Today: [Romans 8:] The Manifestation of the Sons of God: In Romans 8 Paul speaks of all creation groaning for the manifestation of the sons of God. Is this the rapture? The baptism of fire? Are we waiting on God for this or is creation waiting on us? A compelling chapter illuminating for us the freedom and liberty found when we walk according to the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.
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[Rom 8:1-19 KJV] 1 [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
Romans 8 begins with a conclusion by Paul on what he has established in previous chapters regarding the salvation of God in Christ. Because salvation is not based on good works or the will of man, there is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ. The question then is how do we get in Christ? There is a universalist influence in Christianity that says because Christ died all men are saved automatically. This rules out faith. Let us be clear – you must come to Christ by faith or the fact that Jesus died for you will have no effect. Paul goes further to says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ insofar as they walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. The implication then is that a person who is initially born again and then continues in or returns to a sinful lifestyle puts himself in jeopardy of condemnation once again. The apostle Peter spoke on this matter in 2 Peter 2:21-22:
[2Pe 2:20-22 KJV] 20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog [is] turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
This suggests and in fact states very clearly that a believer who lapses will have a worse fate than a sinner who never came to Christ in the first place. Theologians split hairs over what this might mean, but the plain language is warning enough – God is a holy God and has expectations upon us to not only accept Jesus and believe but to live lives of separation and holiness. Why does God put this expectation upon us? Because v. 2 tells us that Jesus sets us free from the law of sin and death. Remember the admonition of Rom. 6 – sin is no longer unavoidable but optional because you are in Christ. The Christian life is not an inevitable cycle of sinning and being forgiven. You can live free from sin and if you. If you are not free from sin it says as much about your own choices as it does about any alleged inability to keep from sinning merely because you are in the human condition. If sin continues unabated in our life regardless of a profession of faith in Christ then v. 1 says you are in danger of condemnation. In preaching the free gift of salvation in Christ, we must be careful not to state it so broadly that we seem to imply let us sin that grace may abound as Paul warned – “whose damnation is just.”
The righteousness that the law could not give us in terms of our standing in Christ is fulfilled in us – so long as we walk (progress by steps) not after the flesh but after the Spirit. You see, sin is symptomatic of a life under condemnation due to a deficient relationship with Christ. This is something we must deal with on our side of the equation as Paul likewise says in Phil. 2:12:
[Phl 2:12 KJV] 12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out (walk out) your own salvation with fear and trembling.
What does it mean to work out your salvation if we are not saved by works, religious performance or moral excellence? We must commit ourselves to a lifelong progression of maturing into the veritable image of Christ in our life and character. If we are carnally (or sinfully) minded v. 6 tells us this is death whether you are a believer or not. What this is telling us is that believers when they sin, they do not get a pass (that is not available to non-Christians). The new birth does not extend a leniency regarding sinful behavior that sinners are not afforded. To be carnally minded is death – period. Why does Paul make such a statement? Because in v. eight we read that they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Paul is speaking to believers who have chosen to continue in sin. There was a strong element in the early church who believed it didn’t matter what you did in the flesh because they believed they were saved by grace alone without a requirement to do anything different in terms of reforming their lifestyle. Paul is contradicting this, and we should take notice.
We are called (v. 9) to not be in the flesh but in the Spirit and if we are in the Spirit (v. 10) if Christ is in you then the body is dead (speaking of the sin nature) but the Spirit is full of life in Christ because of our right standing before God purchased by the blood of Christ in the work of redemption. If the Spirit of God dwells in us we are quickened morally, spiritually and physically by that indwelling. For this reason, we are not debtors to sin. Again Paul is saying that we do not have to sin. Sin is not unavoidable. This is contrary to commonly taught Christian teaching, but it is the plain teaching of the apostle Paul.
In verse 14 Paul says that being led by the Spirit is what makes you a son of God. Christianity teaches if you pray a prayer and sign a decision card you are a son of God. Paul and evangelical teaching are at odds – what will you choose to believe? Paul goes on to say that we have received the Spirit of adoption as sons not the spirit of bondage to go on sinning hoping that God will ignore our sins because we prayed a salvation prayer.
Verse 16 says that the Spirit of God witnesses with our spirit that we are the sons of God and (v. 17) if sons then we are heirs with Him and joint heirs. The KJV and other bibles say “if we suffer with Him” but it is interesting that in the original language this phrase is missing being added in by the translators. Because we are joint-heirs with Christ the sufferings and struggle of this present time are nothing compared to the glory of God to be revealed in us.
What is this glory that v. 18 says shall be revealed in us? Verse 19 says this is something that all of creation waits for – something called the manifestation of the sons of God. This is an allusion to what Paul refers to in many other passages as a change that will yet come to believers whereby in their mortality they shall put on immortality on the earth and be manifestly clothed with God’s glory to a degree that the curse of the fall upon creation will be broken completely.
[Romans 8:20-39 KJV]
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected [the same] in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only [they], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, [to wit], the redemption of our body. 24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, [then] do we with patience wait for [it]. 26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what [is] the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to [the will of] God. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. 29 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. 30 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. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? [It is] God that justifieth. 34 Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Verse 20 tells us that creation was made subject to the curse because of Adam’s sin. The suggestion is that all of creation is hoping and yearning for this curse to be lifted. It is interesting in recent years that scientists have concluded that we live in what they call a participatory universe because they have observed particles and wave probabilities of nature at a quantum level acting and demonstrating the same properties as the human mind. They have coined terms such as “thinking universe” etc. Paul’s writing here echoes the truth of this theory. Creation is groaning (v. 22) just as we groan within ourselves crying out for the full manifestation of all that Jesus died to deliver us from – even death itself. In the meantime until that hour comes the Spirit is here in us (v. 26) helping our infirmities and weakness while Jesus continues (v. 27) making intercession for us in the heavens as our spirits intercede upon the earth.
What Paul is answering in this passage is why death and human suffering continue even though redemption has been provided for in Christ. We are waiting on God to do something, but creation is waiting on the saints to do something called the manifestation of the sons of God. Something is out there in the available experience of the believer that hasn’t come to pass yet, but Paul makes no suggestion that it isn’t already available. We need to learn to think like Enoch rather than consigning these things off to some distant eschatological event. This is revealed time and again in Paul’s writings while he is teaching on walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh. The implication is that this manifestation is not some arbitrary something God will initiate but a participatory something that we as believers will walk into en mass as suggested in 1 Thess. 4:17 and 2 Thess. 1:10:
[1Th 4:17 KJV] 17 Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
[2Th 1:10 KJV] 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed ) in that day.
What is this manifestation of the sons of God? It is God coming to be glorified IN US before He comes FOR us.
In the beginning of this chapter, Paul exhorts that believers are not to think of themselves as exempt from condemnation by the New Birth whereby they can keep on sinning. Then Paul goes on to say that rather than keeping on in sin believers are to walk (progress by steps) in the Spirit until such time as a tipping point is reached when they manifest on the earth full salvation that is in Christ, even putting on immortality. He then concludes the chapter with a discussion of predestination in stating that this full salvation and manifestation of sons is something that we are predestined to experience and walk into whiles still living out an earthly existence. Again, Enoch is our example, and Jesus on the mount of transfiguration is our personal demonstration. Because of this we must know that (v. 38) we cannot be separated from the love of God whether by life or death or angels or principalities or things present or things to come. Why? Because it is God’s intent to walk out in us the full breadth of His love an His purpose until all that Christ died for is fully manifest in us leaving nothing out on this side of heaven.
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