“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.