In Christ: How the Spirit Testifies that Afflicted Saints are Loved and Kept By God

6 November 2020

Last week we wrapped up a four-week series in Romans 8. This blog post will serve as a reflection on the glorious truths and realities that we saw from the text.

I. In Christ your condemnation is removed so you can now live free in the Spirit.  (8:1-11)

It can be exhausting living a life as something you are not. The Christian life can slip into a religion of guilt rather than freedom. Satan, the accuser, loves to deceive us like this. When you are deceived into thinking and living in a guilty way, you are like a prisoner who has been set free from prison but still acts as if prison is still your home. For the Christian, however, the verdict has already been declared: Not guilty! In Christ, no one, not even the Great Accuser himself can take that status away from you.

So what should your mind-set be then? I would imagine that someone on death row would constantly be thinking about their death. I couldn’t imagine the amount of pain and agony that would do to a person. The person on death row would end up living in light of their death hanging over them. But for you Christian, you live in light of someone else’s death: “He condemned sin in the flesh by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering…”(v.4). Now, instead of having a verdict of “guilty” hanging over your head, which results in death, you now have Jesus the Head who is over all things, in you (v.10). Your mind-set then is not one captured by death, but one that is set free by Christ’s Spirit who lives in you. This results in life and peace (v.6).

II. Let your life in the Spirit flow from the identity of a son, not the fear of a slave. (8:12-17)

All of mankind is either children who are under wrath or children who are saved from wrath and under grace (Eph. 2:3-5). Those who are in Christ are the latter! Since condemnation is no longer your status, adoption into a new family is. God is your Father and Jesus is your brother. Why is this important? Paul tells us in Colossians 1:16 that everything was created through, by, and for Christ. Did you catch that? Everything in heaven and on earth was created, not only through Christ, but for Him! That is why “Christ is the firstborn over all creation…so that he might come to have first place in everything” (Col. 1:15, 18b). This sounds glorious! Do we get to be apart of this? We do! The Spirit’s work, Paul says, is to testify to our Spirit that we are children of the Father. And if Christ is the firstborn and we are united to Him, we are coheirs with Him and receive His inheritance (cf. 1 Pt. 1:3-9)!

…But fear. Fear is what drives us away from this glorious reality of being children of God and coheirs with Christ. Fear tells us because we sinned by (fill in the blank) the Father will not love us and our status as children is in jeopardy. That is not the way we should think or live as Christians. The Father by his very nature is a giver. He freely gave all creation to his Son. And He freely saved you into His family. He could no more take His love away from you as His child than He could take His love away from Christ. Rest in that.

III. In Christ we have hope that God will work all things for our good and His glory. (8:18-30)

The path to glorification is not without pain, destruction, and loss. Was Christ’s path any different? What keeps us moving towards Zion? Hope. Like a mother laboring for her child for a time, who knows that the pain experienced is worth the joy of a child, so too, hope allows us to endure knowing that something better and more glorious is coming. We cannot do this without the Spirit’s help. Christ, in tender kindness, has given us His Spirit, not leaving us without a testimony of who we are and where we are going.

But who helps us in those moments and seasons where pain, loss, and destruction are close? Who helps us in our weakness? After all our earthly bodies still decay. The Spirit helps us (v.26)! He prays and intercedes when we can’t or don’t know how. When we are weak, we are like a toddler in broken language trying to communicate need to his parents. The Spirit takes that broken language and brings it close to the Father’s heart. He knows. He understands. We may not know why or how things happen, but we trust the God who does, and we hope in the One who will redeem all things.

IV. In Christ we triumph over everything (8:31-39)

This glorious reality is all ours in Christ. In union with Him, we can know that all things will work for our ultimate good. And yet, we may be tempted to think that if our deepest fear  comes true, or our greatest Enemy prevails, perhaps not, perhaps we’ll be lost. The Apostle seeks to give us unshakable, undefeatable assurance. Our assurance is found in the forever love of God in Christ (v.39). The Father has proved that He is for His children. He didn’t spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all! Therefore, we can know all of His promises are secure, because they are sealed in the blood of Jesus. This assurance isn’t found in ourselves, but outside ourselves in our precious Savior.

What’s more, we are assured that Jesus’ work isn’t just something He did in the past for us, but a work He continues now in the present. Jesus is not retired! No, “he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us” (v.34). As Dane Ortlund illustrates, Christ’s intercession in heaven is the constant hitting “refresh” of our justification in the courts of heaven. When you are accused and feel condemned; when you struggle and suffer. Jesus is at the right hand of God, not only reigning as king, but interceding as a priest. He’s praying for you! Hebrews 7:25 puts it this way: “because he remains forever, he holds his priesthood permanently. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, since he always lives to intercede for them.”

This leads to the undeniable conclusion, that nothing (absolutely nothing) can separate us from the love of Christ. Think of something that could, and know that it can’t. So, what do we do? We glory in our Redeemer. In Christ, we are triumphant over everything. God’s love is unconquerable, and in Christ, we are too. This perspective gives perseverance.

We started out with the truth that there’s no condemnation in Christ (v.1) and now we end with the truth that there is no separation in Christ (v.39). What more could we ask for? In Christ, this is yours and mine – Forever. Not much to do, but to rejoice and live gratefully for His glory.

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