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Romans 8: True Assurance as Children of God
“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
Romans 8:14-17 NASB1995
After examining how pervasive sin is and how it can lead to death, Paul now leads us into some of the most beautiful verses in the Bible. When we are led by the Spirit of God, we are adopted as God’s children! He is our Father, to be loved and approached with the ultimate reverence because He is the Sovereign Lord of this incredible and vast Universe He created. Jesus almost always called God His Father or Abba in His prayers, which created much consternation with the Pharisees. It is also not a spirit of slavery that captures us that leads to fear; we become heirs of God and fellow heirs of Christ through the Spirit of God and the Spirit’s assurance. We are glorified with Him, if indeed we suffer with Him (more on that in the next devotional on Romans 8:18).
Have you ever known anyone who was adopted? I’ve known a few persons, some of whom resented the fact that their biological parents didn’t want them and that created life-long feelings of anxiety and personal inadequacy; others deeply loved their adopted parents because they were rescued from a difficult situation (from orphanages in China or Russia, for example, or from a bad parenting situation). But in this context in Romans 8, Paul is writing to a church in Rome and the Romans considered adoption to be a wonderful thing, bestowing full rights on the adopted heirs and transforming them into a new life. If you have seen the marvelous Biblical film epic “Ben Hur” (or read the book), Judah Ben-Hur is rescued from slavery that was imposed on him unjustly by a childhood friend (who is now an enemy) and is adopted as the son of a powerful Roman Consul. He becomes a master charioteer and is given all of the rights and wealth of any heir (born or adopted) in this family. I won’t give away the rest of the plot, but that adoption is a crucial part of the story.
I love what David Guzik in Enduring Word commentaries says about being a son of God (or daughter):
i. Paul didn’t say, “As many as go to church, these are the sons of God.” He didn’t say, “As many as read their Bibles, these are the sons of God.” He didn’t say, “As many as are patriotic Americans, these are the sons of God.” He didn’t say, “As many as take communion, these are the sons of God.” In this text, the test for sonship is whether or not a person is led by the Spirit of God.
ii. How does the Holy Spirit lead us?
· We are led by guidance.
· We are led by drawing.
· We are led by governing authority.
· We are led as we cooperate with the leading. “It does not say, ‘As many as are driven by the Spirit of God.’ No, the devil is a driver, and when he enters either into men or into hogs he drives them furiously. Remember how the whole herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea. Whenever you see a man fanatical and wild, whatever spirit is in him it is not the Spirit of Christ.” (Spurgeon)
iii. Where does the Holy Spirit lead us?
· He leads us to repentance.
· He leads us to think little of self and much of Jesus.
· He leads us into truth.
· He leads us into love.
· He leads us into holiness.
· He leads us into usefulness.
We aren’t driven, we are gently led, with our choosing and cooperation, like the beloved Sheep who are guided into the Green Pastures of our Redeemer.
My next Romans 8 devotional examines a single verse: Romans 8:18 Sufferings Compared to Glory.
Commentaries by David Guzik in Enduring Word are used with written permission.