Provided We Suffer

Romans 8:16-18 ESV

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.

Is God’s grace to us a free gift? Absolutely! Do we do anything to earn it or to deserve it? No! We are saved by God’s grace through faith, which is not our own doing, but it is the gift of God. It is not of our own works lest we should boast that we somehow did something to earn our own salvation. Nonetheless, “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (See Eph. 2:8-10). So, our faith in Jesus Christ is not absent of good works.

So, what’s my point here? It is that we are not only saved from something, but we are also saved to something. Peter said that Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). And, in the first half of this chapter 8 in Romans we learn that it is those who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, who are considered righteous in God’s sight and who have eternal life with God.

So, some people see this as contradictory. How can God’s grace to us be free if we have to die to sin and live to righteousness in order to have salvation from sin? The answer is actually very simple. We need to understand what God’s grace really means and what his grace actually provided for us. For his grace instructs us to say no to sin and yes to living righteously. His grace, too, provided deliverance for us from our slavery to sin and the empowerment of the Spirit to live holy and godly lives.

So, you see, this is not us earning or deserving our own salvation, but this is God’s grace at work in our lives in transforming us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God so that we can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. And, when we understand that, and we understand that even the faith to believe in Jesus Christ is a gift from God, i.e. that it is divine persuasion, then we understand that the gift is really the power of God to put sin to death in our lives and to live for God, and to no longer to walk in our sinful flesh.

So, this is why this passage of scripture has one of those “IF” clauses in it with regard to our salvation. We are not saved from our sins and bound for heaven on a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ. We are saved from our sins and bound for heaven provided we really have been transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from our sins and to walking in holiness – all in God’s power at work within us, and not in our own flesh.

So, we are only heirs with God, and fellow heirs with Christ, if we suffer with Christ in order that we may be glorified with him. And, how did Christ suffer? He took our sins upon him on that cross, and he put them to death. And, he did this so that, by faith in him, we also might die to sin and live to righteousness. But, he also suffered much persecution in this world because he lived righteously, and because he did not compromise with the world, and because he stood strong on the Word of God, and because he preached repentance and obedience for salvation from sin. And, so he was hated.

Jesus didn’t go through all of that just so we could make some profession of faith in him and then still live for ourselves, our way. True faith in him, because it comes from him, submits to his purposes and to his will for our lives, and it puts sin to death, by the Spirit, and it walks in righteousness and holiness, also by the Spirit. And, when we truly are walking in obedience to our Lord and we are doing what he teaches, we will most certainly be hated and persecuted, and we will suffer much for the sake of his name. But, this is all for our good, for God is conforming us to his likeness.

Romans 8:26-27 ESV

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

So, this section begins with the word “likewise,” which means “in like manner, or similarly, or equally.” So, we need to look back to the previous section of verses (1-25) to understand what this is in reference to.

For, just as we are able to die to sin, by the Spirit, and live to righteousness, by that same Spirit, and we are able to endure suffering for the sake of the name of Jesus, by that same Spirit, the Spirit will help us in all our weaknesses. So, we are never left without resources or without help if we are true followers of Jesus. We never have to give in to temptation to sin, and we never have to be lacking in guidance and direction with regard to the way in which we should go, or in how to live holy lives pleasing to God.

This is not to say that we are always going to have complete understanding of everything or that we won’t ever not know which way to go next, but that the Spirit is there to help us if we will just call on him for help. And, sometimes it may be that all we can do is just say “HELP!” I’ve been there many times. For, sometimes Satan attacks us so fiercely that we can’t hear God clearly, so our minds are temporarily confused. But, if we call out to God for help, if we are listening, and if we are obeying him, he will help us.

To me it is so encouraging just to know that, when I don’t have the right words to pray, that the Holy Spirit does, and he is interceding for me.

Romans 8:28-30 ESV

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

And, another very encouraging thing for me, especially when I am going through tremendous suffering for the sake of the name of Jesus, and for the sake of his gospel, and because of my faith in him, is the assurance that God is working all things out for my good. But, we need to understand that there is another qualifier here, i.e. another “IF” clause.

We can only claim this promise if we are those who love God and who have been called according to his purpose. And, to love God is to walk in obedience to God, according to what scripture teaches, and according to Jesus’ own words (See: Jn. 14:23-24; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; 1 Jn. 5:3; 2 Jn. 1:6). This is not saying we will never sin (1 Jn. 2:1-2), but that we should no longer be living according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

For, those whom God foreknew, that they would come to faith in Jesus Christ, he predestined (foreordained) that we should be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. And, if conformed to his image, which is a process of a lifetime, then we are no longer in bondage (living in addiction) to sin, but we are now under the control of righteousness by the power of the Spirit of God now living within us. And, we are being led by the Spirit. And, those who are being led by the Spirit are the true children of God (Rom. 8:14).

And, if we are being conformed to the image (likeness) of Jesus Christ, thus we will be following in his footsteps, and thus we, too, will suffer much persecution for our walks of faith, and for our testimonies for Jesus Christ and for his gospel message. For, Jesus said that, if we are his followers, the world will hate us, not love us as its own. So, if the world loves us, instead, then we need to examine our own hearts to see why that is, because we should be hated and persecuted by the world for our faith in Jesus Christ.

Forever with Us

An Original Work / February 5, 2016
Based off Psalm 46

Be still and know
God is over all things.
Throughout the earth,
He’ll be honored as King.
The Lord Almighty,
Forever with us.
He is our refuge
When we’re in distress.

Therefore, we have
Not a reason to fear.
Trials will come,
But our God is still near.
He is our helper,
So we do not fall.
Mountains will quake,
But on Jesus we call.

Joy to the Church,
Even if sorrow comes.
Enemies rage,
But our faith marches on.
God’s Holy Spirit,
Now living within,
Gives peace and comfort,
And grace without end.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

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