A. There is a longing in humans that leads them to want something better and to believe there is more to life than experienced on earth.
B. While we don’t necessarily want to die to attain the better experience, believers maintain taking this step is the only way to gain that reality.
C. In these verses, Paul will contrast our present suffering with our future state of existence.
I. God’s Grace Leads Us To Anticipate A Better Day (vv. 18-25)
A. Our present suffering will not compare to our future glory.
1. Believers endure different types of suffering.
2. We can suffer through various types of persecution that come because of our faith stand.
3. We can also suffer emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.
4. Much of our suffering comes from living in a world diseased by sin.
5. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the consequences not only affected them and their physical descendants but also the world.
6. Jesus referenced this when he instructed people to store their treasures in heaven where moth and rust could not destroy and where thieves could not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)
7. God also told Adam he had placed a curse on the ground. He would struggle to make a living from it, and it would produce thistles and thorns. By the sweat of his brow, he would produce fruit and then he would die and return to the ground from which he came. (Genesis 3:17-19)
8. It is easy to notice the decay surrounding us. Things don’t last. This results from the effects of sin. We might even lump natural disasters into the group of sin’s effects. Floods, famine, disease, earthquakes, and drought are all parcel to existence on earth.
9. Since believers live in a fallen world, we are subject to the consequences of living here. Yet we look for a future that will be radically different.
10. Our suffering, which is a sharing in what Christ went through, prepares us for our future glory with him.
11. Suffering also refines us. When we respond in the correct manner, suffering will lead us to greater dependence on Christ and help us grow in our spiritual walk. God can and does teach us many important lessons through times of hardship and suffering.
12. God’s Word gives us snippets of what heaven will be like, and there is a stark difference between this description and what we experience here.
13. John describes the new heaven and earth as void of sorrow, death, crying, pain and sin. (Revelation 21:4-8)
B. Creation also groans for deliverance (vv. 19-22)
1. Even the inanimate object of creation groans for deliverance from the curse of sin. Creation refers to all things beneath humanity: animal, plant and mineral.
2. Creation is not what it originally was or what it will eventually be.
3. After God created, he pronounced all things good. A good God could create nothing less. It was perfect for it had been created by him and for his purpose. (Genesis 1)
4. While God is allowing sin to run its course presently, the day will arrive when believers and God’s creation will be delivered from sin’s curse.
5. Knowing God will eventually bring a new heaven and earth gives us reason for optimism.
6. While we do not worship mother earth, we care for her because we worship her creator.
7. Many theologians, myself included, feel God may not totally obliterate this earth but will purge it of all that is evil and renew it as it originally was. The good elements may well survive the purging process which gives us incentive to care for the earth God allows us to live on. This, by the way, was his original instruction to Adam and Eve.
8. Paul compares the groaning to the pains of childbirth (v. 22). The pain can be severe but the joy that comes afterward because of new life more than compensates for the pain. In like manner, our pain and suffering is temporary, and what lies ahead will far outweigh anything we have to face presently.
C. Believers wait patiently and confidently for deliverance. (vv. 23-25)
1. Like the creation, we also groan for deliverance. It will come at death or at the Second Coming, whichever occurs first.
2. We tend to place all our focus on heaven, forgetting there is a new earth involved too. I think we will probably have access to both.
3. We don’t like the pain or suffering we have to endure because of the effects of sin.
4. To assuage us and help us endure, God has given the presence of the Holy Spirit.
5. God’s Spirit comforts in our times of agony and assures us there is a better day coming. He guides in all our life decisions. He is our comforter, teacher, guide and the seal of God’s ownership. Our eternity is secure.
6. Believers wait anxiously for our full rights as God’s children which includes the new bodies he promises.
7. While we are currently joint heirs with Christ, the full reality of all that entails will not be realized until eternity begins.
8. When we think of all our bodies are subject to now as well as the pain they often give us along with the continual things we have to go through to try and keep them healthy, it is comforting to know that one day we won’t have to worry about diets, exercise and all that consumes us now.
9. The reason we hope for this is because we don’t have it fully now. We don’t look forward to something we already have. We don’t anticipate a vacation we’ve already been on.
10. When we look forward to something, it always involves patience. If our vacation is scheduled for June and it’s only January, we can’t hurry it up. The hours, days and months have to pass in the normal process.
11. It may appear God is slow in bringing all this to pass, but we must have confidence in his perfect wisdom and timing.
12. In Romans, Paul relates the idea that our salvation is past, present and future. We have been saved from the penalty of our sin, we are being saved from the power of sin and we will be saved from the presence of sin.
II. God’s Spirit Aids Believers In Difficult Times (vv. 26-27)
A. Praying in difficult times.
1. Have you even been in circumstances so difficult or confusing that you did not know how to pray, what to pray for or perhaps you did not even feel like praying?
2. Life can cave in on us. Imagine how Job must have felt when he received one discouraging report after another.
3. Paul gives some encouraging news at this point. God’s Spirit, who resides in us, prays for us, and since the Spirit is part of our Triune God, the Father knows what the Spirit is saying. The Spirit pleads for us in harmony with God’s will because he knows what God’s will is.
4. This is also a reminder of the importance of prayer. It is a wonderful privilege believer’s have to approach God’s throne of grace with boldness and confidence. (Hebrews 4:16)
5. We can come boldly because we belong to him and he is therefore interested in the details of our life. What parent is not concerned about what goes on in their child’s life?
6. We come boldly because our position before God has been changed by repentance and faith. Therefore, our sins are forgiven and we are no longer under condemnation.
7. Even in good times, we don’t often know how to pray for we don’t always know the will of God for particular situations.
8. Additionally, there are other things we have to deal with: our minds wander, we are sleepy or tired, we get distracted or are experiencing emotional mood swings, we don’t know what the future holds, we tend to be selfish, and we really don’t know what’s best for us in any given situation.
9. We trust the Spirit of God to take our imperfect prayers and make them perfect to the Father so that he can in turn impress on us his perfect will and we can respond accordingly.
B. God’s assurance. (v. 28)
1. Verse 28 is often quoted by believers to assure ourselves and others that God is acting in our best interest even in the most challenging and misunderstood situations.
2. It is often misquoted or misunderstood by maintaining everything that comes into our life will be good. Experience teaches nothing is further from the truth.
3. Rather, the promise is that God will take even the bad things and bring good out of them. God is allowed to bring anything into our life that serves his purpose as long as it does not violate his nature. We might term such an occurrence bad, but this is only because we do not see the entire picture as God does. Just as a child may term something bad that his parent enforces on him. The parent, however, knows the desired outcome and the child doesn’t.
4. What God doesn’t actually initiate, he allows (as with Job). But even the things that violate his nature he brings good from. The good in some way witnesses to his glory and our spiritual nourishment.
5. We might not enjoy some things God brings or allows into our life, but with the right focus we can respond correctly and let them work for our good and his glory.
6. This is a wonderful assurance because it reminds us God is working in every detail of our life, not just isolated events. He sees our life from beginning to end and in between and takes all those events and uses them to fulfill his plan and purpose for us.
7. All that happens to us cannot be classified good, but it becomes so after God gets through with it.
8. Nor will all things make us happy, but God is not necessarily after our happiness as much as he is our spiritual growth and our fulfilling his purpose.
9. Nor is this a promise given to all people but only to those who know Christ. The qualifiers are: they must love God and be called according to his purpose.
10. We may not know the good outcome until eternity. Not all things are explained in this life.
C. God’s Goal (vv. 29-30)
1. God’s ultimate goal in choosing us for salvation is to form us into the image of his Son.
2. All the things he is working together for our good and his glory are for that end.
3. As we become more like him, we discover who we truly are and why we were created.
4. The way this happens is through the normal spiritual disciplines: prayer, bible study, studying the life of Christ in the Gospels, letting his Spirit fill and guide us, and by obedience to his commands.
5. We have right standing with God through our faith in Christ. Our responsibility is to allow God to make us in practice who we already are in position.
6. We are chosen in Christ and we are chosen to become like Christ.
7. The conformation God is after takes place on the inside first and will then manifest itself outwardly.
A. How wonderful to know the sufferings of this life will end.
B. How comforting to realize God takes everything in our life-good and evil, and works it together for good in his purpose for our life.