Five Minute Devotions: Romans 8
In the first half of Romans 8, Paul concludes his discussion about sanctification by drawing a clear contrast between the believer and the nonbeliever, calling the former part of the “realm of the Spirit” and the last part of the “realm of the flesh” (Rom. 8:1-10). He then segues into ultimate salvation—glorification—by saying that just as we have been made spiritually alive, so too our physical bodies will be resurrected and made eternally alive (Rom. 8:11-13). God does this on the basis of our relationship as adopted children to him (Rom. 8:14-17). Because of this, we should be patient and endure the hardships of this present life (Rom. 8:17-30), which we will ultimately conquer because we cannot be separated from God (Rom. 8:31-39).
Everything Paul has discussed up until this point has led to this moment of ultimate redemption. Being saved from the penalty of sin in the past and the power of sin in present is only the lead up to salvation from the presence of sin in the future. Just as we have been spiritually made new on the inside, we will one day be made physically new on the outside. Just as Jesus was physically resurrected and has a redeemed, resurrection body, so will we.
That’s an important point for the Christian to make, and especially important in the first century. Christianity does not equate sin with the body. The body is not evil and the body is not wrong. God created physicality and one day he will redeem it. We were made as physical beings and that is how we will exist in eternity.
This changes our concept of heaven from an ethereal pie-in-the-sky harps-on-clouds existence to one that we can, at least in some part, understand. Heaven will not be boring. Instead, it will be life as we were created to live it.
But in the Interim
Paul dwells on ultimate redemption only briefly before returning to the struggles and trials of this life. His point is clear: because we have this ultimate redemption set before us, we are to live as conquerors in this world. Even though there will be trials and tribulations, we are already conquerors. The battle may be one we lose, the struggle may be difficult, but the final outcome of the war for your body and soul was written down in the books of heaven the day you accepted Christ as Lord.
Paul’s closing statement about the inability to be separated from Christ is one borne out of experience. Paul of all people had dealt with hardships and troubles. He been through it all and weathered the storms and if anyone was qualified to speak about God’s tenacious love, it was Paul. This is not just theology for Paul. This is his life. And this is how he, through the Spirit, commands us to live as well.