The Three Groans of Romans 8

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In Romans 8, we find three big groans, which add up to one thing. Divine destiny. With these groans as our backdrop, it’s time to stop thinking so little of ourselves. Nelson Mandela said it this way,”There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

What if I told you, you are the answer to the purposelessness and chaos in the world around you? What if I told you, you are the antidote, the cure, the light in the darkest places? Could you embrace this as truth?

It’s so hard for us to see ourselves this way, but let’s go to scripture and see what it says. The first groan we hear in this passage is from creation itself, that is groaning for release from what scripture calls empty futility, slavery and decay.

Creation Groans:

First, in Romans 8:18, it says there is nothing that can compare to the magnitude of glory that is about to be unveiled within us (the sons and daughters of God). Magnitude refers to the great size or extent of something. The Greek word here (doxa), could also be translated as splendor or perfection.

But, you might argue, God doesn’t share his glory with anyone. Right, you are. But, here is the thing that statement misses. God won’t share his glory with another, but in this text we see ourselves now as fully grafted in. As sons and daughters of God. As joint heirs with Jesus. And in this state, we are no longer “other”, but find ourselves walking as one with our Father. In this deep place of relationship, what is His is ours. Just as I can go into my dad’s barn and borrow his weed eater without asking (and maybe not return it), we have full access to all the glory that belongs to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and creation is literally groaning for us to embrace that identity, so that our freedom will free others.

This is deep, heavy and hard to fully embrace. Paul, the writer of Romans knew that, so the next groan we encounter in Romans 8 is our own personal groan, the deeps sighs of the sons and daughters of God.

We Groan:

Let’s be honest. Everyone who walks with God knows there’s more. We read about it in scripture. We see Enoch walking so closely with God that one day he’s just no longer here because he’s literally walked out of the earthly realm and into the heavenly one. Sometimes we just feel this sense of not arriving, of not being close enough, of not achieving the fullness with God that we yearn for. That’s where this groan comes from.

In Romans 8: 23, it says ‘We who have already experienced the firstfruits of the Spirit also inwardly groan as we passionately long to experience our full status as God’s sons and daughters—including our physical bodies being transformed.’

Here we see that what we have experienced so far with the Spirit is just a foretaste of what is to come. What a blessed hope this brings to imagine that the very best experiences we have had with the Spirit of God are just the beginning! Oh, I thank God for his transforming power, for his wisdom and knowledge, for his indwelling presence, but even I in my human frailty and simplicity of mind can sense deep in my soul that there is so much more. There are deeper depths and higher heights. There are unimaginable places of revelation still yet unseen. So, here in this verse we get in touch with those deeper yearnings which the Holy Spirit living in us incites. And our response, our only response is a groan, for words cannot express the hungering for these deep and nameless things of God. This is a dissatisfaction worth embracing. I call it a holy discontent. Let’s spend the rest of our days on this earth groaning for more of God and never grow satisfied with the status quo.

Finally, we come to the last groan in Romans 8.

The Holy Spirit Groans:

What would matter enough to the Holy Spirit that he would groan over it? Would you believe me if I said, your destiny? How humbling to imagine that He cares that much about you fulfilling every word that has been written about your life. Do you know that Psalm 139:16 says, ‘You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.’ I’ve often prayed, ‘God, don’t let one word written in your book about my life go undone.’ But, I’ve got good news. It’s not all up to us. Thank God, we aren’t left on our own to accomplish our purpose.

In verse 26, we find the Holy Spirit himself interceding for us with deep sighs, for our destiny to be fulfilled. The Greek word hupererentugkhano is best translated as “super intercession”. What an amazing destiny we have before us, with the hyper-intercession of the Holy Spirit on our side!

All of these groanings add up to one thing. The truth of divine destiny for the sons and daughters of God. Not just survival, but power to push back darkness. Not just making it through until the end, but making a difference in the communities where we are planted. Not just building a life, but building a legacy of blessing that pours out on all we come in contact with. Since all creation longs for freedom from its slavery to decay and to experience with us the wonderful freedom coming to God’s children, we are according to Romans 8, groaning our way into releasing the captives. What a miracle! What an opportunity. Perhaps it’s time to stop thinking so little of ourselves, and to start resting in our divine identity and purpose. We were made to be more. It’s time to rise.

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