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Romans 8:18-31

From Anguish to Glory

  • Jean Marais
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • December 10, 2023

Romans 8 is one of the most powerful chapters written by Paul that has the potential to have an astronomical impact on your life. Paul addresses the conflict between who we are, and what we sometimes experience here on earth that might not look like it is correlating with that truth. He wants us to take courage, knowing that we were not left behind as orphans, but that we have the Spirit of God indwelling us, reminding us of our victorious life in Christ, even in difficult times.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

From Anguish to Glory
Romans 8:18-31
December 10, 2023

We are continuing our study in Romans 8 this evening, one of the most powerful chapters written by Paul that has the potential to have an astronomical impact on your life.

Last week, we looked at our new identity, that God is now our Abba Father, which opens up incredible spiritual blessings through the sacrifice of Jesus and us being adopted as children of God.

With this in mind, Paul then addresses the conflict between who we are, and what we sometimes experience here on earth that might not look like it is correlating with that truth.

He also wants us to take courage, knowing that we were not left behind as orphans, but that we have the Spirit of God indwelling us, reminding us of our victorious life in Christ, even in difficult times.

Many people find themselves in spiritual doldrums. In the days of sailing vessels, the doldrums were extremely dangerous. At the equator, the winds could disappear altogether, and with no wind in the sails, ships could languish for weeks with disastrous consequences. They could try rowing, but such strenuous effort was futile. Without wind, there was no hope.

The same is true for us spiritually. The Holy Spirit is the breath of God, the power that moves our lives to victory. The word ‘spirit’ in the Greek literally means ‘wind.’

John 3:8, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

          Wind is powerful, it can destroy a city, it can snap trees like twigs, but by it you can generate power for an entire city and it can sail a large ship across the ocean.

Acts 1:8, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

We will see that this incomparable, awesome power of God is the same power now living in us, supporting us, guiding us, and helping us to live victorious in any circumstance.

I. Our Father Helps His Children

  • Paul makes a comparison between the sufferings and anguish of the present time – the suffering that comes as a follower of Christ in a broken and evil world – but that our sufferings now are nothing when compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Illus- Swimming against the stream is much more difficult.

  • Then, over and over, Paul speaks of the groaning that goes together with suffering; it’s part of living in a broken and evil world.
  • But this is also where our Father helps us.

John 14:16-17, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is, the Spirit of truth… You know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”

  • In Romans 8, we receive some of the deepest, practical insights into how the Spirit helps us.

A. The world itself is groaning

  • First of all, groaning is part of suffering. He begins with creation itself, it also groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
  • In other words, the condition of the earth is connected to the condition of man.
  • When God created man, He gave him authority over all the earth.

Genesis 1:26, Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth…”

  • When Adam sinned, everything under his authority was affected by that sin, and that included the earth itself…

Genesis 3:17-19, Then to Adam He said, “Cursed is the ground because of you… Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you… Until you return to the ground; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

  • We cannot even imagine a scenario like this, because we have no frame of reference for the uncontaminated perfect state the world was in; a perfectly created world in an instance overwhelmed by the curse of sin.
  • Verse 20 – God subjected creation to futility, in the hope that it should also be set free into the freedom of the Children of God. In other words, God used the effect of sin on creation to show man how horrendous the curse of sin is, wanting them to repent and return to be children of God.
  • Now there is certainly much beauty and grandeur, and God’s glory is revealed in all of creation, (showing that God can even bring beauty out of ashes) but there are thorns and thistles and deserts and earthquakes and hurricanes and tsunamis as well.
  • Jesus said that part of the signs of the times of the end of the age will be seen in the earth itself. God will again use nature to show His glory and urge people to return to Him.

Matthew 24:7-8, “… and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”

  • Paul says that the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God in the hope that it will be set free from corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
  • In other words, creation itself is linked to the believer, and as we have a future glory, so does the earth.

Revelation 21:1, 4, Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away… and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

B. We also groan within ourselves

  • Verse 23; having the first fruits of the Spirit, we groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for the redemption of our body.

Illus – In other words, we’re not just groaning because our bodies are getting old, although that’s definitely a sign of the times; that, and when your joints are more accurate at predicting the weather than a meteorologist.

  • No, Paul is talking about groaning because this world is broken and evil and we’re looking for something better.

Illus – If we just look at the horrible attack on Israel and start to read what they did to the women and children, it is sickening to the stomach. In the face of such a manifestation of evil, our souls made alive by the Spirit cries out: Come, Lord Jesus, come.

  • We have a promise to hold on to.

2 Corinthians 5:1-3, We know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven.

  • Part of that inheritance is eternal life. We have already received it. When you are alive in Christ your spirit is made alive never more to die. This temporary tent dwelling might break down, but your Spirit is alive.

Illus – I don’t know many of you have camped in a tent before. We used to do it quite a lot back in South Africa. There were some family-friendly campgrounds with multiple swimming pools, slides, and other water play areas. We would take all the bicycles, a small fridge, and inflatable mattresses and set up two tents of about 10 x 10’. Now imagine you being there. At the start of the vacation, everyone is so excited. We’re going camping. There are minor irritations, like sand in the sleeping bags, no place to hang the wet towels, and air mattresses deflating, but everyone can deal with the small frustrations, although you see things are starting to wear down. Then after a few days, the weather turns. It starts raining, and not like Oregon rain, like thunderstorm rain. A deluge of water. You want to build an ark type of rain. Suddenly it is not much fun anymore. All the water is damming on the roof of the tent, and it threatens to tear. Mud everywhere. All the clothes are wet. Then the tent develops a small hole right above your pillow. And it happens at 2 a.m. as you wake up with this dripping on your forehead. You don’t leave yet because the kids still find some enjoyment in the warm swimming pools, but Mom and Dad sigh and say, thank God this is almost over. I cannot wait to go home!

  • The same with us. Although there are some enjoyable things on this earth, we see the breakdown, the destruction, the winding down resulting in more and more chaos in creation and humanity.
  • And because we have the first fruits of the Spirit, we’ve tasted something better. That’s why we have such confidence, such faith; such hope.
  • If we experience the wonder of the limited working of the Holy Spirit now, imagine when we have the fullness of the Spirit.

C. The Spirit groans on our behalf

  • In the same way, Paul says, the Spirit helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
  • In other words, when we’re groaning, we’re crying out to God, but we don’t know how to pray as we should, so the Holy Spirit takes up our burdens and groans for us, but when He groans, when He prays, He prays according to the will of God.
  • The focus though, is that our groaning, crying out is directed to God. God sees the heart. That is why the Spirit intercedes. If people are not dependent on God, they will not cry out to Him. God already knows what you need, but your asking shows your reliance and dependence on Him. Once again, God will not force His care on you. But we have this wonderful promise

Matthew 6:7-8, “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

  • Our problem is that in this life we see as through a dark tinted window, but he’s telling us clearly that though we live in a world that’s getting darker and more evil, we have the assurance of hope and with that knowledge we can persevere.

1 Corinthians 15:19, If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

  • We have an eternal hope.

II. God Causes All Things to Work Together

  • We now come to one of the most famous verses in the entire Bible. Probably more plaques and cards have been made from these words than any other than any other verse.
  • If one verse could capture the hope we have in this world, it would be this verse.
  • Notice, it doesn’t say that God causes all things. There is much suffering in this world because there is evil.
  • Why does God allow evil? Many have thought that a God that is good should not allow evil to exist. There is such a place; it’s called heaven.
  • When God made man in His image, He gave him a will that he might freely choose to follow Him or reject Him. Love must be freely given, or it would not be love.
  • If someone chooses to reject God, then they don’t have God in their heart and what are they left with? The nature of man.
  • If God would intervene and stop all evil, He would be no better than Satan, forcing His will on people. Love, justice, and God’s righteousness are what restrains Him.
  • That is why Jesus came, God stepping into this messed up world, subjecting Himself to this perverse creation, killed by the creation He loves, so He could redeem with love.
  • But this verse tells us that in a world of suffering, we can know that God is our Father and that in His great love for us, He works all things together for good, for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.

A. God’s will interfaces with human choice

  • This verse promises that God can take all things and work them together for good, according to His purpose.
  • So the Spirit is interceding for us according to the will of God and God is answering by working all things together for good.
  • The enemy wants to steal kill and destroy but God can even use brokenness and turn it around. God counters every move of the enemy, frustrating his plan.
  • The theme that covers it all is the greatness of God’s love found in verse 31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
  • But faith works together with love. If we believe that God loves us and that He is for us, then we also believe that He is able to work all things together for good. Faith is required when the things we’re talking about are not good.

Illus – It’s difficult to understand when life takes a hard turn; if finances fall apart, you hear bad news from the doctor, or if you lose someone near to you, or a relationship is in shambles.

  • This is where we have to know the heart of God, knowing that He is good, and He wants what is good for us. Are we still subject to the decay of this earth? Yes.
  • For example, can God heal? Absolutely! Will we all one day eventually die of something if Jesus tarries to return… absolutely!
  • For each of us, the end might be in 20 to 50 years, or within the next few seconds. Paul is urging us to see everything from an eternal perspective.
  • But the promise of this verse is that God loves you as your ‘Abba’ Father and that we love Him in return with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
  • Faith that truly trusts Him comes out of receiving God’s love and loving Him extravagantly.

1 Corinthians 2:9, Just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

  • How many times have we heard people say that they were praying for something and did not get it, or it did not happen as they thought? And then sometimes they were frustrated and angry with God. Only to later thank God that they did not get what they wanted, or it did not turn out as they planned.

Illus – Many years ago we launched a children’s evangelism ministry. We were approached by an organization that wanted to partner with us and donate hundreds of thousands of dollars. This was exciting! Incredible! Imagine the impact we could make…

  • And even if we cannot understand this side of the grave, one day all will be clear and we will in amazement declare, God, You knew best. How great thou art!

B. God’s purpose is to transform you

  • There are many theological debates about the finer points of verses 29 and 30, but it could be summarized this way – God knew you before you were even born.

Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…”

  • H determined in advance that those who love God will become conformed to the image of His Son.

John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 

  • God works things together for our good, conforming us to the image of His Son; He is strengthening our faith, changing our character, drawing us closer to Him, and bringing us to maturity in Christ.
  • It’s often the difficulties of life that have the greatest effect on our character and our faith. We grow the most through trials and difficulties if we would only trust Him through every trouble.

Illus – Isn’t it interesting what happens to people when they have their first child?  The experience is rough, but it has the potential to grow them in character tremendously: Perseverance, selflessness, humility (because you realize you don’t know everything.)

  • Hard times forces us to grow. This applies to most experiences in life.
  • God can only show Himself strong if there is hardship to trust him through.
  • Our steadfast hope is in knowing that there is an eternal weight of glory in our inheritance.

Ephesians 1:18, I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know the hope of His calling, and the riches of the glory of His inheritance.

  • In 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul says that Satan has blinded the minds of those that don’t believe.
  • Now he prays in Ephesians that the eyes of our hearts will be enlightened, seeing things from a different perspective, the perspective of growth and change into the glory of His inheritance,
  • We will face storms, we might face ridicule for our faith, and we might go through hard times, but our inheritance and the hope of glory far surpass this temporary hardship. Because we know who we are.
  • In our spirits, we know we are adopted as the sons and daughters of God, having the first fruits of the Spirit. But there will be a day when these bodies will be changed, glorified, and redeemed. Then our adoption will become evident to all creation. This is the steadfast hope that we hold on to.

Romans 8:18-31    NASB

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly 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 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?


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