26. Romans 8:9-17
The Spirit of sonship
In the first 8 verses of Romans 8, Paul explains the solutions to our ongoing problem of being lured by the desires of our flesh while our spirits long to honor God. The answer, he shows, is to live by the Spirit. When we are born again, we become new creatures connected to God by the Holy Spirit. That connection allows us to live with the power of Jesus. Our sinful flesh, however, still tempts us to self-indulgence and sin. We find ourselves in a new situation, however; we at last have the power to choose to surrender to the Spirit instead of helplessly succumbing to our temptations.
In verse 9 Paul clarifies that all of us are in one of two conditions: either we have the Spirit, and our flesh no longer has ultimate control over us, or we do not have the Spirit, and we do not belong to Christ. Many people profess Christ, though, who do not have the Spirit. The question is, if professing Christianity does not ensure being filled with the Spirit, what does?
Jesus told Nicodemus that no one could enter the kingdom of heaven unless he was born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:5-15) He also told his disciples before His death that if they loved Jesus, the Father would send the Spirit to live in them. (John 14:15-18)
After Jesus' resurrection and the miracle of Pentecost, the mystery of the Holy Spirit became clearer. When Peter preached that day in Jerusalem, he told the Jews listening to him to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and they would receive the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:36-41) Later, when Peter preached to the Gentile Cornelius and his household, they believed Peter's presentation of the truth about Jesus, and the Holy Spirit fell on them, and they spoke in tongues. The response of Peter and the believing Jews who were with him was first surprise; God had blessed Gentiles in the same way He had blessed the Jews who believed! Their second response was to say, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized?"(Acts 10:34-48) Ephesians 1:13 clearly states that we were included in Christ when we heard the gospel. Having believed it, we were marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit.
The secret of living by the Holy Spirit is, first of all, the necessity of accepting Jesus and surrendering to Him. An intellectual assent to the facts does not equal surrendering oneself to Jesus. We can know the facts and agree that they are true, but we can hold ourselves back from surrendering ourselves to the truth of our lostness and our need for a Savior.
Once we have surrendered ourselves to Jesus, however, and accepted His sacrifice for our sins, we become born again. The Holy Spirit in us brings our spirits to life and "will also give life to [our] mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in [us]." (verse 11) This promise has both "now and future" fulfillments. On the one hand, we are assured that we will be resurrected just as Jesus was. Our mortal bodies will be exchanged for eternal bodies. (see 1 Corinthians 15:42-44; 51-54) On the other hand, this promise implies supernatural life and power for our still-mortal bodies now, while we live in a sinful world. Jesus told His disciples that He gives life to whomever He chooses, just as the Father raises the dead. (John 5:21) Paul expanded the details of Jesus' promise. He explained that when we accept Jesus' death, our bodies of sin are "done away with", and we now live in the new way of the Spirit and are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6:16; 7:6) We are release from our birthright of doom and helpless sinfulness, and the power of God is ours to live a holy life.
The Holy Spirit who is in us also prays for us, interceding for us with God because we can't always know how we really ought to pray. (Romans 8:26) Because of the Spirit's life and power in us, we begin to have His fruit as we submit to Him: love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) We begin to experience the "riches of his inheritance" and His incomparably great power in our lives now-the power that raised Christ from the dead. (Ephesians 1:18-20) Because of the Holy Spirit in us, we can put on the armor of God to protect us in the spiritual battles of life. (Ephesians 6:10-18) His Spirit enables us to flee evil desires and to "pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace." His strength also keeps us from engaging in foolish arguments and quarrels while being kind, non-resentful, and able to teach. (2 Timothy 2:22-24) Over all, we have the certainty that we belong to Jesus and are members of God's family. We have this confidence in our unshakable identity because we have the Holy Spirit in us. (1 John 4:13-16)
The promise of the Holy Spirit is, therefore, two-fold: He gives us the assurance that we will be resurrected into physical as well as spiritual immortality, just as Jesus was, and He transforms our lives now, giving us the power and the victory over our habits and natural sinful responses and healing our brokenness and self-centeredness with His truth and His love.
Putting Sin To Death
One of the greatest gifts to Christ-followers is that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can experience the death of sin's tyranny. This relief from sin, however, does not mean that we "get the victory" by finally being able to resist temptation and keep the law. Rather, this freedom involves our surrender of our sin and powerlessness to God, allowing Him to deal with it in any way He wishes. Instead of retaining control over our sin by vowing to resist it, we give up control and instead look to Jesus. We say "Yes" to Him instead of looking at our sin and resisting it. Paul said true law-keeping, true circumcision, is a change of heart, not an observant behavior. We die to the law, serving God by the way of the Spirit instead. (Romans 2:29, 7:6) Instead of pursuing righteousness by works, by carefully disciplining sin out of our lives, we pursue it instead by the Spirit, by responding to Him instead of interacting with our own sinful urges internally. (see Romans 9:30-32)
Paul described his own experience of putting sin to death by the Spirit in Philippians 3:8-11. He said he would give up everything for the privilege of knowing Christ and having righteousness that is by faith, not by the law. He desired, in fact, to know Jesus so well that he would participate in His suffering and death in order to attain the resurrection one day.
In Ephesians 5:15-21, Paul gave some practical advice for pursuing freedom from sin by the power of the Spirit. First, he says, be wise and understand God's will. In other words, we must be open to knowing Jesus and spending time in the Scriptures. Second, we must not fill ourselves with self-gratifying indulgences; rather, we are to "sing and make music in [our] heart[s] to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." In other words, our life in the Spirit cannot fully blossom unless we actively praise and worship God. We are to honor him to each other and praise Him in all our circumstances.
Paul further elaborates on victory in the Spirit in his epistles to the Colossians. In chapter 2:11-16 he reminds believers that Jesus has already won the victory over evil. He cancelled the curse of the law at the cross and defeated the spiritual powers and authorities of the universe who opposed Him and opposed us. Because we serve an already victorious King, therefore, we must not allow anyone to judge us for the ways we worship Him. Our observances do not define our worship and our relationship with Him. Further, since we have accepted Jesus and have died and been raised with Him, our lives are now hidden with Christ in God. We no longer belong to the sinful world; therefore, we are to fill our thoughts with things above, not with worldly concerns. Because we are God's chosen people now, we are to clothe ourselves with the fruit of the Spirit and bear with each other, forgiving each other, and above all allowing Christ's love to define our interactions with others. (see Colossians 3:1-4, 12-17) This love, Paul continues in chapter four, will define all of our relationships. Wives will be submissive to their husbands; husbands will love their wives. Children will obey their parents, and fathers will not embitter their children. Slaves (employees today) will obey their bosses, and all of us will do whatever we do "as for the Lord," not as if it were for men. We serve the Lord Christ by respecting and honoring those in our lives.
Putting sin to death by the Spirit involves a completely new paradigm; instead of knowing the law's requirements and battling with sin, we own our sinfulness and surrender to Jesus. We look to Him and say to a Person who convicts us moment by moment instead of struggling in hand-to-hand combat with sin. We praise and thank God by faith, even before we see all His blessings, and by faith we walk into the choices and acts of surrender to which He leads us.
Verse 19 says creation is waiting for the sons of God to be revealed. Many people believe that all people are God's children, yet this text suggests that God's children are still somewhat hidden from view. Who, exactly, are God's children?
The Israelites believed they were God's children; indeed, God had created Israel to be His nation and His people. Many Old Testament prophecies, however, suggested that God's children were not limited to Israel. Hosea spoke for God in Hosea 1:10: "In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.'" The further promise in verse 11 is that Israel and Judah would be reunited, and a leader would come up out of the land and would be appointed over them. Both Paul (Romans 9:26) and Peter (1 Peter 2:10) would apply this prophecy to the mission to bring the Gentiles into fellowship through Christ. This passage not only referred to apostate Israel and Judah being brought back to God under the leadership of a common leader (Jesus), but it also hints that Gentiles would become part of God's people.
Malachi further identifies those whom God calls his own. Those who feared the Lord, Malachi wrote in Malachi 3:16-18, would be God's. He would spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. People would see again the distinction between those who served the Lord and those who don't, Malachi wrote.
Jesus plainly said that peacemakers are blessed and are called children of God. (Matthew 5:9) John wrote in John 1:12-13 that to all who receive Jesus and believe in His name, God gave the right to be called children of God. This passage clearly implies that only those who accept Jesus are called His children. Galatians 4:26-27 further identifies God's children. Paul refers to Hagar and Sarah, the mothers of Abraham's natural son and the son of promise, respectively. We are to throw out the bondwoman, the mother of the natural child. Instead, "Jerusalem above is free and is our mother." We are children of God's promise, just as Isaac was, if we put our faith in Jesus, the promised Seed of Abraham, and accept our position as God's sons and daughter.
If God's children are only those who accept Jesus and place their faith in His sacrifice, they must share some identifying mark. Galatians 3:26-27 tells us that we are sons of God through faith in Jesus. By this faith we are also Abraham's seed and "heirs according to the promise". Chapter 4:4-7 explains that God redeemed us from the law that we might receive "full rights as sons". Because we're sons, God also sends us the Holy Spirit who identifies God to us as our Father. Ephesians 1:4-8 explains that God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world. He chose us to be holy and blameless, and He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus. Revelation 21:6-8 describes Jesus as saying He will give the water of life at no cost to whomever is thirsty. The person who "overcomes" the world will inherit the new earth, and He "will be his God and he will be my son."
The children of God are those who accept Jesus' sacrifice through faith and surrender their lives to Him. They are made new by the Holy Spirit, and they know that God is their Father through the witness of the Spirit in them. They are joint heirs with Christ and will inherit the new earth at the end of the ages.
Spirit: Breath or Knowing?
Verse 16 clearly says that the Holy Spirit "testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Many of us were taught that the human spirit is simply one's breath. When Jesus said at His death, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit," he was declaring his death and saying he would give his breath of life back to God. The spirit, in our early teaching, was not an essential part of our personality of identity. It was nothing more than the breath in our nostrils. It was the physical necessity of our lives.
The Bible, however, teaches something much different. It shows the spirit as something which is capable of knowing, changing, and outlasting physical death. Our upbringing would have interpreted Roman 8:16 as saying, "The Holy Spirit convinces our minds [our capacity for knowledge and rational thought] that we are children of God." Yet the Bible differentiates between knowledge and spiritual insight.
In order to begin to understand that the spirit is not our literal breaths nor a metaphor for our "knowing", we must see how the word is used throughout Scripture. In Psalm 31:5 David said, "Into your hands I commit my spirit, O Lord." This verse is strikingly similar to Peter's statement in 1 Peter 2:23 where he says of Jesus when he was insulted and reviled, "He entrusted himself to him who judges justly." Both David and Jesus were committing the essences of themselves to God. David was not commiting his breath to God, nor was Jesus. They were commiting their identities, the core of who they were, to God.
When Jesus was in Gethsemane, he admonished his disciples to watch and praying order to be delivered from temptation because, He said, the spirit was willing, but the body was weak. He could not have meant their "breath" was willing. Luke records the conception and birth of John the Baptist. Luke 1:80 describes him as a child by saying he grew "and became strong in spirit." These references clearly are not referring to breath; they are referring to the core, essential identity of people.
John 4:22-23 is even more compelling. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, when she asked where the proper place for worship was, that the Father is spirit. Therefore, He said, we must worship Him in spirit and in truth. "Truth", in the book of John, is associated with Jesus. Here Jesus was saying we are to worship God, who is spirit (not breath!), in the truth of Jesus and in our spirits.
Paul spoke in 1 Corinthians 2:14 about man's spirit. "The things that come from the Spirit of God," he says, "are spiritually discerned." This passage cannot be referring to "breath". In 2 Corinthians 7:1 he further admonishes the Corinthians to purify themselves from "everything that contaminates body and spirit", and he exhorts them to perfect themselves in holiness out of reverence for God. To the Philippians Paul wrote that they were to be "like-minded, one in spirit and purpose." (Philippians 2:1-2) He prays for the Thessalonians that their "whole spirit, soul, and body" would be kept pure. (1 Thessalonians 5:23) He reminded Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7 that God had not given a spirit of timidity but one of power, love, and self-discipline. The author of Hebrews characterizes the Scriptures as being sharper than a double-edged sword, sharp enough to divide "soul and spirit, joints and marrow."
Peter also speaks to this issue when he reminds his readers that their beauty should not be from outward display but should emanate from "a gentle, quiet spirit." (1 Peter 3:3-4)
It's clear that the Bible speaks of man's spirit as something which is an essential part of him, something which knows, learns, and can honor God. The Greek word for "spirit" is "pneuma", which means wind. This word suggests something which is not tangible in a physical way, yet it is real-as real as the wind. The spirit is real, but we cannot isolate it in an anatomy lab, nor can we identify it by psychological testing. The spirit is the part of us that is born dead, disconnected from God. It is that part of us which comes to eternal life the moment we accept Jesus and receive the seal of His Holy Spirit.
The word spirit means a conscious, knowing, growing part of us throughout most of the New Testament. "Spirit" cannot refer to a conscious, knowing identity in most texts and then mean "breath" when it talks about man's spirit at death. Luke could not have meant that Jesus was returning his breath to the Lord; that interpretation is inconsistent with the way the word "spirit" is used in the rest of the Bible, especially in the New Testament.
In verse 15 Paul says that believers did "not receive a spirit of fear" but "the Spirit of sonship." This passage clarifies that it is the Holy Spirit's presence in us that makes us God's sons and daughters; we are re-born by the Holy Spirit. The word "sonship" is a Greek word signifying "adoption". Adoption was a common practice among the Greeks and the Romans, and adopted sons received all the rights and privileges, including inheritance, of natural sons. This text is saying that God adopts us mortal humans when we accept Jesus and gives us eternity and inheritance rights along with Christ. This passage also emphasizes that as sons of God, we are freed from slavery to fear.
The questions arise: how does being God's son or daughter counteract fear, and how does sonship affect our relationship with God?
Paul admonished Timothy that God had not given him "a spirit of fear," but a "spirit of love, of power, and of self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7) God's Spirit brings our spirits to life; they no longer function from a condition of death and separation from God. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, He instructed them to address God as "Our Father". This title was not a title a Jew would ever have used for God. It was familiar and intimate, and Jews would have felt it sacreligious to address God in this way. Jesus was introducing the reality of the New Covenant when he gave the disciples the Lord's Prayer (see Matthew 6:9-15). Jesus came to change our relationship with God so we would not only be able to approach him without guilt, but we would be able to approach him with the confidence of intimacy and of family.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus emphasized in practical ways the reality of our relationship to God as His sons and daughters, his heirs. He explained that we are not to worry about our food or clothing; as God's children, we are to realize that He knows we need food, drink, and clothes in order to live. Pagans, he said, worry about how to obtain the stuff of life. We are to trust our Father to provide those things for us as he provides for the birds and the lilies. Instead, we are to seek His kingdom and His righteousness. All the other things we need He will provide for us. (Matthew 6:25-27, 31-34) Further, he declared that if human fathers give good gifts to their children, how much more will our heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask?
Jesus was revealing the nature of a believer's relationship with God. Instead of perceiving Him as distant and frightening, we are to address him as our Father, trusting Him to love us and provide for us far better than we could provide for ourselves. When we embrace our Father, our fear for survival-our fear of God-will evanesce. We will find that in our Father is abundance and joy, and He, not we, holds our lives and our futures. We can rest in Him.
John 6:44 quotes Jesus explaining that even our relationship to Him is a result of God's great love for us. No one can come to Jesus, He said, unless the Father draws him. Even our desire to know Jesus is placed in our hearts by our Father who desires intimacy with us. Jesus further said that we don't choose him of our own volition; He chooses us, and the Father will give us whatever we ask for in Jesus' name.
In 1 John, the apostle elaborates on the fact that when we are in Christ, we live in God's love. If we love the world, we know that the love of the Father is not in us, he said. (1 John 2:15) God, however, lavished his love on us because He is love, and we can rely on that fact. When we are in His love, we discover that perfect love casts out fear. It we live in fear, we have not been "made perfect" in love. (see 1 John 3:1; 4:16-18)
Being God's sons means being adopted, with full rights and inheritance, into God's family. It means we no longer live in fear because we now understand that God loves us and desires intimacy with us. Further, we no longer need to be anxious because in His love God provides for our needs. We can release to Him our uncertainty, our fear for survival, our needs and struggles, and seek Him instead. As we turn our eyes to Jesus and allow God's love to thaw our hearts and bring our spirits to life, we know that He holds us in His hands and is now providing for us with all the concern and love of a Father.
Being joint heirs with Christ is an astonishing promise. Its implications are bigger than we can understand, yet the Bible gives us hints of what this great inheritance will look like.
First, we know that we will share this inheritance with "all the sanctified". (Acts 20:32) Paul explains that if we belong to Christ, that fact qualifies us as Abraham's "seed" and "heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:29) What, then is that promise that God gave to Abraham? Genesis tells us that God promised Abraham seed, land, and blessing. He told Abraham that he would have so many offspring they would be uncountable. (Genesis 13:15-16) He promised that his offspring would inherit and inhabit the land. (Genesis 12:7, 13:15-16, 17:7-8; 24:7) He promised that all nations would be blessed through Abraham. (Genesis 22:18) God also promised that He would establish and confirm His everlasting covenant with Abraham and his offspring. (Genesis 17:2, 7-8)
Through Ezekiel God promised that He would gather Israel, Abraham's seed, from being scattered, and they would live safely in the land while God punished those who maligned them. (Ezekiel 27:25-26)
Jesus said that the meek would "inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5). Further, Jesus promised that whoever has to leave "houses or brothers or sisters of father or mother or children or fields for [his] sake" would receive one hundred times as much as they lost and also inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19:29)
Paul further describes the inheritance of God's children. They will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12), and they will judge those in the church and eventually judge the earth. (1 Corinthians 5:12; 6:2) God's sons and daughters will receive the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14) guaranteeing that the future holds for them new, eternal bodies and eternal life (2 Corinthians 5:4-5), a living hope, and an imperishable inheritance kept for them in heaven. (1 Peter 4:3-5) Additionally, the Holy Spirit removes the distinction between Jew and Gentile and guarantees that all believers share in the promises of Christ. (Ephesians 3:6) This inheritance includes the assurance that those who believe in Jesus are saved, washed, and renewed (Titus 3:4-7) and have His divine power which gives them all they need for life and godliness. It also ensures that they can participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:3-4) Moreover, the divine power of the Holy Spirit yields in God's children the fruit of good work, the knowledge of God, power, endurance, patience, redemption, and forgiveness, It rescues them from darkness and assures them of their eventual inheritance with all the saints in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:10-14)
Finally, God's sons and daughters inherit a new heaven and earth. (2 Peter 3:13) They will participate in the first resurrection and are saved from death. (Revelation 20:6) They are the bride of Christ, and God will dwell eternally with them. They will have no more tears, death, mourning, crying, or pain. They have free access to the Water of Life, and they will be rescued eternally from the curse of sin and death. They will have the Lamb's name written in their foreheads, and they will reign with Him forever. (Revelation 21:1-7; 22:3-5)
Those who are adopted into God's family immediately have a future different from all those who do not accept Jesus. They receive the Holy Spirit who breaks the power of sin in their lives and gives them the courage and strength to follow Jesus at the risk of great personal loss, That willingness, however, brings unforeseen blessings, and God more than makes up for what they lose. They become able to live lives of victory in Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in them produces the endurance, patience, and forgiveness of Christ in them. They have the assurance that they have eternal life and will have eternal bodies, and they will spend eternity with Jesus and will reign over the earth with Him.
When we become God's children, we become heirs to all God's promises. Our inheritance, however, comes at the price of sharing also in Christ's sufferings. When we live for Jesus, we take the arrows for Him. This suffering, though is not wasted. Paul said that just as the sufferings of Christ overflow into our lives, so God's comfort also overflows into our lives. Further, the comfort we receive from God is for the purpose of equipping us to comfort each other as we see our brothers and sisters in Christ suffering. (2 Corinthians 1 3-6) Paul wrote openly about the trials and anguish associated with his ministry. He was not overwhelmed, however, by his hardships. He wrote that he was "hard pressed but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed." We as Christ followers, he wrote, carry around the death of Jesus in our bodies so His life may be revealed. We're given over to death for His sake so His life may be revealed in our mortal bodies. ( 2 Corinthians 4:8-12)
Our suffering for Jesus marks, or brands, us as His. (Galatians 6:17) As we grow in Him and experience the losses of the relationships and possessions that had previously defined us, we discover that those things were worth nothing compared with knowing Christ and experiencing the fellowship of His suffering and the power of His resurrection. (Philippians 3:7-11) As we struggle with all the energy the Holy Spirit gives us to do the work God places before us, we will discover that we can rejoice in our physical suffering for the sake of the gospel. (Colossians 1:24, 28-29)
Peter stated clearly that we are not to be surprised that we suffer as God's children and witnesses. We are blessed if we are insulted for His name's sake, because such suffering means the Spirit of God's glory rests on us. We're not to be ashamed of our suffering but must praise God that we bear His name. (1 Peter 4:12-16) If we suffering according to God's will, we are to trust humble ourselves before our faithful Creator, trusting His care of us while we persist in obedience to His call on our lives. (1 Peter 4:19) As we face difficulties we are to be self-controlled and alert, resisting the devil and standing firm in faith knowing that our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering similarly all over the world.
God wants you to know who you are in Him. He created you, and now He wants you to embrace His call on your life to become not only His creation but also His child. He wants you to open your heart to Him and to surrender all that you treasure, all that you are to Him. He is asking you to release your tight grip on the things that make you comfortable and identify you-your intellect, your social position, your home and comforts, your income, your talent, your family-and allow Him to give you a new identity, one that will not require your constant vigilance and effort to retain.
God wants to give you Himself. He wants to give you meaning, purpose, peace, joy, and contentment. He wants you to rest in His care and protection and to allow Him to relieve you of the burden of making sure everyone is happy and you are safe. Two people cannot both be in charge at once. God is reminding you that He is sovereign; He is the Creator; you are His creation, and without Him you would not be here. Authority resides in Him. The only way you will find meaning and resolution and congruence is by allowing Him sovereign control over your life.
Only you know what God is asking you to surrender to Him. For some, the surrender is the desire for family approval. For others it is professional and/or social identity, economic status, friends, or even a comfortable routine. Whatever it is you feel God nudging you to release to Him, you will not rest until you give up your "right" to keep it and allow God to replace it with Himself.
Only after you take the risk of obedience to God's call on you will you find that He gives you back much more than you lost. While you may endure pain and sadness and uncertainty, God will provide you with a hundred times as much as you gave up for Him (Matthew 19:28-29).
God is not calling you to a set of doctrines or to a body of belief. He is calling you to Himself. He is asking you to be willing to release not only the people and the things in your life, but also your understanding of truth. He is asking you to surrender to Him everything that defines you and your worldview and to allow Him to bring you into reality and eternal love and acceptance in Him. He is calling you to embrace His word as His message to you, and He promises His Spirit to teach you and to fill you with love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
God's call on your life is a paradox. Only in surrendering your dreams and the things you cherish will you find the contentment and deep satisfaction you have struggled to know. Only in giving up your identity will you find your true self in Christ. Only in giving up your right to your friends and family will you find the true fellowship your heart has always wanted. Only in giving up your right to the home, the car, the job, the hobbies, the life you desire will you find contentment and a quiet heart.
Only when you give up your dreams and desires and accept Jesus and His inexplicable love and forgiveness in their places will you find that you walk into reality and leave behind a mirage. When Jesus gives you Himself, you'll find that all you thought you wanted was illusory. Further, when you surrender to Him, He gives you back yourself-but it's a new self, alive with the Holy Spirit and eternally connected to eternal love and life.
Nothing can prepare you in advance for the gift of Jesus, and nothing can achieve it except your surrender of all you are to Him.
Ask God to show you what He wants you to surrender. Ask Him to reveal His love and truth to you and to make your heart willing to know and desire Him. Ask Him to show you what you need to know, to change you in the ways you need to change, and to make your heart willing to be humble before Jesus.
Praise God for the gift of your salvation. Praise Jesus for His obedience to the Father and for laying down His life and taking it up again for yours. Praise the Holy Spirit for indwelling you and for giving you a new identity in Christ.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
In verses one through eight, Paul explains the answer to the dichotomy between our overlapping desires to live by the flesh and to honor God's law. Living by the Spirit, instead of by the law or by our natural desires, is the answer to the intrinsic lure of sin in our flesh. In this passage he explains the necessity of our continuing to choose to live by the Spirit who makes us alive, promises us the resurrection, and witnesses to our status as God's sons and daughters.
1. Verse 9 makes two statements regarding the spiritual conditions possible in a human: 1) if a person has the Spirit, the flesh is no longer in control, or 2) if a person does not have the Spirit, he does not belong to Christ. Many people profess Christianity but not all of those have the Spirit. How does a person receive the Spirit? (see John 14:15-18; 3:5-15; Acts 2:36-41; 10:34-48; Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:3-8)
2. If the Spirit of Christ is in us, we are alive in our spirits although our bodies still are dead and sinful. What is the promise the Spirit bears for our mortal bodies as well as for us while we inhabit them? (see John 5:21; Romans 6:6; 7:6; 8:26, 28; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 1:18-20; 6:10-18; 2 Timothy 2:22-24; 1 John 4:13-16)
3. Many of us grew up with the understanding that putting the misdeeds of the body to death by the Spirit (see v. 13) meant committing ourselves to keeping the law and to refusing to do the sins that beset us. What does putting sin to death by the Spirit really mean? (see Romans 2:29; 7:6; 9:30-32; Philippians 3:8-11; Ephesians 5:15-21; Colossians 2:11-16; 3:1-4, 12-17, 18-24)
4. Many people say all humans are God's children. Is this statement true, and if not, who are God's children (sons), and what is their identifying mark? (see verse 19; Hosea 1:10; Malachi 3:16-18; Matthew 5:9, 45; John 1:12-13; Galatians 3:26-27; 4:4-7; Ephesians 1:4-8; Revelation 21:6-8)
5. The Spirit "testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Many of us learned that our spirit was our breath. When we died, our literal breath returned to God, What evidence is there that our spirits are not merely the breaths in our noses and lungs? (see Psalm 31:5 & compare with 2 Peter 2:23; Matthew 26:41; Luke 1:80; 23:46; John 4:23-24; 1 Corinthians 2:11; 5:3; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Philippians 2:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 3:3-4)
6. The word translated "sonship" in verse 15 means "adoption", or being legally taken into the family with full rights as sons. How does "sonship" oppose fear, and what are the implications of sonship for our relationship with God? (see 12 Timothy 1:7; Matthew 6:9-15; 25-27; 31-34; 7:9-11; 11:27; John 6:44; 14:26; 15:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:18; 1 John 2:15-16; 3:1; 4:16-18)
7 What do we inherit as heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ? (see Acts 20:32; Galatians 3:29; Genesis 12:7; 13:15-16; 17:2; 7-8; 24:7; Ezekiel 27:21-23; Matthew 5:5; 19:29; 1 Corinthians 6:2; 5:20; 2 Corinthians 5:4-5; Ephesians 1:13-14; 3:6; Colossians 1:10-14; 2 Timothy 2:12; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 2 Peter 1:3-4; 3:13; Revelation 20:6; 21:1-7; 22:3-5)
8. How do we share in Christ's sufferings? (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-6; 4:8-12; Galatians 6:17; Philippians 3:7-11; Colossians 1:24, 28-29; 1 Peter 4:12-16, 19; 5:6-11
9. What difference has it made to you that your spirit is not merely your breath?
10. How has knowing you are God's son or daughter and a co-heir with Christ affected you?
11. In what ways have you suffered for the sake of Christ?
12. Ask God to help you know what he wants you to surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit in you. Ask Him to replace your fear and worry and guilt with His Spirit and to make you new in those places you have habitually struggled. Ask Jesus to keep you grounded in reality and to strengthen you with His power. Praise God for giving you a new identity in Jesus, and surrender yourself to His sovereignty and love.
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