|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2007|
|Dr. Barber explains how we are brought into a wonderful new relationship with God through the work of the Holy Spirit.|
Martin Luther said of Romans chapter 8 that if all the Bible were a ring, then the book of Romans would be the gem that enhanced the ring. But, chapter 8 of Romans would be the brilliant gleam that shone from the gem.
It is in chapter 8 that we discover the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit of God. When will we ever learn that “we can’t and God never said we could; but God can and always said He would”? The Holy Spirit is God, and He gives us the power to do what the law showed we could never do.
We have seen so far in chapter 8: the Role of the Holy Spirit, in verses 1-4. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives that causes the righteousness of the law to be fulfilled in us. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. Christ is our life and righteousness. As we put our faith into Christ, He sends His Spirit to live in us and produce through us His Divine “love” that is the fulfillment of the law.
Then in verses 5-11 we saw the Results of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. The Holy Spirit changes the whole course of our life. No longer do we walk according to the flesh, but now we walk according to the Spirit. Our minds have been switched from the AM of Adam to the FM of God. We are now on God’s frequency.
In verses 12-14 we saw the Right of the Holy Spirit. We are debtors to Him to put to death the deeds of the body in His power. By simply obeying the Holy Spirit, we put to death the deeds of the flesh. The debt to the flesh has been paid in full when Jesus died on the cross. We owe the flesh nothing.
Now we want to look at the Relationship that the Holy Spirit gives us with God forever. You know, my mom always kept me aware of who was in our family as far as our family tree was concerned. I wish she were still alive, because I can’t go very far back. I was even wondering the other day how many brothers and sisters she had. That’s awful.
But, then again, sometimes I’m not too sure I want to know too much. I might find some things about my relatives that I would not like. This is certainly true of all people who are in Adam. All they can look back to is Adam’s sin, and all they can look forward to is eternal Hell, separated from God forever.
But to those who are in Christ, we look back to the cross and to the fact that Jesus died for our sins. Because we put our faith in Him, we now have a new family tree. We have been born again and can look forward to living together with our new family forever.
Remember Romans 8:13: “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” It is the Holy Spirit who brings to us this “new life” in Christ Jesus and births us into the family of God. Just as He brooded over the waters at creation, He breathes into us the very life of God and is the one whose presence in us identifies us as children of God. Let’s look at this relationship He gives us.
First, this new relationship with God involves a brand new disposition. Romans 8:15: “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 Holy Spirit living in us causes us to have a totally new disposition and attitude towards God.
The phrases “spirit of slavery” and “spirit of adoption” are the two key phrases in this verse. When he says, “you have not received,” it means “not in any way shape or form.” “A spirit of slavery leading to fear again” is more accurately translated, “a spirit of slavery again towards fear.”
The word “spirit” here is used as referring to the disposition, feeling, or temper of mind. In other words, we have a new temperament, a new disposition, not the old disposition that we had in Adam. Note how the word is used elsewhere:
In Luke 9:55, when James and John asked Jesus if He wanted them to call down “fire” and destroy the Samaritan village that refused Jesus, Jesus turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of.”
Romans 11:8: “...just as it is written, ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day.’”
1 Corinthians 4:21: “What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness?”
Galatians 6:1: “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
You see, when the Holy Spirit comes to live in us, we are caused to have the attitude, the disposition, of a child of God. In Adam, we were people of fear because of original sin. What did we fear? The author of Hebrews explains in Hebrews 2:14-15: “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; “and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
Oh, how a lost person fears death. Again, look at the words of Romans 8:13: “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die.” Remember, we said this word, mello, means you are certain to die. Eternal death is certain; death is final. To an unbeliever, death is final, it is the dreaded end of all that he knows and has hoped for. But, to a believer, that old disposition of fear of death is gone forever: “but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” Oh, what a glorious phrase.
Oh, the joy of verse 15: “we have received a spirit of adoption as sons.” The word translated adoption comes from two Greek words: huios—a son who is matured and identified with the will of His Father; and tithemi—to place. It speaks of those whom God through Christ adopts as His sons and thus makes heirs of His covenanted salvation. Jesus is the huios (son) of God, and thus we are now in Him, so we have the standing before God in His Son.
Because of Christ we are members of God’s family with full privileges in Christ Jesus. We now have knowledge of the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. In, fact, now God the Father has become “Daddy” to us. The word “Abba” is Aramaic. It is the tender word for Father that only a child would identify with. It was the first word a child would learn; like Dada.
We are eternally the “sons of God in Christ Jesus”, birthed into the family of God by the Holy Spirit, and with full privileges in Christ Jesus. We have a brand new disposition.
Well, secondly, it involves a brand new conviction. How is it that we have this “new disposition”? The Holy Spirit of God Himself brings it to us. Look at Romans 8:16: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
The Spirit Himself. The job is not delegated, it is the Spirit of God Himself. The Holy Spirit living in us has brought this new understanding that we are now children of God.
The word for “bears witness” is summartureo, which means to testify as a legal witness. Now, in a court, a witness gives testimony that brings a conviction based on that testimony. It is in our spirit that the Holy Spirit testifies and brings the “conviction” that we are children of God. It comes, and it is put there, by the Holy Spirit of God Himself. This is going on at all times.
A child knows who his parents are. This isn’t something that is taught. It is deeply embedded within. My wife and I were visiting friends in Montana who had a 6-month-old little boy named Joshua. Joshua and I did not get started off on the right foot. I was eating breakfast one morning when his mother carried Joshua into the room. He came face to face with me, and it was a shock for him! I tried to be soothing and take the child in my arms, but suddenly he yelled to the top of his lungs as if to say, “I want my Mommy, and you are not her!” I thought I was really comforting, but little Joshua was convicted that I was not his daddy.
The word for “children” here is different from the word “sons” in verse 15. It is the word teknon. It means that we have the “nature” of God who birthed us. I’m sure you’ve seen how children mirror the “nature” of their parents. The difference from the natural illustration—our children—to the spiritual illustration—children of God—is that we also have the nature of “flesh” to deal with. And when we do not obey the Holy Spirit and put to death the deeds of the body, then people have a difficult time seeing this divine nature in us and we may doubt as to whether or not we have it.
But, the conviction that we are God’s children is always being testified to by the Holy Spirit who lives in us. One of the ways is that He treats us like His children. So, this new relationship we have involves a new disposition, but also a new conviction.
Thirdly, involved with this new relationship is a brand new dimension to our suffering. Romans 8:17: “and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”
Everybody on planet earth, whether saved or lost, must suffer because of original sin, personal sin, or the sins of others. This is the general subject of verses 18-39. But, in verse 17, it seems Paul is speaking of the kind of suffering that comes from our “identification with Christ”.
When we pay that debt we owe of verses 12-14 we put to death the deeds of our flesh through obedience to Christ. And that’s not easy. But, when we lovingly do this, we enter into a realm or dimension of suffering we have not known. Two phrases in this verse caught my eye: “suffer with Him” and “glorified with Him”. And this “suffering with Him” seems to be that which comes to us as a result of our acting like God’s children and putting to death the deeds of the flesh in obedience to Him.
There are many verses in the New Testament that speak of actually sharing in the sufferings of Christ. I want you to look at a few of them:
2 Corinthians 4:10: “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”
2 Corinthians 1:5: “For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”
Philippians 3:10: “that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;”
1 Peter 4:13: “but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.”
John 15:18: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.”
When I choose to die to self, by obeying Christ in the energy of His Spirit, I enter into the “sufferings of Christ. Let’s look again at the verse. Romans 8:17: “and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”
“Children” are those who bear the nature of God. Look at 2 Peter 1:4: “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”
Then he says the children are “heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” The word here is kleronomos. It means to be a rightful heir. We must be in the family to be an heir. Some people think it is according to what they do. No, that’s rewards. Remember the rich young ruler asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
But we are “heirs of God.” John D. Rockefeller, Jr. inherited all his father’s wealth. Why? Because he was his son. We are heirs of all God’s promises because we are His sons. All of our inheritance is in Christ Jesus. Paul says we are “fellow heirs with Christ.” Think of it. All that is Christ’s by right becomes ours by grace. Ephesians 1:3 tells us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”
And don’t ever forget that if we enter into His sufferings, He is quick to comfort and strengthen us through His Spirit. The same Spirit that comforted Him when He was on this earth comforts and strengthens us. Oh, what a thought!
Look at the phrase “if indeed we suffer with Him.” The Greek word translated “if” is ei per. It could be translated “since.” It does not mean possibility but actuality. It’s also in the present active indicative tense: “if we are suffering with Him,” or “since we are suffering with Him. You see, “active” voice means we have an active choice in this. When we choose to “suffer with Him” is when we choose to live as His children, who are obligated to His Spirit in putting to death the deeds of our flesh. It is then that we “suffer with Him.” Why? Because it is Christ in us that is the object of the hatred for our righteous lifestyle.
But, all of our sufferings with Him are for a purpose. They are “in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” The word “glorified” comes from a word meaning “to recognize” or to “give proper estimate.” Now, be careful. All “saints,” no matter how much they are willing to suffer with Christ will be glorified with Him. Look at some verses that tell us who will be glorified:
2 Thessalonians 1:10: “when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed.”
1 Corinthians 15:23: “But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,”
Colossians 3:4: “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
1 John 3:2: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.”
Paul, in verse 17, is not suggesting that there is a partial rapture. But, the extent of that glory will be according to the willingness we have had to obey Him and suffer with Him down here. Jesus made this clear in Matthew 20:21-23 when He told James, John and their mother that elevation in the future Kingdom of God will be related to experiencing the depths of the cup of suffering through humiliation here and now: “And He said to her, ‘What do you wish?’ She said to Him, ‘Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left.’ But Jesus answered and said, ‘You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?’ They said to Him, ‘We are able.’ He said to them, ‘My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.’”
But, Paul’s point seems to be that no suffering with Christ on this earth will ever go unnoticed by God. We won’t know much about this down here. We will know the suffering that comes from acting and living like children of God. But one day, it will be revealed to all.
Paul, after showing us that we can suffer with Him, then turns to suffering in general and how the believer is eternally comforted in verses 18-39. He shows us a world view but with the missing piece. He shows how the whole creature world is made to depend on what God does with His children. He will show us that above all the suffering that is in this world is a sovereign hand that makes all things work together for good to His children. This gives evidence to every creature that God loves His children and that He is absolutely in control of what is going on.