Romans Bible Study Lesson 25

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Looking to our Future

Romans 8:14—17

Paul seems to be going back and forth in talking about our position in Christ and our walk. This is evident when comparing chapter 6 (our position) and chapter 7 (our walk). Paul says the old man is dead in chapter 6 then says he struggles with it continually in chapter 7. If the old man is dead, why would Paul have any struggle? Obviously, in our present state, the old man is not dead, yet from God’s point of view it is dead because He sees us in Christ. We can see our positional state in Ephesians where we are seen as already seated with Christ in heaven. We also see this in Romans 8:30 where we are seen as already glorified (having our eternal bodies). On the other hand we are told to put off the old nature and put on the new (Ephesians 4:22—23). This is done on a day-by-day, even minute-by-minute basis. The old man is dead so act like he is dead!

Verse 14

The sons of God are the ones who are being led by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the mark of a Christian. In this verse you do not become saved by being led by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will lead you when you become saved. This word led is in the present tense and passive voice. The Spirit’s leading is continuous and it is being done to us. The opposite of being under the control of the Holy Spirit is being under the control of the Law.

Galatians 5:17—18 17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

Notice we are led, not controlled, by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads all believers even though not all believers follow His leading. In contrast to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives today we see how the Holy Spirit controlled believers in early Acts. Also, according to Ezekiel 36:27 the Holy Spirit will take control of believing Israel in the Millennial Kingdom and cause them to be able to keep the law. We are told to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) while they were automatically filled through a work of God. To be filled with the Spirit means you are under the complete control of the Spirit.

Verse 15

Life under the Law and life under the Spirit are now contrasted. Those under the Law were slaves to the Law and anyone breaking the Law would come under condemnation and thus there was a fear of the Law.

Hebrews 2:15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

Instead of being a slave we are adopted sons. Instead of fear we have love (1 John 4:18). This sounds like a much better deal than Israel had!

The term adoption needs to be defined according to biblical usage. In this age we understand adoption to be the act of bringing a non-biological child into your home and treating him as your own. Many say we are adopted into the family of God when we are saved. We did not belong to God but He has made us His son (or daughter if you want to be politically correct but not biblically correct).

Galatians 4:1—7 1Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, 2but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father.3So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. 4But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,5so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

We can see from the above passage that a young son was like a slave in that he had no rights and no inheritance. As the son got older there was a certain point where he was adopted and given full rights. He was a son all along but it was only after his adoption that he was given every right, privilege and responsibility that was coming to him. He was always a part of the family but now was treated as a full-grown son

This verse makes it clear that we who are saved are sons of God but we are currently waiting eagerly for our adoption. This adoption will be realized at the redemption of our bodies when we see Jesus Christ face to face (Romans 8:23). It is at this point that we will have been given our full inheritance.

As believers we are seen as God’s child and this loving relationship should cause us to seek out our loving Father. Abba is Aramaic and means father. When Abba is used it is immediately followed by its translation in the Greek so the three times Abba is used it is followed by father and literally is translated as Father, Father and seems to be a term of endearment. (Bonus information: Barabbas literally means son of the father. Barabbas was released and in his place was put Jesus the Son of the Father).

Verses 16—17

There is communication going on between God and the believer through the work of the Holy Spirit. We are able to have communication and fellowship because of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. Probably similarly to how the Holy Spirit moved men to write the Bible (1 Peter 1:21) the Spirit is able to work in and through us. One of His functions is to assure us that we are truly children of God. He does this through our spirit. Other creatures do not have this spirit because they were not created in God’s image as we were. Of course, we also can know we are a believer because we heard and responded to the Gospel. Our assurance lies in an accurate knowledge of God’s Word.

Notice from verse 17 that we are heirs of God but joint-heirs of Christ. We are heirs of God because we are in Christ. Since we are children of God we are entitled to receive the inheritance promised us (Galatians 4:6—7).

Titus 3:7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Ephesians 1:18 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 a joint-heir with Christ we amazingly will share in all of His riches. What is Christ’s is also mine. However, there seems to be a stipulation that must be met before you will receive your inheritance; we must suffer with him.

How can this be if all believers are promised to be blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)? I believe there are three ways to look at this passage.

1. Just as we are identified with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, we are identified with His suffering. Since He has suffered I have suffered.

2. All Christians will suffer at the hands of the world. It may be physical, mental or emotional suffering.

3. The suffering referred to here is caused by the daily struggle with the flesh. There was no suffering until we were given our new nature and ever since the two natures have been at war.

In context I think the first option is accurate but does not fit. Verse 18 makes a clear reference to Paul’s suffering in the present time and thus points to a real suffering in real time. Option 2 above is certainly a possibility and I’m sure we have all suffered from embarrassment or ridicule (perceived or real) at some point in our lives because of our faith, but the surrounding context, in my mind, does not make it the best option.

Since Paul has been discussing our position in Christ and our walk in the Spirit, I believe verse 18 needs to fit in with these concepts. We have all struggled and suffered in trying to live godly lives. This struggle is constant and can be wearing. It is such a battle that God has given us a full suit of armor to use as we deal with Satan and his schemes to bring us down. The only way we can survive this battle is in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must march in a constantly synchronized step with Him because failing to do so will result in our inability to stand firm. It’s sin that causes the whole universe to suffer and groan and we along with it.

Romans 8:22—23 22For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23And 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.

However this passage is interpreted, we need to be able to look beyond our current sufferings to our hope. What we are going through right now pales in comparison to the glory of our future with Christ. Paul says this glory is about to happen meaning it is on the brink of coming to pass and points to the immanency of the catching up of the members of the Body of Christ. From our standpoint 2,00 years is a long time to wait but from God’s frame of reference 2,000 years is a drop of water in the sea of time.