Paul is moving into the Second Half of Romans 8 as he Addresses the Question of Our Suffering and how it relates to Our Eternal Security
Returning to chapter 8 and Paul’s climactic explanation of your security in the salvation you have in Jesus Christ. Starting in chapter 6, Paul began explaining what changed for us as Christians as a result of putting our faith in Christ. And in chapters 6,7,& 8 he has been going through all the ramifications. Chapter 6 is when we learned we received a new spirit given to us by the Holy Spirit, made in the nature of Christ’s sinless spirit.
So, to put it simply you have a sinless spirit, now that you are believing. And in chapter 7 we learned that for a time we are going to contend with our sinful fleshly body so that means we will continue to experience some of the vestiges of our past. Including we still have to see our body die at some point. So that’s a part of our reality even still. And in chapter 8, where we are now, Paul says nevertheless despite still having sin in our life we are still righteous in our spirit, made so by Christ.
Furthermore, when Christ lived on Earth in His flesh, He satisfied all the requirements of the Law. Including paying the Law’s price for sin which He didn’t commit. Christ did all the right things then He suffered the penalty that only He could do for those who did the wrong things. Therefore, God can be just in assigning us Christ’s sinless spirit by our faith, giving us credit for what Christ accomplished in His spirit on our behalf. Our new spirit is alive in Christ having been credited with meeting the terms of the Law and freed therefore from the penalty of the Law. So now our minds are set on the things of the Spirit, sharing a desire for what God desires, acknowledging the Law is right even as we fail to keep it on occasion. So literally the spirit that is in you is a spirit that God counts as having accomplished the Law because it is a spirit descended from Christ who did that for us. Which now means we live our lives in peace with God, set our mind on eternal things because we know that is our future. And Paul says as we learned in the first part of this chapter, all of these good things remain true despite your sin today because your spirit remains Christ-like. Your body goes to the grave and when it does so goes its condemnation that it deserves. That means as you stand before Christ in your judgment one day to come, you stand there approved in the spirit because the spirit you will have is the one that Christ won for us through the victory on the cross.
Paul opens chapter 8 with that famous statement, there is now no condemnation
for those in Christ Jesus. There will be no condemnation at our judgment moment but there is now no condemnation either. When the Father looks upon you and me in our status as Christians, those who come to faith. All He sees is your sinless spirit. That righteousness won by Christ and credited to you by faith.
Paul is going to continue from the first half of this chapter contrasting the way of life we have, the future we have as a believer versus the way of life and the future that an unbeliever has. Earlier in the chapter, Paul used several arguments to reassure the believer that we have been changed by our faith. And although we still stumble, still have concerns about our sin and we worry sometimes even about our salvation, none of those things are evidence of concern. They are actually evidence of a changed heart. As mentioned before only believers worry about losing salvation. Because before we had that understanding, we were in a state of mind that was hostile to God, now though we can call God Father. Romans 8
Where before we lived in the flesh on a path to death, Paul says now we operate with the Spirit and have the mind of Christ. Where before we were enslaved by sin, today we have a choice of whether to sin or not to sin. Before we were distant from God, today He lives in us, testifying to our hearts that we are His. These are all experiences Paul says are unique to the believer and therefore they reinforce for us that there is, in fact, something different about us as a result of our faith. Even on the darkest days when we have doubts, these things still exist true for us. We have this sense of who we are now, that we are different, we have a concern for things we never cared about before. Those things are proof Paul said. We have something different. These experiences become our assurance that we do not have condemnation. A Father does not condemn His children. The Lord does not condemn a perfect spirit. The Lord didn’t die for us only to then to have to make us die for ourselves as well.
That leads us to the second half of Romans 8, so if the first half of Romans 8 was Paul reassuring the believer through these various examples, that we have something and it is sure and it is lasting. Now he moves to a broader context in the second half of chapter 8 as he begins to consider external threats to your salvation. Where the first half was really you worrying for yourself, the second half of this chapter is Paul addressing, what about those things that could come against me outside of myself? Specifically, one matter more than anything else. The question of suffering. That’s the topic for the second half of chapter 8. Suffering. Sometimes this concern is expressed as “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
The question presupposes that the Universe hands out consequences according to personal value or personal worth. Those who do wrong will suffer bad things while those who do well will only experience good things. Sometimes this is characterized by the term ‘karma.’ That’s how a lot of people think about the way the world should work which is why they are confused when they see bad things happening to good people. To them, that feels like there is something broken. And sometimes, though we don’t use the term karma, obviously. Sometimes Christians fall into this same line of thought, although we assign all of that responsibility for good and bad outcomes to God, not to chance or something undefined. But we still have the same concerns. Why does God appoint bad things to good people? Why does He let His children suffer?
Because Christians tend to think that our relationship with God should assure us of something better in this life. And therefore we might ask, might our suffering for whatever reason suggest our eternal security is in doubt? Or if God truly loves us and we have no condemnation, then why does He let bad things to happen to us? Why would Christians ever have to suffer? Why would the Lord treat His children no differently than He seems to treat the rest of the world in regard to these many concerns that we share with the world? It’s a legitimate question, but when you ask it, when you entertain it, you’re thinking too narrowly about God’s purposes in your life and in Creation itself. So for the rest of this chapter, Paul addresses the question of suffering. Why does God permit suffering and what does suffering say about our eternal security? And he does so on both levels just mentioned here. He starts first by looking at God’s plan for creation and then he’ll turn to talk about the individual.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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