A Study of the Epistle to the Romans
Preservation: Kept Securely in Christ Jesus
Our New Life
The Spirit of God has been scarcely mentioned in the book of Romans. Yet our new life is the Spirit of God.
The contrast between those who "walk after the flesh" and those who "walk after the Spirit" is not a contrast between two kinds of Christians. We talk about the Christian who walked after the spirit and the Christian who walks after the flesh. But God never talks that way. The contrast here is between Christians and non-Christians. Christians walk after the spirit; non-Christians walk after the flesh. Look at verse 9: "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you." Then, is there a question as to whether the Spirit of God dwells in every Christian?
"If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." Every Christian has the Spirit of God, and if he has the Spirit of God, he is not in the flesh, because to be in the flesh is death, and we have passed from death to life. The Christian is the one who is in the Spirit. No Christian is in the flesh. It is an impossibility.
Many Christians like to pamper themselves, to excuse their sin. They say, "We are not saints. We cannot walk on that high level where we ought." So they try to bring in two classes of Christians. But there is only one. The flesh, however, remains in the Christian, although the Christian is not in the flesh. He may feel that way, when he does not yield to God. But he does not go under a law or fixed rule. In such circumstances God can bring him out.
If Christ is in you, what about you? "The body is dead." The body is not dead because Christ is in you. It is dead in spite of the fact. Because Christ is in you, what about the spirit? "The spirit is life because of righteousness." What is he teaching you? He is simply teaching that the body we have is not redeemed yet in the final sense. It is still subject to sickness and to death. It is true that if Christ is in you, even though the body is dead, the spirit is not: "the spirit is life." What about the body? Will we lose it? Not at all. "He shall quicken your mortal bodies." We have lie in the spirit now; we shall have life in the body at His coming.
Our New Relations
We are "sons of God," "children," "joint heirs" (vv. 14-17). On the judicial side, God adopted us as a son with every legal right as a son. But He was able to do more than go through a legal ceremony of putting us into His family. He actually gave to us His own Spirit, so that we are in His family by nature, and we are so conscious of this that we call Him "Father."
Our New Hope
Paul personifies all of nature. He says the whole of nature is looking for just one ting, and that is "the manifestation of the sons of God"!
There are three classes, or three realms, that groan: First, the creation groans, waiting for release from the endless cycle of corruption. Then, "we ourselves groan"; the believer groans because he is still in the body. He groans, waiting for that day. Not only that, but even the Holy Spirit groans (v. 27).
Have you ever noticed that no matter how happy nature may seem to be, there is a kind of minor note that runs through it - the cries of the animals, the moaning of the sea? This is the result of the curse. Someday the curse will be removed. This removal is associated with "the manifestation of the sons of God."
Our New Help
The word "infirmities" is better read in the singular - "infirmity." We have an infirmity. In the midst of the suffering of this life, we do not know how to pray as we ought. Paul prayed three times for the removal of a thorn. Then the Lord admonished him and said in effect, "Paul, you are praying wrong" (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). But the Spirit of God knows how to pray! He knows what the will of God is: "He maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
Here is an instance in this connection which illustrates what Paul is saying. The great saint Augustine had been a very wicked man in his youth, but he was later converted. Augustine was greatly loved by his mother, Monica, who was a Christian and had a heavy burden on her heart for her son. She learned that he was leaving home and going to Italy, so she prayed that God would not let him go, because she feared he would get into worse sin there. That was her special request. But God did not answer. Augustine went to Italy and he was converted there. His mother did not know how to pray as she ought, so God did not answer her special request in order that he might answer his life-long request. God knows our aspirations and He answers in His own way.
Our New Knowledge
There is one thing we do know:
"We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (8:28-30).
God foreknew us, predestinated us, called us, justified us, glorified us. But earlier, in the verse preceding is a statement of what we know: "We know that all things work together for good ... to them that re called according to His purpose." His eternal purpose comes first, then foreknowledge, then predestination.
Then God breaks forth in time. God did all the above before we were created, but then we came. Whom He predestinated, He calls (we are on the earth now), He justifies. Now he is ready to swing over into another eternity, but instead of saying He will glorify them - "He glorified" - all past. These six words are the six golden links which bind the believer to the two eternities - the eternity that is past in the purpose of God, and the eternity that is future in glory with Him!
Look back in the eighteenth verse, then forward to the thirtieth. Notice the development of that theme, so that it may be said that Paul has been talking about the glory in contrast with the suffering, until he comes to the last word of the thirtieth verse.
~Alva J. McClain~
(continued with # 57 - "Our New Assurance")