Saturday, 13 July 2013
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.” Romans 8:15
This is now the third “for” which follows the “therefore” of verse 12. As he does frequently, even earlier in this chapter, Paul is building up a solid wall of doctrine, one point leading to the next in order to buttress his argument. Follow the progression –
1) Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh;
2) 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;
3) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
4) 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 “for” is an explanation of the previous conclusion about being a son of God. It is a “for” which is divided into two thoughts. The first contrasts being led by “the Spirit of God” to having left “the spirit of bondage” to fear. And this is certain because you are “brethren.” Because you are, then you are led by the Spirit of God. This means you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear. And what is this bondage? It is explained in Hebrews 2:14, 15 –
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
The bondage is the power of death and the fear which results from it. We’ve already seen in Romans that the law produces death in our mortal bodies. And so Jesus shared in our humanity, fulfilled the law, died in fulfillment of the law, and carried away the death associated with the law. When the death was carried away, so was the fear which was connected to it.
If you truly believe the gospel and accept Christ, then you are truly free. Death has no power over you. This is as certain as the ground under your feet. The truth found in this message is absolute. As Jesus Himself proclaimed, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
The second portion of the explanation resulting from “for” is that because we are in Christ “brethren” “you received the Spirit of adoption.” If we are adopted as sons of God, and we are, then we are His children. This leads to an obvious conclusion that should be considered before going on. If we were adopted and are now sons of God, then before we were adopted we weren’t sons of God. In other words, until you are in Christ, who fulfilled the law, died in fulfillment of the law, and carried away the penalty of the law, you are not a son of God.
Stated plainly, if you are not a true believer in Jesus Christ, then you have no family relationship to God. You are, as described elsewhere, a “child of wrath.” This point shouldn’t be missed because even in Christian churches, the “Fathership” of God is tossed about as if it were universal to humanity. The Bible doesn’t teach this. It is either “in Christ” and a son of God, or not “in Christ” and an enemy of God.
With that clear, we can see the resulting benefit of the Spirit of adoption. Where once we were at complete odds with God, we can now cry out to Him as our “Abba, Father.” Paul uses both the Aramaic and the Greek as Jesus did in Mark 14:36. Abba is an endearing and personal term closely associated with “daddy.” It is the call of the child to the one who protects and feeds him. “Father” is the Greek pater which is the one who begets life. In this then, there is a respect and an adoration. Citing both languages then demonstrates our closeness to God and our gratitude and dependence on Him.
The Spirit of adoption is key to understanding out new position. Jesus is the Son of God. When we receive Him, we are now linked to God directly because of Him. God will no more reject us than He would His own beloved Jesus. The surety of being in Christ is complete, it is eternal, it is the hope of glory which will never fade.
Life application: If you are in Christ, death is defeated. Yes, these bodies will wear out and die, but that isn’t the end of the story. As surely as Jesus came out of the grave, because it was impossible for death to hold Him, so is the surety of the same for you.
Precious Heavenly Father – As sure as I am that Jesus came forth from the grave, so I am sure that I shall too. My hope isn’t in a dead Savior, but in the risen Christ. If death is defeated through Him and I am in Him, then death is defeated in me. I stand on the truth of the gospel and in the glory of the work of the Messiah. Hallelujah and Amen!