14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 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.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 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.
Romans 8 makes continuous distinctions between life in the flesh and life in the spirit. One is characterised by condemnation, fear, slavery to our old selves and hostility to God. This reminds us of the mortal nature of our bodies, which are subject to death as a result of sin in the world. The other brings peace, freedom from fear and adoption into God’s family. This life in the spirit speaks of our eternal nature and reminds us of our future hope, in the midst of earthly chaos.
It is interesting that verse 14 is not the other way around. It is because we are led by the Spirit that we are called children of God. This implies that we still have to make a conscious choice about being led. We can either be led by our old selves, into the temptations and sin that so easily ensnare us or, we can put ourselves under the Spirit’s authority. Verse 15 declares the glorious truth that in submitting ourselves to the Spirit and ultimately, to God, we need not be victims to patterns of unhelpful behavior, as He has victory over our sin. More than that, when we commit our lives to Him we are elevated to a place of honour and named as sons of God, co heirs with Christ!
To be co heirs means that we share an inheritance with Christ Himself. In our earthly lives an inheritance can affirm you because it shows that you are trusted with your parent’s hard earned resources. It may give you a sense of worth and can even provide a sense of security to your future. In our spiritual lives, our inheritance can do the same but it is not simply something to be revealed in the future – although we may only see a partial glimpse now. It is something we can share in the present. God owns the storehouses of heaven and these resources are available to us if we but ask.
If we were to grasp the truths laid out in these few verses, I wonder how different out lives would look. How about yours? First, we are told that we no longer need be controlled by our sinful natures. By putting ourselves under God’s authority and inviting the Holy Spirit to work in us, we are free from bondage and free from the fear of punishment. What area of your life is God asking you to submit to Him? What battles do you face with sin? Spend a moment inviting the Spirit to equip you as you stand firm in the face of temptation and pray victory over it today.
Secondly, we are adopted into God’s family and invited to call Him Abba. 1 John 4:10 declares ‘This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins’. We need to be reminded that God sent Jesus to earth to die because He wanted to mend the relationship between Him and man. Jesus came for us. Because God so loved us. Do you know that you are loved? Just as you are? Do you know that you were sculpted, by hand, in the image of God and you are just as He desired you to be? And do you know that He wants you in His family? That He has works prepared for you and only you to do? Spend a moment absorbing that. If you struggle to believe it, maybe you need to reacquaint yourself with some Biblical truths about who you are in Him. Take a minute to think about the experiences, people and skills that have equipped you to be the person you are now. Thank God for preparing you with all you need to serve Him.
Finally, we are told that we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. What work has God given you to do to help build His kingdom and strengthen His church? Is it something you’ve been doing for a while and need fresh vision or direction for? Or is it a new seed that has been taking root in you over time? Whatever He is calling you to, He will provide and equip you at the right time. Remember, the resources of heaven are vast and they are available to you! Cry out to God right now for whatever it is you need and give thanks for His faithfulness.
- Miriam Sawyer