Eager Hope

“And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.”
Romans 8:23 NLT

Paul wrote in the previous verses of how all creation is groaning under God’s curse. Adam’s sin blighted God’s perfection and introduced “suffering” into the world. In our human experience, we know what suffering is all about. The ravages of diseases bring misery and despair. The joints crippled by arthritis. The diagnosis of cancer introducing fear and hopelessness into even the most resilient of people and their families. The mental and emotional stress of living in a society that is at the mercy of inflation and market forces. Human beings are not immune from groaning and believers are not exempt either. In Romans 8:10, Paul wrote about the distinction between our physical and spiritual bodies. We read, “And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God”. Whatever sin touches it corrupts. But we should be encouraged because Jesus knows all about our suffering. After all, He came to this world, leaving the comforts of Heaven, and took on human flesh. We read in Hebrews 2:14-15, “Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying”. 

The Apostle Paul was, at the time of writing this, his last letter, probably advancing in years and, after years of suffering, his mind looked forward to the day when he would be “released from sin and suffering”. And as he mused on his circumstances and a life spent furthering the Gospel, he was increasingly becoming aware that he had almost completed everything that Jesus had asked him to do. So he expressed his “eager hope” for the time when he would inherit the glory God had promised. He refers to the “full rights as His adopted [child]” and especially the new body he would be given one day. If there was anything that Paul would have needed it was a new body. His tired old body was covered in scars. He, on several occasions, asked God to remove the “thorn in his flesh” which some scholars believe referred to his eyesight problems. Something that all old people often yearn for is the ability to run around like they did in their youth. In 2 Corinthians 5:2-4 Paul wrote, “We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life”. 

In the end, it all comes back to Jesus. As recorded in John 10:10 He said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life”. That’s what He did indeed. At Calvary, He fired the gun starting the era of preparation for our new lives in Heaven. Countless millions of people since have embraced His message of salvation. He is in Heaven before us, wearing His new body. He is preparing a new home for us. One day we pilgrims will join Him, grateful for the new bodies we will inherit. Grateful for our legacy of God’s glory.

Thank You Jesus for setting us free from the curse of sin. We now have a certain hope for our future, to be spent with You. Amen.

Creation is Groaning

“Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
Romans 8:20-22 NLT

In these verses, Paul brings to the Roman Christians the thought that creation is not just about them. It includes everything God has made. And he makes a shocking statement – God’s curse has blighted everything He has ever created.  All because of Adam’s sin. As an aside, we should always be aware that sin has its consequences. But Paul goes on to say that it is not just humans who would like to be relieved of the curse hanging over them. All creation would like to experience curse-relief as well. Freedom from death and decay is right up there as the top creation priority.

God said that mankind would have to work hard to stay alive, as we read in Genesis 3:17-19, “And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return””. As a consequence of Adam’s sin, the ground was cursed, and it has been ever since. As we know, farmers go to extraordinary lengths to grow crops, with fertilisers to encourage growth and introduce the required nutrients into the soil, herbicides to kill and control weeds. Sophisticated farm machinery takes some of the sweat off the task – no more hand digging for example – but things in God’s plan for creation weren’t supposed to be like this. Some have even suggested that “work” of any kind is cursed.

We also read in Genesis 3 that animals were cursed, starting with snakes. Apparently, according to Genesis 3:14, snakes might one day have been more upright. “Then the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, grovelling in the dust as long as you live.” And from the same verse, the implication is that “all animals, domestic and wild” were cursed. 

Paul elaborates on his own “God’s curse” statement by adding that the curse manifests itself in “death and decay”. We, of course, know that every living thing will die and decay one day. As I look around the woods near my home (it’s early March when I am writing this) vegetation has died right back leaving only the hardiest of plants hanging grimly on to what life they can retain. Trees are devoid of leaves, and the fall from last year lies mouldering around the undergrowth. Can I hear it all groaning? In the stillness of my early morning walks, there sometimes seems to be a hint of pain in the air, punctuated only be the occasional birdsong, echoing around the saplings and more mature trees. But, thankfully, Jesus makes all things new in the right season. We read in Isaiah 43:19a, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it … ? In Revelation 21:5a we read, “And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new …”. I know that these two verses are slightly out of context but they illustrate the point that God hasn’t forgotten us. Every year God breathes new life into His creation. We see it around us, as the buds start to swell and leaves slowly appear. Perhaps with a groan and with pain accompanying the new birth.

It won’t be long before the new foliage appears, fresh and green. Flowers start to emerge, blanketing the forest flow with wonderful colours. And this is the world under a curse. Just imagine how much more beautiful Heaven will be, once it is released in “glorious freedom” from the curse of “death and decay”. 

Dear Father, You created a glorious world but it is now blighted by sin. We pray for forgiveness for our sins and pray the prayer at the end of Revelation – “Come Lord Jesus”. We look forward to the new Heaven and Earth. Amen.

Creation is Waiting

“For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.”
Romans 8:19 NLT

Paul makes another bold statement in his letter to the Roman church, a statement that would have seemed new and controversial to his readers. He follows his warning about suffering with a reference to “all creation”. Now that isn’t just the human content of God’s masterwork for Planet Earth. It includes the word “all”. So we look around at the created plants and animals that populate our world. And Paul gives them a personality by saying that they are waiting to see who God’s children “really are”. 

How can that be? Is that daffodil over there thinking to itself that it wishes God will bring a revelation to the world about His children? Once again, we look at the natural world around us through our limited physical vision, and with the scientific knowledge that assumes vegetation and non-human animals have no soul and no awareness, of what things should really be like. Of course, no matter how hard they try, our scientists can find no evidence of a spirit or soul within a person or any other created plant or animal. They may find evidence of spiritual activity through someone’s behaviour, but a spirit or soul cannot be dissected on a laboratory bench somewhere.

We pilgrims have to take Paul’s statement at face value. When we ponder over his words, there is no reason why we should dispute them, just because we have no evidence to the contrary. In God’s Heavenly Kingdom things will be very different to our experiences today. In Isaiah 55:12, the prophet wrote,  “You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands”. In his prophetic vision, he saw even inanimate objects singing, and trees with hands. In Psalm 148:7, the Psalmist commanded the sea animals to praise God. We read, “Praise the Lord from the earth, you creatures of the ocean depths”. He goes on to refer to, “mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all livestock, small scurrying animals and birds” (Psalm 148:9-10). We can’t reduce God’s creation to the level of our limited understanding. 

Perhaps these scriptures will give us a different insight into God’s creation. After all, perhaps we should treat that weed that has popped up in our flower bed with a bit more respect.

Dear God. Your creation is wonderful. please open our eyes to see what You have made through Your eyes and not our own. Amen.

Suffering

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”
Romans 8:18 NLT

Paul compares the suffering being experienced by both him and the early Christians with the wonderful benefits of the future life spent with God. The persecution suffered by the first followers of the Way is well documented, and it frequently included torture and death, particularly during Nero’s reign after the major fire in Rome. Paul himself suffered much during his missionary journeys, as we read in 2 Corinthians 11:23b-27, “… I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm”. Now that is suffering and those early Christians were not unaware of what Paul had been through, because many of them experienced physical and economical hardship as well. We Western Christians have never experienced persecution on that scale, and we hope we never will.

Having said that, however, persecution is growing in the Western societies. Secularisation is well advanced and Christians are being increasingly marginalised. Congregations are dwindling. In Scotland we are currently going through a leadership election for a new First Minister, and one of the candidates, a committed Christian, has received terrible abuse because of her beliefs – she has even been told that Christian beliefs are incompatible with government in 21st Century Scotland. Persecution in the West is more subtle. A creeping erosion of Christian values. Verbal and societal attacks on individuals who dare to speak out a defence of their faith are becoming increasingly common. Globally, Christian persecution is increasing, but we shouldn’t be surprised about this because Jesus Himself warned about such things – we read in Matthew what He said to His disciples about the end times. Matthew 24:9-10 reads, “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other”. Sound familiar?

But – thankfully, there is always a “but” – Paul reassured his readers with the truth that one day they will be with God in Glory. From the perspective of eternity, the time spent on Planet Earth is insignificant. A mere blip, a microcosm of time, too small to register. We don’t really know the extent of God’s glory. We can guess that it will be wonderful and amazing, even more so when we think that we too will share in it. We do know, though, that we cannot see God’s glory in this life. Moses was prevented from seeing even a glimpse of God’s face, as we read in Exodus 33, “But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” The Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen”” (Exodus 33:20-23).

We pilgrims must stay the course. We must not give up, no matter how much opposition and abuse we receive. In an age when many are falling away from the faith, it is even more important that we stand firm, on the Rock that is the Lord. 

Dear Father God. We know the You are the only dependable foundation in a world that is shaking. We cling to the Rock – there is no other way. Amen.

Heirs of God’s Glory

“For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”
Romans 8:16-17 NLT

Paul’s logical journey continues. He has already dropped a bombshell by saying that Christians are fellow brothers and sisters. He developed that thought by, once again, setting out the prerequisite that to be a member of the wider Christian family then we must be led by the Spirit, and not by sin. Paul then went on to declare that Christians are children of God, as we read in Romans 8:14, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God”. And then Paul made the apparently outrageous statement that we can call God, “Daddy”. The previous verse is Romans 8:15, “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father“”. “Abba” is the Aramaic word for “Daddy“, used in an intimate relationship. Jesus Himself defined who were His siblings. We read in Matthew 12:50, “Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!

So the reality is that through the Spirit who is living within us, we are children of God. Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:5, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure”. We read in John 1:12-13, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God”. We have been born again – a phrase that is repeatedly attacked and ridiculed by those who know no better – into the family of God. 

Paul wrote in Romans 8:15 that we were “adopted” into God’s family. Adoption in Roman days had a particular legal importance. In some circumstances it was even more significant than for someone who was a natural child. So when Paul used the metaphor “adoption” it sent a significant message to his readers, particularly if they were of Roman birth, or knew the custom because they lived in the Roman Empire. An adopted child had specials rights and expectations.

Paul knew all about that – after all he was a Roman citizen – and his logic continues with the bold statement that if we are children of God, then we have a legacy. In fact, along with Jesus, we are heirs to all that God has. Not that, of course, one day God will die, but because right now we have the benefit of a living will. God has made available to us all that He is and all that He has. What an amazing Father!

Dear Father God. We are heirs to Your glory. It is almost impossible to get our minds around such an amazing truth. Thank You. Amen.

Daddy

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.””
Romans 8:15 NLT

There can be a tendency to view God with fear and trembling, because we visualise Him as a policeman-type figure wielding a big stick to tell us off. To beat us when we do wrong, and to banish us for bad behaviour. We read verses such as Deuteronomy 6:24, “And the Lord our God commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear him so he can continue to bless us and preserve our lives, as he has done to this day”. We misinterpret the word “fear”, associating it with being afraid of Someone who is a severe threat to our continued existence and well being. We can become slaves of a conscience, wrongly programmed to think that if we dare to commit just one sin, or break just one of God’s Laws, then we need to head to cover before a lightning bolt from Heaven turns us into toast. We end up trying to unravel mental knots, struggling to reconcile a God of love with the stern God who we picture rules with an iron rod. 

But such a picture of God is totally wrong. The Amplified version of Deuteronomy 6:24 provides a little more insight to what “fear” really means. “So the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear [and worship] the Lord our God [with awe-filled reverence and profound respect] for our good always and so that He might preserve us alive, as it is today.” Fear of the Lord only means that we should approach Him with ”awe-filled reverence and profound respect”. In the Biblical context, fear of God is associated with worship and an appropriate perspective of the Creator of the Universe. 

Perhaps we remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:28, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” We must remember that a lifestyle of rebellion against God (a.k.a. Sin) will one day have to be judged and sentence pronounced. God does not threaten us because His love for us knows no boundaries. Rather, He leaves us with a choice. We either respond to His love and embrace His offer of salvation through His Son Jesus, or we reject it and be aware that one day we will be held to account for the decision we have made. 

Paul, in Romans 8:15, made an astonishing claim about our relationship with God. Rather than have a spirit within us that infuses us with a constant state of fear and trembling, a state that makes us worry about what God will do to us if we step out of line, we have a Spirit who brings us into God’s presence without any restrictions whatsoever. He is the ultimate good Father and the One who we can call “Daddy”, because that is what the word “Abba” means. We can climb up onto His lap and cuddle into our Father God. How does that make us feel? Too good to be true? Perhaps too good not to be true. But in reality, that is who God is. He is not the stern unloving father who beats his children at every opportunity. Instead, He is the loving Father, who cares for us. Who heals our sicknesses. Who helps us in every day we spend on this hostile planet we call Earth. And one day He will welcome us home. Jesus is building each of us a mansion there – He is the perfect Carpenter who is putting His skills to good effect.

We pilgrims need to give our minds a mental scrubbing to remove all the wrong concepts we have about God. And replace them with a picture of us so close to God that we can reach and touch Him. Where we can feel His breath, His warmth, His presence. Reader – do you know this Heavenly Father God? If not, He is there waiting for You to call upon His name. He will answer you quicker than you expect.

Dear God. We approach You with reverence and awe, secure in the knowledge that You want to embrace us at every opportunity. Thank You for this amazing truth. Amen.

Children of God

“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.”
Romans 8:12-14 NLT

Paul referred to the Roman Christians as his “dear brothers and sisters”. He hadn’t met any of them but he spoke of a bond that was not bounded by geographical distance. Instead he knew that he was united with the Christians in Rome just as he was related to his own family back in Tarsus. Such a bold statement might have been a bit strange to those early Christians, so Paul continued to develop the family theme.

From the black and white, hard hitting, teaching of the previous chapters, Paul was now much more conciliatory in tone, appealing to his dear friends. Once again he gently pointed out that sin leads to death, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, sin is instead put to death, resulting in life. Life in the Spirit, not life controlled by sin. 

But we should note a little word used by Paul, a word of profound importance to pilgrims, just as much then as it is today. The word, “if”. We have a choice. We can discard a life of sin, or we can live a life powered by the Holy Spirit. A simple but profound choice. But one with equally profound outcomes. 

Paul’s writings next dropped a bombshell of seismic proportions on his audience. If we are led by the Spirit then we become God’s children. If true, then this must be one of the most important and significant events this planet has ever seen. But we must accept that this is an amazing truth, one we cannot ignore. But the logical question then is whose children are we if we don’t live a life led by the Holy Spirit? Of course, we are referring here to spiritual children, not to our physical origins. And in that perspective, we are either children of God or children of the devil. I John 3:10, “So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God”. 

So we pilgrims have another message for this lost, confused, chaotic and dying world around us. We are spiritual beings, members of one of two families. I know which of them I would rather belong to! Perhaps we need to ask our friends and families which family they want to be a part of.

Dear Father. How amazing it is that You want us imperfect humans to be part of Your family. Thank You! Amen.

Residence Permits

“But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”
Romans 8:9-11 NLT

Scientists claim that there could be just as many non-human organisms living within or upon us as there are human. Wee beasties such as the bacteria in our gut. The microscopic mites that live on our skin. And many others as well. There is a synergistic process at work that mutually benefits both us and the other organisms. But none of this was what Paul was referring to. He said that there is also a synergistic process going on within our spirits. Within us lives either sin or the Holy Spirit. And we will be controlled by one or the other. 

Our spirits are home to a violent battle between two opposing enemies. They are battling to take control over our minds, our actions, over who we are. There will be no prisoners of war. It’s a fight to the death. But God, through His love and grace, will win in the end, if we let Him. Paul reminded the Roman Christians that “even though your bod[ies] will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God”. Sadly, we live in bodies that will eventually wear out and die – sin will overtake us one day. But our spirits will live on, in a wonderful partnership with the Holy Spirit.

But Paul continued by reminding his readers that the “Spirit of God” is so powerful that He raised Jesus from the dead. And through that same power He was going to “give life to your mortal bodies”. But we know that our bodies will become lifeless one day, and end up buried or cremated, ultimately to disappear from this life forever. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church the following words, “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1). One day we will receive a new body, and we get a few clues about what that might be like from reading the Scriptures about Jesus after His resurrection.

The Holy Spirit living within us has a transformational impact on who and what we are. We are given access to God’s thoughts. We are able to follow His ways. We really do become a new creation, as Paul wrote about in Ephesians 4. No more do we have to be controlled by our sinful thoughts. But we have a choice. Who have we provided a residence permit for? Sin or the Holy Spirit? Hmmm…

Dear Father. Thank You for Your grace and love. Without it we would be a miserable and lost people. Please help us to allow Your Spirit to refine and improve us, so that we become more like Jesus in true holiness and righteousness. Amen.

Mind Control

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.”
Romans 8:5-8 NLT

What controls our minds? We have a thought life, that we think we can control. And it is true that, to a certain extent at least, we can align our thoughts to whatever interests us in that moment of time. We might find ourselves thinking about the latest news, or the next meal. We might have a meeting with a friend or colleague planned. There may be anxious thoughts about how to pay the next energy bill, or the mortgage. Thinking about the behaviour of a family member might be causing us concern. But in all of this, to say we might have control over our minds might not be true at all. Our thoughts are driven mostly by external circumstances. 

Are our thoughts sin though? Obviously, being human, there are human things that we have to think about. That’s why God gave us a mind. But Paul wrote that a mind dominated by its sinful nature would ultimately lead to death. And not just physical death, but spiritual death as well. Intermingled with all our necessary thoughts are sinful thoughts. For example, it is not wrong to plan how we can pay a bill, but sin creeps in when thoughts develop around doing something illegal to acquire the necessary funds. And before long, thoughts can become more focused on an evil way of life than a righteous one. A life “dominated by the sinful nature“.

In Genesis 6:5-6, we read, “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart”. These verses were in the preamble to the story of Noah and his ark, and we know what eventually happened to the evil people God broke His heart over. God designed our minds for good, but sin corrupted them. In Noah’s day, God eliminated the problem. In our day He provided a solution.

God’s Laws, as given through Moses, brought clarity to people’s thoughts and behaviours. But sin still prevailed. There was nothing wrong with God’s plans, but in His grace and mercy He decided to provide a lifeline to help sinful men and women to be obedient to His righteous way of life. We know, of course, that the lifeline was God’s own Son, Jesus Himself. We read in Hebrews 4:15-16, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most”.

In Hebrews 4:12-13 we read, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable”. Regardless of our circumstances, we have a loving, caring God who has provided all the resources we need to live the life He designed us to live free of slavery to sin. By living the Spirit-filled life we will find peace because no longer will our minds be fighting God because of our sins.

Dear Heavenly Father. How grateful we are that You chose to help us to live a life free of sin through the power of Your Spirit within us. We worship You today. Amen.

The Human Jesus

The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.”
Romans 8:3-4 NLT

Our sinful natures, ubiquitous and universal, give control freaks a problem. No matter how hard they try, they will never be able to control their seemingly unstoppable ability to commit sins. As Paul said in these verses today, even with the help of the Law of Moses, they will be too weak to effectively live up to God’s righteous standard all of the time. We may all succeed in staying righteous for a few moments, but then, at the very least, our thoughts will wander off and focus on something sinful. But thankfully, God didn’t walk away from us, wringing His hands in despair. He sent His Son Jesus “in a body like the bodies we sinners have”. Surely, He must have thought, they will listen to My Son.

We know from the accounts of the Apostles that Jesus lived His life as one of us but in a sinless state. No-one has ever been able to point a finger at Jesus and say, “Aah, but what about …”. We know how His life ended. Surely the greatest and most devastating miscarriage of justice there has ever been. But by God allowing His Son to be sacrificed, He “declared an end to sin’s control over us”. 

We note from these verses today that God didn’t do away with the Law. But we know that, because Jesus said so in Matthew 5:17, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose”. The Law, according to Paul, had a “just requirement” that had to be fully satisfied. And it still does. Jesus told His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit to help them, and by following Him, they would be released from the power of sin over their lives. Jesus said in John 15:26, “But I will send you the Advocate —the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me”. And we know how that happened if we read Acts 2.

Through Jesus, there is no more condemnation for sinners like us. As the old song says, “It is no longer I that liveth but Christ that liveth in me”. And because He lives in us through His Spirit, He helps us so that no more will we be under sin’s power. We are free! Praises be to God!

Dear Lord. You set us free from the power of sin and death at Calvary. Please help us to share that truth with all those we meet. In Your precious name. Amen.