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Bible Studies For Life
August 30, 2020
WE STAND TOGETHER IN SPRITUAL BATTLE
One of the great truths of Scripture is that we do not walk alone. Besides the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit, we are surrounded by fellow believers who support us and encourage us in our journey (see Heb. 12:1). The community of the faithful is not simply displayed in the local church congregation on Sunday mornings (although it certainly is); but consists of a global network; a huge and extended family of brothers and sisters in Christ who unite as the Kingdom of Light against the very real forces of darkness. This week’s focal text reminds us that the battle rages, and that all believers are called to equip themselves and hold their ground.
Our adversary (vv. 10-13). In chapter 3, Paul prayed that that the church would be “strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit” (3:16). Here, the idea is more outward and more urgent. In fact, this is not a prayer but a command to prepare the church for spiritual conflict. The armor mentioned in verse 11 and explained in verses 14-17 is to equip the believer to face the full onslaught of satanic power. The word tactics (v. 11) is variously translated as wiles, or schemes, or strategies. In every case there is an inherent warning: the devil doesn’t fight fair! The full armor suggests utter and complete equipping, as the forces of evil seek out and target the believer’s weakest point. Verse 12 gives the most graphic description of our adversary found in the Bible. Warfare with the devil is particularly insidious. Battles involving mere mortals were well known and thoroughly analyzed in Paul’s day. But this enemy has no flesh and blood! Exact identifications are difficult as Paul’s descriptions flex and mingle. Rulers is a slightly weaker term than authorities, but both point to a hierarchy of demonic leadership. The cosmic powers of darkness refers to Satan’s realm of powers on earth, while spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies connotes demonic conflict with the host of angels above the earth. The sheer magnitude of the forces arrayed against us justify sufficient preparation for the ever-increasing conflict, that we might stand our ground with confidence (v. 13).
Our armor (vv. 14-17). The armor introduced above is then described piece-by-piece. The metaphor can be over-worked, but Paul is clearly applying the armor in the proper order with which a Roman soldier was fitted. Waist and chest were covered first, with sandals strapped up the legs second. The shield slid over the left arm next, with the cumbersome helmet rocked into place afterward. Finally, the soldier’s sword was grasped and readied. Just as the soldier’s armor was a complete outfit, so the believer’s armor demonstrated all that was needed to resist the enemy and stand firm against his onslaught. The articles of light (truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and God’s word) are all given to equip Christ-followers to counter the forces of darkness.
Our intercession (vv. 18-20). Unless you are David standing up against Goliath (and I certainly am not!), the most comforting possession apart from your armor is a band of brethren around you. Or better yet, an entire army. Or better still, an entire kingdom! That is exactly the kind of support Christian soldiers have at their disposal through prayer, and what the apostle Paul commends in verse 18. The believer’s prayers are to be continual (“at all times”), comprehensive(“every prayer and request”), urgent (“staying alert”), persistent (“with all perseverance”), intercessory (“with intercession”), and universal (“for all the saints”). After this bold call to arms, the apostle (almost sheepishly) requests prayer for himself and his ongoing ministry while imprisoned. His request is not for his freedom, or even his personal comfort while in jail, but rather for boldness to proclaim the gospel of Christ “as I should” (v. 20) while there.
September 6, 2020
PLACE GOD FIRST
Exodus 20:1-6; Psalm 16:1-4a, 9-11
God is first by His pre-existence. The Bible never argues for the existence of God, but assumes it in the words of Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God…” But God is also first because of His preeminence (see 1 Tim. 6:13-16). Unfortunately, knowing that God comes first, and placing God first are two different things! For this reason, the first of God’s Ten Commandments mandates that God be securely enthroned in His rightful position as the one and only true God; worthy of worship and unwilling to share His glory with any person or any thing. In this week’s lesson, three reasons are given to place God first.
Supremacy (Ex. 20:1-6). So as not to be confused about the source of these commandments, Moses (under God’s inspiration) affirmed the divine authorship. There was no added commentary here; God spoke all these words (v. 1). In verse 2, God established His divine authority. He states three reasons that support His claim. First, He is the LORD their God. The word is Yahweh, the self-existent, covenant-keeping God of the burning bush (see Ex. 3). Second, He is theirGod, the God who chose them…and the God they chose to follow. Third, He miraculously delivered them from the land of their oppressors as well as from the slavery that came with it. As such, God was in the unquestionable position to set forth the commandments that would follow, the first of which is “Do not have other gods besides Me” (v. 3). The prohibition is then reinforced in detail: do not make idols (v. 4); and do not bow down to or worship created things instead of the one who created them (see Rom. 1:22-25). The passage ends with divine accountability. This same God who chose them and delivered them would not share the honor due Him with another. The penalty here is fierce: the results of His jealousy is a divine judgment that punishes the guilty and purges their offspring (v. 5). But this is also used to contrast with His grace. The judgement for idolatry may last for a few generations, but the reward for their fidelity extends to a thousand (v. 6).
Dependency (Ps. 16:1-4). Besides the command of God to worship Him alone, there are the benefits that come along with that. While God is supreme, sovereign, infinite, and independent, we are none of those things! For this reason, we are utterly dependent upon God. This is the theme of Psalm 16. In the first verse, David points out his dependence upon God to protect him. The word refuge here is “trust,” but the context is David trusting God for his protection. In verse 2, he is dependent upon God for his portion. “Because you are my Lord,” he says, “I have nothing good that extends beyond You.” In verse 3, he indicates his dependence on fellowship with God’s people. He delights in them, recognizing them as holy ones and “princes” (noble ones), in contrast to those who chase after other gods (v. 4). In them is no delight…but only sorrow.
Eternity (Ps. 16:9-11). The third reason to place God first is demonstrated in light of eternity. Such confidence in God assures that the body as well as the heart and soul (glory) can rest in Him securely. The reference is certainly to death (here described as a “lying down”) as reinforced by the verses that follow. His promise of eternal life is contingent upon keeping the body safe in the normally dreadful place of the dead (Sheol). The promise that follows (v. 10b) is both prophetic and personal. The Holy One is Christ who arose from the dead (see Acts 2:27ff). While the believer’s body will indeed decay, the promise of our bodily resurrection was secured by Christ’s victory over death and the grave (see 1 Cor. 55ff). David concludes his psalm by celebrating God’s gracious path (of life), His presence (abounding in joy) and His pleasures (which are eternal).
September 13, 2020
Exodus 20:7-11; Psalm 145:1-7
There is a theological tension between God’s immanence (His “closeness” to us) and His transcendence (His “apartness” from us). This translates into our spiritual lives as well. If God is entirely transcendent, He is outside our world and we lose His personal touch. But if He is only immanent, we make God too close to us, and He becomes too much like us. I remember chastising a young man on campus for wearing a t-shirt that said, “Jesus is my homeboy.” I informed him that Jesus is nobody’s “homeboy” and insisted he go change it. While it is true that we are adopted into God’s family (Eph. 1:5), and Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brothers (Heb. 2:11), Jesus Christ is not our “buddy;” He is still God!
The Bible is clear that while God is intimately involved in His creation in general, and in our lives specifically, He is still sovereign God and should be honored as such. Our focal passages this week touch on four ways that we are to honor Him.
We honor Him with our reverence (Ex. 20:7). The third of the Ten Commandments forbids using God’s name in an inappropriate way. In ancient times (much more than now), and certainly in the Old Testament, the concept of one’s name extended beyond mere identification. It signified the person’s personality or character (see Matt. 16:18, for example). In the case of rulers, one’s name extended even further, signifying all the authority that came with the office. The older translation, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” is a bit more forceful and in my opinion more accurate. The word vain means “useless,” “meaningless,” or “empty.” Hence to use God’s name in vain goes beyond cursing; it is to use it in an offhanded, empty way. The reason for the prohibition is because the flippant use of God’s name fails to honor the entirety of what His name signifies: the sovereign, holy creator of the universe and benevolent Savior of fallen man! So protective of His name is God, that punishment is promised to anyone who fails to properly honor it. For reflection: What are some everyday ways that people use the Lord’s name “in vain” besides outright cursing?
We honor Him with our submission (Ex. 20:8-11). The fourth of the Ten Commandments involves honoring God by respecting the Sabbath. This commandment is a bit more controversial. The literal meaning of sabbath is to “cease from activity.” The commemoration is based on the completion of God’s creative work (v. 11). But the provision has a practical side as well. People need to work, but people need to rest as well. God’s provision for rest honors Him in two ways. First, God has built the day of rest around Himself. It’s not simply a day to be lazy, but rather a day to stop our normal activities and to reflect on God’s goodness. It is a Sabbath “to the Lord your God” (v. 10). Second, the Sabbath day is a metaphor of the rest that awaits us in heaven (Heb. 4:7ff). In the New Testament, the Jewish observance of the Sabbath (Saturday) was transitioned by believers into observing the Lord’s Day (Sunday) in commemoration of Christ’s resurrection (see Acts 20:7 and Rev. 1:10). Nevertheless, the principle of honoring God in it has not changed. For reflection: In what ways do we neglect the principle of rest on our average Sunday?
We honor Him with our praise (Ps. 145:1-3). The third way in which we honor God is through our worship. The initial verses of this psalm are exceptionally personal, reflecting the heart-felt praise of David himself: “I will exalt…I will praise…I will honor...” Just as Psalm 23 is written by a shepherd to his Shepherd, Psalm 45 is written by a king to hisKing. Note the time references as well: his praises are offered forever and ever (vv. 1-2), but they are measured out day by day, every day (v. 2). He is worthy of such praise because His greatness is beyond anyone’s ability to find it out (v. 3). For reflection: Many of us make time for daily personal devotions and prayer. But how much of that time is dedicated to praise?
We honor Him with our testimony (Ps. 145:4-7). The fourth way that we honor God is by passing our faith on to the next generation. Whereas the first three verses of the psalm are dedicated to David’s personal praise, the next section focuses on those who will come behind. Notice the play of words back and forth: “I will speak” (v. 5), then “they will proclaim” (v. 6); “I will declare (v. 6), then “they will give testimony and sing” (v. 7). The emphasis is on passing the good news to the next generation. They will celebrate God’s great works and sing of His righteousness, but only if we are faithful in making it known to them. For reflection: What is our generation actively doing to pass the good news on to those coming behind us?
September 20, 2020
Exodus 20:12; 2 Samuel 15:7-14
So important is the family relationship to spiritual wellbeing, that the apostle Paul reminded the church at Ephesus, “Children, obey your parents as you would the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land” (Eph. 6:1-3). Clearly, there is a strong connection between honoring one’s parents, and honoring God. This week’s lesson looks at what to do, and what not to do when it comes to honoring parents.
What to do when it comes to your parents (Ex. 201:12). The fifth of the Ten Commandments bridges the gap nicely between those relating to God and those relating to man. Children are to obey their parents (Eph. 6:2) while still children; but honoring them is not limited by any age. To honor is primarily to revere, respect, and obey. But it stretches beyond that to supporting, comforting, and easing them into old age. The promise attached, “that you may have a long life in the land” might seem strange at first, but actually makes perfect sense. First, practically, how one treats his or her parents is a valuable measure of moral fiber and character, those attributes that make one’s life healthier, wealthier, and wiser. Second, from the spiritual perspective, our relationship with God is both demonstrated and understood in filial fashion. God is our Heavenly Father. We are children of God. Those who honor their Heavenly Father will honor their earthly parents, and vice versa. The importance of this deep devotion was not only supported by a promise, but failure to do so was met with the severest of penalties: death! (see Lev. 20:9). How could this possibly be? Just as honoring earthly parents indicated godly commitment, disgracing or abusing those who give life, nurture, and support indicates a thoroughly selfish disregard for those things God desires most. For reflection: In what ways do we honor (or dishonor) the elderly in general? How about our parents specifically?
What NOT to do when it comes to your parents (2 Sam. 15:7-14). The example we are given in this text provides a dramatic contrast to the fifth Commandment. The story of David and his son Absalom is filled with tragedy. Back in 2 Samuel 13, Absalom took the law into his own hands and killed a half-brother that his father David should have punished but let go. Once the deed was done, Absalom feared his father and fled (2 Sam. 13:37). Yet David longed to be reconciled with his son Absalom. Eventually, some measure of peace was restored, until Absalom again undermined his father’s authority and declared himself king (2 Sam. 15:10). This time, it was King David who fled in fear (2 Sam. 15:14). In the end, David’s army confronted Absalom’s, and defeated him. Unfortunately, Absalom was killed in the battle, leaving David heartbroken at the loss of a murderous, rebellious son whom he still dearly loved (2 Sam. 18:33).
The story highlights the treacherous path that awaits one who turns against his parent. Perhaps some of the descent might have been avoided if David had handled the sordid sin in his family (see 2 Sam. 13:1-15), rather than allowing the bitter wound to fester. Nevertheless, every attempt that David made to reconcile with his wayward son was met with betrayal and rebellion.
No parent is perfect. But one can honor a parent even without agreeing with everything that parent believes or does. Remember, honor involves respecting parents because of who they are, not necessarily for what they do. For reflection: As a parent, how does it make you feel when your children show you honor and respect, even though you have often made mistakes in their upbringing?
Explore The Bible
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.