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Romans 8: 12-25
12 So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but it isn’t an obligation to ourselves to live our lives on the basis of selfishness. 13 If you live on the basis of selfishness, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the actions of the body, you will live. 14 All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. 15 You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. 17 But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.
18 I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us. 19 The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters. 20 Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice—it was the choice of the one who subjected it—but in the hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now. 23 And it’s not only the creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. 24 We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? 25 But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.
Paul had used images from criminal law, from accounting, from sacrifice, even from slavery. Now he turned to the family realm to picture the essence of the community God’s grace is creating. God has adopted us, he said. As God’s adopted sons and daughters, we are heirs along with Christ. Even in “present suffering,” we live in hope. Paul understood that “the essential quality of hope is that it is oriented to something in the future that one expects but does not yet possess (Rom 8: 24–25).”*
- When Paul wrote, “We were saved in hope,” he didn’t glibly mean “Buck up.” “Paul is not stating a… superficial optimism that everything tends to everybody’s good in the end. No, if the ‘good’ which is God’s objective is our completed salvation, then its beneficiaries are his people who are described as those who love him.”How can you base your hope, not in vague optimism, but in the faithfulness of the Savior who’s always loved you and who you’ve learned to love?
- In verse 15, Paul contrasted “a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear” with God’s loving adoption of us as sons and daughters. What factors have shaped your view of God as either a person you serve out of fear, or as a loving father who wants what is best for you? If your life experience left negative overtones around the word “father,” what other images and relationships help you fully trust that God loves you?
God, I’m filled with awe that you really want me as a member of your family, as one of your beloved “kids.” Help me to live in love and gratitude as a loyal family member. Amen.
Article “Hope” in Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III, general editors, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998, p. 399.
John Stott, The Message of Romans. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994, p. 248.
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