Chapter 8: Part 2
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (v.18) Rotherham says, "towards us" and the Concordant Literal says "for us". God's glory is directed towards us and it is for us. God is not holding His glory before us and saying, "Look how great I am". He is saying that He is giving us this same glory! Young's Literal translation says, "revealed in us." That means God's glory is in us - it has not yet been revealed, but the transaction is completed! This glory is so great that there is no comparison between it and our present sufferings!
Glory is an inspiring word, but difficult to describe. In the Old Testament, the glory of God as seen by people, is related in different ways. It was seen in a great display of thunder and lightning, in the miracles God performed, in the cloud that covered the tabernacle, and as a devouring fire on top of Mt. Sinai!
The glory of God is a mystery to us. When Moses asked to see God's glory, God said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion." (Ex. 33:19) In other words, glory is the revealed manifestation of the nature of God; it is the sum total of all His goodness - of the very essence of His being! His goodness is shown us in different ways. The evidence of His goodness can be seen, but His goodness cannot be seen. It's somewhat like electricity - though it cannot be seen, the result of its being can be seen.
The glory that God bestows on us is not the earthly glory of achievement, but the very glory of God Himself! His Spirit is working in us and with us towards that goal of glory. God has revealed His goal for us; we are so involved with the process that we often forget about the goal! The challenge is to keep our eyes on the glory, knowing that the endurance of the sufferings forms the pathway to it! Let's get our eyes off the refuse, junk, and mud around us, and look towards the goal! Focusing on the suffering gets us into self-pity and defeat. Focusing on the glory brings us into victory!
In John 17:22 Jesus said, "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one." What does this mean? Christ expressed the nature of God, and this was His glory! "He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature..." (Heb. 1:3) Christ was always in submission to the Father, and this obedience expressed the glory of the Father.
The impartation of God's glory to us is the impartation of Christ's nature to us - and that includes obedience! After we were born of the Spirit and filled with the Spirit we received Christ's nature. He poured His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit! Love is the very essence of God! His love has to be shown to the world through His people, the church. "To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever (for the aeons of the aeons - Concordant)." (Eph. 3:21) This glory becomes ours as we function in His nature!
In Philippians 2:8-9 it says that Jesus "humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name." He was exalted because of His obedience! The degree of our obedience determines the exaltation that we will receive. In the Holy Spirit Christ imparts His nature to His body! He gives us the ability to become obedient! When His glory rests upon His body, His glory will be magnified! The beauty of the gospel is that Jesus shares that glory with us!
Affliction reveals the degree of obedience that resides in us. Christ's horrendous sufferings revealed His absolute obedience. "For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison." (2 Cor. 4:17) The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us and in us!
Before Jesus was crucified, three disciples saw His glory on the Mt. of Transfiguration. Paul received a glimpse of the glory when he was taken up into the third heaven and saw things he was not allowed to talk about! So he counted his beatings, his stonings, his rejections, his shipwreck and imprisonment, as momentary light affliction. He saw what it was producing in him! The glory far exceeds the suffering!
Our eyes have to be opened to this fact! We do not see the glory when our eyes are closed. Peter, James and John did not see the glory of Christ's transfiguration while they were sleeping. The glory was there, but their eyes were closed to it. They first had to be fully awakened. We also need to be awakened out of our natural desires, before we can see the glory of God! Let's not sleep and close ourselves to the glory and the wonderful things God is showing us!
Seeing the glory makes our afflictions worthwhile. When our eyes are focused on ourselves, every little hurt and scratch becomes a terrible experience. There is a difference between the suffering that is the result of our bondage to sin, and the suffering that is the result of our obedience to Christ. Sufferings due to sin are to open our eyes to our need of repentance. Sufferings due to obedience we willingly accept - even as Jesus did! God wants us to be knowledgeable of His wonderful plan for us, and the glory that will be revealed!
In the Old Testament God could not share His glory with people because the Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out to indwell them. Ezekiel saw a vision of figures resembling four living creatures, even as John did on Patmos. The four living creatures are four manifestations of the life of the very God who is on the throne! They are four expressions of the nature of the dominion of the throne. In them the life and authority of our God is manifested, and it is also the very life and nature and character of all who share the throne in union with Christ!
In Ezekiel's vision each of the living creatures had four wings. The number four represents completeness - like the four corners of the earth. The wings signified that they moved in the heavenly realm, and when they moved, they all moved together. The Spirit was in the wheels, and they only moved when the Spirit moved. They bore the likeness of the glory of God on the throne! They were bearers of the authority and glory of God.
What is this saying to us? Since the overcomers are seated with Christ in His throne, everything that is represented by the living creatures must be worked out in the life of the overcomer. The nature of the living creatures must become our nature, for only that life can reign with Christ in the midst of the throne! If we want to be among the overcomers, this has to take place in us!
Our present afflictions often seem heavy to us, but contrasted with the glory, they are light. (2 Cor. 4:17) To prepare us for the glory, we have to go through the suffering. Suffering is like calisthenics. Athletes suffer as they strenuously exercise their body. This has to take place before they can receive the crown and the glory. Theirs is just a temporary crown, but we are looking for an eternal crown of glory. This glory will be revealed to us, and it will also be in us. (vv.18, 21)
"For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God." (v.19) The scriptures do not tell us much about this. However, we do know that at Christ's baptism He was proclaimed to be God's beloved Son! "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased." But the people did not accept Him as the Son of God, for His outward appearance did not distinguish Him as such. But on the Mt. of Transfiguration this changed. There His true identity as the Son of God was revealed. His inward beauty shone forth and transformed His whole being! God said, "This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!" Here He was given authority! He was manifested as the reigning Son of God!
The revelation of the sons of God will also reveal their true being, and bring creation into freedom! Creation had been "subjected to futility (vanity), not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God." (vv.20-21) God subjected creation to vanity in the hope that it would be set free. Wasn't God sure that He could free it? God knows that He can do everything He wants to do. Here it is called hope because in our time frame, it has not yet come into existence!
The creation was subjected to futility, profitlessness or vanity by God. Creation had no choice in the matter - God did it without its permission, and in the assurance that it would be set free. God's hope is not a wimpy hope; it is based on the knowledge of His ability to bring it to pass! The whole creation will be set free when the children of God are released into their freedom from corruption. There is no corruption in the glory of God!
Creation will be set free from corruption, free from death! This goes beyond our imagination. When man fell into corruption, the whole creation fell into corruption. This was not to be a permanent condition. Humanity can spin its wheels trying to get out of its present state, but it won't happen until God takes it out of its corruption. Then the whole creation will move into a new eternal realm. This can only happen in Christ, for corruption does not inherit incorruption. So the whole creation is waiting eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God!
To wait eagerly literally means to watch with head and neck stretched out. One translation says that it is waiting on tiptoes. It is like the father who is anxiously watching for the return of his prodigal son! He is standing at a lookout, waiting to catch a glimpse of his son! We have the same eagerness for the revealing of the sons of God as creation has!
"For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body." (vv.22-23) All creation is in this travail because the Spirit of God is the cause of it. Notice the groaning that is taking place. The creation is groaning, we ourselves groan, and "the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." (v.26)
This groaning of creation is compared to the pains of childbirth. The birth of a child brings the hidden child into the seen realm. It was there, being formed for nine months, but it was hidden. This is the picture Paul is presenting. At this time the sons of God are being formed and brought into maturity, but their bodies of flesh are hiding their true being - just like the body of Jesus veiled the Christ within. The groaning is a necessary part of the birth process; it precedes the manifestation of the sons of God.
The Bible is strangely silent about the details of this great event. It tells us what the result will be - freedom from corruption! We look at Jesus Christ, the pattern Son, for some clarification. He was declared to be the Son of God at His baptism. He lived a perfect life, but the Jews disowned and crucified Him. They could not see the glory of His inner being. Only to the inner circle of disciples was He manifested as the Son of God. On the Mount of Transfiguration He was transfigured before the very eyes of the disciples, and the radiance of His inner being shone forth! When the radiance of the Christ within the sons of God shines forth, glorious changes will occur! The reality and glory of Christ will bring conviction, and in the hearts of sinners a desire for that glory will spring forth!
We are eagerly waiting for our adoption as sons! The biblical meaning of the word adoption differs from the usage we are familiar with. This is not an adoption into a family, but an adoption as sons. Galatians 4 gives us the explanation. In biblical times it meant the placing of a son over the servants. In the son's childhood years he had to obey the servants. After he reached maturity, he was given authority over the servants. This was his adoption. The servant is the law. The Holy Spirit is greater than the law. Hearing Him and obeying Him, takes us out of the law, and brings us into a Father-son love relationship with God! Our adoption gives us relationship and authority! It redeems our body from following the dictates of our carnal thinking. It is now totally free to do the will of God! This freedom to do God's will is the redemption of our body.
The Holy Spirit in us is groaning for the harvest of the Spirit! Those who have the firstfruit of the Spirit are eagerly awaiting the harvest - a salvation so great that all creation, everything within us, will be set free from the bondage of corruption! Until that time arrives, there will be pain and groaning. This is a good pain, a pain that produces good results! But it is still pain! That is why we need hope! A mother carries the hope of seeing her child through the painful process of childbirth. It remains a hope until the child is forced out of its hiding place. It is a hope that has foundation, for no woman has remained pregnant for a whole lifetime. It has been predetermined that the child will be born.
We know that the manifestation of the sons of God will take place, because God has predetermined that it will happen. "Who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge." (2 Cor.1:22) The Holy Spirit in us is the pledge or down payment for more to come. We are the first fruit. He is the guarantee that the harvest will come! A down payment on a purchase is the guarantee that the rest of the money will be paid.
"In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory." (Eph. 1:13-14) The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of promise - the promise of complete redemption! We are God's possession; we belong to Him! God would never be satisfied with an incomplete or partial redemption! He is totally committed to bringing about the total freedom from corruption for the whole creation. This brings us into total freedom from our carnal thinking! This is the glory of the freedom of the children of God!
The beauty and grandeur of God's great plan gives us an overwhelming desire and willingness to suffer whatever the cost may be. This view is beautiful, and we are entering into it! With this in sight, we are swept into the grand purpose of God through the working of the Holy Spirit within us! "For we are God's fellow-workers." (1 Cor. 3:9) Our part is to co-operate with God - to flow in what He is flowing, to think like He thinks, to feel what He feels, and to strive for the things He strives for. His will has become our will!
"For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it." (vv.24-25) The hope we have as Christians is not a fanciful hope or a mere wish and desire. It's the assurance that God's promises will be fulfilled! It has the promise of God as its foundation - and God cannot lie! This assurance is called hope. We don't see the fulfillment yet; it has not come into our seen realm. If we could see it, we wouldn't need to hope for it. Once we see it, it is no longer a hope. Now we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
In Eph. 1:18 Paul said, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." As the Spirit opens our eyes to this great truth, this hope will fill us with great joy!
"In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." (v.26) Paul has just talked about the reality of our hope. In the knowledge that hope rests on a firm foundation and will become reality, so the Spirit knows that our weaknesses will be overcome with His help! He takes hold of the problem together with us! He is totally committed to our redemption! The ministry of the Holy Spirit is constantly taking place.
What is our weakness? Isn't it the independence and self-reliance of natural thinking? We find it so difficult to believe that our reasonings and feelings are wrong! We slip back into believing them instead of believing the truth that the Holy Spirit is teaching us! Those of us who have children, will remember the exasperation we felt at times, and the inner groaning that took place as we wondered, "When will they ever learn?" We know that the Holy Spirit does not feel that exasperation, but I believe His intensity of desire for us to learn to trust Him is greater than our vocabulary can express!
I believe the Spirit's desire for us to grow in truth and understanding is even greater than a woman's desire to have her baby born. With every force and fibre of her body she presses for the deliverance of that baby. She is totally immersed in the process of getting the baby out. That process can be described. But the Spirit's groanings are too deep for words!
"And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (v.27) The Holy Spirit knows God's plan and how the deliverance will come about, and so He intercedes according to the mind and purpose and will of God. Rotherham translates this correctly, "according to God he maketh intercession in behalf of saints."
In our intercessory prayers we often pray for an easy way for people to get out of their dilemma. We don't want them to experience difficulties, pain, rejection, etc. But the Holy Spirit intercedes according to God - according to the nature of God, according to the very essence of who God is in His being! It's wonderful to know that even though we may not intercede correctly, the Holy Spirit does! In Eph. 1:17-18 we have an example of a Spirit-inspired prayer! Paul prayed that God would give the Ephesian church a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Christ, and that the eyes of their heart would be enlightened!
We often hear the expression, "There is power in prayer." However, the power is not in prayer but in the Holy Spirit! In prayer we avail ourselves of His power! Our dependence has to be on the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Since God's plans and purposes are so much higher than ours, we cannot pray correctly unless we receive revelation from the Holy Spirit. When we pray according to the Holy Spirit's directives, our prayers will be answered! He teaches us to pray in the Spirit, and this includes praying in tongues and praying in our known language.
If we cling to our carnal ideas of how God should answer our prayers, we will hinder the work of God. When a woman in labor co-operates with the labor pains, she helps the process; if she doesn't, she hinders the birth of that baby. As long as we cling to our carnal ideas about God and how He should answer our prayers, we will not come into victory! In order to flow with the Spirit we have to let go of our own ideas!
Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and the devil's works begin in the carnal mind of man. Jesus minded the Spirit of truth within Him, and the devil had no point of contact in Him. As we listen to the Holy Spirit instead of to the lies and deception of the carnal mind, the devil will not have any base for his operation in us. The devil only has the ability to deceive, and truth destroys that capability. The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth!
God is the prime mover of our redemption. His power is working out His purpose and His plans. No one will prevent God from doing what He intends to do! All the evil in this world cannot prevent God from doing what He wants to do in us.
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (v.28) We cannot fathom the depths of God's ability! God is able to make all the evil that is directed toward us to work for good in our lives! What a precious truth! God makes everything that opposes truth to work for our good. Just as athletes become strong by overcoming resistance, so we become strong by overcoming the tragic experiences that oppose us and seem to hinder us from growing up in the Lord, or challenge our service for Him! The resistance works for our good. In overcoming we become strong!
God did not say that all things are good; He said all things work together for good. God uses good things and evil things to work together for good. But He doesn't call all things good; He never calls evil good. God is the cause and the activator of making everything work for our good!
This promise is to those who love God! Those who hate God and rebel against Him, won't follow Him. They won't be recipients of this promise as long as they are resisting God's goodness. Those who run from Him and from the situation won't receive the goodness that victory brings. Once they open their hearts to the Lord, He will pour in the blessings!
People have so many wrong ideas about God. They only love God when they think He has not had anything to do with their rotten situation. But when they find out that God is sovereign, they refuse to love a God like that. It's all right if the devil sort of sneaks up on God, and the Lord doesn't know what is going on behind His back. But if He knows and allows it to happen, that is a different story. They do not realize that in His love, mercy and grace, He will work the evil for their good!
Christ Jesus is Lord! He is always able to perform His will! He is an ever-present, all-powerful Lord, and He knows exactly what is happening all the time! If we truly believe this, we will not worry or fret about circumstances! We won't grow bitter. If we don't believe the Lord, we will be working against Him, and the circumstances will produce more and more death and destruction. But when we make an about turn, love the Lord and respond to Him, death stops working and life comes forth!
God does not quit working with those who have a rebellious heart, but He works differently with them. They have to learn to know their need of God, and He knows exactly what to do in every situation!
The promise is to those who are called according to His purpose! His purpose is to conform us to His image! What a high calling is ours in Christ Jesus! "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." (vv.29-30)
Our new birth is the beginning of this new life, and everything after that is the unfolding and outworking of His wonderful plan to conform us to the image of Christ! His Spirit within us is bringing this to pass! He is working to bring forth the nature of Christ in us, so that everything we do and say will radiate His nature! To accomplish this, we need adversity! God is the One who causes even the evil to work toward that end! He gives the grace to overcome!
God is working from a completed plan. It's all done; His redemption is accomplished; it is completely settled in the heavens. Therefore He is at rest while He does His work. "Those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son." He called, justified, and glorified them! These verbs are all in the past tense. It is all settled!
The scriptures are full of past tenses. Putting them into the future shows a lack of faith. It's like looking at the beginning of a parade, and then saying the beginning is all there is. The rest of the parade is there, but it has not yet come into our view. The things God says He has done are there, but they have not yet come into our view! We have to receive them by faith! Faith is based on something that has already taken place - not on something that will take place in the future.
Just like we exercise faith and hope as we wait for the rest of the parade to pass by, so we exercise faith and hope as we wait to see ourselves in the image of Christ and His glory! The time will come when the sons of God are manifested, and the glory of His nature in us will no longer be hidden by a veil of flesh. It will shine through as it did when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain! Though this is a present reality, it has not yet come into our view!
Let's take a closer look at these verses. First of all, there are those whom He foreknew. To foreknow is to know something before it happens. God foreknew or knew us before we were born. God is in timelessness so there is no future for Him. To Him everything is present. In our time frame, we have past, present and future. God speaks to us in our time frame, and we call His knowledge, foreknowledge, because He knows it before we do and before it comes into our time frame.
Those whom He foreknew He predestined. Predestined means to predetermine or foreordain. Our destiny has been planned beforehand. We can plan our own lives, but we can't bring those plans into fruition. Man thinks he has a free will, but he doesn't. A free will is one that cannot be influenced by circumstances, emotions, honor, shame, or anything else. We know that our will is influenced by many things. Besides, God would not give us the power to frustrate His plans or to overstep His will. If we had that power, we would be God.
The Greek word PROORIZO is translated predestined. It is a compound of the preposition PRO, meaning before, and the verb HORIZO, meaning to fix a limit, to establish a boundary. Our English word horizon, the boundary that sets the limit to how far we can see, comes from this verb. God, in His love, has pre-established a boundary about us and in this way determines beforehand the sphere of our existence, activity and state of being. Those whom the Father at this time did not see fit to establish "in Christ Jesus," are left in the realm of death - a realm that does not have a conscious awareness of God's love.
Jesus said, "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him." (John 6:44) God's love has been shown to everyone in Christ. Yet some are not drawn to Him. They can only come as the Father draws them! A time is coming when all will be taught of God. (v.45) At the present time God is drawing those who have been predestined to become His children in this present age. They are the chosen of God. Have you ever wondered why some can hear the word of the kingdom ministered powerfully and persuasively under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, yet fail to respond? These are simply not drawn, nor are they predestined to be conformed to Christ's image at this time. Their hour will come later.
On another occasion Jesus declared, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself!" (John 12:32) Christ's crucifixion was the result of the carnal thinking of religious people. Christ needs to be lifted from the earth - from the earthy conceptions of our carnal mind. When this happens, He will draw all men to Himself! Praise God, in due time they also will be drawn! The promise is sure!
Does predestination mean that certain persons are predestined to be sons, regardless of how they live? Will they make it even though they revel in worldliness, wallow in sin, lack consecration, etc., just because they are predestined?
It is true that certain persons are predestined to sonship and who will therefore become the sons of God. "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son..." Being conformed to His image is the proof of our predestination. If someone says, "I am predestined to be a son," but lives and acts like a devil, he obviously has no revelation of sonship. If no change into God's divine nature is taking place in his life, he is deceived and has no idea what sonship is all about. It is clearly stated that "whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son." We are predestined to be conformed!
Predestination is actually a beautiful thing. Knowing that God wants the very best for us, and that He is able to bring us into His glory, is a very comforting thought! "But we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory... Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself..." (1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:4-5) In God's wisdom He predetermined that we would be His sons and this would redound to our glory! Notice that He predestined us to sonship!
Being conformed to the image of Christ does not take place through our striving and works for righteousness. God chose us in Jesus Christ and made us a new creation in Him. We are His workmanship! Everything comes to us through Christ! Our part is to feed on Him (truth) and to believe Him. Submission to Him brings growth. Jesus always did the will of the Father! Sonship is fellowship with the Father and obedience to His will! It gives us the authority to reign in His name!
"And these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." What a statement! Notice that this is in the past tense! It has already happened because it is all in Christ! His goodness becomes our goodness, and His goodness is His glory. God has destined us to be His children, having His nature and being filled with His glory! Since this is God's decision, we are assured that He will get us there. Had we decided that, it wouldn't mean anything. So let's receive this truth with thankfulness and joy!
We are justified by faith in the blood of Jesus. That is one of the clearest messages in the gospel. We know we are justified when we receive Jesus as our righteousness. His blood typifies His soul or His sense of being, and it cleanses us from our carnal thinking and feelings of guilt. Our justification enables us to receive spiritual realities. By faith we know that we have been predestined to be conformed to His image!
Why are some Christians afraid of backsliding - of falling away from God? It's because they are looking at their own ability - at their own keeping power. The scriptures declare that we are kept by the power of God! His power will not fail! The fear of backsliding comes out of unbelief, doubt, and dependence on our will power. The scriptures so clearly teach us that Christ is our security! He is our fortress, He is our defense, He is our shield and He is our firm foundation!
The scriptures declare that we are not to walk according to the flesh - that is, according to our natural thinking. We are not to yield to the lusting of the flesh, the lusting of the eyes, and the pride of life. These are not from the Father. Walking according to the Spirit does away with yielding to fleshly desires!
Knowing that we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ fills us with faith and hope! It helps us to recognize that the devil's accusations are lies.
When the thought comes that we will never get victory over our bondages, we know that is a lie, because we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ! Every bondage has to go! We are so immersed in the lie, that it is always a struggle to let go of our bondages. The Spirit reminds us that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us and in us!
The adversary cannot hinder God's work in us! The Lord is renewing our mind so we can live in reality - in the truth of who we are and where we are going. The truth makes us free! The law points to our own efforts, and they will never be enough. But the Lord reminds us to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith! Abiding in truth is abiding in Him!
Abiding in Christ takes us out of the vicious cycle of being blessed, failing, being blessed again and failing again. Believing the lies that are in the carnal mind will either tear us down or cause us to be filled with pride. Flowing in truth builds us up and causes us to grow and to be conformed to the image of Christ!
Faith makes us aware of our Lord, not of ourselves! Faith is only aware of God's purpose and His promises. That is faith in operation. As we become immersed in the plan of God and His mercy and love, we lose awareness of self. We may not feel that we have faith, but by relying on His ability we are expressing faith. We are receiving His plan and casting aside our plans.
God does not want us to be ignorant of His wonderful provision! He wants us to know that He has put His Spirit within us! His anointing and His nature make us citizens of heaven. We can no longer be satisfied with the things of this world - for those earthly things are temporal and fade away. Our citizenship is in heaven. Our home is in Christ. He wants us to know the beauty of that home, the security of that home and the provision in that home. And He wants us to enjoy it now! We may want the glory to be revealed to us now! Though it is present, the revelation of it has to wait.
The life God has put within us is only satisfied with eternal things, with spiritual verities! The things which are not seen are eternal, and have true beauty and true glory. The Lord dwells within us, and He is working His beauty into us! True beauty is found in the Lord - not in the pleasure and satisfaction of the natural senses.
Christ is our satisfaction and our glory! In Him we find what we are looking for! In Him we find release for our emotions, excitement for our mind, and the enthusiasm which makes our body function properly. He is the glorified One, and He delights in giving us His nature, which is His glory! He wants us to walk in the same glory that is His.
The Spirit of God has birthed us and given us His nature! In our relationship with God, we are His children and His family - not His slaves. In our relationship with one another we are servants. His Spirit within us is a Spirit of life, love, joy, peace and patience. He has put His seed, His DNA within us! He is Lord, and whatever He has decided to do, will come to pass. In our fellowship with Him we find complete satisfaction! He looks upon us with eyes of love! As His love flows within us, rejoicing comes out of our soul and out of our mind. When our body is in tune with His Spirit, it is redeemed to do the will of God. This releases us from our bondage to the flesh. The Lord has made us new people, and we are living in the eternity of His life now! Let's accept it, and be released from this world that is passing away!
Romans 8:31-39 is a summing up of Paul's previous teaching. Because of God's completed plan for the redemption of man, the believer in Jesus Christ has complete security. He has been taken out of the Adamic man and has been put into Christ. He has been born again by the Spirit; he has received the righteousness and Spirit of Christ! As he grows into maturity, he comes into a father-son love relationship with God and calls Him, "Abba! Father!" He is predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. This is what God in Christ has for believers!
This calls for a response on our part. "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?" (v.31) What is our response to the revelation this letter brings us? The Lord has done the things He says He has done for us! The process of our redemption is always working for us! Verses 32-39 show us that God is for us! He is working on our behalf. Sending us Jesus Christ is the proof of His love!
We often hear the expression that God is on our side. There is a difference between God being for us, and God being on our side. If God is on our side, we are calling the shots and God is agreeing with us. Then we are changing places with God and we are in control. But we know this is a false premise. Since God is for us, He always wants the best for us! He will never do anything that will not benefit us!
If God had not been for us, He would not have sent His Son! This tremendous sacrifice and gift of God should convince us that He is for us. Therefore, who can be against us? How could God be against us, if He delivered up His Son for us? And if He delivered up His Son for us, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Everything else is as nothing compared with the great gift of His Son! Everything good is in Christ! What more do we want? Fame, riches, honor, prestige - the preservation of the self-life? Anything that focuses in on the self-life has to go! He only gives us the things that are good for us! He freely gives us everything that enables us to grow in His nature.
Believing in Christ for our salvation is the beginning of a new life. We need deliverance from our self-life - from our wrong thinking, our unbelief, our wrong habits, our hatred, our unforgiveness, our bitterness, our desires for the things of this world, the pride of life and the lust of our eyes! This deliverance is ours in Christ! What more do we want? We falsely think that God has to make some new decisions to free us. We often pray, "Dear God, give me more love, give me peace, give me grace, give me joy." And God says that they are already ours in Christ! It is a present possession - believe it, accept it, act upon it! God is not withholding anything good from us, even when we may think He is! In the gift of Christ Jesus, all these things are included!
At times we wonder why some of our prayers are not answered. Prayers that would be detrimental to our spiritual growth or in opposition to the plan of God, will not be answered. Sometimes we ask for an easy process, instead of the goal. We'd rather escape the difficulties than overcome them. Instead of waiting for God's direction, we do what seems right in our own eyes. We want natural enjoyment instead of spiritual growth. Christ only withholds the things that are not good for us. Therefore we can confidently approach Him in prayer and know He will not withhold anything that will keep us from being conformed to His image! He always works on our behalf! Christ Jesus is the proof that God will not withhold anything good from us!
Jesus Christ provides for us spiritually and financially. When the disciples walked with Christ, they obeyed His directives and never lacked anything. When more food was needed, He multiplied the bread and fish. Money for taxes was found in the mouth of a fish. When they thought they were in danger of drowning, He stilled the waves! He patiently taught them the things they needed to know! Christ was their provision! We also have everything we need In Him! His provision does not come to us apart from Himself! Anything separated from Him is death.
"Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies." (v.33) The obvious answer is that God will not bring a charge against us! How can God be against us when He has justified us? It would be completely illogical for Him to first justify us, and then be against us! The fact that He justifies us is proof that He is not going to bring a charge against us. He is the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom. 3:26) Any thoughts of God being against us are lies! It would be absolutely unthinkable for Him to be against us, for then He would be denying Himself and His work of redemption in Christ!
God is in the business of justifying us, not in the business of accusing us!! He does not speak out of both sides of His mouth - justifying us on the one hand, yet still condemning us in secret. That fear is birthed in a lie! Condemnation is a trap to keep us from moving on in God! Condemnation comes from the law, so we think it comes from God. The lie may come in a form of truth, but it is a lie! A good counterfeit is easily accepted as the genuine product. Let's move in the Spirit, for He is truth! Walking in truth keeps us from receiving the lies of the enemy!
The word elect comes from the Greek EKLEKTOS. It means chosen or selected ones. Jesus said, "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you." (John 15:16) This is a very basic truth. We thought we had made a decision - we had chosen to follow God. The fact is that God chose us! That takes away all reason for boasting and self-glorification.
Salvation is completely God's work. God is the giver, and we are the receivers - receiving what He has already done! The Holy Spirit gives us the desire to know Him. He convicts us of sin and assures us of the righteousness that is ours in Christ. Christ is the author and the finisher of our faith! We thought it was our choice, but God tells us it is His choice. We didn't know that we were dead, and that dead people cannot make choices. The Holy Spirit had to breathe His life into us to raise us from the deadness we were in. This is the revelation of God to us!
"So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy." (Rom. 9:16) The doctrine of man having a free will is opposed to scriptural teaching. Man has a will, but it is not a free will. A free will is a will that is not influenced or affected by any situation, emotion, hormone, or anything else. We all know that our will is influenced by these things. Therefore it is not a free will. In fact, the natural will is always against God. That is why God's will has to become our will!
There is security in knowing that God has chosen us, and that He will achieve His desire in us. This security does not endorse passivity or fatalism, i.e., whatever will be, will be. Paul endured all things for the sake of the elect, that they might obtain salvation. This was not passivity; it was obedience! He said, "For which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory." (2 Tim. 2:9-10)
Jesus Christ is the greatest example of obedience to the will of God! God has chosen us to be obedient, even as Christ was obedient. The elect also have to grow and mature spiritually. Healthy growth is not automatic. It requires the right food, love and exercise.
Encountering problems does not negate the fact that we are chosen of God. We have many examples of that in the scriptures. "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure." (1 Peter 1:1-2)
Peter's ministry was to the chosen ones; it was a ministry of exhortation and help and comfort in the midst of trial, weakness and failure - everything that goes along with following the Lord. The sanctifying work of the Spirit taught them to obey Jesus Christ and to receive His sense of being in the midst of trials!
These verses need to get out of the area of doctrine and into real life, for we are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession." That is why we can proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light! "For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (1 Peter 2:9; Phil:2:13) This is the work of God in us! There is nothing dependable in us. Everything has to come from God, even our faith and our willingness!
"Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us." (v.34) The idea that Jesus Christ would condemn us is ridiculous! After all, He died for us! Even more important, He was raised from the dead! He is not lying in the grave; He wouldn't be of any help to us if He were. He was raised from the dead, and He sits as Lord at the right hand of God! The Father has given all authority to Him!
How does Christ intercede for us? Jesus told Peter that He had prayed for him that his faith would not fail! I believe that is the type of intercession Christ makes for us. He is praying that we will believe what God says instead of the lies and condemnation of the enemy. We are not afraid of condemnation when we are walking in righteousness and faith. It is after we have sinned that we are plagued with condemnation. We need to believe that Christ died for all sin, and that we are now new creatures in Christ! Christ does not intercede for God to love us. God has never quit loving us; He does not need intercession!
Jesus is our Advocate, our defender. On the basis of His propitiation, He defends us by reminding us of what He has done for us, of His great salvation, and who we are in Him! Do you think He would first defend us, and then tell us that we blew it and are now in deep trouble? That is not like Jesus Christ! He never loses a case, because He is the truth! God is not the accuser. God loves us at all times - unconditionally, eternally and completely - and He will never leave us! That gives us great security, doesn't it?
"Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" (v.35) Can the trials and suffering that we experience separate us from God's love? No way! Our sufferings are not due to a lack of God's love for us! We can rest assured that He is with us, comforting us and giving us the strength and grace to bear it!
We can expect persecution. Jesus said, "Remember the word that I said to you, `A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also." (John 15:20) And Paul said, "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Tim. 3:12) In our country, for the time being, we are not jailed or killed for our beliefs as Christians, but we are often scorned and ridiculed.
Our hardships do not separate us from God's love! God has given us His promise that "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (1 Cor.10:13) So we don't need to fear that He will allow us to suffer beyond His ability to keep us!
Paul experienced hardships, trials, distress and persecution because of his faith in Christ Jesus! He knew what it meant to be "considered as sheep to be slaughtered." (v.36) That has been the lot of Christians throughout history. If the Lord counts us worthy to suffer for Him, we too will learn the meaning of v.37, "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us."
Difficulties provide the opportunity for us to become conquerors - not in our strength but in the power of the Holy Spirit! We have to receive this by faith! As we look back upon many of our experiences, we marvel at the fearlessness God put into our hearts when we faced situations which could have been life threatening! How did the many who were killed for their faith become strong? By the power of the Holy Spirit! It is all His work!
Trials and circumstances can never separate us from the love of Christ. Instead, they do the opposite; they bring us into a closer relationship and reliance upon our wonderful Lord!
"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (vv.38-39) What a glorious victory when we comprehend and embrace this wonderful truth!
Most of us have at some time been in bondage to the fear of death or to the fear that something is going to separate us from the love of God. God does not want His children riddled with all kinds of fears - like fear of death, fear of backsliding, fear of persecution, fear of rejection, fear of evil spirits, fear of failure, fear of messing up our life on earth, fear of accidents and whatever other fear presents itself to us! Isn't it wonderful to know that no created thing - and that includes the devil - is able to separate us from God's love! Believing God delivers us from fear!
The fear that we may deny the Lord at some time or other, comes from our dependence on self - on our own strength! Our strength and will-power may succumb to the pain of persecution. However, our trust is not in our strength; it is in the Lord! His power never fails and never has outages! We are to present our bodies as living sacrifices. It's grand to die for Jesus Christ, but we are also called to live for Him - to enjoy it and to love it! The knowledge that He only has good for us, gives us enthusiasm and excitement for what lies ahead!
Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's! Physical death releases us from the confines of this mortal body. Our spirit is united with His Spirit, so we can welcome death. In Christ we have life, and that life will never die!
It's interesting that Paul includes angels in his list of things that cannot separate us from God. Angels are messengers. Some angels bring us messages which are lies; they come to deceive us. If we receive a message that God does not love us, we know that it is a lie! These lies attack us, but when we know the truth, they cannot win. Nothing can separate us from the love of God! Any message that contradicts this truth is a lie!
Principalities are ruling forces. No evil force is able to separate us from God's love! Ephesians 6:12 tells us that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." These powers only have power in darkness. Light takes away that power. As we remain in the light, these powers have no power over us. They only rule in darkness! Darkness is absence of light! Believing lies means we are either ignorant or not believing truth. Our wrestling is against receiving lies, because they come to us deceptively, looking like truth. That is why it is so important to believe what God says and to act upon it.
We cannot be God-conscious and devil-conscious at the same time. Being God-conscious takes away all devil-consciousness just like light does away with darkness. The Lord intends our consciousness to be filled with Himself. He delivers us from fear, and this includes the fear of these principalities! Those who would make us demon-conscious, are false messengers! We are in the kingdom of God and filled with the consciousness of being that is in Christ. He is our victory!
Things present cannot separate us from God's love! Sometimes we may be afraid of the trials we are presently in. Will we make it through this difficulty? Even failures can't separate us from His love! Failures teach us that we cannot depend upon our own resources - we have to depend upon the Lord. So failure does not mean defeat. Learning to depend upon the Lord is victory!
Those who are not worried about things present, may be worried about things to come. That list can be long, ranging from financial anxieties and disasters to spiritual and moral anxieties! Jesus said, "Be anxious for nothing."
We are not to worry about anything - not even about those things which seem to have foundation - and most of them don't. If the anxiety materializes, it will be in the things present category. Nothing can separate us from God's love and goodness!
Nor powers includes every civil authority or government. No power that may force itself upon us can separate us from the love of God. It can't hinder the work the Lord is doing in our redemption! In fact, it will work for our good!
Nor height! Paul looked at problems and obstacles from every angle. Some problems reach such a height that it is hard to bend our head backward far enough to see the God who is higher. If we are stiff-necked we won't even try! In the face of these difficulties all our spiritual life seems to melt like jello under the blazing sun. We need to remember that no matter how intense, how great, how difficult, and how high this problem looms over us, it cannot separate us from His love. God's love is always higher!
Or depth! We may think of depth as the grave, and of course it cannot separate us from His love either! But sometimes the Lord leads us through low valleys. The high mountains and the low valleys are both places of temptation - either temptation to allow pride to enter in, or to think we are useless. This attitude shows that our eyes are not on the Lord. However, our attitude does not influence God to stop loving us! It cannot separate us from the love of God!
Nor any other created thing - just in case everything has not been covered! That includes everything that is not God! What about the sin that is in the flesh? The Adamic man through whom sin comes into the world, belongs to creation; so sin cannot separate us from the love of God. If we think it does, we are believing a lie. God's wrath is on ungodliness and unrighteousness, but He still loves us! While we were yet sinners Christ died for us! God loved us so much that He gave His Son so we could come into His righteousness! Jesus Christ, our Lord, is the proof of God's love for us! Therefore we are persuaded to believe that absolutely nothing can separate us from the wonderful love of God!