"Father...Father:" A Fruit of Walking in the Spirit
Ro 8:8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, 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 as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "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 joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (NKJV)
Ro 8:8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. So then, all those who refuse to “walk in the Spirit,” and we have explained to you over the past several weeks that walking in the Spirit is putting the deeds of the flesh to death by being baptized and then practicing the spiritual breathing of confession, repentance, and receiving forgiveness.
Anyone who neglects these things cannot please God because you are giving place to your flesh. You can go to church, attend Bible study, ask great questions, and seem to be on a wonderful spiritual path of growth in knowledge, but if you neglect this process, your flesh is alive and thriving and lulling you to sleep. You are not pleasing God and putting your salvation in jeopardy.
Lenski says, “Those who live in the flesh are set on pleasing themselves, spiritual men please themselves by pleasing God. “
9 But, (Paul reminds the Romans and us) you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, (You are not in the self-pleasing mode of operation, but in the God-pleasing mode because the Spirit of God who was given to you at your baptism for the purpose of freeing you from your flesh, is at work in you giving you the desire to please God.) The desire to put the deeds of the flesh to death under the blood of Jesus.
(if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. (If you have no desire to put the deeds of the flesh to death, then the Spirit of God does not dwell in you and if that’s the case paul has some bad news for you.....) Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
Do you want a quick test to see if you have the Spirit of Christ? Then ask yourself these questions, “Do I want to have the Spirit? Do I want to belong to Him? Do I want to be corrected by Him? Forgiven? Led by Him? Do I want to please God by obeying His Word?
If this is not the cry of your heart, then you do not have Christ and are in danger of the judgement.
10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Another way of wording this might be, “Look, even though you are a Christian, you are still going to die (should the Lord tarry) Sin must do it’s work, it must earn it’s wages whether you are a Christian or not. Every one of us is going to end up in a funeral home, believer and unbeliever alike.
BUT, if Christ is in you, your spirit has become regenerated by His Spirit and His Spirit is life! Sin can’t kill the spirit of the believer because his spirit now has the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, the moment the Spirit came and took up residence! Jesus said in John 5:24,
Joh 5:24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
Death will get us all, but for the Christian, for those who have the Spirit of Christ, death is a mere gate to heavenly bliss, for the unbeliever, those who are not interested in the Spirit of God, death is a gate to eternal torment.
11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Do you see how important it is then to have the Holy Spirit calling the shots in your life? There is one death, but two kinds of people who die. Those surrendered to and led by the Spirit and those who are not.
And one day the body that you now possess (your mortal body) which has been ravaged by the effects of sin (some more than others) will have the last traces and effects of sin completely removed. This will be your glorified body!
What will your glorified body look like when it is reunited with your soul on judgement day? I really don’t know, but I know it’ll be better than what we are walking around with now, because sin will be gone!
12 Therefore, brethren, 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 as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
Therefore, as usual we always look back a couple of verses to see what the therefore is there for, and we see that because those who walk in the Spirit will inherit eternal life we had better learn to walk in the Spirit Therefore, put to death the deeds of the flesh!
Knowing that those who walk in the Spirit will inherit eternal life and those without the Spirit will spend eternity in hell and torment, why in the world would anyone want to be indebted to the flesh?
Listen, you started out in the Spirit at your baptism, why would you want to exchange the clean heart and right spirit that was given to you then for a life indebted to the flesh and destined for an eternity in hell? When the chips are cashed in on Judgement Day, what can the flesh offer you? Nothing!
You can’t say to the flesh, “I have served you (been indebted to you) all my life, now give me my due! The flesh can’t respond, it’s dead. Do you see how ridiculous it is to serve something that on the last day will be dead?
Oh if this is what you have decided to do, don’t worry, you’ll get what you’ve got coming to you. You won’t have a glorified body....but a horrified body.
But, to those who walk in the Spirit, yielded to Him and His Word your chips are worth something. They are worth everything that Christ did for you on earth!
Let’s talk briefly about what it means to be led by the Spirit. To be led by the Spirit is to be led along gently without violence. What do I mean by that? I mean that God doesn’t take us kicking and screaming from the point of our conversion all the way until we reach the pearly gates, we come led gently and willingly by the Spirit.
When Jesus stopped Paul on the road to Damascus, He said, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”(The word goads here means divine impulses) In other words, stop fighting the urgings of the Holy Spirit Paul. Submit, and let the Spirit lead.” And what happened next?
Paul replied, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” That is the question of a man who has yielded to the Spirit, and please note how Paul was taken to Damascus.
Acts 9:8,9 - But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight.”
Have you ever seen a blind man being led that was kicking and screaming? No! Rather they are quiet and gentle and willing to follow whoever is guiding them, trusting them completely for all things. This is what is meant by being “led by the Spirit.”
Stop kicking against the divine impulses that God graciously provides for us in His Word and gently allow Him to lead you from this life into the next.
15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."
This is one of those passages that I see a word and I ask, What is that word doing in there? It’s not necessary. What word am I talking about? The word “again.” The passage reads just fine without it.
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage to fear.” Doesn’t that sound fine just the way it is? I mean we know that God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Tim 1:7. Why then is this word “again” thrown in? “You did not receive the spirit of bondage AGAIN to fear.”
Like we were in bondage to fear once before. I don’t remember any fear when I wasn’t walking with the Lord. Oh but it was there and I can deny it if I like, so can you. But if you aren’t walking with Jesus you are in bondage to fear because you are under the Law!
Deep down you think you can be good enough to win God’s favor on Judgement Day without surrendering to Christ, without allowing Him to put the deeds of your flesh to death. But let me ask you something, “are you sure you’ve done enough?” Are you sure you are as good as you need to be? Maybe you ought to do a few more good things today to “pad your account.” Friends, that’s living in fear!
And as you hear the Law of God preached, the more fearful you will become as you realize that you can’t possibly measure up. You try and try and keep falling short, and you live the life of a slave cowering before his master just waiting for the whip (God’s punishment to fall)
Or something bad happens in your life and you wonder what you did wrong to deserve it, or worse yet, something bad happens and you just give up because you don’t want to serve this overbearing taskmaster that you have envisioned in your mind.
But listen! If you receive Christ and if you are led by the Spirit, you have become adopted sons of God! This is a LEGAL reality. By legal I mean that because Christ paid for your sins on Calvary and you have placed your faith in Him, you actually become an adopted child of God.
Joh 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: (NKJV)
Now some people don’t like that term “adopted,” because it speaks of abandonment, but learn to deal with it. God has only one natural Son and that is Jesus. All other children of God are adopted.
Joh 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (NKJV)
So we must be adopted and the only thing abandoned is our old sinful self, to which we say, “good riddance.”
Now listen, you once were a slave to sin. Sin had you in it’s control. Some professing, baptized individuals have even allowed themselves to become slaves to the Law again. They have forgotten about God’s grace and live out their lives struggling with keeping the law in their flesh, fearful that they are falling short and God is waiting to pounce on them for their wayward ways.
Listen to this verse again. You were not set free from bondage to sin and bondage to the law at your baptism in order to return to living to this life of legalistic fear. No! You have received the Spirit of adoption. The Holy Spirit of adoption, the Spirit that declares to you that you are by faith and by your baptism a son of God!
Now some of you may have had earthly fathers who ruled you with fear, and you may shy away from the idea of being someone’s son, but this is your heavenly Father. He is perfect, He doesn’t rule His children with fear, but love!
We don’t seek to obey Him out of fear of punishment, but we seek to obey Him because it is our desire to please Him. We have the testimony of the Holy Spirit in us, the Spirit of Christ, the Son, who calls out through our redeemed spirit......Father! Father! In Christ, we are God’s children!
It’s interesting to note that two words are used here and they both mean “father.” One is expressed in a language of the Gentiles and the other expressed in a language of the Jews. Why? Because the endearing term of Father is available to both Jew and Gentile.
The term is repeated to give it emphasis. Father is emphasized in the NT because it is God’s title of choice for NT believers. In the OT His covenant name was Jehovah and there is a big difference.
Jehovah spoke of being distant and unapproachable, thunder and lightning! Whereas “father” speaks of approachability, tenderness, and serenity. The Law says, “call Me Jehovah, grace says, “call Me Father....Father.”
The Spirit doesn’t just speak the term tersely, but says it twice, savoring it. Father......Father.
Can there be any greater witness that one has received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior? With every utterance of His name we are intimating that we are His child.
16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ calls out from our heart “Abba Father” and the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ whispers to us....see you are His precious child!
17 and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
If we are children, then we are heirs, we inherit the heavenly estate and all that goes with it and what goes along with our Brother Jesus.........including suffering, which is connected to our glory, and we’ll talk a little more about that next week.
In closing, let us remember again that if we choose to live according to our flesh with no regard to God and His Word we cannot possibly please God. And according to verse 13 if we live according to the flesh we will die, we will not inherit eternal life!
It is essential then that we learn to live by the Spirit. The Spirit puts the deeds of the flesh to death through confession, repentance, and receiving forgiveness. These three then are the starting blocks for our sanctified living. As we practice them daily, the Lord helps us down the road of spiritual maturity.
A spiritual maturity or perfect love that casts out all fear, and allows us to hear the cry of the Spirit of adoption , Father....Father, and assures us of our new standing with God as His adopted children.
No more, the fearful cowering cry of the slave, but the hopeful cry of a son. A son who desires to obey because he desires to please such a loving and kind Father. Who paid the price of surrendering His only Son in order that we might be adopted into His family.
Let’s pray: Abba, Father. Thank You for filing those adoption papers for us on Calvary 2000 years ago, thank You for making us Your children through baptism and the gift of faith. We confess Father, that we have been negligent in our duties as Your children. We have not put to death the deeds of our flesh as You have asked us to do. We have become lazy and preoccupied with the toys and pleasures of this world. Thank You for sitting down with us this morning and reminding us of our responsibility to confess, repent, and receive Your forgiveness. Give us the Spirit that we need to do these things not out of compulsion, but out of a heartfelt desire to please the One who took us in and adopted us on no merit of our own. In the name of our Brother and Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen.