By Travis Biller
Pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church, Elizabethton
There is nothing like knowing you have a home. Many are familiar with the Christmas song, “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” I was a young soldier in the army as Desert Storm began in 1991. As the prospect of war became real, and as our training began to reveal the dangers we would be exposed to, thoughts of home and knowing that I had a place to go back to one day, gave me both courage and hope. No matter where you are or what you are going through, knowing you have a home waiting for you encourages you to persevere.
Our text is Romans 8:12-25, and Paul is telling the church they have such a hope. He is encouraging the church on two fronts. The first involves their inward struggle against sin and the flesh (Romans 7:14-19). Every believer who seeks to live for God will discover that this battle is real. Paul does not want the church to lose heart. He wants them to understand that because Christ is in them, they are children of God and the Father will never forsake them (Romans 8:14-15). Paul also wants them to remember that through the Spirit of God that dwells in them, they have the assurance that in time they can and will overcome the obstacles of the flesh (Romans 8:13). The victory is assured (Philippians 1:6).
The second front where Paul is encouraging the church is the outward manifestation of walking with Christ in a sin-filled and cursed world where suffering can discourage a soul from fighting the good fight of faith (I Timothy 6:12).
Suffering can come in the form of persecution, sickness, and the many unforeseen tragedies that are commonly experienced throughout the world. Paul had experienced much suffering in his service to Christ (cf. II Corinthians 11:22-31). But he knew Christ was worth every ounce of suffering he endured (cf. Philippians 3:7-8). So, Paul writes, “… I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
When a child of God begins to understand the victory they already have in Christ and remembers what lies in wait for them, they will joyfully and patiently endure. God has provided everything. The Bible says that God has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). The joy of what God has given outweighs the struggles of the flesh and of the world.
When a believer remembers their true home and recalls that one day they will live in a world where suffering, sin, and death have been forever banished, they will discover the strength to engage the battle and be encouraged to live for Christ despite the trials (Romans 8:25). When the fight is hard and weariness sets in, our strength comes from knowing to whom we belong. “For we were saved in this hope” (Romans 8:24).
I still remember how the words of that song encouraged me, “l’ll be home for Christmas/ You can count on me / Please have snow and mistletoe / And presents under the tree.” Dear friend, we have an eternal home. Our Savior has prepared a place. Never lose hope.