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Romans 8:12-28 Print E-mail
Written by Oshea Davis   
Wednesday, 02 July 2014

Romans 8:12-28


“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors -- not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

          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. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

          26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 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.”


After being told the difference that one’s nature makes, whether it is directed by sin or filled and animated by God’s Spirit we are introduced into Paul’s next logical step of application, which is that we are debtors—not to walk after the old sinful and intellectually inferior nature; rather, we are debtors to walk in the Spirit, the same Spirit that opens our minds to the beauty of God so that our nature is as God’s nature; that is, a nature which is inherently inclined to Love God, as God loves Himself.  The old nature bated left-handed, and now, without thinking about it, because the Spirit is our new nature, we pick up the bat to bat right-handed.

          This section of Romans 8:12-28 is a transitional section to the glory of God’s sufficiency in salvation over His chosen-ones.  In this gospel sermon Paul starts out with major doctrines about (1) God Himself—mainly His righteousness, (2) then shows the doctrine of man—which is about man losing God’s image and being unrighteous—(3) then Paul shows us in chapter 3 how God solves the issue of God’s unstoppable pursuit to display His righteousness and His goal to bring unrighteous people to Himself, and this is by the death of His Son.  What we learn is that apart from man’s involvement, choices or actions God through His Son, at a definite place and definite time, removes the unrighteousness of many people, and so irrevocably changing their destines from being unrighteous and condemned to being the righteousness of God; and thus, they are brought to live with Him who is the fountain of righteousness—it is only fitting that those who are the righteousness of God, through Christ, live with the God of righteousness....

          (4) Because man was not involved in their salvation, God teaches us in this sermon, that the only way for people to honor this righteousness of God displayed in Christ is to “believe.”     Believing at its heart is the bravery to see and admit reality as it is. God teaches that we do not need to cower any longer under our pathetic attempt of self-righteousness, nor hold the weight of self-sufficiency, as if a man could hold up of ocean with his hands.  We are taught that in the suffering of Jesus He makes us righteous, by crediting His righteousness to our accounts, and Jesus being infinite sufficiency becomes our sufficiency in the power of His Spirit; that is, the one who does hold up the oceans with His hands now holds us up to give us kisses of grace and holiness, and wisdom.  Faith honors God chiefly because it correctly describes reality as it truly is.  This shows us that faith is not a work to add to the gospel; rather, because faith is the courage to admit the reality of man’s sinfulness, and the courage to admit that the act of man being saved is completely by Jesus, then faith excludes by definition man doing anything to be saved. This is why it is impossible to please God without faith, for only faith by courageously admitting reality as it is, exhibits the glory of God's righteousness display through His Son.

          Now in (5) chapter 5-8:11 we are taught about the two classifications of mankind; we are told this distinction is made by one’s nature.  Those born of Adam are blinded to God’s reality, and in this environment sin takes advantage and causes the soul of man to be a nature patterned after the serpent that deceived them. In man’s deadness or blindness to God, man’s nature is bent, that is, man out of instinct is animated naturally to be unrighteous. This is compared to the superiority of the Christ’s suffering and mediation on the behalf of His chosen-ones.  Having removed their sinful record and having replaced it with His own perfect record of righteousness, Jesus takes advantage of this and fills their souls with His Holy Spirit to the degree of how righteous He made them in His suffering.

          (6) And so, their hearts are not animated or bent toward unrighteousness, but by reflex and nature they enjoy being righteousness; that is, their souls are patterned after the God who saved them.  Jesus loves the Father and so they love the Father.  The Father is infinite wisdom, moral beauty and love (of Himself); this is the LIFE of the Father, and so, this becomes of LIFE of the saints, for they are animated by the Spirit of God (8:2). This does not mean the saints live in perfect actions and thoughts, for the scripture tells us in chapter 7 that remnants of their old nature still lingers and will therefore fight against the Spirit until they die; but then the Spirit will be unhindered to animate the saints in love of God, for then the old nature will be completely removed.

          (7) Now we find ourselves with Paul’s conclusion for the saints having had such a sweeping forgiveness and such a crescendoing glory of a nature corrupted to being animated by the Spirit of righteousness: simply put, be a debtor to follow God—our righteousness—and not to follow unrighteousness. 

          FIRST. In any case, verses 12-17 concludes we are debtors to love God, who loved us so much.  In this context we are reminded again by Paul that we will BE a debtor in our actions based upon the two categories of natures.  The natures’ of unbelievers find it natural and reflexive to be unrighteous, and so will make unrighteousness alive by walking in actions of it. On the other hand, believers have been taken over by the Spirit of Christ, and so they “are led lead by the Spirit of God, [for] these are sons of God.” Although, not in perfection, yet, precisely because they ARE sons of God, the Spirit of God animates them to a life of putting a stop to, or putting to death the deeds of unrighteousness.  Instead of shrinking under the delusion of will-power, of power of choice, or power of change, it is precisely because they ARE God’s children the Spirit causes them to experience and confess reality as it really is, by admitting their insufficiency and crying out to God in assurance of the Spirits testimony in them: “Oh Gracious, Father, “help me!”

          Unbelievers are under a different voice; sin cries out in them: I am guilty and dirty. And so, experiencing and knowing their dirtiness they walk in actions of dirtiness for the state of their souls make it natural for them to know that they are unrighteous. God’s written laws (2:15) written upon the pillars of their mind, makes sure unbelievers know they are dirty, and knowing they are dirty they act dirty and then act even dirtier: it is a type of spiraling judgment—chapter 1. Now, some unbelievers try to drown this out in various delusions of self-righteous and sufficiency, but like the lie that pumps within their mind, their actions of thoughts and deed likewise become pragmatic pathways of pride, lies and self-seeking evils; however, believers have a quite opposite cry that pumps within their souls.  By the Spirit they cry out in joy and bravery that in Christ, God is their Father and they are His beloved, holy Children. Having this testimony and power of Christ Spirit surging in their minds, believers likewise walk in the same pragmatic pathways, which their souls resonate in, loving God as their Father above all things, as their image, the Christ does.  To God be the glory that so many sinners have and will know such wonders!

          SECOND. In verses 18-25, the Scripture answers a rhetorical question regarding the disproportion of the inward renewing of God’s chosen-ones—who are joint heirs with Christ of all things—and the outward disintegrating of the natural world around us, including their physical bodies.

          The Scripture answers this by combining the doctrine of the Decrees and of the Meaning of Creation.  In the decrees of God we see what God intended first is made to be the end result, and everything else leading up to the end are steps to acquire that goal. What this means is that God’s decrees are from the perspective of purpose, or from Top to bottom, and that the history of the world is a mirrored execution of this—or from bottom to top.

          Regarding this goal perspective, what God chose as His first goal, is last in execution and what God purposed last in his goals comes first in execution or history. I will explain this more.  

          Take for example a kid after thinking about his future life decides he wants to be a great baseball player.  This is his first “purpose,” or original goal that is.  His second choice to support the first is that he needs to be an All Star baseball player, so that he can be a great player.   Thus, his third choice in purpose is to get great averages in hitting (etc.) so that he gets chosen to be an All Star.  His next is purpose is to be drafted to play in the Major League.  His next purpose is to start playing baseball at his local high school. 

          What he first intended—first goal—was accomplished last in execution, while his last goal was executed first.  Ecclesiastes 7:8, “The end of a thing is better than its beginning.” WHY? Because the end was the original-creative-great purpose, one’s chief desire!  Precisely because your principal desire, well, is your principal desire, is why a wise man makes it his original goal and purposes from top to bottom to insure the principle goal of pleasure is his to hold and enjoy.

          This analogy with the baseball player is in the perspective of “purpose” or “goals.”  Understand? This is the proper meaning of God’s decrees. History is the mirrored execution of God’s intentions. 

          See, if the kid only became a great baseball player by reacting to events in his life in his life then the highest form of intellectual wisdom cannot be claimed, although some degree might.  If the kid wrote down his purpose at age 9, like the above example, but achieved his goal differently from how he planned, then he still could not claim the highest form of intellectual wisdom.  Yet, if the kid wrote down his goal, with top down purpose, in a notebook at age 9, and was able to acquire his goal, but do so by executing his design from bottom up, then he could claim the highest form of wisdom and intellectually superiority. 

          This is God’s goal in the decrees: to show His intellectual fame and majesty.  This is why the book of Romans ends the discussion of the gospel in light of God’s decrees (ch.9-10) with doxology to the glory of God’s wisdom (11:33-36, 16:27)!  That is the purpose of the decrees: Christ’s fame in our praises of His compassionate and unstoppable wisdom!

          The Scripture puts emphasis on the superiority of God’s wisdom in that God had an original goal and then designed or purposed backwards (top to bottom) to insure this chief pleasure is accomplished in full, and then executed in perfect accuracy.

          From God's perspective, He planned for Adam to fall so that He could send His Son, and by this display His Glory through the vessels of wrath and mercy.  God’s wisdom concluded that through costly-mercy Christ's supremacy is made stronger than mere love, see-( Romans 11:32, Ephesians 1:10, Colossians 1:18).  And so, the desire and goal of mercy came before the fall; in fact, this is why the fall was decreed in the first place. What we see is that God’s first goal was to display His Glory through the public supremacy of Jesus Christ.

          For a board viewing of God's passion for His glory consider, Exodus 34:6-7, And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, "keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation.”

          Notice the two themes of Mercy and Justice, now follow that to Romans where God's goal is to reveal His "righteousness" or glory that is (1.16-17, 3:21-22).  Notice, in 3:26 the two things that are displayed in Christ's death is "justice"(just) and "mercy"(justifier).  So then, it is not surprising to see chapter 9 again sum up why there is unbelief and suffering as vessels of "destruction"(justice) and "mercy"(mercy) for God's glory.  God is here to showcase and put on a brilliant exhibit of His supremacy through the glory of grace in Christ Jesus, for His own renown and the saints pleasure in Him.

          Thus, Adam was never God's original design for mankind; however, glorified Saints united to Christ’s divine body was always God's original design—because it heightens Christ’s public supremacy, by having them in the best place to (1) become (2) know and (3) enjoy God.[1] God has an initial goal of love and purses it.

          At any rate, regarding the purpose of creation we read in our verses that “God subjected creation, to corruption, in Hope.”  This hope is the original design God has for creation; that is, God had already planned from the start to have a created world where there is an audience designed to give a public Christ supremacy, in the best way possible, by being a reflected image of Christ in (1) Moral beauty, in (2) Understanding and in (3) Love.  And so, when God in the beginning of time transferred the punishment of corruption from man’s sin to creation, it was in knowing that the end result of this was that by this man would better, (1) become, (2) understand and (3) love Christ; thus, giving Him the greatest public preeminence.

          This also makes sense of the passage when it tell us that for the sake of the Saints creation will be transformed into a glorious state; namely that, the Decrees being from Top to bottoms means the Saints glorification was before creation, and so whatever benefits the Saints have in becoming, knowing, and enjoying Christ will lead to what becomes of creation.  Our passage below shows that the glorified audience will be near to Christ, and so creation will as a result be redesigned to maximize this.

          NLT Ephesians 1:9-10, “God's secret plan has now been revealed to us; it is a plan centered on Christ, designed long ago according to his good pleasure.” Now we are about to be told what this original purpose or desire of God was, the goal God had before He decided to create, or order history! “And this is his plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ-- everything in heaven and on earth,” which according Colossians 1:18 is a perpetual exulting of the Supremacy of Christ above all things; this then is the chief goal of God, which every other decree after is designed and ordered to accomplish.

          What this means for the preservation of the planet is that, Christians, not recycling bins, is what the earth longs the most to see.

          “Thus long before creation became polluted with plastic bottles, it was polluted with sinners, with non-Christians. It groans not because it longs to be rid of factories and skyscrapers, but to be liberated from the bondage and decay that came upon it because of sin. That day is marked by the revelation of the sons of God, that is, when God shall definitively vindicate his people and complete their adoption by the redemption of their bodies, or the resurrection of the saints. Its liberation is bound up with the salvation that Christians enjoy, or with "the glorious freedom of the children of God." The corollary to this is that creation yearns to be rid of the non-Christians, so that the meek shall inherit the earth.

          Therefore, non-Christian environmentalists make a mockery of creation, because they are the ones who perpetuate its sufferings, not by their foam cups by their very existence! And Christians who match the non-Christian fanatics in their environmentalist zeal are just as aggravating, because to stay clean and alive is not what the creation wants at all. A prisoner may appreciate some books and magazines from his defense lawyer to help him pass the time, but when the attorney settles down to discuss the literature with him, the prisoner would likely complain that the time might be better spent in working on the case to secure his freedom. A lawyer who allows what is good but secondary to distract him from what is best and necessary is a bad lawyer. A Christian who allows even legitimate environmental concerns to distract him from advancing the message of Christ is a bad Christian. A true friend of creation will always put the gospel first.”[2]

          In any case, by this we are assured of God’s love over His saints. Since this world, its creation and history are not arbitrary, or merely haphazardly permitted, but from the beginning the Father had an original goal of grandeur concerning Christ’s Preeminence and the saints eternal enjoyment of this exalted Christ; the heirs of Christ, therefore, have all reason to hope and suffer in this present corrupted world until the time of glorification.

          THIRD. In verses 26-28 encircles verses 18-25, with a similar encouragement the previous verses from 12-17 speak of.  After considering the renewal of such huge world, and such a huge universe, the question before us is, “what can such a small creature like us do to resist such hate, and what can we do to resist the vast motion of the cosmos to corrode on itself?”

          The simple answer is that we are not able, but God is more than able.  And not only is God able, but He is more than willing to sustain His beloved/purchased saints. This is exactly what the verses tell us when it conveys that the “Spirit helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought.” This does not mean we do not understand the truth of the scriptures and so are unable to intelligently pray it; rather, it speaking about this world which has so many variables, about our hearts that can be deceived by trivial things, and about that other spiritual world unseen, with a prince of air seeking to devour gullible souls.  Our decaying bodies and this decaying world can weaken our resolve, leading us to seek temporary comforts and lose a strong, clear and constant faith in Christ.  God strengthens us in our faith, hope & love, and when we are weak God causes His Spirit, who knows and loves God’s Will, to pray for the saints, for their good in the glory of Christ.

          Verse 24 ends by telling us that the saints wait with “perseverance,” until the glorification of the creation and their bodies. It is in this context we are told the Spirit helps the saints in their weakness; that is, the Spirit of God, sees to it personally by praying for them—in their place if you would—the will of God, and God’s will is for them to be with Christ where He is in heaven.  And so the help of the Spirit in our weaknesses is particularly about causing the saints to “persevere” until the glorification: until they shine as stars in the heavens, as their Image, who the Lamb, is the Sun shining over Jerusalem. This is the assurance of the Spirit of God, in the hearts of His chosen-ones.

          This then is the context, and it is the end of the transition from our passage, for verses 29-39 is chiefly doxology to the praise of God’s sovereign love, by driving the point of the Saints assurance in the “gospel of Christ, which is the POWER of God unto salvation.

[1] The 1,2,3 is in reference to the Trinity.  The Father is the moral beauty (becoming). The Son is the understanding of God (knowing).  And the Spirit is the unstoppable love shared between the Father and Son (enjoy).  For more see my book: When Infinite Existences Goes Public.

[2] Vincent Cheung, Sermonettes Volume 5, chapter 14. 2011

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