Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Great Eight

John Piper calls Romans 8, "The Great Eight." As I've been gradually munching on the truths in this book, it's apparent why Piper would give it this title. First we need to start with Romans 7. The last two verses of Romans 7 presents the plea of every two believers: "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."

Although our natural bodies want to serve sin, we have been saved by Christ and our flesh serves the law of sin, but minds serves the law of God. This is fleshed out and explained in Romans 8:5-6: "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."

Being in Christ means that we face no condemnation for our sin. Instead of being recipients of God's holy wrath we got nothing but His grace and love. How do we know we are in Christ and saved by His blood, but by being spiritually minded and setting our minds on the things of the Spirit. Satan doesn't want us to be in Christ and will speak accusations to make us doubt our standing before God (Zechariah3:1-5).

Romans 8 is filled with so many nuggets of truth to prepare our souls for any of satan's attacks. The truth that all others is hinged on is Romans 8:1. We are free from any condemnation. Even though we have indwelling sin, the debt for it has been paid. In all of life's circumstance, this is what we must stand upon. Let this truth inform our souls when our flesh wants to give in to lies.

Lie: I've struggled with pride and self sufficiency for so long. Why hasn't God come to my aid? I'm really not sure if I am still a believer.
Truth: Romans 8:15-17 This lie reveals a misunderstanding of progressive sanctification. Sacnctification will never be finished in the life, but God is faithful and when we are glorified we will be from sin. The truth is that we are God's children and He will never abandon us. Instead of fearing sin and its effects, we need to fear God and know He has a perfect plan for our growth.
Implication: God is our father and He will provide everything we need for growth. Growth is a process and instead of being focused on our continual shortcomings, we need to 1)be confident of God's unconditional love for us and 2)be aware of the grace that is at work in our lives.

Lie: If God really cared then why would He allow me to suffer?
Truth: Romans 8:18 This lie makes God's care for us conditional upon our circumstances. The reality of the matter is that the sufferings we currently face are preparing us for a future glory. Our sufferings should create in us a greater longing for our home in Heaven. No suffering can compare with what awaits us in Heaven. Suffering on this earth should lead to thanksgiving because the hope we have far outweighs any trials or disappointments that we may encounter.
Implication: Suffering should increase our faith. We walk by faith and not by sight. When we suffer we should become more aware of Christ and His work on the cross. Christ came to suffer and be glorified through His suffering and so to should we seek our glory in knowing Christ through suffering.

Lie: How can I adequately pray in this situation? Can pray really aid right now?
Truth: Romans 8:26-27 Our prayer should be done by the power of the Spirit. When we pray it should never be about us, but the object of our prayer. We can never know all the details, or how to best pray for a situation, but we can be assured that God is all-wise and even when we don't know what words to pray God is fully aware and is always at work. We don't need to be eloquent, knowledgable or in a special prayer place, but instead totally dependent on God.
Implication: We should pray with confidence. God desires for us to pray, even in our weakness. Let's not pray with an attitude of self-sufficiency, but pray with a reckless abandon eager for God's spirit to be present and for God to work for His will and good pleasure.

Lie: I don't know how God will bring good out of my circumstances. I am sick...Friends are spreading rumors...My job is on the line...Do I have any hope?
Truth: Romans 8:28-37 We were enemies of God, dead in sin with wicked and deceitful hearts, but God has called us and saved us. He's given us a hope and taken our hearts of stone and made them soft. If God did that, then how can He not work all situations for our good! Because of the cross, God is on our side and there is no one better to have on our side. We are more then conquerors in Christ and nothing can hinder God's purposes in our lives
Implication: We can never move past the cross. What God did at calvary is the greatest act of love, power and goodness known to mankind. If He can take the worst of all sinners, me, and make me a part of His family and give me a hope and a future, then He truly can work all things for my good. It all starts at the cross. At the cross we are placed before an unparalleled grace and compassion on our lives. "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?(Romans 8:32)" No other verse better sums up a power that can defeat our sin; a love that can conquer our rebellion; a wisdom that can solve our greatest need still have God be considered righteous.

This part 1 of a two part post. Tune in on Thursday for how this applies to leadership and what a leadership that seeks God's glory looks like.


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