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Lessons from Creation about the Future (The Answer to Global Warming July 5, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Creation, Global Warming, Holy Spirit, Religion, Romans, Sermons.
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God’s Answer to Global Warming: What Creation Teaches Us About the Future
(Romans 8:10-25)

INTRODUCTION: One of the hot button issues of our day is global warming. On this fourth of July weekend, this ranks among one of the top political footballs. Some are absolutely convinced using scientific data that our planet is slowly but surely warming to catastrophic levels. Others, also using scientific data, are just as convinced that we are simply experiencing a warmer period during the regular cycle of warming and cooling which the earth has experienced since its existence. It is likely that the reality is that we simply do not know and the best we can do is guess about the future of this planet.

But then God enters the picture. God agrees that the earth is in a mess. In fact, He had a part in this mess. He cursed the earth, making it less fruitful than it could be because of Adam’s sin. God cursed the ground so that Adam must work harder to provide for himself and his family.

So there is a sense, if the earth is warming, it is because God has cursed it and man has added a significant portion of sin and waste and abuse to the equation. If the earth is not warming, however, this earth is still cursed and is still groaning under the consequences of humankind’s sin.

In this passage Paul refers to the burden of sin on creation and takes from creation an important lesson for us to learn that will help us in our personal battles against sin.

That is one of the main purposes of Romans 6-8. To teach us, who have been forgiven of our sin, that it is possible to have victory over sin. We are already freed from the slavery of sin but our sinful bodies are constantly tempted and we need to be equipped to fight against sin.

The Spirit of God enables us in our struggle against our sinful flesh (verses 1-16). This is actually the main point that Paul is trying to make. If we are going to have victory now over sin, we need the power of the Holy Spirit.
Why do we need the Holy Spirit (verses 1-9)? Because our flesh is too weak to keep the law of God. Romans 6 teaches us we are no longer slaves to sin and Romans 7 teaches us we are no longer slaves to law and yet we find we can still fulfill the conditions of the law through the Holy Spirit. There are only two ways of living. In obedience through the Spirit or in rebellion through the flesh. There is no middle ground. The difference maker is not that God has adjusted His standards but rather that He has given us His Spirit.
How does the Holy Spirit enable us to please God (verses 10-13)? By enabling us to put to death the deeds of this sinful body.

Dr. Charles Ryrie once called Romans 8:13 the most important single verse on the spiritual life in the New Testament. He liked it because it contains a beautiful balance. There is God’s part—”if by the Spirit”—and there is our part—”you put to death.” Victory over sin comes when we do our part as we rely upon the Holy Spirit’s enablement. Victory over sin is neither entirely passive (“Let go and let God”) nor entirely active (“I’ve got to do this all by myself”). This verse balances a moment-by-moment dependence upon the Spirit with a tough-minded attitude toward the flesh. Is victory over sin dependent upon God or upon me? The answer is Yes!
I cannot do it without God.
God will not do it without me. (with thanks to Ray Pritchard)

The Holy Spirit’s enablement is a distinguishing mark of a child of God (14-16). How does the Spirit do this?
He leads us in our battle against sin. Verse 14 teaches us that there is a connection with being a Son of God and being led by the Spirit of God to fight our sinful flesh. The Holy Spirit convicts us through the Word of God and says to us this is the way, walk in it, do not pay debts to your sinful flesh (verse 12), you do not owe yourself anything. That is why in Ephesians 6:18, Paul commanded the believers to pray in the Spirit with watchfulness because Satan is out to tempt us to pay debts to our sinful flesh. We need the Spirit of God to lead us in the right ways and to protect us from the ways of evil.
He also assures us of our relationship to God (verses 15-16). Now why does that matter in our fight against sin? 1 John 3:1-3 tells us that confidence in our relationship to God is our motivation to purify ourselves, that is, to put to death the deeds of our body. Further in that same chapter, in verses 19-22, John tells that it is the Holy Spirit who gives us that confidence.
Our glorification with Christ is the purpose for our struggle against our sinful flesh (verses 17-18). Our struggle is pictured in this chapter as suffering. It is true that we are looking forward to the day when we will have new bodies with no pain and suffering but what is in view in this passage is the suffering that Christ endured and which we also endure as a result of our battle against sin. There are several reasons why I think it is specifically referring to our battle against sin.
Romans 7:24 makes it clear that this battle against sin for the believer is a hard battle. That is why Paul wrote Romans 8, to assure us that this battle is reasonable. Romans 6 tells us this battle is winnable, Romans 7 tells us it is a deadly battle, and Romans 8 tells us how to win that battle.
Secondly, the whole concept of being crucified with Christ is a picture of our submission to Christ and our battle against sin. Battles produce pain, suffering, terrible injuries, and death. The battle of sin is no different. It is like the crucifixion of Christ in its pain and suffering if we are willing to enter into that battle.
Finally, the immediate context has to do with the pain and suffering of sin. Our struggle against sin is won, not when we die but rather when we our glorified with Christ at His coming. That is what verses 17-18 teaches. Last Sunday, one of the founding fathers of this church, Dale Avery, passed away after a long and painful battle with cancer. His wife is grieving her loss as one would expect but as often happens, there is a sense that she is comforted because she knows that he is with the Lord and that his pain is over. God, however, is not finished with Dale Avery. When Jesus Christ comes to be glorified in His kingdom, Dale Avery will rise from the grave in Ephrata, Pennsylvania with a glorified body and will take his place as an heir and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. Because He identified Himself with Jesus Christ through faith, he will be exalted with Jesus Christ above the angels to the highest position in the universe under God the Father to rule and to reign through all eternity with the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Although His part of the battle against the suffering of sin is over, his glorification with Christ is still to come and it will be well worth it all, in fact, every struggle against sin and its suffering will seem nothing when he is crowned with the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The good news is this: not just Dale Avery but every believer in Jesus Christ will also be glorified with Christ on that day. But there is more…
Our glorification with Christ is the point in time when creation is finally released from the bondage of sin’s corruption (verses 19-22). For thousands of years the earth has been cursed because of sin and has been in bondage to corruption. When God sent the flood, He reduced the amount of sin from the earth but the earth remained cursed and in bondage to corruption. There is no physical force that can release the earth from this bondage. It is only when we are glorified with Christ in that last day that the earth will finally be delivered from bondage. If there is a global warming coming, then it is certainly because our sin has corrupted this world. It is inevitable.
Verse 20 points out that the earth in its present state is subjected to futility, frailty, vanity, weakness. This is a wonderful world from our point of view but it groans under the weight of sin. Why are we constantly in danger of famine? Because this planet under the bondage of sin cannot reach its potential.
God’s answer is the glorification of Christ and of His children with Christ at His coming. The earth will have new leadership: Christ and His royal family of brothers and sisters who have put their faith in Him will rule over this earth according to verse 22 with glorious liberty. It will be freed to produce as God intended for it to produce. This planet will become the utopia God intended for it to be.
This is described for us in the Old Testament in Isaiah 65:17-25 as well as in other prophets when the millennial kingdom is described and will be extended throughout all eternity through the new heaven and the new earth.
So what? How does this lesson from creation help me? We learn hope and patience. Like creation, we have an expectation in our glorification with Christ and that hope is our motivation to persevere in our struggle against our sinful flesh (verses 23-25).
Verses 23-25 teaches us those who have the first fruits of the Spirit have hope. In fact, our glorification is guaranteed by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We cannot see that hope yet. We cannot even imagine that hope but it is coming to every believer in Jesus Christ.

We have learned three wonderful lessons from creation. We have learned according to Romans 1 that creation teaches us the power and existence of God. We have also learned from Psalm 8 that we, humankind, is the center of God’s created universe. Today we have learned why. Creation is waiting for our glorification with Christ and the resulting freedom that it will enjoy as a result. For that reason, this battle against sin that we are constantly fighting is worth every moment. The purpose of the battle, the hope of our suffering is our honor and glorification with Christ. When you are weary of fighting against the pain and suffering of sin, be patient, persevere, remember you have the Holy Spirit to help you, to lead you and the future glory that you will have with Christ will be worth it.

Invitation: Commit yourself to killing sin as a believer. If you are an unbeliever, let me invite you to a relationship with Christ to become a son of God.

The Bible position on Global Warming July 13, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Day of the Lord, Environment, Eschatology, Evangelicalism, False Doctrine, Genesis, Global Warming, Gospel, Judgment, Promises of God, Romans.
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Will probably use part of this article in the sermon on Sunday. Try to figure out which part of this article best fits in with Psalm 19. Let me know if you figure it out before Sunday.

must-read (Thanks to Tim Challlies at Tim Challies)