Mar 5 2023 All Things Work for the Good?


Romans 8: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Don’t condemn yourself, because God does not condemn you! We just need to continually tell ourselves that we are not condemned – no matter how many times we have blown it. There is NO condemnation. 100 times? No. 1000 times? No.

3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

He is letting us know that there are two ways of life – the life in the flesh that leads to sin and death – and the life in the Spirit which leads to life and resurrection.

5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

So, what He tells us here – the mind (and for them, the heart) is critical in determining the life we live. As Sue mentioned last week with Phil. 4:8 – the importance of our heart and mind being focused on the things of God.

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—

Sometimes it feels like we are under obligation to the flesh – the old self was crucified with Christ. The old self is dead. We don’t have to do that anymore.

Michael F. Bird (Romans, p.271) – “he is talking about a state, not an ideal to aim for! As a result, the tension between spirit and flesh is not some kind of internal war waged within us, with our fleshly nature battling against our spiritual nature. The hostility between spirit and flesh is not the hostility between two conflicting components of one’s self, but two external powers vying for control over the self.

“The struggle against sin, old habits, and temptation – and don’t get me wrong, they are real – should not be construed as the ongoing conflict within me. Rather the struggle denotes the force of the old self trying to regain control over me. It is not that our heart is in a perpetual state of civil war with itself; instead, it’s more like our heart is a fortress that is constantly besieged by a wicked tyrant who once resided there, was defeated and exiled, yet desperately wants to get back in by launching a mixture of frontal and covert assaults.”

13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

So, with the two ways of life, there are two views of God. The way of the flesh, the view is that of a demanding boss or slave master. The way of the spirit is that of a loving and compassionate father. Abba is a term of endearment.

With that said, there is a transition to the next verse – and it is in the context of all that has already happened…

17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, (here is the big transition: ) if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.

We are children of God – heirs- if we suffer with Him. Even if we are beloved children, we must still participate and share in His sufferings.

This might sound a little depressing – we think the bad people should suffer – but it is the children who suffer – with Him who suffered for us, but still it is suffering.

Paul looks at four different aspects of this as Christians. He does not answer the ‘why do we suffer?’.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

It is false hope to believe that you can avoid suffering “IF” you do it right.

That is the way of Torah, not of the Spirit.

I think it is a strong temptation to believe that if we do it right, it can’t go wrong!

Say you are committed to eating right and exercising so that you won’t get cancer or a disease. It might help, but it is not guarantee

If you parent like proverbs, your kids will become like Jesus…

Christ followers will suffer – because Jesus said that in this world you will have tribulation.

Notice that there is HOPE!

The very end – He looks at the suffering – and compared to what is to come – it is not worthy of comparison – that hope or glory is not revealed to us yet, and it won’t be, until then! We want it revealed now!

22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

Groans and suffers. The created universe is suffering at this time.

Part of Romans – and we continually see Paul going back to the Creation story – there is a design pattern in the Old and New Testaments



Because of sin, the world is broken. It does not work as it was meant to work.

We had the perfect example of this this week.

We were visiting Cindy’s sister and brother-in-law in Sanibel – and John took me to the worst part – apartment buildings that were just shells. 100,000 homes and businesses are condemned and must be destroyed.

That would be all the homes and buildings in Cuy Falls and Stow – all destroyed.

The earth groans and suffers.

It is not like God said – Oh, those sinners in Sanibel – no, the EARTH is unable to handle human sin.

23 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.

We who are believers will have personal spiritual suffering. There is this part of us that groans – not wanting to be the way we are here, but the way we will eventually be – having the first fruits of the Spirit – we have justification – redemption, forgiveness – and we have been freed from the penalty of sin – however, we groan because we live in a world that is filled with the presence of sin and evil. So, we will experience the suffering of living in this world. The world is ruled by sin and death.

26 And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;

Creation groans – We groan – God groans. When we suffer, because of what Jesus did on the cross – when we suffer, God suffers. When we go through something difficult, God comes alongside.

Like CS Lewis says – it feels like when we need Him most, He bolts the door and there is silence – but that does not mean that is where the Lord is.

Ps 34 – the Lord saves those who are crushed in spirit.

For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see

We want to see! We want to know why! But that is to be disclosed later.

Then He says:

, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

And I read that, and think – that does not describe me! I wish I could say I wait eagerly!

So, those are the four aspects – and now to the main attraction:

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

This is a greatly-loved verse. This is an often-quoted verse. This has provided so much comfort for many – and a large amount of debate, mistrust and misunderstanding – and it is all because of the 4 lines in the middle – God causes all things – and we like to POP that out – does God CAUSE evil and suffering? Some say He decrees it – He ordains it

Not sure what that means

He allows it!

HE permits it!

And I would say – None of the above! When we look at this in context, Paul is not talking about the sovereignty of God and free will – or God’s role in evil – permit or ordain? That is not what He is talking about.

What is he talking about? Two realms – a world of sin and death will create suffering and pain. It is not about God’s role in evil, but God’s role in our lives when evil happens.

He is not answering the HOW it happens – He is answering what does God do?

In all things – however they happen, God goes to work for our good!

That point – He goes to work –

These are my thoughts, and people disagree.

God does not give you cancer to make you a better person. If, however, you do get cancer, God can use that to transform you to the image of Jesus.

It is not saying that getting cancer is good.

Never would He say that.

Bird: “We do not live in the best possible world”

And I would say – far from it!

“However – God is always working in our lives in this realm to prepare us for the best possible world”

There is a best possible world, and it is not this one. We were meant to live in that best possible world. God is preparing us to live in that world forever with Him.

Cindy and I love hiking in the mountains. Especially to a mountain lake! With snow melt – they are crystal clear! And you look in the water and can see the entire mountain in the water. That is like this world – simply a reflection! Look up and see the real thing. We will be like the ones who only saw a reflection in a lake when we enter that best possible world – and then we will see the mountain with our own eyes!

Think of relationships! They are just a reflection in the water of what they will be like in that best possible world.

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son,

What is predestination and free-will all about in Romans? Being conformed to the image of Jesus.

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things?

What things? All that He has said up to this point

If God is for us, who is against us?

We live in a world that is against us – but greater is he!

32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Things <> stuff

Things are the things He has been talking about – redemption – justification – forgiveness

Then he goes back to the weak/strong:

33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

He is talking about the world, but you can also see how he is talking about the church.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

So, he lists all the sufferings of this world – can any of this separate us from the love of Christ? Is there any evil that can cause God to stop loving us? No…

36 Just as it is written, "For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

Overwhelmingly-conquered – Hyper-conquer!

Our victory is abundant, but only partially experienced in this world – and won’t be experienced in human terms! It is not a worldly victory! We focus too much on gaining worldly victories!

38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,

39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


We will never (usually) get the answer we are looking for to the why? But we have an ultimate answer – nothing can separate us from God’s love.

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