Pauls Footsteps #344

For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  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,[a] including the new bodies he has promised us. Romans 8:22-23 

Footsteps 344. The curse following Adam’s sin fell not only upon Adam and Eve and their offspring but upon the natural world. Read what God told Adam and Eve in Gen. 3:17-19. 

Paul has picked up on and expanded that curse in Romans 8. Vs20-22 captures the past, present, and future of nature’s travail. In the past nature found itself subjected to “frustration” (v20, NIV), a term that means emptiness, futility, and purposelessness. Then in v21 Paul projects nature into the future, with the idea that it will be “rescued from the tyranny of change and decay”. But in v22 the apostle adds the present, observing that “the whole creation has been groaning…right up to the present time.” That allusion points to the birth of a new order in which all “the former things are passed away” and there will be no more “groaning” or crying in pain (Rev.21:4, 5). Jesus presented a similar word picture in Matthew 24 when He spoke of the world’s troubles at the end of the age as “the beginning of birth-pangs” (Matt.24:8). 

Paul has painted a picture of hope despite our world’s troubles, in spite of the groaning of subhuman creation, in spite of the omnipresence of change and decay. The pains of childbirth point to the end of the Genesis curse; they point to a new earth; they announce Christ’s return and the fulfillment of God’s promises in their completeness. We can be thankful for a God who is not only persistent in pursuing us with His grace but One who constantly sets before us the hope of better things as we tread life’s pathway.  

Back in Rom.8:14-16, they (the Romans) had already been adopted when they accepted Christ. And now in v23, he mentions that they are still waiting for the adoption. How can we reconcile those two statements? 

When we come to God by faith, we receive justification, He sets us apart for service, and He gives us a new heart and mind (sanctification). Those are all part of our salvation. They are things already accomplished. 

Romans 7 graphically pointed out how our new hearts and minds are still housed in the same old bodies, with all their “twitches” toward temptation. Thus we are adopted into the family of God at our conversion but do not receive the full benefits of our adoption until “the redemption of our bodies”. Paul places that step at the second coming of Christ when those who have died in Christ, God now resurrects with bodies that are both immortal and incorruptible (1Cor.15). At that point, according to v23, our adoption will be complete. 

John pictures a similar scenario when he writes, “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is” (1John 3:2, NLT). What we have now is real salvation, even though it is not everything

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