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What in the World is Going on with the World?
Romans 8:19-21
November 25, 2018

It’s quite a world in which we live, isn’t it? Everywhere you look, there seem to be problems.

I’m not talking about the problems from people who sin against us, or the problems that come from corrupt and ungodly legislation or judicial decisions. I’m not even talking about the problems that come from us as we sin and suffer the consequences of our own sins.

As we have seen continually in the book of Romans, when Adam sinned, he took all of mankind with him into sin (5:12). Operating as our federal head, when he sinned, it led to the condemnation of all men. All men became sinners and all men also sinned. We sin because we are sinners (by nature) and we are sinners (in identity) because we sin.

But the sin of Adam also had further implications beyond just mankind. It had an impact on creation; the physical world also was subjected to the curse that came through Adam’s sin.

So I’m talking about the fallenness of the world — how creation itself doesn’t work the right way. I’m talking about what one commentator said — “our heavenly destiny does not blot out the fact of our earthly existence and that the earthly existence is in a troubled world. There is pain and misery in this world, and they are not confined to human existence.” [Morris, Romans, 318-19.]

You know what this is like:

  • You purchase flowers on Friday for your wife and put the preservative in the water and by Monday morning there are petals on the table and by Tuesday the flowers don’t smell good and by Wednesday they are in the compost pile.
  • You put down a weed barrier in your garden and plant your tomatoes and herbs and then you fertilize and wonder why the weeds seem to respond better to the fertilizer than your plants.
  • We live in a world where there are repair shops — HVAC repairmen and plumbers and electricians and auto mechanics collision repair shops and phone and computer repair shops and emergency medical rooms and hospitals and pharmacies and hardware stores. And even when things are fixed it’s always only temporary — they just break again.

Do you ever wonder, “What’s wrong with this world? Why do so many things go so wrong?” It’s because when Adam sinned, the world also was subjected to the condemnation that came to mankind, so that before Genesis 3 and Adam’s sin, perfect people lived in a perfect world, but after Genesis 3, fallen people live in a fallen world. We sin in a world that doesn’t work properly, invariably making certain aspects of creation to function even less well.

Is there any hope? Will this ever change? Will God ever interject Himself into our world to fix it?

In Romans 8, Paul reminds us of the work of the Spirit to assure us of our salvation. Part of that reminder is that if we are mortifying sin by the power of the Spirit (Rom. 8:13), it reveals that we are adopted sons of God (vv. 14-17). And if we are sons of God, then we have an inheritance so that even though we suffer in this world for a brief time, those sufferings are not remotely comparable to the revelation of our coming glorification (v. 18). If only we had eyes to see how extensive and grand this redemption is that will take us into Glory and make us completely glorious, then we would gladly suffer well.

Paul reminds us in vv. 19-30 of various kinds of groanings and struggles in anticipation of glory — the groanings of the world, the groanings of believers, and the groanings of the Spirit on our behalf. But these groanings (which really are manifestations of longings and desires) are fulfilled by God in the gospel of redemption. God satisfies the longings and desires the world and we have.

As he considers the longings of the world (vv. 19-21) the apostle hopefully says,

The greatness of our redemption is seen in the greatness of creation’s redemption.

How should we think about this world in which we live?

  1. The Futility of the World (vv. 19-20a)
  2. The Hope for the World (vv. 20b-20a)
  3. The Hope for the Believer in the World (v. 21b)

Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 8:19-21.

The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.