Wednesday, December 20, 2006
God's Ultimate Purpose
I want to share with you one of the greatest passages in all the NT. This passage, as R.A. Torrey describes, is a “soft pillow for a tired heart.” He made that statement about this passage because of the much criticism he received during his ministry. Paul says in Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
For God’s children, this verse contains perhaps the most glorious promise in Scripture. It is breathtaking in its magnitude, encompassing absolutely everything that pertains to a believer’s life. Before we look at verse 28, I would like to point out the underlying theme of this chapter. As you read it you it you can’t help but to notice that the Holy Spirit is mentioned 17 times. He is mentioned in verses 1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 26, 27. Paul begins in the chapter by saying in verse 1 that there is “now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Throughout this chapter we hear references like this one indicating that the believer’s “walk” is now “according to the Spirit” and it begins in verse 1 with the phrase “to those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is a reference to salvation. Our “no condemnation” status and our new life in the Spirit is only possible because we are “in Christ Jesus.” Paul continues in verses 1-2 by defining further what it means to be “in Christ Jesus.” He says that “those who are in Christ Jesus...do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Because the law was powerless in setting us free “from the law of sin and death” (v.2), “God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,” so that “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (vv.3-4).
God has set us free by His Spirit through the death of His Son. Our status now is “no condemnation” (v.1) and we are characterized as those “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (vv.1, 4 5). Paul contrasts our new life in the Spirit by talking about our life prior to Christ by saying in verses 5-9 that “those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritual minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” In the flesh, your mind is “set...on the things of the flesh.” You are “carnally minded,” “against God” (v.7) and without the Holy Spirit (v.9). But to “those who are in Christ Jesus” (v.1), they have been set “free from the law of sin and death” (v.2). They have their “minds” set on “the things of the Spirit” (v.5) and they have “life and peace” (v.6). So because we are now “in the Spirit,” we are indebted to “put to death the deeds of the body” by “the Spirit” (v.13). That’s who you are “if Christ is in you” (v.10). You “walk according to the Spirit” (v.1).
Now when we read verse 28, we see that the basics for our new life is because of all three persons of the Trinity. There is no longer any condemnation because God sent His Son to be “in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin [and] He condemned sin in the flesh” (v.3) through His death on the cross. The Holy Spirit gave us “life” (v.11). So verses 1-17 form the first unit and verses 18-39 form the second. In the second unit of thought Paul is continuing his thoughts about “the sufferings of this present time” (v.18). What can be said about these sufferings? Paul says in verse 18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” There is no comparison. What else does Paul say regarding this? In verses 19-22 he says the whole “creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (v.19) and “groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (v.22). But the groaning is not just with the creation but also with us in verse 23. Paul says, “Even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly awaiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” Therefore “the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses” or infirmities. Because of this “we know that all things work together for good” (v.28).
Do you see all of life through Romans 8:28? Do you see even the bad in your life is something that God can use to bring about “good?” Remember this truth is for those who love God; those who have been called according to His purpose.