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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 20
Verse 20. For the creature. The renewed creature; the Christian mind. This is given as a reason for its aspiring to the full privileges of adoption; that the present state is not one of choice, or one which is preferred, but one to which it has been subjected for wise reasons by God.
Subject to vanity. The word "subject to" means placed in such a state; subjected to it by the appointment of another, as a soldier has his rank and place assigned him in an army. The word vanity here (mataiothti) is descriptive of the present condition of the Christian, as frail and dying; as exposed to trials, temptations, and cares; as in the midst of conflicts, and of a world which may be emphatically pronounced vanity. More or less, the Christian is brought under this influence; his joys are marred; his peace is discomposed; his affections wander; his life is a life of vanity and vexation.
Not willingly. Not voluntarily. It is not a matter of choice. It is not that which is congenial to his renewed nature. That would aspire to perfect holiness and peace. But this subjection is one that is contrary to it, and from which he desires to be delivered. This describes substantially the same condition as Ro 7:15-24.
But by reason. By him, (dia). It is the appointment of God, who has chosen to place his people in this condition; and who for wise purposes retains them in it.
Who hath subjected the same. Who has appointed his people to this condition. It is his wise arrangement. Here we may observe,
(1.) that the instinctive feelings of Christians lead them to desire a purer and a happier world, Php 1:23.
(2.) That it is not what they desire, to be subjected to the toils of this life, and to the temptations and vanities of this world. They sigh for deliverance.
(3.) Their lot in Life; their being subjected to this state of vanity, is the arrangement of God. Why it is, he has not seen fit to inform us fully. He might have taken his people at once to heaven as soon as they are converted. But though we know not all the reasons why they are continued here in this state of vanity, we can see some of them.
(a) Christians are subjected to this state to do good to
their fellow-sinners. They remain on earth for this
purpose; and this should be their leading aim.
(b) By their remaining here, the power of the gospel is shown
in overcoming their sin; in meeting their temptations; in
sustaining them in trial; and in thus furnishing living
evidence to the world of the power and excellency of
that gospel. This could not be attained if they were
removed at once to heaven.
(c) It furnishes occasion for some interesting exhibitions
of character—for hope, and faith, and love, and for
increasing and progressive excellence.
(d) It is a proper training for heaven. It brings out the
Christian character, and fits it for the skies. There may
be inestimable advantages, all of which we may not see, in
subjecting the Christian to a process of training in
overcoming his sins, and in producing confidence in
God, before he is admitted to his state of final rest.
(e) It is fit and proper that he should engage here in the
service of Him who has redeemed him. He has been ransomed
by the blood of Christ, and God has the highest claim on him
in all the conflicts and toils, in all the labours and
services, to which he may be subjected in this life.
Hope has reference to the future; and in this state of the Christian, he sighs for deliverance, and expects it.
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