Romans 8:11-18

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Observation

  • We are not in debt to our nature or flesh
  • We are not to live according to our nature.
  • If we live according to our nature we will die.
  • If we put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit we will live.
  • Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the Sons of God.
  • We did not receive the spirit of slavery.
  • Receiving the spirit of slavery would cause us to fear.
  • We received the Spirit of adoption as sons.
  • We cry Abba! Father! By the Spirit.
  • The Spirit witnesses to our spirit that we are the children of God.
  • Since we are children of God we are heirs of God.
  • We are fellow heirs with Christ if we suffer with Him.
  • If we suffer with Christ we will also be glorified with Christ.
  • The suffering we endure now cannot be compared to the glory we will see.

Interpretation

Christ has paid the price of our freedom from sin. As such we are no longer bound to live according to our animalistic instincts. We can live not looking at our own interests but looking at Christ and His glory. By living according to our natural instincts we will die. By living not for ourselves, but for Christ we live. This is certainly paradoxical. It is in our best interest to ignore our own interest rather, live according to the will or God.

There are those who would claim that if God has predestined the outcome then there is no reason for us to do anything. They claim resting in Christ means doing nothing. In making such statements they ignore passages like this. Paul says we are to live by the Spirit. We are to be led by the Spirit. As he said in verse 9, if the Spirit of Christ is not us we do not belong to Him. To be inactive would be to fight against God by contempt and negligence.

You may say, “Wait! We are justified in Christ through the mercy of God alone. Didn’t last week’s lesson make that very clear? It is through Christ and Christ alone! We can do nothing to affect our salvation. What’s with all this about having to do something?” It is true that we are justified in Christ through the mercy of God alone. However, it is equally true that everyone who is justified is called by the Lord. We are called to live a life of righteousness. We are not to embrace Christ just for our justification but also for our sanctification. Christ died that we may have life but not just have life but have life abundantly i.e. a life that glorifies Him.

Paul says that those who are the sons of God who are ruled by his Spirit. This is the mark God uses to acknowledge His people. Thus those who are led by the spirit can rest secure in the knowledge of their salvation. God did not give His Spirit to harass us or torment us but His Spirit allows us to have a special relationship with Him where we can know the Father intimately. The writer to the Hebrews makes the same point when he talks about how the children of Israel could not go to Mount Sinai with Moses. They could not even touch the mountain under penalty of death. Then He says, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better words than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:22-24)

The Spirit of God gives us such confidence of our adoption that we are able to call God our Father. This is not a presumptuous action as if we have no understanding of the majesty of God. This is confidence from the work done by the Holy Spirit. We have been adopted by the Father as His children. Paul then goes on to point out the value of being children of God. Because we are children of God, then we are heirs. We are heirs with Christ! But we will suffer with Christ in order that we may be glorified along with Him.

The idea that once you become a Christian, God will bless you by removing all your suffering, is totally and completely wrong. The first half of that statement is true, God will bless you. But you will also suffer. In fact, you will suffer because of Christ. You will suffer because you are a Christian. We will be glorified only if we suffer along with Christ. What we suffer though is nothing compared to the glory we will see. In fact, Paul says the glory we will see is not even worth comparing to the suffering we endure in this present age.

Application

Why struggle if the outcome has been predetermined? We do not struggle to accomplish anything for God. He is in control of the results. We struggle as a process of growing closer to Him. We struggle as we work out our sanctification. I spend time with my granddaughter not because I am trying to accomplish anything. But I spend time with her to develop a relationship with her. So too do we struggle as we grow spiritually and develop a relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For what we endure now, suffer now pales in comparison of glory to come.

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