Security in Christ established in our future hope – Romans 8:18-24

In Romans chapter eight, we find the security that the believer has in Christ. In verses 1-17, we saw that our security in Christ is confirmed by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. Here in verses 18-24, we find that our security in Christ is established in our future hope. It is a comforting thought to know that we have something to look forward to. The sufferings of this life are temporary. In Christ, we have a future. We will one day be glorified and we will live in the presence of God throughout all eternity. We will be set free from this sin cursed world and God will restore His original intent for all of creation. What a day that will be!

Hope Defined. This hope that we have in Christ is defined in verse 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?”[1]The word ‘hope’ in scripture is the Greek word ‘el-pece’ which means ‘a confident expectation.’ Paul mentions that we are saved by hope. This probably not the best translation here; we are not literally saved by hope, for we are saved by faith. However, our salvation is characterized by hope. In other words, when we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we have the confident expectation that God will do what He says He will do. Even those things that have yet to be realized, we can expect that God will fulfill all of His promises. There are several things that we have hope in. First of all, we have hope in justification. In the first five chapters of Romans we learn the wonderful truth of justification by faith. The word justified means to ‘be declared righteous.’ It is God’s pardon on our lives. We receive this justification by faith. Faith is an act of the human will. When we make the conscience choice to believe on the Lord Jesus and repent of our sin, we are then placing our faith in the Lord Jesus. In an instant, at that moment, we are justified. The righteousness of Jesus is imputed upon us and we are pardoned from the penalty of sin. This is a sure thing. God said that we are justified by faith. Therefore we can confidently expect that all those who place their faith in Jesus are justified. Secondly, we have hope in sanctification. The doctrine of sanctification is what we see in Romans 6-8. Sanctification is the process of the believer by which God is working in us to conform us into the image of Christ. God is working through the various circumstances of our lives to mold us and shape us to be just like Jesus. Just as we have confidence in our justification, we also can confidently expect that God is at work in our lives. Finally, we have hope in glorification. There is coming a day when God will finish what He started and we will be made to be just like Christ. Just as sure as we have been justified by faith and just as sure as God is presently working in us, we will one day be made just like Jesus and will live with Him throughout all eternity.

Hope Waiting. In verses 19-23 we see that all of creation is waiting for that day when we are set free from the curse of sin. “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 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.” [2]The New American Commentary says, “Paul spoke of the creation being “subjected to frustration” (v. 20). That was not because of some inherent fault in creation but because that is what God decided.172 In punishment for his disobedience, Adam was to garner his food from ground cursed with thorns and thistles. But the curse was not permanent. The physical universe was frustrated by Adam’s sin, yet there is hope. Verse 21 states the content of that hope. The day is coming when the created order will be set free from its bondage to decay. Freed from corruption, it will share in “the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (literal translation).Some have suggested that this points to life during the millennium, but it is better to see it as the entire created universe celebrating together the glorious state of final redemption and restoration. Paul’s use of personification is striking. As sin brought the curse of death to the physical universe, the day is coming when a new heaven and earth will be in place (2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1). They will take their place with the children of God in the perfect freedom of a sinless universe.”[3] As all of creation is waiting for that glorious day, the creation is currently suffering. Even we ourselves find ourselves suffering through this life, longing for the day when we will be set free from this curse of sin. Therefore, we wait. We live and serve God while we wait and long for that day. It is the confident expectation in that future day that keeps us walking with God in this life.

Hope Living. In verse 18 we see a very practical application. We learn the truth of living this life with the hope of a glorious future. “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.” [4]There are several principles that we see here. First of all, suffering is a fact of life. In verse 17 of Romans 8, we learn that we share in the sufferings of Christ. This does not mean that we share in His redemptive sufferings. In other words, we are not to be physically crucified ourselves. However, we share in the sufferings of being a Christian in a sin cursed world. The Christian life is a wonderful abundant and joyous life, but it is also a life of suffering. The entire world system is set against the things of God. Therefore, as Christians, we endure the pressures of a godless society constantly pushing against us. There is a heaviness to this life. Evil is present all around us. The evil of this world is in conflict with the nature of the believer. Therefore, there is this constant conflict within us. Such suffering may take on many different forms. We suffer physically from the curse of sin. Ever since Adam sinned in the garden, this world has been cursed. As a result of the existence of sin, there is sickness and disease and pain and stress. The physical sufferings that we endure come from living in a sin cursed world. It is a part of life. I don’t know of anyone whose family has not been affected by some dreaded disease such as cancer. As a matter of fact, it seems that such physical suffering is becoming more and more common. Things happen because of living in a sin cursed world. Children are kidnapped. A gunman enters into a school or church and randomly kills at will. A young child is abused in the most sickening way. A family is killed by a drunk driver. Why do all these things happen? It is because of the curse of sin. Just because we are Christians does not mean we are exempt from such sufferings. We never know on any given day what type of physical sufferings we may encounter. Not only do we suffer physical, but we also suffer from persecution. Most of us have not been persecuted like other brothers and sisters in Christ are persecuted. However, there is an ever increasing hostility toward Christians in our own nation. There is a double standard in our nation. Children are encouraged to consider various religions, but never mention the name of Jesus or read your Bible in school. A father is taken to jail simply because he spoke out against a school that mandated that his child read sexually explicit material. A pastor is charged with a hate crime because he preached against the sin of homosexuality. The world praises the NFL’s first openly gay athlete, while they constantly ridicule an open and bold Christian athlete. Jesus told us that the world would hate us and they do. Jesus said we will suffer persecution and we are. Such persecution will continue to get worse and worse. As Jesus tarries His coming, it is inevitable that there will come a day when we would no longer be able to worship freely as we do today. We need to understand that as believers in Christ, suffering is a fact of life. A second principle we see here is that we should not allow ourselves to be absorbed by the sufferings of this life. In other words, don’t allow suffering to overcome you or pull you down. Don’t dwell on the suffering. So often we dwell on our sufferings in such a way that we develop a ‘woe is me’ attitude. We need to understand that suffering is a part of life so suck it up and live with it. Don’t allow the suffering to deter you from living the Christian life. Don’t hang your head in defeat. You see, we all suffer. You are not alone. So, stop complaining. It is what it is. A final principle we learn here is that we must focus on our future hope. The only way we can make it through this life of suffering is to keep our eyes on the glory that will one day be revealed in us. Notice what Colossians 3:1-2 says. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”[5] As believers, we have a glorious hope. We have something to look forward to. Therefore, live like it. Don’t get caught up in the cares of the world, but stay focused and keep your eyes on the ultimate prize. Be faithful even in the midst of suffering. Don’t lose sight of who you are and who you will be. This future hope that we have in Christ is sort of like an athlete with a burning desire to win a championship. There is hard work. When the rest of your friends are out having a good time, you are in the gym. Every chance you get, you are studying the playbook. You deny yourself simple pleasures in order to maintain your health and strength. You are focused on one thing and one thing only, victory. Nothing else matters. Nothing can distract you. You are determined. You can see the end. The hard work is soon to pay off. Victory is in your grasp. Then, the day comes and you find yourself raising that trophy over your head. The crowd cheers. You soak it all in. Now you can rest. The same is true for the believer suffering through this life. He is focused on the ultimate prize. He is looking for that day when his redemption is complete. He denies himself of worldly pleasures. He reads his playbook, the Bible. While everyone else is on vacation, he is on a missions trip proclaiming the good news of Jesus. He is laughed at and made fun of. Every distraction imaginable is thrown across his path. Yet, he stays focused. He is not swayed to the right or to the left. He has one thing in mind, his glorification. Then, one day when he least expects it. He is busy. He is working hard, doing the work of the Lord. As he works, he hears a sound. A beautiful sound. The sound of a trumpet. It is the sound he has been waiting for. He looks up and for the very first time his eyes beholds the King of Kings. He finds himself rising into the clouds. He meets the Lord and is taken into heaven. There, he stands before the Father who says, “Well done, my faithful servant.” He is given a crown. The crowds of heaven cheers. He places the crown at the feet of Jesus. His work is done. The prize has been won. Now he can rest. “The sufferings of this life do not compare to the glory that shall be revealed!”

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 8:24). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 8:19–23). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[3] Mounce, R. H. (1995). Romans (Vol. 27, pp. 184–185). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 8:18). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[5] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Col 3:1–2). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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