And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)
The Christian experience is both wonderful and challenging.
We have received forgiveness. We’re adopted into God’s family. We enjoy a fellowship with one another that runs deeper than natural affinity. We possess a sure hope of heaven, which brings about eager anticipation. We have the Spirit, God Himself, dwelling within us. We are not removed, though, from the realities of life in this fallen world. We know frustration, we know heartache, we know disappointment, and we know groaning.
While we live here on earth, we have a little taste of heaven, but we are not there yet.
Christianity does not make us immune to decay or sin. We get sick, and our bodies fail. We continue to struggle with sin and encounter opposition to our faith. Indeed, as the Westminster theologians put it back in the 17th century, the Christian is involved in “a continual and irreconcilable war” against sin.
It is possible to tie ourselves in all kinds of spiritual and theological knots over our ongoing battle with sin. We may wonder, “Why is it that I still disobey?” In those moments, you and I need to remember the “three tenses” of salvation, which summarize God’s work in the life of the Christian.
If we are hidden in Christ, then we have been saved from the penalty of sin. We have nothing to fear on the day of judgment because Jesus, by His death on the cross, bore our sins and faced punishment in our place. In the present tense, we are beingsaved from the power of sin. It’s an ongoing divine ministry; none of us will ever be sinless this side of heaven, but God is at work within us, enabling us to say no to what is wrong and yes to what is right. And finally, there will be a day, when Christ returns, when we will be saved from sin’s very presence.
Every so often we get a little taste of heaven that makes us long for what’s to come. This is why Paul says that we “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for … the redemption of our bodies.” We should look forward to Christ’s return with zealous expectation!
FOOTNOTES 1 The Westminster Confession of Faith 13.2.
Devotional material is taken from Truth For Life Daily Devotional by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.