How do you view God? Does He seem distant and far away? Do you see Him as a Judge? Or do you see Him as near and close? How many of you see Him as your Father, your ever present Abba?
That’s where Paul is taking us today. As he continues to talk about how God is making us holy like Jesus, which is our sanctification, he saves the best for last. That we can relate to God as Father changes everything! In Romans 8:12-17, the apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome that they had received the Spirit of adoption which enabled them to live as God’s children. As believers, we have received the Spirit of adoption enabling us to live as God’s children
Below is an automated transcript of this message:All right, church. Let’s get back in the book of Romans. Are you ready to get back in the book of Romans? We are in Romans, chapter eight. We are on this journey together; we started last Fall, with the first four chapters of Romans. Now, this Fall, we’re taking on the next four. My desire is, over the next couple of years, to take on all sixteen chapters in four portions. We’re coming close to the conclusion of this season, where we are concentrating now this week and in the next couple of Sundays on Romans, chapter eight, which many have described as “the pearl of the whole scripture” and as one of the greatest chapters in the whole bible.
I think you’ll agree today that we’re hitting one of those mountaintops because today we’re doing a sermon that we’ve entitled, “Living as God’s Children.” In Romans, chapter eight, verses 12 through 17, we will be talking about the doctrine of adoption and how important that is to understanding what it means to be a Christ follower.
The doctrine of adoption might be defined like this, “It’s a privilege bestowed on those who have united themselves with Christ and have been justified by faith by which they are admitted into the family of God, adopted as his children and made joint heirs with His Son.” Adoption is really the centerpiece of the gospel. It’s the clearest picture of what the good news, that we find in Jesus, is all about. God adopts us as His children when we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. Through adoption, we relate to God as Father, to Jesus as our brother and co-heir and fellow sufferer, and to the Spirit as our leader and pledge (or “down payment”) of our inheritance in Christ.
Listen to what pastor and author Tim Keller says about this wonderful doctrine of adoption . He says, “If we want to understand who a Christian is, and why being a Christian is a privilege, we need to appreciate divine adoption. We need to begin to grasp the magnitude of Paul’s statements that “those who are led by the Spirit … are sons of God;” and that “we are God’s children.”
Scottish theologian and author, Sinclair Ferguson, uses the word “sonship” to describe adoption:“The notion that we are children of God, his own sons and daughters … is the mainspring of Christian living … Our sonship to God is the apex of creation and the goal of redemption.”
J. I. Packer wrote in his classic book, Knowing God, “If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. . . . “Father” is the Christian name for God.” I think J. I. Packer has it right. Father is the Christian name for God. I became a Christian, or at least I was assured of being a Christian when I was eight years old. You’ll recall if you’ve been coming to our church for any period of time, that that was the year my father died. He was only 39 years old. He died of cancer and he left his wife and young children. I’m the eldest of four children. He left us to be raised by a single mom.That was a hard year. That year was hard because I was a daddy’s boy. I was the first born, and he was the light of my life. My mother had a nervous breakdown and was unable to take care of us that year, so we moved in with my Aunt Jerry, outside of Detroit, Michigan. That year, I was suddenly not in my own bedroom, but sharing a twin bed with my brother in my cousin, Randy’s, bedroom. I would lay my head on my pillow at night and because I didn’t want to cry in front of my mother, who was already struggling pretty badly, I would cry alone into my pillow.
I was afraid for a lot of reasons. I was afraid because we had asked God to heal my father, but my father died anyway. I believed in God, but I was afraid of him. I was afraid because I was no longer in my school and I was at a school where they didn’t say, “y’all.” They said, “you guys.” I had to learn a whole new culture and a new language. I had to try to figure out how not to get beat up at school every day. I was afraid because I didn’t know if my mom was going to get better. The thing I was most afraid of is, I found out at eight years old that death is real and even your hero can die. Even your father can die. So, I would lay my head on my pillow at night, and I was afraid of eternity. I even had dreams of a place called hell.
I remember it was that year, when I was eight years old, and we were going to a church that was bigger than we had ever gone to when I was growing up in Virginia. This church had something called children’s church; this was unheard of during those days. I remember walking the aisle at children’s church and praying to receive Jesus. I had been praying to receive Jesus every day prior because I was brought up in this family that talked about it all the time. But I had a sense of assurance on that particular day at children’s church. The nightmares went away, but I continued to have a relationship with God that was really fear based because I was afraid to give Him and trust Him with everything. I saw him as a judge and as an angry God who took my father. I will tell you more of my story along the way, but that’s how my Christianity started.
I don’t know where you’re starting at today; I don’t know where your starting places is today. Maybe you’re coming in and you would say that you trust God as your Lord and Savior. You believe in him and you have a close relationship. That’s not how I started. But maybe that’s where you’re at; praise the Lord, that’s awesome, but many of you may be where I was and you believe that God exists, but you are not ready to trust him because a lot of bad stuff has happened in the world and you are kind of blaming Him for it. You are not sure how you can relate to him right now. You’re in the right place because we’re going to be talking about the heart of God today and what he really cares about. I I want you to let the Holy Spirit speak to you today and help you to understand how much God loves you and how much I guess we get it wrong. Even Christians get it wrong sometimes about how we should relate and how we can relate to God as Father. That’s where Paul is taking us.
Today, we’re climbing the next mountain peak in this chapter called Romans eight. Paul’s going to write to the believers in Rome, and he’s going to tell him this; the spirit of adoption comes and lives in you when you pray to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior enabling you to live as a child of God. How is this possible?
As we look at the text today, I think we’ll see three reasons why it’s possible for us to live as children of God by the enabling of God’s spirit of adoption, which is the Holy Spirit. So let’s look at the text. Let’s dig in. I’ll tell you more about my story later; you be thinking about your story as we read. Romans 8:12-17 (ESV) 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” This is God’s word.
We’re gonna be looking at three reasons why we’re able to live as children of God because of the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Here’s the first reason:
1. Because the Spirit empowers us as God’s holy ones.
Do you ever wonder what God is up to? What are you up to, God? His desire is to express His love for you and to adopt you into His family, making you a child of God. He desires to make you like Jesus; that is what He is up to. He wants you to be like Jesus; that’s his goal for your life. He made you in His image. Sin has marred that image, but He wants to cause you to be born again so that you’re like His Son, Jesus.
Let’s look at the first couple of verses and unpack how the Spirit empowers us to overcome the former life and live as God’s holy ones. Look at verse 12, “So then brothers…” Okay, now, Paul is not trying to exclude sisters. The King James says, “So then brethren.” He’s talking to Christians. That’s all he’s doing. He’s not as PC aware back there 2000 years ago. “So then believers.” That’s the way to look at that. We are debtors; we are obligated no longer to the flesh. In other words, we don’t owe the flesh anything. Remember in weeks previous, we’ve unpacked what the word “flesh” means. It doesn’t necessarily mean your body. What it really refers to is your tendency to sin. The Bible sometimes calls the old man, the old nature, the sin nature, the flesh. It’s talking about what we are as children of Adam, we’re all born with a bent towards sin rather than a bent towards righteousness. We tend to do the wrong thing even when we want to do the right thing. And so that’s what he means by “flesh.” But we no longer owe the flesh anything. Why? Because Jesus has paid it all. He’s paid off our sin debt, so we don’t have to live as debtors any longer. We don’t have to live by or according to the flesh, to the sin nature.
He just reminds us in verse 13, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die… Remember, were sin leads; sin leads to death. Sin ultimately leads to death, but it actually starts leading to little deaths all along the way. Just think about it like this. If you sow sin, you sow the seed of sin. A little plant called death starts cropping up. If you sow sin in your marriage, you sin against your spouse, there’s a death in the relationship that starts growing. If you sin toward your kids, there’s a death in your parenting. If you sin toward your parents, there’s a death with them. Do you sin toward your employer, your fellow workers, your school, your schoolmates or your teacher? Wherever you sin, death begins to grow. We don’t call it death. We call it other things. We call it separation. We call it divorce. We call it unreconcilable differences. We call it all kinds of things, but it means a relationship that God wanted to be whole has broken. It has died.
If you live according to the sin nature, which is selfish and always put self first, you are sowing death you are sowing unto death. Ultimately it will lead to separation from God for eternity. Why would you do that? You’re not a debtor anymore, Christian. If you’re Christian, you’re not in debt to that old sin.
I don’t know how many of you are in my age group or thereabouts, but there was a time, now, young people, you’re just going to have to trust me on this. There was a time when there were no cell phones. I see your mouths are hanging open. I know it’s startling. There was a time when there was no Internet. There was a time when you would actually go to the bank and borrow money to purchase a car or to get a mortgage on a house and the bank would give you this little booklet of coupons. Month to month , you had to tear a coupon off and put it in the envelope with a check for that month’s payment. You couldn’t do it online; there was no such thing as online. Online was where you hung your clothes in this day. Now, if someone came along, like maybe your uncle, and left you an inheritance and it was enough to pay off your car, the bank would send you your title. Has anybody here ever gotten a title? Have you ever paid something off? Sometimes we trade the car in before we pay it off. But if you actually pay one off, the bank sends you the title in the mail and it says, “paid in full,” on there. Now, it’s your car; it is actually your car. And it’s pay off; but you might still have the coupon book if you paid it off early because your uncle left you an inheritance or whatever. And so now you still have this coupon book. How smart would you be if, out of habit , you tore one out next month and made another payment when it was already paid in full? You wouldn’t be very smart, would you? Well, Christian, listen to me, believer. Christ Jesus paid it off. He paid off your debt to sin, which is death. He died Your death. You owe sin nothing. You owe the flesh nothing. Some of us are still carrying “the coupon book” around though, and we’re accidentally stroking a check once in a while to sin. But you don’t have to because you don’t own that death anymore.
Do you know why people outside the church sometimes call Christians hypocrites? It’s because we’re claiming to be better when we’re not because we still sin. We just are being broken of the habit because we’re now free not to sin. And so when we do sin, it hurts our feelings really badly . Here’s what makes people call us hypocrites; we claim or act as if we’re better when we’re not. What we should be doing as believers is saying, “Only Christ is good. If you see anything good in me, it’s Christ. It’s not me. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, I’m not trying to be better than anybody. I just want to be more like Jesus.” I think people would stop calling us hypocrites if we’d stopped being a “goody two shoes” and just maybe start wearing t-shirts that said, “under construction. God is still working on me.” We need to just be humble and admit that we need help defeating those old sins. We need help burning up the coupon book and stop carrying it around.
What does the scripture say that the Holy Spirit helps you do? Verse 13 says, “13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” That old coupon book, that old indebtedness, you need to burn it. You need to kill it. God is not playing. Don’t toy with sin. Don’t call it a habit. Don’t call it a new addiction. Don’t call it an “oops.” Kill it!
How do you kill it? You kill it by being empowered by the spirit. Ask him, “Lord,if there’s anything in me that’s not of Jesus, kill it.” Stop playing with it. Stop toying with it and stop carrying around a momento of it. Put it to death. Stop stroking checks to the old life. How do you stop? You stopy by the power of the Holy Spirit because He wants to make you His holy ones. This is what Chapters 6 to 8 are about and one through five are about. Justification; that a just God, if you place your faith in Jesus, counts you holy. He says, “you are justified by faith.” Chapters 1 through 5 in Romans and chapters 6 through 8 says you are counted righteous with God, holy with God, because Christ paid your debt. He’s literally working in you to make you holy. It’s a process. It’s not gonna happen overnight, and it won’t be completed on planet earth. I’m under construction and so are you. Church is messy. If you’re looking for a perfect church, don’t join it. You’ll mess it up, right? It’s messy. Why is it messy? Because God is our father and He’s growing us and making us saints. That’s what sanctified means, making holy. You don’t have to wait for a vote to be called a saint. You’re called a saint if you have Christ living in you. He calls you a holy one; He calls you a saint. He’s working on you to make you like Jesus, to prepare you for eternity with him so don’t play with sin. You don’t have to keep sinning because you’re not indebted to it anymore.
He doesn’t really come out and say that you’re indebted to the spirit. He kind of leaves that implied. We are debtors, he said in verse 12, not to the flesh. Well, what are we debtors to really? I guess we’re obligated to Jesus, but he never says it that way. Neither does Paul. It’s kind of like how you would feel if someone came along and paid off the most expensive thing you owe for nothing. They just did it out of love for you. What would you owe them? I think you owe them your love. I think you would owe them something better than slavery. You would just want to follow them. And that’s the relationship that we have because of Jesus. You see, the spirit wants to help you to live.
It says in Colossians 3:5 “(NLT) So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” Paul is not trying to give us a comprehensive list of all the things that work with sin. He gave you a short list there. But the point is, what do you do with that short list? What do you do with the sins that are still in your coupon book that you still pull out every once in a while? You’re supposed to burn it. You’re supposed to put it to death.
Listen to what Tim Keller says about this. He uses an old King James word called mortification. Have you heard of the word, mortify? It means to kill; he is just using an old word for it, he says. “Moritification means a ruthless, full-hearted resistance to sinful practice. The very word translated as “put to death” is violent and total. It means to reject totally everything we know to be wrong; to declare war on attitudes and behaviors that are wrong—give them no quarter, take no prisoners, pull out all the stops.”
Holy Spirit, look within me. Is there an old sin nature remaining in my body that you would bring to my attention? If so, Lord, I give it to you. Kill it. I’m going to stop calling it a bad habit. I’m not going to say, “Well, you know, I am kind of a worrywart. I come from a long line of worrywarts. My mother before me was a worrywart and her mother before her, and we just can’t help it. We are worrywarts. We worry about everything; it’s just who we are. It’s part of our personality.” You don’t owe a debt to worry anymore if you’re a Christian.
The Scripture says this, Jesus speaking, he says, “Do not worry.” If you worry, it’s not a bad habit, it’s not part of your personality. It’s a sin. It falls short of God’s holiness. Worry is the opposite of faith. It means you’re not trusting God for something. Do not worry, it’s a sin. Stop playing with it; kill it by the power of the Holy Spirit . You could pray like this. You could pray, as Paul teaches, “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition. Make your request to God and the peace that passes all understanding will be yours in Christ Jesus.” Well, Gary, why’d you have to pick “worry?” It’s not even on Paul’s list over there. Because I knew that would get all of us, right? We all struggle with that from time to time. And then we try to miss label it. It’s my personality. I can’t help it. It’s kind of true. You can’t help it, but the spirit can. He can kill it in you so that you become a person of faith. No longer a worrywart but a faithful saint.
Listen to Paul’s benediction in 1 Thessalonians 3:13 (NIV), “May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.” Who are his holy ones? They are his children. They were the ones blood bought by Jesus.
Are you playing with a sin area in your life today? Are you making excuses for it and saying I just want to keep a couple of those old coupons in my pocket close to my heart. I’m not going to use them. You’re not in debt to that anymore. Burn that coupon book up. Get rid of that sin in your life. Stop playing with it. Ask the spirit to empower you to do it. That’s the first reason that we’re able to live as God’s children as the spirit empowers us.
Here’s the second reason:
2. Because the Spirit leads us as God’s adopted sons.
Now, ladies don’t get upset about the word, “sons.” I am going to unpack that so don’t get upset. Don’t close your minds. Stay open. I am in verses 14 and 15 now. I’m using the language that Paul is using and I’ll explain first 14 or 15. First of all, see the word “led” in verse 14, 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God…” Here, Paul has given us another title for the Holy Spirit. He’s the Spirit of God. He’s the Spirit of Christ. We have the spirit of God. All who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God, for you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. You’ve received the spirit of adoption of sons, by whom we cry “Abba, Father.”
Let’s unpack these two verses. First of all, you are led by the spirit if you are a child or a son of God. The spirit leads; He doesn’t drive you from behind, beating you on the back like a slave master. No, He walks in front of you and invites you to come. Why? Because you’re free, you’re no longer in debt. And He’s like a good shepherd leading; He takes the point and leads the way. And so, we follow the spirit’s leadership.
“If we are sons of God now…” Why sons? I know the ladies are out there thinking, “You told us that you would explain this.” Paul’s not being insensitive here. Actually, he’s paying you a high compliment, ladies, because in Roman society in those days, only men had legal status. If a father died, the daughter could not inherit. He needed to name or adopt a man to be his son in order to pass on all that he owned. And so this idea of adoption, this idea of inheritance went to the son. And so here’s what he’s saying to men and women, to sons and daughters; you are in Christ, who is the son of God. You are viewed as God looks at what your rights are and what belongs to you as equal to sons. This is why it’s important not to call it just children or sons and daughters. There’s something the Bible’s trying to teach us here, based on the understanding that in this time period, to be called sons, means you have the rights of sons. Specifically, you have the rights that Christ, the Son of God has, and you have the position before the father like that.
Ladies, you shouldn’t be offended by being called sons if you’re a believer; just as men, you shouldn’t be offended by being called the bride of Christ because that’s in the Bible, too, right? If the ladies are going to get offended by sons, then the men need to get offended by that. Let’s all stop being offended by language and say there’s something to be learned here. God’s using metaphors to help us understand. The best way to understand how he wants to relate to us is relationally as the son is the bride of Christ. That feels a little strange for the man we admit it. Okay, we are the bride of Christ. That feels a little strange, but I understand what God’s saying. Christ is the husband. He’s the head and I’m the follower, submitting to him so I can get my mind around that situation. I’m a member of the bride of Christ. Don’t be offended by this language; in fact, be commended by it. He’s building you up. He’s saying that if you have the spirit of God leading you, you have these rights. The legal rights of sonship.
In verse fifteen, looking at it again, he starts off with the word, “for.” He’s got a sentence that starts off with “for;” it always is explaining the previous sentence. So he just keeps explaining. Paul’s a lawyer, so everything just builds up. He just keeps explaining the previous thing. In verse fifteen, “ For you did not receive the spirit of slavery.” Now, there’s not like a spirit of slavery out there floating around that you need to watch out for. That’s not what Paul’s saying. This is lower case spirit here , you notice in the verse. He’s saying that this spirit of God does not enslave you. He’s not a spirit of slavery; that’s what he’s saying. He’s not that kind of God that is enslaving you. He’s not a spirit of slavery. The enslavement is to the old nature. That was a slavery that you’ve been bought out of.
He says, “So you don’t have to fall back into fear.” Some of you are still there. You’re afraid of God. You believe he exists, but you’ve never trusted your life to him because you’re afraid of what he’ll do to you. He will make you change in some way and you don’t want to change, so you’ve resisted Christ as your savior because you don’t trust God enough yet. You’re in a fear relationship to him. Some of you have trusted your life to him. And you said, “Yes, Jesus, come into my life.” But you have not trusted all of the areas of your life because you’re still afraid of Him. That is where I was when I was a little kid. You are thinking, “you were just a little kid.” Well, listen, all of us are kind of child is in the way we think sometimes. And it’s not so much the biological agents, sometimes the spiritual agents. You’re considering things. I got an advanced course because of what happened to me. Some of you know what I’m talking about. I had to grow up early, and so I was contemplating these things because of what was going on around me. And what was happening to me was I was living in a life of hypocrisy.
When I got into high school, I would not want any of you to see my yearbooks in my 8th, 9th and 10th grade of the stuff people wrote in there about me because they were right. That was the life I was living. But, then I went to church on the weekends, and I knewall of the hymns. I was a believer but I was afraid of God. I was afraid to give Him everything because I trusted Him with my dad and He let him die. That’s how I thought. I’m not saying it’s right, but that’s how I thought. If you think if you’re thinking like that today, then you are being motivated by fear. You’re not living as the spirit of adoption would have you live.
Let’s let’s look at verse fifteen again. This helps; I hope it’ll help you. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear.” That’s not how God works. He’s not going to enslave you and motivate you by fear. How does He motivate? How does He lead? How does God lead by the spirit? “But you have received the spirit of adoption as sons.” Well, that’s better. He’s chosen you. He loves you. He paid the price for you.
The parent who adopts does all that’s necessary to adopt the child. The child doesn’t pay for their own adoption. The parent does all of the work; the parent goes to the court, gets the lawyer and pays the thousands and thousands of dollars. The child receives it; “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. But you’ve received the spirit of adoption as sons.”
Remember how the word, sons, is not exclusive. It’s inclusive; it includes daughters, but you have the rights of sons. Don’t let go of that. When we cry, “Abba, Father,” why is this important? Because we’re changed in our relationship to God. The Christian calls God, Father and, even better, the Christian calls God that Aramaic language that Jesus spoke. It’s the root language for both Hebrew and Arabic. It’s the common language of Israel during the first century. Aramaic. Do you know how they say, “daddy” in Aramaic? It’s “Abba.”
Have you ever noticed that when you teach a child who is first learning to speak, you teach them the most simple way to say Daddy and Mommy. “Say mama, say bye bye…” They said “Abba” for daddy. This spirit of adoption comes and lives in you and makes you a child of God and cries out within you to say, “Abba.”
When the disciples of Jesus asked him to teach them how to pray, He says, “Pray like this, Our father,” except Jesus spoke Aramaic. They put it in Greek for us. Jesus said, “Our Abba.” That’s how you would have said it in the Greek, it’s the pa tair Greek word for Father. Pa teir is where we get paternalism and those kind of words.
“Abba;” do you talk to God like that? Do you talk to God? Do you call him “Abba?” Cry out implies prayer. You can talk to God like that. That’s how Jesus taught his disciples to pray to Abba, our father.
The spirit of God lives in our hearts. Galatians say this, Galatians 4:4-6 (ESV) God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Oh, man, that’s life changing.
What motivates your life? Are you still motivated by fear? Perfect love casts out fear. He loves you. Did you hear me? He loves you. He loves you. Jesus was talking to some people and he said that you know a good father if you go to him. If you go to him and say, “Father, give me a piece of bread.” He’s not gonna give you a stone. “Father, can you give me a piece of fish ?” He’s not gonna give you a snake. But how much greater is your Father in heaven who loves you? Jesus was teaching us a principal. Even earthly fathers know how to do good once in a while. But the Father in heaven loves you. He loves you and He wants you; he sent Jesus so that He might adopt you. Listen, if you’re here today and you’re adopted, somebody wanted you. Somebody paid a price for you. And if you’re a believer today, you’re adopted into God’s family and you’ve been given a new name and a new legal legal right to say, I’m a child of God, legal, before the father.
In John, Chapter 10, Jesus says, “I’m the good shepherd.” In fact, he gave us two of his seven, “I am” statements. There are several “I am” statements in John. “I am the resurrection of life, I am the way and the truth and the life, I’m the bread of life.” Here in chapter 10, He says, “I am the good shepherd and my sheep, they know me, they know my voice and I know them by name. And when I call them, they follow me.” He also said, “I’m the gate for the sheep. Unless they enter through me, they cannot come in. I’m the only gate.” This is in chapter 10. This idea that the spirit leads the sons of God doesn’t mean he leads from the back, beating you on the back with a whip. He doesn’t drive, you know. He steps out in front of you and leads the way. He leads you to come with him. Come with me. Follow me, which was always Christ’s invitation to His disciples. “Come, follow me.” When you do, when you follow Jesus, a new spirit, the spirit of Christ, lives within you. He enables you to say, “Abba, Father.”
What motivates your life? Are you motivated by fear today? Are you motivated by something else? What’s your view of God? Is it distant, far away, judgmental, angry or loving, kind, sacrificial? More than anything, He desires you to be His child.
Here’s number three. We’ve said He leads us. We’ve said He empowers us. Finally:
(3) Because the Spirit assures us as God’s co-heirs.
Romans 8: 16, 17. Now let’s unpack them, 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. God assures us, the spirit assures us, as Gods co-heirs. Verse 16 says that the Spirit himself bears witness with who? With our spirit, we have a spirit. We do know that’s not the Holy Spirit here. This is complicated. Well, it kind of is because God made us in His image. We are kind of complicated beings. Remember, when Adam and Eve were in the garden, He warned them, “If you eat of this fruit, that very day, you will die. And then we read the scripture that they didn’t die Well, they start hiding from God and they got kicked out of the garden. They lived a long time after that, right ? But yet. they did die if you think about it, they died spiritually and then all of their kids right down to us have been born dead spiritually.
Let me explain the body some have described as being world conscious. We have five senses; we can see, smell, hear, touch and taste. That is how we engage the world. So we have these bodies that are world conscious within. We have a soul that is self conscious, self aware. It says that right? Then, we are born without consciousness towards God; you’re born spiritually separated from God, spiritually dead. The Book of Ephesians says this, Jesus told Nicodemus in John, chapter three, “you must be born again.” Nicodemus asked him, “do I need to get back in my mother’s womb?” But Jesus says, “you must be born of the water.” You know, the woman’s water is going to break so that the baby can be born. You must be born of the water in order to exist and of the spirit. You must be born again spiritually in order to be a child of God.
I’ve said all that to explain that lower case, spirit, right there, of who? The Holy Spirit, capital S spirit is bearing witness with… Who’s he talking to are born again? Our new nature, not the old nature, which he calls the flesh the new nature, which is the spirit lower case here. That’s the born again person. He says this; he says, listen, you are a child of God, he’s bearing witness with you saying, hey, you’re a child of God. The funny thing about the Jews, they said, unless there are two witnesses, you have no case. You have no legal case. You need two witnesses. We have two witnesses because we’re legally adopted. And so the holy spirit is inside of us and we we’ve been born again spiritually so that we know God. The born again part of us is saying that’s my Father and the Holy Spirit who lives in us is saying, that’s right, with a high five. The Holy Spirit is bearing witness, agreeing together. He assures you this.
Sometimes, especially when you first come to Christ, you wander why you didn’t see “lightning.” Maybe somebody does. I didn’t when I was in children’s church at eight years old. I saw the lady down front who got down on one knee and prayed with me. I didn’t feel any different until that night when I didn’t have a bad dream and didn’t have a bad dream and then didn’t have a bad dream. And something was changing inside of me a little at a time. But there was something inside of me, and I now know that was the Holy Spirit saying, “You belong to me now.” I knew this, but I didn’t know how to describe it at the time . Now, Paul is putting into words to help me understand that the Holy Spirit is agreeing with my new life, saying, I am born again. He gives us assurance. He bears witness with us that we are children of God.
It gets even “gooder.” It gets even better in verse 17, “ and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” If you are God’s children and if the Holy Spirit is telling you this, you are heirs, heirs of what? We inherit; we are heirs of God and fellow heirs, coheirs with Christ.
What’s Christ’s half? Well, the Bible says that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. Everything is His. So, we don’t have to worry about material things anymore; we don’t have to worry about stuff. Everything that belongs to the son of God, we are now co inheritors with Him. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.
Philippians 4:19 (NIV) “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Our needs are met in Christ Jesus. We are coinheritors with Christ. Listen, when you’re adopted into God’s family , He’s making you like Jesus, but He’s also giving you all that He’s given to His son. I can’t believe this. It blows my mind. Doesn’t it blow your mind? Why are we worried? Why are we focused on temporary things? We are children of God, born again. The Holy Spirit lives in you as a down payment for the rest. This is what Paul is teaching us. If you are a child of God and everything that belongs to Christ is yours, then you’ll suffer with Him too, because He did. That’s part of living in this world. It gets better and better. It gets “gooder” after this, but you have to come back next week. He’s going to explain in the coming two Sundays how even the bad stuff that happens to us, God turns it into good if will trust Him with it. He takes the years that the locusts have eaten and restores them a hundredfold if we just give our lives over to Him and trust Him as Father.
Oh , there is suffering. He doesn’t deny that. He doesn’t say it’s all roses. We will suffer, but we’ll also be glorified with Him. In other words, there’s a day coming when we trade in these bodies. Mine is about used up. I don’t know about yours. Some of you are young, you’re still happy with what you have. If we could go to a part shop and get some new parts, I could probably keep this one running a little better. I don’t think it works that way. I’m glad, though, that there’s a promise from Christ that He’s the firstborn from among the dead. In other words, He’s what we’re getting. God’s not only making us like Him, but He is making us holy and righteous like Him, so that we are fit for heaven morally. He’s also giving us a glorified body that will live forever. If you want to know what that looks like, read the Gospels and you’ll read about the resurrected Christ. You’ll see descriptions of him. We get a body like Jesus. That’s why in 1 John, chapter three, verse two it says, “We know not yet what we shall be, but when we see him, we shall be like him. For we shall see him as he is.” We’re gonna be like Jesus. We get a new body; a glorified body, fit for heaven.
How do you get this? How do you get into this family so that you’re a child of God? John, chapter one, verse 12, “But to all,” that includes you. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, He gave the right,” that’s legal language, “to become children of God.” How? By adoption; he makes you His.
Have you received him? How do you do that? Just like you receive a gift. You want it. Come on, Jesus. I want you as my Lord and Savior. I believe in you. And when you do, it changes you from slaves to sons to coheirs. Look at Galatians 4:7 (ESV) “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Do you have assurance that you belong to God, no longer living a fearful relationship but living one of faith?
When I was a teenager, someone asked me, “Gary, have you given your whole life to Christ?” “Yes,” I said. “I believe in Jesus. I’m a believer.” This person knew what I was doing at school, how I was living in front of friends and how I was living outside of church. He said, “Well, you sure don’t. You don’t give the Cross a good name, man. You kind of offend me, you know.” I was asked, “Did you love your dad?” I replied, “Yes, why?” He said, “What if you would have climbed up in your dad’s lap and say, ‘Dad, I want to be just like you when I grow up,’ and he takes you by the shoulders and shakes you and says that now he is gonna make your life miserable.” I said, “No, I loved my daddy. I used to climb up in his lap like that all the time when he was alive and say, “Daddy, I want to be just like you. I’m a daddy’s boy. My daddy used to say to me, “Son, I love you. Whatever you become, whatever God calls you to be, I’m proud of you.” “That’s what he used to say to me.” I was ticked off with this guy for picking on my Christianity. I knew I was a hypocrite; I didn’t like what he told me. But I was afraid of God. I was afraid he would take something else I loved away from me like he did with my dad.
It was at this point, at age 13 or 14, that I transitioned in my relationship with Jesus. I used to lay my head on my pillow at night; those conversations with God, I wish I could have had with my dad. What school should I attend? Where should I go, what should I major in whether or not I should marry this pretty girl named Robin Conner… Who do you ask when you don’t have a dad? I would ask my mom, but I was a daddy’s boy and I was looking for a father. He’s my father. He healed that wound. It’s no longer a big old hole inside of me. It’s feel I’m going to see my dad in heaven someday. I believe that he was a Christ follower, but I can’t wait to see Jesus because I have a father in heaven and I call him “Abba” and He hears me and I have security, authority, intimacy, assurance, inheritance, discipline and family likeness. We are his holy ones. We are his co heirs. We are empowered by, led by, assured by the spirit of adoption. Don’t you want it? Don’t you want to get in God’s family?
Let’s pray. God. Thank you. Thank you for your Holy Spirit that comes to live in us whenever we receive Jesus. I pray for the person right now that’s in this room and you’re stirring their heart right now. You’re knocking on their heart’s door right now. You are saying to them , Let me come in. Receive me. That’s what’s going on in you right now, friend. You came in perhaps far from God or you came in afraid of God. I don’t know how you came in, but that’s what’s going on right now. It’s a transaction he wants. He wants entrance into your life. He wants to save you and make you his own. He wants to adopt you as his very own child. He loves you. You can trust him right where you are. You can say yes to that. I believe in Jesus. I receive him as my lord and savior. I believe he died on the cross for my sins. I believe he’s raised from the grave. Come and live in me make me a child of God. Adopt me into the family, Father. I want to be like Jesus. Others are here today and you’ve prayed to receive Jesus. But there’s still areas that you’re playing with sin. You’re still toying with it; you’re not serious about it. Maybe it’s because you’re afraid. Maybe you’re like I used to be right now. Would you say, Lord, it’s all yours. Every aspect of my life belongs to you. I give it all to you. I know you’ve saved me, and I’m a child of God. Now, I trust you with every area, especially this area that I’ve been holding back. Lord, I lift it up to you now in Jesus name, Amen.