Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
February 19, 2017
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together.
1901 ASV Translation:
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
15 For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit himself beareth 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 so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified with [him].
- I. The Identity of "The Sons of God".
- A. The "For" means that the following information is a part of Paul's reasoning.
- 1. The previous declarations centered upon whether a person would "die" or "live".
- 2. Those pronouncements were rooted in the issues of being under obligation to the flesh to pursue the demands of the body at all costs or being under obligation to the Spirit to put those demands to death at the level of "determinative issues". "Determinative issues" are those issues which end up being the basis for decisions made and pursued. A physical level issue should never be allowed to overrule the soul or the spirit in terms of issues to be pursued. The Spirit should never be overruled and the soul is the wife of the Savior so she should never be "ruling" either.
- 3. How does Paul's clarification of the identity of "the sons of God" follow these thoughts?
- a. That the identity of those "sons" is qualified by "as many as are led by the Spirit of God" means that "sons" automatically follow the concept of "by the Spirit, putting to death the 'praxis' issues of the body". These alone "live"; all others are dying and liable to the final death of the body.
- b. Paul's thinking is that his readers need to grasp what "living" is all about.
- B. The meaning of "sons of God".
- 1. The choice of the word "sons" is deliberate, as can be seen in the use of "adoption" (the literal meaning is "son-placement") as well as in the use of "children" in the very next verse.
- 2. The distinction in the Scriptures is this: "sons" are such by virtue of their mimic-like pursuit of the attitudes and actions of the "father". Thus Jesus can deny the "sonship" of those Jews who claimed "sonship" to Abraham while copying the attitudes and behavior of the "devil" (John 8:43-44). And by this also Paul says of those who "believe" that they are the "sons of Abraham the believer" (Romans 4:11). There is no physical descendant involvement in this "sonship"; it is all about the copy cat pursuit of the issue of the "father". Thus, even in the Old Testament, it is the "musicians" who are the "sons" of Jubal; it is the "nomads" who are the "sons" of Jabal; and it is the "iron and brass workers" who are the "sons" of Tubalcain. There is no direct physical lineage here; it is all about skills that one has and uses that reveals the identity of his "father" (Genesis 4:20-22).
- 3. Thus, those who are the "sons" of God are those who depend upon His Spirit to "lead" them in their daily activities.
- II. The Determining Factor.
- A. Paul says "as many as are led by the Spirit of God" are these "sons" who "shall live".
- B. This "leading" is the heart of the issue.
- 1. The word Paul used is found in 71 settings in the New Testament, but only twice in Romans. It is used in texts/contexts where the meaning can be anything from being "dragged" to a place to simply "going" by whatever choice and method is involved. The particulars of being "led" are often left unspecified because the issue is not the method, but the fact of being moved from one place to another.
- 2. The uses in Romans are instructive.
- a. Romans 2:4 casts "the goodness of God" into the role of "leader" for those who "follow" unto repentance.
- b. Our current context says that it is the Spirit's "execution of the 'praxis' issues of the body" that identifies the "leading" and the "sons" "follow".
- c. The issues involved in "leading" are extremely varied. A person may read a biblical text and be "led" by it to do this or that. A person may be pressed by circumstances to make some choices about "going" and whatever "praxis" is dominant is the "leader". A person may see a vision and be "led" by it to do this or that. Whatever is at the root of the decision is the "leader" and whenever that "leader" is the Holy Spirit, the person is being "led" by Him. It is not critical for the "led" to actually be able to identify the "leader" (given the complexities of how God works on the hearts of minds of His people and the actual depravity of the human heart [Jeremiah 17:9]), but there are some identifiable indicators in our context: "Life" and "Peace" (8:6). The Galatians 5 text on the "fruit" of the Spirit is also a set of identifiable indicators. Where the Spirit is there is peace.
- d. The overall "leading" is in the direction, in this text, of denying the praxis issues of the body. In a setting where being a "believer" could easily put one in a persecuted-even-unto-death state, it is critical that one understand that the "leading" of the Holy Spirit has to do with loyalty to Christ no matter what the consequences to the body.
- II. The Connection Between the Identity of the Sons of God and "Fear".
- A. It seems apparent that Paul was concerned about the Romans not having a basis for deciding who the "sons of God" are. Thus, he clarifies.
- B. Then, he immediately introduces another "for" in order to explain his clarification. This "for" introduces the claim that "believers" did not "receive the spirit of bondage again unto fear". Instead, they "received the spirit of son-placement" by Whom we cry out "Abba" (The Father).
- 1. What he is saying?
- a. Having said that those are "sons" who are "led by His Spirit", he immediately counters the idea that this is simply another form of the old "Law" wherein you are "led" into demands that you cannot meet. The old "Law" brought with it a "spirit of bondage unto fear".
- b. But, there is this: if a "son" lives "according to flesh", not only is he/she not a "son", neither is he/she going to experience "Life". Those who live that way are "dying unto Death".
- c. Alternatively, God has given his "sons" a new Spirit with a new "message": God is "Abba". He is "The Father". "Life" waits those who embrace the "leading" of this new Spirit. This is "Promise", not "Law".
- 2. What about the "cry", "Abba"?
- a. Moving from "God as Judge" to "God as The Father" is a very major shift.
- b. This major shift begins in the "heart". What does a person do who has "believed", yet still has trouble with calling God "Abba"? Nothing: the next verse declares what that Spirit does to overcome that reluctance.