Scriptures

The Spirit of Adoption

Introduction

Romans 8:12-17 ‘Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.’

Paul writes,

‘Therefore brothers and sisters’

because of the relation which we sustain to Christ, and because of the opposite effects of living fleshly and spiritual lives, we, though free from the law, are under no obligation to be lawless, and to live after the flesh.

For if you so live you must pay the penalty of such a course by dying, but if, by the exercise of your will, and the aid of the Holy Spirit, you put an end to the sinful practices of your fleshly nature, you shall live.

The testimony of Christian experience is that the aid of the Holy Spirit, though real and effectual, is not so obtrusive as to enable the one aided to take sensible notice of it.

To all appearance and sensation, the victory over flesh is entirely the Christian’s own, and he recognizes the aid of the Spirit, not because his burdens are sensibly lightened, but because of the fact that in his efforts to do right he now succeeds where lately he failed.

The success, moreover, though habitual, is not invariable, for invariable victory over temptation breeds self-consciousness and self-righteousness, and other sins perhaps more dangerous than the ordinary lusts of the flesh.

‘For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God’.

To deny the flesh is to be

‘led by the Spirit’,

and to be led by the Spirit is to be a son of God, for, though all in the church claim this sonship, the claim is only demonstrated to be genuine in the case of those who are led by the Spirit. The Spirit leads both externally and internally.

Externally, the Spirit supplies the Gospel truth as set forth in the New Testament, and the rules and precepts therein found are for the instruction and guidance of God’s children. Internally, the Spirit aids by ministering strength and comfort to the disciple in his effort to conform to the revealed truth and will of God.

‘The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’’

That you are the sons of God is apparent, as I say, because of the Spirit which leads and frees you, and which changes your own spirit.

For, in your unsaved, unregenerate state you had a spirit of bondage, leading you to fear God, and His wrath, but when you were baptised, and became renewed, you received a different spirit, the Spirit of adoption or sonship, which dispels fear, and causes you, with confident gladness, to approach and address God as your ‘Abba’ which is, being interpreted,

‘Father’.

‘The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs— heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory’.

In interpreting this passage we should remember that Paul is speaking to those already converted. Hence, in these and in the preceding verses, he’s not telling them how to become children of God, but how to continue such.

Now, it is true that the Spirit lays down the terms by which we may become Christians, and if we obey these terms, then both the Holy Spirit and our own spirit testify that we are

‘children of God’.

But since Paul isn’t addressing converts, such an interpretation would be wide of his thought, which is this, if the Holy Spirit indeed leads us in a conflict with sin and a steady effort towards righteousness, and if we submit to be so led, then the Holy Spirit unites with our spirit to testify that we are God’s children.

The testimony is, of course, self-directed. I. e., the testimony is for the purpose of assuring and confirming our own faith. If we are led, we know it, and so our own spirit testifies to us. If we are led, in the godly, spiritual path, it can be none other than the Holy Spirit who leads and so, in the very act of leading, the Spirit testifies to us.

And, lastly, if we are led, and if we follow, this union of our spirit and God’s Spirit in joint action proves us children of God, for our co-operation with God in this paternal government of His shows us accepted of Him as His children. But we can’t be children in this one respect of government without being children also in the other respect of heirship.

We are, therefore, God’s heirs, joint-heirs with His only begotten Son, provided that we are truly led by the Spirit as He was, which we may readily test, for the Spirit led Him through suffering to glory, and should lead us by the same pathway, if we are to enjoy somewhat of the same glory.

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Philippians 4:8

MENU