“For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22).
Groaning is an expression of any kind of agony or discomfort. But, “travails” is a word specifically associated with labor pains. As a mother carries a growing child inside her womb, she first rejoices in the hope that is coming. She preps for the coming baby with great expectancy. Her emotions are exciting for the possibilities. But, as the months go on and the baby grows inside of her, she becomes increasingly uncomfortable. She eventually wearies of the burden this huge load takes on her comfort and health. Her patience grows thin. When labor pains come she groans in pain increasingly until the deliverance finally arrives.
And our world, weary under the curse and its “bondage of corruption“, is now beginning to cry out with groanings under the burden. There is an increasing concern over overpopulation, natural disasters are becoming more and more catastrophic, and even the geologic planet is crying out in earthquakes and eruptions from deep within. This is creation groaning and travailing until now.
The labor pains are getting closer together. Better get ready.
Tags: groan, travail
“…in hope. Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:20b-21). The hope of a believer is that in spite of the earthly curse on the world around us, there is a deliverance that is coming for each of us. This is “our earnest expectation” (v. 19) and “hope” (v. 20).
Jesus didn’t deliver the world from the curse when He first came. But He did give a taste of deliverance to multitudes that received a healing, a miracle, or a deliverance in their lives. They still had to live on a cursed planet, but they knew what it was to see breakthroughs in the “bondage of corruption“. In the Acts and Epistles we see again, even after Jesus’ ascension, there were numerous recorded breakthroughs in people’s empty and vain lives. And in the 2012 Year of Harvest testimonies we received, we learned that God is still bringing bits and pieces of the “earnest expectation” that we will live in fully in heaven.
This “bondage of corruption” Paul describes is translated “bondage of decay” in the NIV. As the god of this world, Satan inspires the Second Law of Thermodynamics which says (an oversimplification) everything slowly wears out and deteriorates over time. That’s the “bondage of decay” in this world. Let’s become over-comers and taste of this “glorious liberty” that Paul is about to tell us about in the coming verses and how to achieve.
Tags: curse, deliverance, sin
Paul had said in v. 19 that “the earnest expectation of the creation waits…“. He continues that thought: “For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly but by reason of Him who has subjected the same in hope” (Romans 8:20). Why would a loving God submit all of creation (the whole worldly system) to vanity and emptiness and futility. Why is it we wrap our lives up in relationships that will end in death, the accumulation of wealth that will be divided among others, and pampering bodies that just get wrinklier with age? What’s the purpose?
The answer to that goes all the way back to the creation story, the fall of man, when in proclaiming judgment upon sin, God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed [perpetually]; he [the woman’s seed] shall bruise your head, and thou shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). The earth is cursed because there is an ongoing war between creation and Satan. Satan, who is the god of this world, undermines God’s presence to deceive us in all corners.
We believers are part of creation and we do not willingly submit to this life of vanity. It is forced upon us by this curse. Is there no hope for those of us who cry out to God for mercy? Absolutely. Note that our verse ends with the phrase “in hope“. That verse ending actually interrupts Paul’s thought, which we’ll continue in the next blog entry on v. 21.
But its that final word, “hope” that we hang onto. Have hope in God’s grace and mercy today.
Tags: creation, curse, hope
“For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19).
When Paul uses the word “creation” in verses 19-22, he is referring to the natural order of creation: the carnal mind, the fleshly natural world around us, with its own way of coping with worldly problems. The “earnest expectation” he refers to here is the natural hope that we all have that something good will come out of something bad.
The hope of the world has been that some prophet or judge will step up and give us small, temporary breakthroughs, like those recorded throughout the Old Testament. We are naturally hoping for the “sons of God” to be manifest so we can be delivered. We want a quick fix for our right-now problems.
So, we’re waiting and hoping, hoping and waiting. Its been that way now since Adam and Eve got evicted from Eden. We cannot appreciate what Jesus provided for us until we understand the hopeless dilemma the world finds itself in.
Paul gives us hope ahead, but we first must travel a little deeper down this dark natural path through vanity, corruption, and groaning. We’ll do that with Paul over the next couple of days.
Tags: hope, nature, patience
Paul had just said that we are joint heirs with Christ, if we suffer with Him (v. 17). “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
“Reckon” is an old English word that means ‘to consider’ or ‘to give account’. In other words, this was a new mindset that he had assumed. All the sufferings that he had gone through in his persecutions for Christ didn’t begin to compare with the blessings he will receive in heaven. ‘Think this way…’ Paul was saying.
People who study these things say my life expectancy in 85 years, and my wife has a few more. Then what? Just as we all need to plan financially for retirement, we also need to plan spiritually. Store up treasures in heaven now as an investment toward the future eternity in heaven. That investment will never expire.
So, let’s get our eyes off our difficulties today, and focus on the glory in heaven. The two just don’t compare.
Tags: comparing, suffering
“And if children, then heirs – heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ – if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17).
This verse is not popular with American Christians. If we want to use God for our own gain, we don’t want to talk about suffering with Christ. But the Son of God set an example before us: Deny yourself, sacrifice your own desires for others, and you find great blessing is the result. The Father sent His son to suffer in our place. Don’t tell me that’s not the Father’s will.
And if we are children of God (speaking clearly to mature Christians), then we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Everything the Father owns is already at your disposal. But, Paul does give us clear condition to that promise. “If… we suffer with Him“.
What does “suffer with Christ” mean? It means we stop being selfish and seeking worldly blessings. We cease looking out for number one and start making investments in others. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…soul…mind…and strength…and your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31). In other words, we behave like Christ behaved.
Just as Jesus laid down His life for others, and then was glorified, so we sacrifice first, then receive reward.
Tags: heir, suffering
Paul had just said that we have received “the Spirit of adoption” (v. 15), that allows us to get up close and personal with God. He continues that thought: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16).
The Holy Spirit is the third part of the godhead (Father, Son, Spirit). The Father is the Creator, the Son is the Redeemer, and the Spirit is the Sanctifier (holy=makes clean). It is God’s Spirit that reveals the essence of God to our human hearts, and works continually to reveal God to us who have embraced Christ’s work on the cross.
Just as God is a 3-part being, so also are humans (body, soul and spirit [1 Thessalonians 5:23]). The body gives me an awareness of the world through my 5 senses, the soul gives me an awareness of who I am, personally, and my spirit gives me an awareness of God. We are born with a dead spirit and cannot understand or connect with God in the natural. The Holy Spirit, however, reveals God to our hearts, making alive my dead spirit, so I become complete: body, soul and spirit: Alive in Christ.
My faith then tells me that I am a genuine child of God. The presence of God’s Spirit is confirmation that He has adopted us in. We are now insiders in the family of God.
Just as my love and care for my adopted granddaughters is confirmation to them that they are family, so God’s adoption of me is assured by His indwelling Holy Spirit.
Tags: adoption, witness