Suffering in Romans

Romans Chapter 8 begins with the proclamation of “no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus”. No condemnation, none, zero, zilch; a statement that is at once of supreme comfort (to those in Christ), but also, if we are candid, at least a bit puzzling. Especially in light of “the reality’ of how we, as Christians, live. For while it is supremely true that we are blameless before God in Christ it is also just as true that our lives are typified by struggle, sin and often failure; and even in some cases outright persecution. At times, the good news, in light of the above, might seem a bit thin.

This may be the reason Paul begins the second half (vv 18-39) of Romans 8 with an in-depth discussion of suffering. How then are we to understand sufferings in light of no condemnation? The short answer is that we understand them in light of the future for we can be sure, according to the Apostle, that events await us that are not only glorious but are also cosmic in their scope.

Death, decay and corruption are simply a fact of human existence and it has been so from nearly the very start. The things, which we struggle with and fear, are the direct result of the fall. Our bodies will corrupt because the race is corrupt and creation suffers for the same reason. However, therein also lies the hope for just as surely as all died in the first Adam all will be made alive in The Second. No condemnation means that there is hope. Just as The Second Adam (Jesus) was raised incorruptible so shall those who are , by faith, joined to Him. Moreover, with them, all of creation. The resurrection of our bodies will also mean the resurrection of the cosmos. Furthermore, all creation knows of this hope at some level. All creation waits that day. The day of the revelation of the sons of God will also be the salvation of creation. And the lamb will lie down with the lion. And the little child will play over the rattle snakes den. And we will study war and strife no more. Suffering is part of following Christ, and if The Spirit leads us through it, as He did Christ, He will also lead us to where it led Him. And just as certainly as The Spirit vindicated Christ as The Son of God at His resurrection, The Spirit will do the same for us. And all creation is awaiting that day with bated breath. And all our hopes will become incarnate.

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