Romans 8:31-39

Imagine standing in front of a crowd of Christ followers and speaking the words of Romans 8. As you talk about how the “Spirit of life” has freed us from the power and penalty of sin (verses 1-13), what are you feeling? Are you happy? Sad? Surprised? Fearful? What do you feel as you speak the words of verses 14-17 about our adoption as sons and daughters of God? What about as you speak the words dealing with suffering and hope in verses 18-30?

As we move into our final study in Romans, verses 31-39, it is time to recall all that the Holy Spirit through Paul has communicated to us. From “no condemnation” (8:1) to “no separation” (8:39), Romans 8 is a call to cling to the work of the Holy Spirit in assuring the believer of his rock-solid security in Christ. As Paul approaches the climax of describing this assurance, I sense in Paul an enthusiasm, a zeal, a thrill, an elation that is beyond our human words to describe.

“What then shall we say to these things,” Paul asks – think of this question as the first century equivalent of “So What?” Paul’s “So what” is, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” to which Paul obviously intends an answer, “Nobody.” So we could paraphrase, “If God is for us, nobody can be against us.”

Paul then proceeds to give support for this assertion that, “If God is for us, nobody can be against us.”

  • First, Paul points to the deepest support that God is “for us” – namely, that God gave his own Son for us. Paul is not introducing something new here, because he previously made this point in Romans 5:8-9.
  • Second, Paul points to the assurance that “God’s elect,” or those that God called (verses 28-30), are guaranteed glorification in the final judgment.
  • Third, Paul reiterates that through Christ all things work together for good. After listing several types of hardship, Paul writes that “we are more than conquerors.” A conqueror is one who overcomes opposition, yet as believers, we “more than overcome,” because, for us, “all things work together for good.”
  • Finally, Paul presents a personal testimony — “I am sure,” he writes. What a remarkable testimony from a man who has endured so much hardship! (Read, for example, 2 Corinthians 11:26-27 and 12:10.)

Discussion Questions

1. How would you describe the tone of Romans 8:31-39? What are some examples in your life, or that you have seen in others, where that emotion has been on display?
2. Read Romans 5:1-11. How does that passage compare to Romans 8:31-39?
3. Paul makes it a point to support his assertion using theology as well as personal experience. What is your experience regarding “the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord?” In hindsight, how do you see God at work through your suffering and hardships? Be specific.
4. If you had to describe “the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” to another person, how would you describe it?

William Cowper

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And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. Romans 8:23

We hope you have benefited from our series on Romans chapter 8 the last few weeks, “the great 8,” as some have called it. In chapters 5-8 Paul has been speaking about how the Holy Spirit brings freedom and life to all believers in Christ. Above is one of the verses that Nate dealt with last week at Frontline and the word that pops out at me as I read it is, groan. The kind of groaning Paul refers to here, “takes place by reason of a state of oppression which causes suffering and from which there is the desire to be free” (TDNT, P. 1076). Though we have been set free from the penalty of sin (8:1) as well as sins power (6:2) we are not yet free from the presence of sin or the effects of sins curse in a broken world.

Throughout Church history there have been many men and women who have endured tremendous suffering even in the midst of carrying on tremendous ministry for the sake of Christ and his Church. William Cowper is a name that probably most of us are not familiar with. He was an 18th century poet and hymn writer, who also suffered from debilitating depression and despairs for the majority of his life, and at times was suicidal. In the spring of 1763, Cowper was sitting on a bench on the grounds of the insane asylum; he picked up a bible (as someone had placed on the bench, knowing he would find it) and read Romans 3:25. Here is what happened in Cowper’s own words: “Immediately I received the strength to believe it, and the full beams of the Sun of Righteousness shone upon me. I saw the sufficiency of the atonement He had made, my pardon sealed in His blood, and all the fullness and completeness of His justification. In a moment I believed, and received the gospel.”

While William Cowper received the hope of the gospel that day, his groaning would remain for the rest of his life on earth. Somehow, by God’s marvelous grace, even in the midst of the darkness of his own battle with depression and despair, he knew that the sovereign God was good and that He was working out his own purposes in and through the unbearable suffering that Cowper lived with. Below are the words to a hymn/poem that Cowper wrote concerning suffering and the sovereignty of God. I encourage you to read slowly and think upon these words, even commit them to memory as my wife and I have. They will enlarge your vision of God and help you suffer well when you feel the groaning within your own spirit.

In the mercy of the gospel,
Will

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs
And works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purpose will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain:
God is his own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Romans 8:18-27

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Two years ago my husband and I bought a condo that desperately needed a new kitchen. He loves projects so he was excited to jump right in and remodel. I remember coming home one day when he was finishing hanging the cabinets and he had blood all over his arm from a gash on his hand. It looked to me like he needed stitches! When I asked him about it, he said it was just a “flesh wound” and that he was too excited and determined to finish the cabinets to stop and take care of it. He was looking forward to the end result of a finished kitchen and that got him through the pain. Just like my husband’s excitement about finishing the cabinets, we must also be excited, despite our sufferings, to live a gospel-centered life.

This Sunday, Nate Keeler will be diving into Romans 8:17b-27. In this passage, Paul is encouraging believers in their suffering. He makes the claim in verse 17 that those who are in Christ will suffer, but that no matter what happens in this life we can hold on to the hope we have in Christ. When I first read this and thought of suffering for Christ, the first thing that came to mind was of the ones who have suffered and died to spread the Gospel. But, there are many other ways that we experience suffering whether it be from persecution, natural disaster, sickness, the loss of a loved one, or one of the many other forms that suffering can take. The point is that any form of suffering can cause us to take our eyes off of Christ and our faith in a holy, sovereign God. This is why Paul says in verse 18 that no matter how painful the circumstances of our present sufferings, they are still not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.

In this text Paul uses the word “hope” 6 times. He first uses it in verse 20 when he says that creation was subjected to frustration, but in hope that creation would be liberated. This is so encouraging for believers! No matter how overwhelming and unbearable our suffering may be, we can find hope in the fact that God’s final plan is glorious freedom and the redemption of our bodies! In a sermon on Romans 8, John Piper made a great analogy. He said, “If you are in a hospital and you hear a woman across the hall groan or scream, it makes all the difference in how you feel if you know you are on the maternity ward and not the oncology unit. Why? Pain is pain, isn’t it? No. Some pain leads to life. And some pain leads to death. And what verse 22 promises is that for the children of God, all pain leads to life. All the groaning of this world are the birth pains of the kingdom of God.”

Therefore, no matter what our circumstances, Paul is saying that those who live by the Spirit will experience suffering, but that this suffering is different than the suffering of an unbeliever. How is suffering different for a believer?

1. Our perspective of suffering is gospel-centered. We can have confidence that because Christ died for us, we will get to spend eternity with Him in heaven. Paul makes it clear in Romans 8:23-25 that we, “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (vs. 23)
2. Verse 17 says that we have fellowship with Christ because we share in His sufferings.
3. According to verse 26, the Holy Spirit is with us and in us to help us in our weakness. I know sometimes when I am in a difficult circumstance, it’s often hard to know what to pray, but verse 26 clearly states that in those times we can rest assured that as we are seeking the Lord and crying out to Him that the Holy Spirit is interceding for us!
In a culture that is all about convenience and pleasure, the idea of “suffering” for any reason is not well received. But, as believers we can be encouraged because God gives us the promise that this life is not the end and that any circumstances we go through, no matter how difficult, are not worth comparing to the glory that awaits us.

Discussion Questions

1. Read Romans 8:18-27
2. Must every believer suffer?
3. How is our response to suffering different from a non-believer?
4. How have you reacted to suffering in the past?
5. How does the Spirit intercede for us?

Romans 8:12-17

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We are in week four of the Romans 8 series. How are you feeling about Romans 8? Do you think you are beginning to understand what Paul was writing to the church in Rome? What an amazing and encouraging message to receive. John McGowan did a wonderful job of summing up verses 9-17 with the five things the Holy Spirit is doing inside of us. As John said, “The Spirit is doing incredible things inside of us.” I want to review those five things even though we will only be discussing one in particular.

1. The Spirit is saying we belong to Christ (v.9)
2. The Spirit is promising our resurrection (v.11)
3. The Spirit is killing sin inside of us (v. 12-15)
4. The Spirit is testifying to our sonship (v. 15-16)
5. The Spirit is declaring we are heirs of God
and co-heirs with Christ (v. 17)
I want us to focus more on point number three, “The Spirit is killing sin inside of us,” by looking more specifically at verses 12 and 13.

Romans 8:12-13 (NIV)
(12) Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. (13) For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…

John Owen said in his book, Mortification of Sin in Believers, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” This is a direct correlation with verse 13, “…if by the spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” This is simply saying that we should be actively resisting our fleshly inclination to sin by the power of the Spirit. You cannot make yourself righteous! But because we are righteous by faith, that is to say because of Christ’s righteousness, we are able to grow in practical righteousness by the power of the Spirit in us! We need to allow Christ and His Spirit to work IN us and through us. This does not mean that we will never sin again but that we are bent to want to not sin because we are a new creation in Christ. In order for us to cooperate with the Spirit we must confess of our sins that the Spirit has convicted in us, turn away from those earthly desires, and submit to the Spirit’s control. We are all convicted by the Spirit in different ways but the point is to actually listen to those convictions and not ignore them.

In verse 12, it says, “We have an obligation… to live according to it.” We are obligated to live by the Spirit because the Spirit is the one at work in us and by its power we are able to put to death our sinful nature. Praise the Holy Spirit just for that alone! Now my challenge to you is to really search yourself and ask the Spirit to show where you have sinful tendencies and then submit to the power of the Spirit to overcome those tendencies. By the power of the Spirit we shall live!

Discussion Questions

1. Read Romans 8:1-17
2. What does killing sin mean
(ie: Putting to death the deeds of the flesh)?
3. What will killing sin involve?
4. What does “by the Spirit” mean?
5. What is the Spirit’s role? What is our role?

Romans 8:9-11

romans

What a series this is turning out to be! Let’s recap, in the first eight verses we learned what God accomplished for us. We have freedom from condemnation through Christ and we stand righteous before God. We also find out that the gospel produces life-change. When we trust in the death and resurrection of Christ by faith God credits our account Jesus’ righteousness. The requirement of the law is fulfilled IN us, not BY us. Mike Kelsey reminded us that our new birth includes the law being written on our hearts. There is a working from the inside out that occurs through the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:9-11
8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 8:10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 8:11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

When I first read this I wondered if Paul was doubting the reader’s faith here or challenging it but I discovered that the “if” in these verses is grammatically more like “since”, showing that Paul is affirming the saints. This passage tell us that although, outwardly we are wasting away inwardly we are alive!

The message is so encouraging, and gives so much hope. Rejoice, take comfort and be confident that you are surely new and alive in Christ and are guaranteed a full deliverance from the sin that causes death. Not only have we escaped a spiritual death, we are given new life now AND we can anticipate a full and final physical deliverance that will include a new glorified body (no more outward wasting away)!

We are given a truth to embrace and a promise to claim in these verses. If we believe this, if we grasp this truth, how does it impact our lives today? What does it mean for us now? Are we anticipating the fullness of this promise?

Discussion Questions
Adapted from ‘A Study Guide for Romans 8’ by Coty Pinckney, Desiring God Community Church, Charlotte NC

1. Read Romans 8:1-11
2. There are four conditional statements in verses 9 to 11; in fact, the three verses consist of nothing other than conditional statements. We usually think of conditional statements as “if . . . then” statements: that is, the word “if” followed by a condition; then the word “then,” followed by a consequence of the condition. Paul doesn’t follow that word order here, and is not consistent in the word order he uses. To make the statements clearer, write out these four conditions and their consequences.
3. In verse 11, who is said to have raised Jesus from the dead? Who will give life to your mortal bodies? What is the role of the Spirit?
4. Is the promise that “He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies” fulfilled in this life or in the life to come (or both)? Consider Galatians 2:20, and explain your answer.
5. Try to summarize the argument of these 3 verses. Why are these verses important? What relevance do they have for the way we live the Christian life?

Romans 8:5-8


Welcome to life! This past weekend at Frontline, Mike Kelsey kicked off the series on Romans 8 by giving the context of the book and diving into the first few verses of chapter 8. The profound reality for the believer in Christ is that from now until forever there is NO condemnation. When the apostle Paul feels himself torn in battle against sin he remembers the gospel and praises God that he is free. Paul sees himself as the wretched man he is and rejoices knowing that God condemned sin in the flesh of Jesus. Everything we deserved God poured out on his Son at the cross. Furthermore, we are free from seeking acceptance from God through good works.

Romans 8:3-4
8:3 For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 8:4 so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The Law couldn’t justify us because of our inability to keep it. Christ came and did what the Law could not do. He fulfilled it perfectly. This means that as believers God sees us through Christ. The debt we owe personally is absolved by the work of the cross. We are IN Christ. So how is the righteous requirement fulfilled in us? The law is now written on our hearts. The law is not over us but coming out of us. How does that work? How are we to become holy, loving people? It is NOT by checking off a to-do list. It is by being Spirit filled believers saturated in everything that God has done, is doing and will do. Instead of serving the law we serve one another in love. John Piper said “Love is the fruit of faith in Jesus.”

We now live in the newness of the Spirit. Our approach toward life is different from list keeping. We as believers have the Spirit in us and can have faith filled obedience that shows the requirement of the law being fulfilled in us. How do we deal with our tendency to think or feel that we are accepted by God through performance? In other words, when I see my own wretchedness and attempt to make myself better or make up for my failing what should be my response? As we move through this chapter in Romans I am praying that we all experience a greater freedom and clarity about the reality of the gospel.

Discussion Questions:

1. Read out loud Romans 8:1-8
2. In verses 5-8 Paul is contrasting two groups of people, discuss the specific contrasts Paul lists.
3. Does Paul say it is possible for a believer to set their minds on the thing of the flesh?
4. How does, “life and peace” in verse 6 correspond to Paul’s opening statement in verse 1 of chapter 8?
5. In verse 8, if those who are in the flesh can’t please God, how does the believer please God?