And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
Having the first fruits of the Spirit is a reference to our relationship with God, which is guaranteed to us by the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit. This guarantee is the sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit. There is, however, much more waiting for us in eternity. First fruits (the first portion of the harvest) means a down payment for what is to follow in the future. What we have now, as advancing believers, is fantastic, but what we will have in eternity will be far superior.
The second groan of suffering is from the advancing believer. Even the maturing believer suffers in this life. If a believer is not being disciplined by God, then the suffering is undeserved and designed for blessing not cursing. Suffering for blessing follows two general trends: a) Personal catastrophe and disaster b) National catastrophe and disaster. When undeserved suffering comes to the mature believer it is not designed to detract from blessing but to add blessing. Strength in adversity is a blessing from God to the mature believer.
Here the adoption as sons refers to the believer in Ultimate Sanctification. And the redemption of the body refers to the resurrection body that the believer receives at the Rapture of the Church.
For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees?
This is the anticipation of the redemption of the body at resurrection. Hope means anticipation or expectation. At salvation, we received eternal life, but we will not fully possess it until we are in a resurrection body. In other words, expectation is not a present but a future reality. Therefore hope must be defined in this context as the future reality of the eternal state. We cannot see Heaven and all of its details, but we anticipate the reality of Heaven, the reality of eternity and as mature believers we can anticipate the greater rewards and blessings of Ultimate Sanctification. Hope, then, is confidence of reality before the reality is seen. If you have already seen the reality of eternity, then there is no reason to anticipate (hope for) it.
But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
At salvation we do not see the blessings of maturity, but the possession of imputed righteousness should give us some hope of having those blessings. At maturity we do not see the blessings and rewards of eternity, but the possession of the blessings of maturity should give us confident anticipation. In other words, one imputation gives confidence for the next imputation. Just as imputed righteousness is the hope for blessing in time, blessing in time is the hope for blessing in eternity. Imputations are stepping stones to glory.
I Peter 4:1-5
In order to orient to suffering, the believer must exhibit the same mental attitude that Jesus Christ exhibited when He suffered in His humanity. What was His attitude? Peace, joy, stability, single-mindedness, humility and obedience to the plan of God. (Isaiah 26:3-4; Hebrews 12:2; II Timothy 1:7; II Corinthians 13:11; II Corinthians 10:5-6; Philippians 2:5-8)
Jesus Christ fully understood the plan for Him. This plan involved intense suffering, spiritually, physically and mentally. Knowing this, He was still willing to die for our sins. (Matthew 26:39)
We are given a command in this verse to arm ourselves with the same mental attitude as Christ had. This, once again, is a command, not a request. This command is a military term referring to a fully armed Greek soldier. What is the believer’s equipment? The one offensive weapon mentioned in Ephesians 6 is the Word of God. In this verse, we are commanded to arm ourselves with the same mind as Christ. You will recall that the Word of God is the mind of Christ. In other words, there will be no orientation to suffering apart from Divine Viewpoint Thinking.
The second half of verse 1 is a reference to undeserved suffering. The reason we know this is that it is a reference to what Christ accomplished at the Cross with regard to sin. The suffering He endured was totally undeserved. The word “cease” actually means to pause, to desist, to refrain or to stop. When you are armed with the mind of Christ the suffering that comes your way will not be due to sin in your life. Christ has delivered us from the power of sin over us. Therefore, when we are under the control of the Holy Spirit and thinking divine viewpoint, any suffering that comes our way is undeserved and is for our benefit.
Verse 2 gives us a reason for undeserved suffering, namely, so that the believer will chose to do the will of God. God wants the believer to stop living like the unbeliever as described in verse 3. God has a plan, purpose and will for every believer during his life on earth. However, it is up to the individual believer to discover God’s will for himself.
Verse 3 describes the lust patterns of the sin nature and uses the word “Gentiles” to denote the unbeliever. The lust patterns of the sin nature are described here.
Page 4, The Book of Romans
Using our volition, we are commanded to refrain from this type of behavior, because as a believer in Jesus Christ, we now have a new nature. Our sin problem has been dealt with by Christ, and we have been delivered from the penalty and power of sin. We are to start living like the royalty that God says we are. There is nothing more comforting when you are experiencing undeserved suffering than to know that you are in the will of God.
These verses speak of the separation of the believer from the World System. Failure to do so will bring suffering in the form of divine discipline. We are to separate ourselves from:
Verse 4 gives us another source of undeserved suffering. It comes from unbelieving friends. Often they are amazed that you no longer run to the same excesses in your social life that you once did. Therefore, they speak evil of you as a result. This maligning is undeserved suffering.
Verse 5 refers to the judgment of the unbeliever that maligns the believer for his practice of separation. “The living and the dead” refers to those living at the time of the last judgment and those who have already died without Christ. The judgment, as we have studied, will not be according to their sin, but according to their works.Their works will not be good enough to merit eternal life.
To summarize, the believer is commanded to separate from the unbeliever’s excesses, even though he can expect maligning for his stand. However, God in His grace makes provision by turning undeserved suffering into blessing. It is a blessing in itself to pass a test of undeserved suffering by not reacting to or maligning the unbeliever.