We don’t have to look very far to see the terrible effects of sin around us. The natural world can be beautiful one day and wreak havoc and terror the next. Today, Pastor guides us through Romans 8, where we learn why creation groans, longing to be rescued from its sin-cursed state.
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes With Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us today as we continue our series, entitled, “Pandemics, Plagues, and Natural Disasters: what is God saying to us?” Now, you might be listening to this in a different context, but if you have a bible, it would be wonderful if you could turn to Romans 8. If you can’t do that right now, be sure to read this chapter at a later time and understand what Paul’s argument is when he shows us the relationship between human sin and the fallenness of nature. And in that fallenness, we include disease such as Corona and a whole host of others. I want to read a few verses for you and then I want to outline what Paul’s argument is to help us to understand the relationship between our sin and nature and it’s fallenness.
Paul says, “For the creation (this is verse 20)—for the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans together and it groans as in the pains of childbirth” (and so forth). Now, maybe I read those verses too quickly, so let me help you understand them. What Paul is saying is that creation itself is looking to our redemption, the redemption of the sons of God. He said it was subjected to a curse, not willingly. The trees didn’t make a decision. The weather patterns didn’t make a decision. This was imposed on the Earth by God after man sinned and the reason for that is because it was not possible for Adam and Eve to live as sinners in a paradise that was pristine and free of sin. So when Adam and Eve sinned, God says the creation is going to be judged and it’s going to be put into bondage and it will be cursed, as a result of man’s sin. To put it as clearly as I can, the moral decision that human beings made impacted the physical creation, which now Paul personifies, as if “with eager expectation” waiting for our redemption so that it can be redeemed and someday it will be redeemed. Up until now, Paul says, the creation groans waiting for us and our redemption and you look around and you see that there is indeed a groaning creation with all of its earthquakes and all of the issues that we have when we speak about natural disasters.
By the way, do you see the connection, then, between sin and the judgment of God on nature? When you look at a tornado and you see the devastation that it brings about, you know what you ought to say to yourself is, “that’s what sin does” because there are people today whose lives are represented by that kind of devastation, and you probably know some—lives torn apart with awful sin and hopelessness apart from the Gospel. So, Paul says that creation is groaning, waiting for the redemption of the sons of God, but then he goes on to say we ourselves groan and you know the older I get the better I understand that passage. I got out of bed this morning and I did some of my own groaning until I had the opportunity to eat some breakfast and have a cup of coffee and then I began to feel better. So we groan. And then if that isn’t enough in verse 29, he says that even the Spirit groans because he says that sometimes we don’t know exactly how to pray and the spirit prays for us with groaning that cannot be uttered. Ah, we live in a very groaning world, don’t we? And what we need to do is to recognize that that is a part of the fallenness of creation. Corona is a reminder to us that man sinned and the consequences continue on and on in multiple different ways.
You say, “Well, Pastor Lutzer, what’s the takeaway today? Give us some encouragement!” Alright, I will. The encouragement in this passage is the opening verse where Paul begins this section. It’s actually verse 18, where the Apostle Paul says “for we know that the suffering of this present world is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” You live in this world? Expect suffering. Expect death. Expect nature to not always be on our side. Expect nature to be beautiful one day and terrible the next, just like some human beings—both goodness and evil all together. You know Joni Eareckson Tada, this woman who has lived in a wheelchair for about 50 years, a remarkable woman whose testimony has touched millions, a few months ago, I was at a conference where she was and she and I were talking and then she made this quote and she attributed it to someone but I’m not sure who it is that said the quote, but coming from her, she said, “When we get to heaven, we’ll discover how little we suffered and how badly.” Yes my friend, up until that day we groan but the suffering of this present world and nature that is often against us is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. So keep going and I’ll see you right here next time. And as for today you just go with God.