not earned—are certainly to be pursued. And once bestowed by Him are to flow through us to others. Verse 12 provides the motivation: simply put, God honors that which is righteous and opposes that which is evil, and we should do the same.
Hope shines when under attack (vv. 13-14). The rhetorical question that follows the quote from Psalm 34 provides a sense of reassurance to those sojourning here in difficult days. Who could possible attack you for doing what is right? (see also Rom. 8:33-35 and Is. 50:9). A second layer of insulation is added in verse 14. In our vernacular, “And so what if you are? Even so, you are still blessed.” Paul’s encouragement from Romans 8:33 reminds us, “God is the one who justifies us!”
Hope shines in our witness (vv. 15-17). Verse 15 is a regal verse that sums up the believer’s response to suffering and persecution. The older translation “but sanctify the Lord” better expresses the idea. To sanctify is to “set apart as holy.” So in the midst of suffering for the Lord, two virtues are strengthened. The believer is reminded to keep the Lord central, separated, honored, and protected. So the believer’s faith is strengthened. Second, in so doing, the believer’s faith is emboldened. Perhaps no voice speaks louder to the lost than the attitude and behavior of Christ-followers in times of suffering. Christians have what the world does not: steadfast hope in difficult days. But even our witness is to be tempered with gentleness and respect (v. 16), lest our faith be mistaken for arrogance or defiance. These are powerful and credible words, coming from the impetuous Peter who once drew a sword in defense of His Savior!
July 5, 2020
THE JOY ARISING FROM OUR HOPE
1 Peter 4:1-2, 12-19
Peter’s writing is centered around two themes: making the most of our temporary sojourn on earth, and enduring tough times while here. At no time is the believer’s testimony any stronger than when facing the fiery trials of persecution for the sake of Christ. Yet even in this, Christ, the One who suffered, is our role model (1 Peter 2:21). In our text, Peter mentions three areas in which we are to emulate Christ.
Attitude of Christ (vv. 1-2). In Philippians 2, the apostle Paul encouraged believers to have the mind of Christ in regard to humility. Here, Peter encourages the same attitude when it comes to suffering. No one suffered like Christ. The physical anguish of the cross was multiplied unimaginably by the dark hours of forsakenness associated with God’s judgment of sin which He bore (see Matt. 27:46; 1 Pet. 2:24). Peter is not saying that we should suffer what Jesus suffered, but rather how Jesus suffered. Here, the mind of Christ is better translated as resolve. Believers are to be armed with the same resolve (consideration, determination, intent) that Christ had in dying according to God’s will (v. 1), so that we might live according to God’s will (v. 2). The apposition ending verse 1, “because the one who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin,” is a bit difficult. One rendering suggests that literal physical death alleviates all sin. In that Christ was victorious over death, our ultimate deliverance from the presence of sin is the bliss of heaven. A more metaphorical rendering suggests that once a believer no longer fears suffering and death, the temptations of this life are more easily swept aside.
Identification with Christ (vv. 12-14). Both Paul in Romans (5:3-5) and James in his epistle (1:2-4) are quick to point out that suffering through trials and difficulties is useful in maturing our faith and strengthening our perseverance. Here, in verse 13, Peter adds the element of joy, not because of what is produced in our lives through our suffering, but rather because of our identification with Christ in our suffering (see also Phil. 3:10). The three-step approach Peter offers in his exhortation is logical and practical. Step 1: Be prepared! The imperative comes as a negative: “Don’t be surprised;” or “Don’t act so astonished.” The implication is that suffering persecution is the normal, usual course of events for believers, so prepare for it. Step 2: Be happy! Rejoice in the sufferings, then “rejoice with great joy” at the reward that awaits (v. 13; see also James 1:12; Rev. 2:10). Step 3: Be blessed! Those who suffer persecution because of their devotion to the Lord “are (already) blessed.” The Holy Spirit of God guarantees His presence during the fiery trial (see Mark 13:11) and His continuing approval after the fiery trial (v. 14).
Sanctified for Christ (vv. 15-19). Who would have thought that this simple fisherman would produce such profound Scriptures? Verse 15 is plainly stated, but problematic in its application. Some commentators see these as references to those sins of which early believers were accused. Their obligation was then to give no cause whatsoever for such accusations. Other commentators simply see these sins in contrast to that which precedes them and that which follows. In other words, if you are suffering persecution, by all means let it not be because of real transgressions, whether grave (murder or theft), or mild (evildoing or meddling). Rather, should suffering come, let it be solely for one’s commitment to Christ (v. 16). Verse 17 is equally problematic. “For the time has come” does more than make judgment a natural occurrence. Rather, it connotes intention. The judge is clearly God, and the judged (God’s household) are clearly believers. The suffering and persecution the believers were facing in their sojourn had a godly purpose (v. 19). Those who bore the name of “Christian” would bear a great testimony to those who would perish apart from Christ.
July 12, 2020
THE CULMINATION OF OUR HOPE
1 Peter 5:5-11
As the apostle Peter concluded his letter, he reminded believers to be faithful to their calling. Leaders are to set a proper example (v. 4) and followers are to willingly submit to godly leadership, especially in times of suffering and persecution. The final verses suggest how Christ-followers—regardless of their position—are to relate to one another, to the enemy, and to God.
With others: humility (vv. 5-7). The verb to clothe here is unique. Some have said it means simply “to adorn one’s self,” or to be “draped” with humility. But the term (used only here in Scripture) comes from the word for “binding.” This is not a loose-fitting humility tossed across a shoulder, but a strapping-on and tightening-up of humility that keeps all the loose ends tucked in tight. Some suggest that a particular garment suggested by the term was in view as well, an apron or girdle that only servants wore, thus distinguishing their lowly status. Curiously, this humility is to be especially worn around other believers (v. 5). Since facing suffering and persecution is a main theme of the epistle, Peter may have been warning brothers in Christ not to allow their suffering to (ironically) become a source of pride. In addition, the apostle offers three motivations to maintain humility. First, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (v. 5). This comes from Proverbs 3:34 and was quoted by James as well (James 4:6). The motivation is a measure of God’s grace. Beyond that, is God’s promise of ultimate exaltation “there,” of those most humble “here” (v. 6). Third, is the simple motivation of God’s compassion. Selfish concerns have no place among God’s elect (v. 7).
With the devil: diligence (vv. 8-9). The second admonition regards the adversary. Peter’s description of the devil as a roaring lion is both vivid and brilliant. This always reminds me of a conversation I had with a Maasai pastor from Kenya. The Maasai herd cattle, and their biggest threat is lions. He spoke of how cunning the lions are. While one lion runs a blatant diversion drawing away young Maasai warriors with their weapons and dogs, other members of the pride quietly circle around back to attack the helpless cows. This pastor said when he preaches this text, every Maasai tribesman knows exactly what Peter meant! The devil is not to be feared, per se, but respected for his cunning. He is a lion on the prowl whose goal is utter destruction. The diligent believer needs to be both serious (sober; conscientious; focused) as well as alert (awake and on guard) (v. 8). The verbs of verse 9 are actually a single action: resist (stand against; oppose) while standing firm in the faith. As well, believers need to understand that we are not alone in the struggle (v. 9). Like Elijah, we like to claim we are the only one left on God’s side! But God reminded him there were 7,000 others just like him (see 1 Kings 19:13-15). So be encouraged…we are not alone.
With God: hope (vv. 10-11). Now that Peter has instructed Christ-followers in their duties and obligations, he reminds us of God’s obligations to us. The Greek construction emphasizes the grace of God on the front end, and His promises to us on the back end. In other words, the suffering we will endure as part of this earthly sojourn are nestled in the middle of God’s great attributes (His grace, divine purpose, eternal glory displayed in Christ) and His promises to complete us. The terms restore, establish, strengthen, and support are construction terms signifying the renovation process. Remember, He is the cornerstone and we are living stones in this project (see 1 Peter 2). And while our suffering sojourn is temporary, His dominion is forever (v. 11).
Special Focus Session
July 19, 2020
HOW SHOULD I RESPOND TO POLITICS?
By the final chapters of Romans, Paul’s great doctrinal treatise becomes one of application. In chapter 12, he discussed the believer’s duty to God (“to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship…”) and duty to one another (“Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good…”). Chapter 13 then continues with the same theme—that of Christian duty—but applies it to the civil government. The biblical context is submission to Rome (a rather sore but needful subject); but the principles are equally applicable in our own tumultuous political climate. Christ-followers should be the very best citizens for three reasons:
We submit to authority because of who GOD is (vv. 1-4). I must admit, I have difficulty figuring out how our holy God could elevate such unholy people to such important positions of power…and then make me support them! But that’s exactly what these verses suggest. While the main argument is about the authority carried by civil offices, each office is occupied by a civil officer. How then do I keep my Christian composure when discussing politics? By taking a deep breath and looking at the bigger picture. Six key truths are expressed. First, no one is in any position of civil authority without God’s vote (v. 1). Second, the entire concept of governing and authority are part of God’s overall plan. He instituted it (v. 1). Third, those who oppose the authority God placed over them are, in essence, opposing God (v. 2). Those who reject authority, then, face judgment (v. 2). Fourth, policies from civil authorities are in place to protect law abiding citizens (v. 3). Fifth, those who live peaceably within the law are pleasing to God (v. 3). Finally, civil authorities have been put into place to reflect God’s principles of justice (v. 4). The conclusion? As British Bible commentator Matthew Henry (c. 1700) put it, “Thou hast the benefit of the government; therefore, do what thou canst to preserve it…and nothing to disturb it.”
We submit to authority because of who WE are (vv. 5-7). The second reason believers should be model citizens is because of who we are in Christ. While verse 4 reminds us of the external motivation for submitting to authority (God’s judgment), these verses remind us of the internal motivator: the Christian conscience. This is not the same as Holy Spirit conviction, but rather the newly inherited sense of right and wrong that comes with the renewed heart and mind. The obligation of God’s people (whether Jewish or Christian) to pay taxes to the oppressive Roman state had long been a bitter pill to swallow (see Matt. 22:15ff). But believers understand that government services must be funded (v. 6), and that good citizens willfully (though sometimes reluctantly!) need to pay their fair share. The bigger principle is one of obligation. Verse 7 states it plainly: “Pay your obligations to everyone,” regardless of what they happen to be, and who is on the receiving end. We do this simply because it is the right thing to do as born-again followers of Christ.
We submit to authority because of others (vv. 8-10). These verses are not a reiteration of rules and regulations to follow, but rather serve to sum up the overarching principle. Anglican churchman Charles Ellicott (c. 1850) pointed out:
The word for “owe” in this verse corresponds to that for “dues” (obligations) in the last. The transition of the thought is something of this kind. When you have paid all your other debts, taxes, and customs, and reverence, and whatever else you may owe, there will still be one debt unpaid—the universal debt of love. Love must still remain the root and spring of all your actions. No other law is needed besides.
Jesus put it this way in Matthew 22:37ff:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.
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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!
INCLUDING ABRAHAM (Romans 4:1-3)
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.
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.…”
JUSTIFIED WITH BENEFITS (Romans 5:1-5)
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.
JUSTIFIED THROUGH HIS DEATH (Romans 5:6-8)
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!
JUSTIFIED EQUALS RECONCILIATION (Romans 5:9-11)
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.
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.
TOOLS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (Romans 6:12-14)
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!
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.
ETERNAL INHERITANCE (Romans 8:14-18)
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.
During her 30 years as Florida Baptists’ director of communications, Barbara ventured across the state — and to Cuba and Haiti — to report on Baptist witness and, amid natural disaster, Baptist compassion.
Barbara and her husband, Dick, are currently enjoying spending time with their first grandchild, Finley, along with Finley’s parents Ashford and Chantal and Barbara and Dick’s daughter, Addie.
Keila earned a B.S. in Communications from Florida International University in Miami. She writes news and stories about Florida Baptist churches, creates and posts social content to the FBC’s social media channels, and is a Baptist Press contributor.
When she’s not working, Keila enjoys bike rides and spending time with her family.
Barbara, a member at Eau Gallie First BC, Melbourne, and a graduate of Florida State University, B.S., Speech Pathology/Audiology, taught Pre-K/VPK for many years. While living and serving in Maine, she wrote articles for the NEW ENGLAND BAPTIST, and currently writes for the Brevard Baptist Association’s newsletter, THE BRIDGE. She loves serving alongside her husband Mike (Associational Mission Strategist, Brevard Baptist Association), spending time with their three grandchildren, sewing and reading.
David Moore has been writing and editing for newspapers and magazines in Florida for more than 20 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida. A proud member of First Baptist Church of Ocala, David serves in the worship, deacon and NextGen ministries. He and his wife Beth have three children.
Jessica received her B.S. in Biblical Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She contributes to Florida Baptist Conv, Biblical Woman, Baptist Press, The Devotional for Women, and Daily Devotional Bible for Women. Her greatest joy is serving beside her husband who is the Senior Pastor of Fellowship Church.
Brandi is a writer and editor for N2 Publishing, a community magazine that honors God. She and her family attend Fishhawk Fellowship Church and are a Host Family for Safe Families for Children, Bethany Christian Services. Her background is in Healthcare Management, Policies & Procedures.