“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.” .
“our present sufferings”: What are the present afflictions? These are common to the whole human race, but there are those that are experienced only by believers in Christ. We all experience to some degree the afflictions that are common to all and we will go through them as we pass through life; they are both physical and mental. But there are those that are only experienced by believers in Christ, and these increase as time goes by because they are spiritual in nature, such cannot be experienced by those that are not believers in Christ . These afflictions are brought about by the indwelling Holy Spirit as we are caught in the battle between obedience and disobedience to the Word of God , and it is impossible for any believer to grow in Christ without experiencing these afflictions.
The glorious liberty of the children of God is here contrasted between the present and the future, and is also referenced to our suffering with, and for Christ.
There are five comparisons made in this passage:
1. PRESENT SUFFERING vs. FUTURE GLORY – “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” .
Present Suffering: God has established this pattern in life and suffering is inevitable because it was initiated by the sin of Adam . Future Glory: our present suffering cannot be compared to our future eternal glory .
2. EXPECTATION vs. REVELATION – “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.” .
Expectation: All creation is eagerly anticipating Christ’s return, and creation’s deliverance from the curse of the fall cannot be realized until the “sons of God” are delivered from that curse [“sons” – our position in Christ; not gender]. Creation longs to share the glorious freedom of the children of God. Revelation [Appearance]: The glory that God has put within us and the glory that God will give us has not yet been revealed – it is a future revelation . We are joint-heirs with Christ; therefore, we will inherit what He inherits – we will be glorified together .
3. FRUSTRATION vs. HOPE – “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope”
Frustration(NIV) Vanity (KJV) Futility (NKJ). Meaning: aimlessness; dissatisfaction; unfulfilled; ineffective; lack of real value; trivial; and we see this frustration in all the activities of the world around us. Hope: is our certainty and assurance that God is in control and that He will act in His time .
4. BONDAGE vs. LIBERTY – “that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
Bondage: all creation is in bondage because of the sin of Adam and is waiting to be delivered from the bondage of corruption and decay. The law of sin and death is operating in nature (as well as in mankind). In nature, sin produces death and decay; decay produces new soil; soil produces new life; and the cycle is repeated. In mankind sin produces physical death and our bodies return to the dust from which we originally came. Liberty: at Christ’s return death and decay will be replaced by our new bodies – glorified bodies .
5. GROANING vs. REDEMPTION – “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.”
Groaning: Moans (Intercessory groaning of the Holy Spirit – [VINE] vs 26-27); the whole creation groans. We groan within ourselves waiting for Christ’s return. We groan for glory . Redemption: In God’s sight we are already glorified; the “down payment”, guarantee, or assurance has been made , and we are now awaiting the fulfillment of that guarantee. Our “inner man” has already been redeemed, and one day soon our bodies will be redeemed and the assurance is that suffering will not be forever .
OUR FUTURE FREEDOM OR GLORY
Our title to this future glory is part of our adoption. Our adoption as children <8:23; cf Jn.1:12; Eph.1:5> entitles us to that glory; and the church consists of all “first-born” – making us all heirs . All believers in Christ are heirs to the heavenly inheritance since we are all made heirs by God Himself . Our future glory is first of all, the reward of our present sufferings; and secondly, the accomplishment of our present hopes.
1. Our future glory is the reward of our present sufferings : the present state of all believers is to suffer with Christ and if we suffer with Christ we will be rewarded by sharing His glory ; and our sufferings are only for the present time, they will last no longer than the present time, and can go no deeper than the things of time . The reward surpasses all that we have seen and known . The sufferings are small and short and relate only to the body. The glory is rich and great, relates to the soul, and is eternal, while the reproaches for Christ are riches to those who have respect to the reward .
2. Our Future Glory is the accomplishment of our present hopes: in our suffering, we are waiting for heaven; heaven is sure, for God would not raise and encourage such hope within us only to defeat and disappoint our hope .
The expectation of this future glory is seen in the creation <8: 19-22> and it is evident in the creature – the whole of nature. Creation will be delivered from the bondage of sin with the glorious liberty of the saints of God .
It is also evident in the saints of God . The Holy Spirit stimulates our desires, encourages our hopes, and raises our expectations. God’s grace extended to us is the first-fruits of glory – the beginning of glory, and once we have tasted of something better, we cannot but long for more and greater of the same. Thus we, together with the creatures, groan for heaven and this should be the desire of the whole church – every last member of the great body of believers since the object of our expectation is the final adoption, that is, the redemption or resurrection of our body, or God’s final call . This adoption will be displayed before the whole world, it will be recognized, proclaimed and published . On that day our adoption will be perfected and complete .
Our final salvation will be the conclusion to our hope, and all who deal with God must deal upon trust : faith appreciates the promise, hope appreciates what is promised; faith is the evidence, hope is the expectation. As we hope for future glory we need patience to bear the present sufferings. Our way is rough and long but “he who is coming will come and will not delay” ; it is therefore appropriate for us to wait for Him.
Let us join with all nature and anticipate that final redemption: what discourages you? Do the cares of this world overwhelm you? Are you fully satisfied with your life and possessions?
Remember that we are only pilgrims in this world, so let us live as such . Are you tired of the death and decay that surrounds us – remember His promise . Similar to the creatures you should long for and anticipate heaven <Rev 22:17, 20>; and like Paul, cultivate the desire to be with Christ . We will share in Christ’s glory – God has so determined, and we cannot begin to conceive what it will be like.
In summary the apostle states that: what is suffered for Christ in this life is very little compared to the future glory. What has been secured for us in glory by Christ, that is to be revealed, is an infinite sum transcending all comprehension. Paul speaks from his experiences for he knew the sufferings and he knew the glory, and in view of both he gives his conclusions .
Our final Freedom will begin our eternal life. Do you have the assurance of eternal life? If you do not have that assurance you will not experience that freedom! For all who have the assurance, one day we will awake to find that: the term is over – the dream has ended. This is morning! – the morning of eternity which goes on forever will begin. That will be our Future Freedom! All afflictions will be ended and glory will commence.
Do you have that anticipation for heaven?