Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
If creation can groan with anticipation for the coming age, how much more will believers groan? Verse 23 says that “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
We are not exempt from this groaning even though we have the firstfruits of the Spirit as a guarantee for our deliverance; there will be times that we groan for the day of glory.
We groan because we long for the day we will fully be delivered from this world, a world that is broken and filled with pain and suffering, a world that is decaying and will one day pass away. We groan because we have the firstfruits of the Spirit. Yes, we’ve tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord—we thirst for the pure spiritual milk that can only be found in Christ (1 Pet. 2:1-3).
Think about what Paul is saying here and don’t read over it too quickly you might have read over the word firstfruits and not given it a second thought, but that would be a mistake. Firstfruits were the first part of the harvest to be gathered and dedicated to God. Paul uses it here as a picture of what God has done for believers by giving them the Holy Spirit. This is important for us to grasp this truth because it is a picture of what God has done for us.
How so? Think about it…just as the first handful of ripened grain is a pledge of the entire harvest to follow, so the Holy Spirit is the pledge or guarantee that the full inheritance will be ours. Specifically, Paul wants us to know that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of the coming adoption, the redemption of the body (Eph. 1:14). Knowing this leads the believer to call out and long for that day to come. Why? Because we no longer belong to this world—we belong to God. That’s why Paul says the believer groans. We no longer long for the things the world longs for; our minds are, and have been, transformed by the power of the gospel as we grow more and more into the likeness of Christ. So even though we know our redemption in Christ is true—it’s already been settled—we groan because we live in a fallen world; we long for the day when we will be completely free from illness, sickness, and disease. We groan for the day when our adoption as sons and daughters of God will be complete.
Notice that Paul wants us to be assured that as believers we have the Spirit, the firstfruits of the harvest, but yet we groan inwardly for the fullness of the harvest. The groaning expresses frustration with the present evil age and looks forward with anticipation to the day of our complete redemption. This groaning is what life in the “already, not yet” looks like. In a sense, we’ve already been adopted, we’ve been placed in God’s family as His children. But in a fuller sense, our adoption will be complete when we receive our glorified bodies.
This is the attitude of hope that we’ve been saved to. We look forward to full and final deliverance from sin, suffering, disease, and death. If we had already received these blessings, we wouldn’t be hoping for them. We only hope for what is in the future. Our hope for deliverance from the presence of sin and all its harmful results is based on the promise of God, and is therefore as certain as if we had already received it. So we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
All of us face difficulties. What is your current difficulty? How has it caused a groaning in you? How does knowing you have a future hope that is secure help you to endure your difficulties? What does it look like for you to eagerly wait with perseverance?
*From what you have just read and considered, what is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the Gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live out this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the Good News today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest.