Romans 8:26-30 By walking in the Spirit, we emerge from the wilderness and be transformed from glory to glory
Romans 8:26-30 By walking in the Spirit, we emerge from the wilderness and be transformed from glory to glory
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
God has called us to be His sons to reign with Him. Thus, He has predestined a time when He calls us. And thereafter, He introduces a wilderness phase where He regenerates (justifies) us towards His righteous characteristics. And when the time is right, He exalts us to reign with Him in glory. Throughout this journey of calling, justification and glorification, the Spirit intercedes and strengthens us in our weaknesses. That said, the wilderness experience is key to our eventual glorification. It is in the wilderness that we know God and learn to trust and obey Him. In today’s devotion, we learn: By walking in the Spirit, we emerge from the wilderness and be transformed from glory to glory.
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness
The intercession of the Spirit serves to equip and strengthen us for the journey that God has predestined for us. These “groanings” facilitates the inflow of divine grace that regenerates our identity, desires, convictions and courage. We, as mortal beings, cannot understand how we could be transformed or equipped for the challenges ahead. Firstly, we do not know what the future holds. Secondly, we are not fully aware of ourselves or our current circumstances. Thirdly, we are not able to transcend our fleshly weaknesses. But the Spirit is able to regenerate us towards God’s purposes.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.
For the one who loves God, God predestines his journey according to the divine purpose (or calling) for him. For such a person, God causes all things to work together so that he may lose his fleshly instincts to become like Christ. This path is predestined to facilitate learning through divinely arranged mentors and circumstances. In the process, the believer may grow in Christ-likeness and reign with Him over creation. Favourable circumstances serve to exalt and promote the believer. Unfavourable circumstances or tribulations (which often precedes favourable ones) serve to test the believer’s faith and strengthen him. Therefore, for one who loves God, both favourable and unfavourable circumstances (all things) work in tandem to sanctify and glorify the believer.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son
The calling of the believer is to conform to the likeness of Jesus Christ and to do his works. The word “foreknew” (pro-ginosko in Greek, pro as in fore, ginosko as in knowledge) means having complete knowledge of all things including a person’s heart and his subsequent works. Hebrews 4:13 says concerning God’s foreknowledge,
And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Hebrews 4:13
Because God possesses foreknowledge, He knows ahead of time if a person will obey or reject His directives. Thus, for those whom He foreknew, who will love and obey Him, He predestines the circumstances around them to bring out the best outcome. The word “predestine” means to predetermine or to decide beforehand. It is important to know that God does not predetermine one to repent or rebel, as that decision belongs solely to the individual. But God predetermines the circumstances around us so that we may experience His goodness and not be exposed to temptations that we cannot bear. God predestines and orchestrates all things in order to mould us into His likeness. God does not manipulate our moral decisions because He has given us the sovereign right to choose good or evil.
Therefore, God, having complete knowledge of our motives, our degree of perseverance, strengths and weaknesses, will predestine our circumstances and life events. In so doing, all things will work towards fulfilling God’s purposes in our lives.
30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
God’s foreknowledge results in predestination. Predestination comprises the processes of calling, justification and eventual glorification.
Predestination begins with God’s calling. When He calls us, He chooses us and makes known our eternal identity or purpose by which we are created. The apostle Paul said,
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. – Ephesians 1:4-6
The process of predestination is clearly seen through the life of God’s Beloved, Jesus Christ.
When Jesus was born, His memory was wiped so that He may live according to the motives of His heart. And the Father began to call Jesus causing Him to know His calling at a young age (see Luke 2:49). Jesus started His journey of discovery where He grows into that calling (see Luke 2:40, 46). In the same way, God calls us through divinely appointed events and relationships through which we become aware of God and our eternal calling.
At the age of 30, God justified Jesus by calling Him His Son. To be justified is to be made righteous. “Righteous” is an adjective used to describe God (see Psalm 119:137,142; Deuteronomy 32:4; Isaiah 45:21). Put it simply, when God makes a person righteous, He adopts him as His son and regenerates him towards His likeness. Under what circumstance does God call us His sons of righteousness? It is when we acknowledge God as our Father and give Him full authority over our lives. It is important to note, that justification is a process. For most, the major piece happens in the wilderness. As we live in obedience amid tribulations in the wilderness, we progress in faith.
When God saw Jesus’s righteousness as worthy of the highest glory, God glorified Him by exalting Him to the highest station of creation (see Philippians 2:6-11). In the same way, when Christ returns as Judge, He will appraise us and exalt us to a level of glory that commensurates with our faith.
By walking in the Spirit, we emerge from the wilderness and be transformed from glory to glory
The phases of life
Indeed, these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Notice, the phases of calling and justification precedes glorification. And all three phases are predestined by God. Calling is a phase where God makes known our divine roles and equips us for it. Justification is a phase where God regenerates our hearts by putting us through the wilderness. It is through the wilderness of tribulations that God justifies and transforms His children into His likeness. Glorification is a phase where we find ourselves in our element to do great exploits.
Put in a nutshell, in the calling phase, God equips our mind, filling us with knowledge. In the justification phase, God regenerates our hearts, filling us with love and faith. In the glorification phase, God exalts us with divine authority to do mighty works and reign with Him.
The harshness of the wilderness
However, of the three phases, the harshest and most consequential of all is the wilderness. In the wilderness, one feels dry, alone, lost, and helpless. It is also a place where God appears as silent and absent. History tells us that many did not make it through the wilderness. Of those who followed Moses out of Egypt, only a fraction made it to the promised land. For their bodies were buried in the wilderness because they grumbled against God (see Numbers 14:26-35). Those who made it to the promised land lived through 40 wasted years. For what was to be a two-week journey stretched a span of 40 years. Why? Because the Israelites did not redeem the time by walking in step with the Spirit. Similarly, many today will miss out on the promised land. And many more will remain in the wilderness longer than they should because they either could not hear God, or would not follow Him wholeheartedly.
How can we emerge from the wilderness in good time?
Firstly, we must understand the divine purpose of the wilderness and embrace it without grumbling. God led the Israelites into the wilderness to humble them so that they might learn to trust God and obey His directives. Moses said to them,
Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. – Deuteronomy 8:2
Therefore, the purpose of the wilderness is to expose us to our natural identity, our fleshly desires, our self-dependence and wilfulness. The wilderness may bring a loss of health or wealth and excesses that clutter our soul. It is here that God remakes our identity, sanctifies our desires and reconfigures our relationships by removing unwholesome friends. God uses the wilderness to break us so that we may be re-established in God’s likeness.
Secondly, we must learn to submit to the Father’s discipline as His children. We must learn to listen and obey His directives moment by moment. At the same time to trust in His provision and protection. We must not grumble but trust God and obey His directives one day at a time. Here, we develop sensitivity towards God and the lifestyle of communion with God. In fact, it was in the wilderness of Midian that Moses met God and spoke with Him face to face. Now, Moses brought the Israelites into the wilderness so that they might know God. Moses said to them,
He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. 6 Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. – Deuteronomy 8:3-6
Here, God strips us of unhealthy habits and lifestyle. Because access to the things that occupy us are blocked off, we become restless. And God sets us back to the basics of what makes life abundant. Righteousness, peace and joy return to become the mainstay of our soul.
Thirdly, we must keep reminding ourselves of God’s promises of glory. Moses said,
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. – Deuteronomy 8:7-10
By reminding ourselves of God’s promises of glory, we facilitate the intercession of the Spirit and abound in His power. Therefore, we must confess the prophecy of abundance, peace and righteousness as often as we can. The apostle Paul said,
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13
The world and its busyness obscure the true meaning of life and numb us to the pain of our soul. Despite the world becoming more connected through technology, people are in fact becoming more lonely, lost and helpless. But it is in the wilderness that we find God as our Companion and are no longer lonely. And we are no longer helpless, for God has become my Helper. And we no longer feel lost, for God is my hope and salvation.
In all the phases of life, there is always an element of wilderness in it. Hence, it is normal that we feel lonely, lost and helpless. Therefore, we must learn from the prophet Daniel to slow down and retreat into the wilderness three times a day. It is there in the bare stillness where we find our comfort, direction, peace and hope.
Dear Lord, I thank you for predestining my calling, justification and glorification. I thank you for the wilderness in my life. Make me into the person that you can use for your salvation plans. Sensitise my eyes and ears so that I may see and hear you more clearly. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.