Life is tough. Attempting to live for Jesus in this world is tough. But seeking to serve Jesus and His church in this world is ridiculously tough! Sometimes the weight of pastoral work can overwhelm us. This is why we need to hear God’s reaffirming Word. I’m not speaking specifically about a reaffirmation of our call as pastors. We need to hear Him say, “You are my child.”
This is the point of Romans 8. Personally, Romans 8 is a balm to my weary soul. I need to see this beautiful Mount Everest of the Bible. I want to share with you five key truths that I pray will provide rest for your weary soul.
First: You’ve been liberated to live for Jesus. (Romans 8:1-13)
Here is the good news pastor: You are not condemned because you’ve been set free from the power of sin through the Spirit and because you’ve been set free from the penalty of sin through Jesus. This allows you to live the life God wants you to live. But you can’t live the way God wants by the flesh but only through the Spirit.
The reason for this is that the flesh leads to death. Also the flesh is unable to submit to God and it cannot please God. To walk according to the flesh is to have one’s life determined by the values of this world. But to walk according to the Spirit is to live under the control of the Spirit. The Spirit is the mark that you belong to Christ and have the power of the Risen Christ in you. So brother you don’t have to live by the flesh but you can, by the Spirit, put to death the flesh.
Second: The Spirit dwells in you. (Romans 8:14-17)
God doesn’t leave you on your own, rather He sent His Spirit to dwell in you. Remember that the Spirit leads you as God’s son. Also you’ve received the Spirit of adoption. You don’t have the spirit of slavery leading to fear of condemnation and judgment. Since you are adopted you have a New Father, you experience full family rights (co-heirs) and His legal protections (no separation). And primarily you get to have a relationship with your Father.
When you doubt, know that the Spirit testifies that you are God’s child. The Spirit bears witness that you are part of God’s New Family. This testimony is confirmed in the deepest depths of your soul—subjective experience that confirms an objective reality. This happens as the Word and Spirit work together in your life.
Third: The present is pointing to the future. (Romans 8:18-27)
As a pastor, you experience first hand the present sufferings of this age. You see the raw humanity of those you seek to serve. But the present sufferings don’t compare to the future glory. Nor do the depression, anxiety, and fear pastors experience in this life compare to the future glory.
Paul reminds us that all of creation groans for the revelation of the Sons of God. Creation is waiting for that one moment at the end of history when we will be revealed. Creation is longing to be liberated from the curse of the Fall. Creation groans for the future unveiling.
But you also know that the present sufferings don’t compare because right now you are groaning for the resurrection of the body. The hope of the New Testament is the final resurrection from the dead. This is the hope in which you were saved, pastor! This is a living hope. And though you don’t see it now, one day the very thing God’s word promises will be seen with your eyes.
Fourth: God is working all things out. (Romans 8:28-30)
But does this hope dismiss the trials of your life now? Pastoral ministry is difficult. You will still have to preach funerals and ministry to broken people. The ups and downs hurt. It seems at time that everything in ministry leads to chaos. But you can trust that God is working all things together for good. Rest in the fact that nothing is outside the control of God’s providence. Nothing takes God by surprise; nothing is beyond his sovereign activity.
You can know that all things work together for good because God has loved you and has chosen you before time to look like Jesus. You can believe that God is in the process of working all things together because God has summoned you into a relationship with Him. Believe that God is sovereignly orchestrating your life because God has declared you in right standing through the death of Jesus. Finally rest knowing that God is working it all out because God has already chosen to glorify you in the future. From beginning to end, God is working in your life.
Fifth: No one can accuse or condemn you. (Romans 8:31-39)
In the course of your ministry some will seek to accuse you of things you didn’t do. Many will seek to condemn you because of something you said. But in the eyes of God no one is able to prevail against you because of God’s love. Since God has worked on our behalf, no one can be against us. Because of God’s love, in providing Christ for you and justifying you, no one can prevail against you either by word or deed. No one can accuse you and no one can condemn you. Satan cannot condemn you. Your sin cannot condemn you. Your past cannot condemn you. You yourself cannot condemn you!
Lastly nothing is able to separate you from God’s love. Specifically, no amount of external opposition can separate you. The people of God have always and will continue to experience opposition in this life. But you have a new identity in Christ. You are triumphant over these things and absolutely nothing can separate you from him—not even death or the problems of life. No spiritual power in hell can distance you from God’s love. Despite the trials, circumstances, and sufferings in this life, nothing is able to separate you from God’s love. His love is stronger than those things that attempt to separate us from him.
God’s love for His Son is never-ending and, because you are in Christ, you can never experience a moment in which God will never stop loving you. His love for you is not predicated on your performance but on Christ’s work on your behalf.
So remember: before you are a pastor, you are His child. Nothing can separate you from His love. The Spirit leads you. The present doesn’t compare to the future. God is working all things out for God. And you are not condemned. Experience the beauty of a Romans 8 life. Find relief for your weary soul in the truth of God’s Word. Remember, you are His.