The objective reality of what Paul is saying in Romans 8:18-23 is as follows. God made a perfect creation of the animals, plants, minerals, birds, celestial bodies and sea creatures. His last act was to create man, and he made a perfect man. So perfect was man that he could claim to have been created in the image and likeness of God. But like the Angels, God gave to man the gift of “free will”, something that is necessary for worship to be voluntary and at its most beautiful. The rest as we say, is history. First the Devil, and then man used their free will to choose to rebel against God. The Devil was the first to be punished, but his punishment extended to only a third of the angels. It did not extend to man.
When God created man, he created man perfect, but man now had a real choice to make. He could choose to obey and worship God, or he could choose not to, regardless of whether or not by so doing, he was choosing to obey and worship the Devil. Regardless of the provocation or temptation, when man choose to disobey God, he broke the relationship between God and man; he ceded the authority and control given to him by God to the Devil, and became a slave of sin and Satan.
Because God had placed the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and every living creature that moves on the ground under man’s control, man’s fall from grace both directly and indirectly affected all over which he had control. Additionally, God specifically cursed the ground as a way of punishing man. These detailed facts are enough to suggest that all of God’s inter-connected creation was directly and indirectly affected by man’s fall and by the shift of his allegiance over to the Devil. The paradox is that God’s creation can only be liberated from the effects of man’s sin, when man is liberated from the effects of His sin. In that sense, the entire creation will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God at the time that man is fully liberated. (Romans 8:21).
But this future liberation does not apply only to God’s physical creation. It applies even to us as born-again Children of God. In a very real sense, it could be said that our salvation is progressive. First we are saved from the Penalty of Sin. Next we are saved from the Power of Sin. Finally, we will be saved from the Presence of sin. The final phase is not as futuristic as it seems and is not solely dependent on the return of Jesus Christ. For when the Believer in Christ physically dies, he is automatically saved from the presence of sin, even though his physical body shall not be redeemed until Christ returns during what we refer to as the Rapture. At that time the dead in Christ shall rise first. And we who are alive shall be caught up together with them to be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:16). But as a group of persons, we shall not be saved from the presence of sin until Jesus Christ returns to take us, His bride, the Church out of this world to be with himself.
When that happens, God will commence the sequence that will renew everything. The old heaven and earth shall pass away (Revelation 21:1) The new order will be characterized by Revelation 21:4. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” The question is, what about now, when there is pain and suffering and death and tears? Is there such a thing as managed mourning, or controlled crying?
Writing to the Christians at Thessalonica, Paul said, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Paul and Silas in the midst of pain and agony, still chose to live above their pain and sing praises to God. To this day, I avoid watching re-enactments of the crucifixion… but whenever I think of it I blend in the resurrection story three days later to ease the pain. The truth is that we have a great reason and a hope that is guaranteed that should make us live today as though all of God’s promises to complete our salvation has already been fulfilled. For over and above all, the God we look forward to being with forever, lives within us today.Yes, we will have restrictions and these will bring limitations. But over those we have attitudinal control.
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