April 13, 2017

How do you know?

One of those heavy philosophical questions is: how do we know what we know? Skeptics and pessimists might say all of life is an illusion, or that what we know is a projection of what we desire. I don’t know the depths of all this. I do know that I can be deceived into thinking something is true when it later proves otherwise. I also realize that there is a difference between hoping things will turn out based on what I want and having knowledge based on God’s Word. The first can ‘go south’ but the second never changes.

Romans 8 is the chapter about knowing. It begins with the qualification for my certainty — which is not based on my brain power at all, but on my relationship with Jesus Christ and on what He says is true. It is not true because I believe it; I believe it because it is true.
From this chapter, I know that I’m not under God’s condemnation. God says this is true for anyone who is ‘in Christ Jesus’ — those who trust Him to set us free from the law of sin and death. God has done what the law could not do.

“By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:3-11)

In this chapter, God also says that all who believe have the Spirit of God. It is the Spirit who knows and because of His testimony to my heart, I also know who I am and I know what is mine in Christ!
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:12-17)
As Fortner says, Romans 8 assures me that there is a better day coming. Daily news verifies that the earth is cursed by sin, a place of suffering. Yet verses 18 – 25 say that our present sufferings “are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”

Someday creation will be “set free from its bondage to corruption” and enter into the “freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Our bodies will be redeemed, yet in the meantime we both “groan inwardly” and yet “wait eagerly” and “with patience” as the Holy Spirit helps us in our praying and our knowing.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30)
This promise was impressed on my heart when God saved me. Because of Him, I knew and still know and rely on this truth. All that happens to me is used by God to shape me into the image of His Son. Knowing this has made sense of life and for me, is a very important truth.

There is more. Verses 31-39 asks rhetorical questions and all those who belong to God know the answers.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  . . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure (I know) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Jesus, those without faith charge believers with presumption and arrogance, for this is the only knowing that they understand concerning You and eternal matters. Yet I know that blindness too. Once I was there, not knowing or being able to wrap my mind around who You are and what You have done. it is only because You opened my eyes to see Your reality that I can now know the truth and that truth has set me free!

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