Monday, September 11, 2023

2023.09.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 8:23–25

Read Romans 8:23–25

Questions from the Scripture text: Is the creation alone (Romans 8:23a) in its groaning (cf. Romans 8:22)? Who else groans? Within where? Eagerly waiting for what? What has happened to us already (Romans 8:24)? In what were we saved? What does this mean about our ability to see it? What do we hope for (Romans 8:25)? What else do we do for it? How do we wait? 

Why do believers still groan? Romans 8:23–27 looks forward to the midweek sermon. In these three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that there is a proper groaning that comes not from the flesh but from the Spirit, marked by eagerness and perseverance. 

I’ve got the groaning, groaning, groaning, groaning down in my heart, Romans 8:23a. The second part of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in the great list in Galatians 5:22–23 is joy. So does that mean that believers’ groaning is wrong? Or that there’s necessarily something wrong with us if we groan? Romans 8:23 makes it plain that there is a right and necessary groaning of believers. “We who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves, groan within ourselves.” Believers don’t just notice that “the whole creation groans together” (Romans 8:22). We ourselves also groan. And we groan deeply from the heart, as our Lord Jesus did in Mark 7:34 (NKJ “sighed” for the same word) and John 11:33 (different word, same idea). 

There is a Spirit-given Christlikeness to believers’ right groaning in this creation that is still in labor, when not all the objects of adopting love have not yet been effectually called to Christ by the Spirit, and when even those who are believers are still in bodies of death and still dealing with remaining sin.

The hope in which we were savedRomans 8:23-24. What do we hope for when the Spirit saves us? Well, many things. We hope to be forgiven of sins (which is realized immediately, and experienced repeatedly). We hope to have a better life (not the “good things of this world” but to be more and more good and to know Him Who is good more and more). But since believers’ hope is Spirit-given hope, we hope for what the Spirit hopes. And the end of that hope is total Christ-likeness (cf. Romans 8:29): perfectly holy souls in glorified bodies, serving God as lord-princes in a new earth. Shining like the sun in the kingdom of our Father (Matthew 13:41–43). Our adoption is not completed until the redemption of our body (end of Romans 8:23). And it is for this that we hope. So we have the hope for what we do not yet see, but we groan for it because we do not yet see it (Romans 8:24).

Living by hopeRomans 8:25. Again, it is important to remember that “hope” here is a confidence and security in the certainty of that which is to come. It doesn’t eliminate groaning. The pain still is for now. The glory has not yet come. But while hope does not eliminate groaning, it does sustain us through the groaning. Or, rather, hope is one way by which the Spirit sustains us through the groaning. So our waiting is eager, not complacent, because of how great the glory is that is to come. And our waiting is persevering, not despairing, because of how sure the glory is that is to come.

Which of your own groanings are from the flesh, and which are from the Spirit? How does your life show eagerness for the glory that is to come? How does your life show perseverance in the midst of groaning?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving us to be sure that we will be fully conformed to Christ in soul and body. And thank You for Your Spirit, Who both applies Christ to us and makes us to groan for glory with both eagerness and perseverance. Grant that His almighty work in us would continue, until we are perfect in the day of Christ Jesus, we ask through His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP96B “Ascribe Unto the Lord” or TPH434 “A Debtor to Mercy Alone”

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