8:15 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,
In the Roman adoption system, four things were
consequential to adoption.
First thing that happened was the adopted person lost all
relationship to his old family. Everything was gone and he gained all rights
to the new family.
Second thing, it followed that he became heir to all the
new father's estate.
The third thing that happened, according to Roman law, was
that the former life of the adopted person was completely wiped out. All his legal debts
were cancelled. They were wiped out as if he had never existed. And the adopted person was given a new name
and it was as if he had just been born. Sound familiar? When you came to Jesus Christ and were adopted into the
family of God, all your past debts were what? Cancelled, and you became a
co-heir of all that the born son, the Lord Jesus Christ, possesses.
The fourth thing was in the eyes of the law the adopted person was
literally and absolutely the son of his new father. And so, when we were
adopted, all these things, no doubt, are in the mind of the apostle and the
Spirit, and we know they took place in our adoption. We have cut the cord with
the past. We have become co-heirs to God's kingdom. All the old debts are wiped
out and we are absolutely and legally and forever the son of God.
gives us the name of sons. Adoption gives us the title to the inheritance.
Regeneration gives us the nature of sons and gives us the fitness for that
inheritance. Both are important.
"testifies with our spirits that we are
children of God" As noted in Rom. 8:13, one aspect of faith assurance is
the believers' changed and changing lives (cf. the NT books of James and 1
John). Another aspect of assurance is that the indwelling Spirit has replaced
the fear of God with family love (cf. 1 John 4:17-18). "when we cry, Abba! Father! It is the Spirit Himself bearing
witness with our spirits that we are children of God" (cf. Gal. 4:6). This
implies that the assurance comes when believers can call God, Father, by the
So he says you didn't become Christians to be put
again in a spirit of bondage to fear. You're in a no-condemnation status and
the Spirit of God doesn't want to bring you back under some bondage of fear.
That's an unhealthy kind of fear, not a reverence for God, but the fear of
punishment, the fear of ultimate damnation, the fear of losing salvation,
the fear of having to pay for your sin. He didn’t come into your life to bring
you under that.
Cry is krazō,
a loud cry signifying deep emotion. And "Abba" is the Aramaic word
for "papa, daddy." You reserve that name daddy for just one person.
That's very intimate. And that's what Abba means. In Jewish Families
They call their dad "abba." "Hey, Abba!" Who goes into the
presence of holy God and says, "Papa," "Daddy?" That is really shocking news to the average
The internal witness of the Spirit is not audible, but
practical. It causes
1. guilt over sin
2. desire to be
3. desire to be
with the family of God
4. hunger for
5. a sense a need
to do evangelism
6. a sense a need
for Christian sacrificial giving
These are the kinds of
internal desires that provide a faith evidence of conversion.
Ro 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
Assurance of salvation
has been turned into a denominational issue.
1. Roman Catholic
theology denies the possibility of assurance in this life but bases confidence
in one being a member of the "true" church
2. John Calvin
(Reform tradition) based assurance on election (predestination), but one could
not know for sure until after this life on Judgment Day
3. John Wesley
(Methodist tradition) based assurance on a perfect love (living above known
4. Most Baptists
have tended to base assurance on the biblical promises of free grace (but
ignoring all the warnings and admonitions).
There are two dangers related to the NT paradoxical
presentation of Christian assurance.
overemphasis on "once saved, always saved"
overemphasis on human performance in retaining salvation.
Hebrews 6 clearly
teaches "once out, always out." Human effort (good works) does not
keep believers saved (cf. Gal. 3:1-14). But good works are the goal of the
Christian life (cf. Eph. 2:10). They are the natural result of meeting God and
having the indwelling Spirit. They are evidence of one's true conversion.
Assurance is not meant to soften the Bible's call to
holiness! Theologically speaking, assurance is based on the character and
actions of the Triune God.
1. The Father's
love and mercy
2. The Son's
finished substitutionary sacrificial work
3. The Spirit's
wooing to Christ and then forming Christ in the repentant believer
The evidence of
this salvation is a changed worldview, a changed heart, a changed lifestyle and
a changed hope! It cannot be based on a past emotional decision that has no
lifestyle evidence (i.e., fruit, cf. Matt. 7:15-23; 13:20-22; John 15).
Assurance, like salvation, like the Christian life starts with a response to
God's mercy and continues that response throughout life. It is a changed and
changing life of faith!
In that Roman adoption system, do you know what you
had to have to get the adoption final? Seven witnesses. That's right. According
to a study of the Roman law, it says there had to be seven witnesses. So that's
how important adoption was. You get the picture? What happens if you get
adopted in a family and say, "Hey, I'm adopted into this family, I'm the
rightful heir." And they say, "Hey, the father's dead, friend, the
father is dead now, it's coming to us." Right? You'd have a fight on your
hands, wouldn't you? With all the kids who were born into the family naturally?
So you had to have seven witnesses. I mean, it would be tough to kill off seven
witnesses, wouldn't it? And so as soon as the father died, all these witnesses
would surface. "Oh yeah, we were all there." Seven witnesses.
When Satan, who is the
great accuser, wants to come in and accuse us and say, "You don't belong
to God, who do you think you are? You with all the sin in your life? You who
fall short? You don't belong to God." Something in our heart says,
"Yes I do." And the Spirit comes along side and says, "Yes you
do." And He, by the way, is called
by Isaiah "the seven-fold Spirit." Interesting coincidence?
You see the point of the passage? Assurance of salvation comes by the
fruit produced in your life through the walk in the Spirit. So, assurance in our salvation is the
ministry of the Spirit.
1 John 3:18-24. "
As you walk in obedience, as you
keep His commandments, your heart doesn't condemn you. You say, "I'm not
Think about what the Spirit is doing for us, all the
things He does for us, freeing us from the law of sin and death, equipping us
to kill sin, confirming to us that we are the children of God. How glorious.
Ro 8:17 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" There is
a series conditional sentences in Rom. 8:9,10,11,13 (twice), and 17 (twice).
These are all first class conditional sentences which are assumed true from the
author's perspective or for his literary purposes. Paul assumed his readers in
the Roman church were Christian.
1. Believers share
heirship with Christ
2. Believers share
sufferings with Christ
3. Believers will
share glory with Christ
(from 1 Peter 1)
In the OT every tribe except Levi received a land
inheritance (cf. Joshua 14-22). The Levites, as the tribe of priests, temple
servants, and local teachers, were seen as having YHWH Himself as their
inheritance (cf. Ps. 16:5; 73:23-26; 119:57; 142:5; Lam. 3:24). NT writers
often took the rights and privileges of the Levites and applied them to all
believers. This was their way of asserting that the followers of Jesus were the
true people of God and that now all believers were called to serve as priests
to God (cf. 1 Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6), as the OT asserts of all Israel (cf. Exod.
The NT emphasis is not on the individual as a priest with certain
privileges, but on the truth that all believers are priests, which demands a
corporate servant attitude (cf. 1 Cor. 12:7). The NT people of God have been
given the OT task of world evangelization (cf. Gen. 12:3; Exod. 19:5b;
Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8; see
The Scriptures talk
about believers inheriting (cf. Acts 20:32; 26:18; Eph. 1:4; Col. 1:12; 3:24)
many things because of their family relationship with Jesus who is heir of all
things (cf. Heb. 1:2). Therefore, they are coheirs (cf. Rom. 8:17; Gal. 4:7) of
1. the kingdom (cf.
Matt. 25:34, 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 15:50; Eph. 5:5)
2. eternal life (cf.
Matt. 19:29; Heb. 9:15)
3. God’s promises (cf.
4. God’s protection of
His promises (cf. 1Pe 1:4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and
that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the
power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Suffering is the norm
for believers in a fallen world (cf. Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-21; 16:1-2;
17:14; Acts 14:22; Rom.5:3-4; 8:17; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; Phil. 1:29; 1 Thess. 3:3; 2
Tim. 3:12; James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 4:12-19). Jesus set the pattern (cf. Heb. 5:8).
The rest of this chapter develops this theme.
with Him" In John's writings whenever
Jesus talked of His death, He called it "being glorified." Jesus was
glorified by His suffering. Believers, positionally and often experientially,
share Jesus' life events (cf. Romans 6).
1. If you
are adopted, you should honor the one who adopted you – are you promoting the
2. If you
are adopted, you should love the other family members
3. If you
are adopted, you should be a responsible family member – don’t sit and soak
There are two ways the Spirit leads. The Holy Spirit gave
us the Bible and the first way is the Holy Spirit illuminates to our minds that
The second way is sanctification. Here is the idea that
once He has shown us what it means, He then assists us in applying that in the
progress of spiritual growth. The Holy Spirit not only illumines the mind, but
He stirs the heart and the will.
I believe the Spirit of
God leads us by prompting the heart.
In Psalm 119:35, the psalmist
says: "Make me to go in the path.” God, don't just show me the path, make
me to go in it, shove me. And in Psalm 119:133 it says: "Order my steps in Thy word and
let not any one iniquity have dominion over me." And so, the cry is not
just, may I understand you with my mind? But may I act in response to my
understanding with my will. So, the Spirit of God is illuminating the mind and
activating the will. The second is sanctification, the process of spiritual
response of separation unto God in acts of obedience.
It's a present
tense, verse 14, as many as are being continually led by the Spirit of God
through the illumination of the Word of God and the sanctification of obedience
to it, prompted by the Spirit of God, they have the confidence in their hearts
that they indeed are the children of God. when you have those times in
your life that you're not in the Word and you're not walking in obedience, you
will not have that confirmation. You will not have that affirmation. And
that's why Christians will fall into times of doubt because they are not under
that direct leading ministry of the Spirit of God. And that's why, you see, the
New Testament is filled with exhortations. If we were always led by the Spirit
of God all the time, we were always responding to illumination and
sanctification, we wouldn't need any exhortations, would we? So, we say this.
It is true that all Christians are led by the Spirit, but it's also true that
we're not as good at following as we ought to be, right? If we're truly saved, we will follow, but we could follow better.
It's a way of life. It's the constant thing.
Ro 8:15 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."
V15 but you received
the Spirit of adoption
Paul continued his
discussion of the privileges that believers receive as full heirs of Abraham
through faith in Christ. Paul used the family metaphor "adoption" of
our salvation while John and Peter used the family metaphor "born
again." The adoption metaphor was used primarily in two contexts in Roman
culture. In Roman law, adoption was very difficult. A long, involved and
expensive legal procedure, once enacted adoption afforded several special
rights and privileges.
1. All debts were
2. All criminal
charges were dropped
3. They could not
be legally put to death by their new father
4. They could not
be disinherited by their new father
In legal terms, they
were a completely new person. Paul was alluding to the believers' security in
Christ by using this Roman legal procedure (cf. Rom. 8:15, 23). When a father
publicly adopted a son, he officially and permanently became his heir. Also,
the metaphor was used in the official ceremony of a boy becoming a man, held on
the 17th of March each year.
One of the
most tender & loveliest adoption story of all of Scripture is found in 2
Here is an adoption, an adoption of grace, an
adoption of mercy, an adoption of love. And as you read it through, we are
struck at how similar it is to our adoption into the family of God.
the initiative. In adopting Mephibosheth. And the Lord takes the
initiative in adopting us.
1. David showed mercy to one who was
unworthy, one who had descended from an evil enemy. So
does the Lord seek among the children of the devil His sons to adopt.
2. David was motivated by love for
Jonathan. And in our case, God was motivated by love for Christ and He redeemed
us for Christ's sake, it says.
desired to show kindness, and so Ephesians 2:6 says that we've been saved in
order that God might show us eternal kindness.
4. David chose one who was
outside the standard of perfection. And so God has chosen
those who are outside the standard of perfection. By the
way, Mephibosheth means "a shameful thing." And he lived in Lo-debar,
which means "the barren land," or literally a place of no pasture. He
was a nobody from nowhere. And those are just the kind of people God takes as
5. And then the climax, David brought him to
his own table to feed him as one of his own. And so does the Lord
bring us to His table. And then David gave him an inheritance. And so does the
Lord promise to us. And the analogy goes on and on. It is a beautiful picture
of spiritual adoption where God takes men and by His own initiative and based
on His own love and not anything to do with their worthiness and for the sake
of Christ whom He loves, takes as sons those who formerly were enemies.
Romans 8:11 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.
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.
Again, it could be translated since. “Since the Spirit of
Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you (that's the Spirit of God) He
who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies
through His Spirit who indwells you."
already had a spiritual resurrection. We've already died and risen in
Christ. We have a new nature. We've already been born again.
We've already had one death, and now we have new life in Christ. We
already are the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. We have
the life of God in our souls. That's already happened. You don't need to
fear the physical death. Because when that happens, the Spirit of God,
who raised Jesus from the dead, who dwells in you, is going to give life to a
new mortal body through the Spirit who indwells you. You're going to have
another resurrection. It's not going to be a spiritual resurrection.
Next time, it's going to be a physical resurrection. And you're going to
get a glorified body.
understand this is to understand the nature of the Christian. The spirit
dwells in you, and He is the Spirit that raised up Jesus. A number of
times in the New Testament, it talks about the fact that Jesus was raised from
the dead by the Spirit. The Spirit gave Christ life through death.
He raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him physical resurrection life.
And He that raised up Christ from the dead, and will also give life to our
mortal bodies. We're going to get new bodies.
Corinthians 15:35-45. "What's that new body going to be
like?" Well, the best illustration, it's going to be Christ's
resurrection body. Verse 35, the Corinthians had asked the same
question. "How are the dead raised and what kind of body are they
going to have?
So Paul's answer is, "I don't know,
but it's not going to be like what we've got. He will raise us and give us
spiritual bodies. 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 “When this earthly tent,” which is
our house, is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with
hands." That's how he describes our new body. And in this
house, we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from Heaven.
Why? Because we'd like to get rid of this debilitating flesh and the sin
and this body of death that is attached to us. And we will. And the
Holy Spirit has done all of this. It was the Holy Spirit who freed us
from sin and death by applying the merits of Christ's sacrifice for sin to
us. It was the Holy Spirit who enabled us to fulfill the law of God by
applying Christ's righteousness to us. It is the Holy Spirit who changes
our nature and moves us out of living in the flesh, according to the flesh,
with the things of the flesh, minding the flesh, which is death, both in time
and eternity, to being in the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, minding the things
of the Spirit, and pleasing God, because we're alive to God.
provided a no condemnation status and now he tells us that the Holy Spirit
secures that status. Chapter 8 really has a lot to do with our security. And
that's why the end of it says, "Who shall separate us from the love of
Christ, and we know that nothing shall separate us. Christ provided it, the
Holy Spirit secures it.
how does He secure it? By these means, seven ways the Spirit secures our
no-condemnation status. Number one: Verses 2 and 3, He frees us from sin and
death. Number two: He enables us to fulfill the law, verse 4. Number three: He
changes our nature, verses 5 - 11. Then He empowers us for victory, verses 12 -
13. He guarantees our glory, verses 17 - 25. He intercedes for us, verses 26 -
8:12 "So then" Paul continues
to draw out the implications of his presentation of Rom. 8:1-11.
Ro 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are
debtors--not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
▣ "we are under obligation" This is the other side of Christian
freedom (cf. Rom. 14:1-15:13). This is the conclusion drawn from the discussion
of sanctification in Rom. 8:1-11, which is both positional and progressive. It
also clearly shows that believers still must struggle with the old fallen
nature (i.e., 6:12,19; 7:7-24; 1 Cor. 6:18-19; Eph. 6:10-19). There is a choice to be made (initial
faith) and continuing choices to be made (lifestyle faith)!
So we say I’ll just relax and let Him do
His work.” That’s the old – let go and let God. Verse 12, with
all the work the Holy Spirit is doing with us, we’re under obligation.
You have an obligation. That’s the word for debt. What’s your
debt? Certainly not to live according to the flesh, right? You
don’t owe the flesh anything. What did the flesh ever do for you? You
don’t have any obligation to your flesh. What that means is there are no excuses now because the power of the
flesh has been broken. It is not a dominating force. There are no
Romans 8:7 Because the carnal
mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed
can be. 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.
The fleshly mind is hostile. It is
at enmity against God. It is in opposition to God. That's how it is
with unsaved people. They are in opposition to God. They walk
according to the flesh. They think according to the flesh. They do
according to the flesh. And they are hostile toward God, and they will
not submit to His law. And they can't. They don't have the ability
to do that. They're dead.
is the doctrine of depravity. It's more than just being
disobedient. It's deep seated. It's in the nature. It's in
the fabric of their disposition. It's who they are. Sin is not just
an act of rebellion; it is rebellion itself.
8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot
He sums it up really in verse 8,
"And those who are in the flesh cannot please God." Now,
therein lies the biblical definition of total depravity. We hear that
doctrine of total depravity a lot, and I want you to understand what it
means. When it says total depravity, the word total depravity means to be
in a sinful condition. To be totally depraved, some people might assume
means that you're totally wicked. In other words, to be totally depraved
means that you're as wicked as you could possibly be.
When you talk about the depravity of
man, you're talking about an utter inability of the unredeemed to do anything
that pleases God. Theologian John Gerstner used to kind of divide it up when he
would say... He would be asked, "Well, can't people do good things like
help the poor and the sick and the lame and do good deeds and show love to
their children and their partners in life and their friends and family. But he
would say, "The unregenerate can only do bad good. They can only do
bad good. Or they can do bad bad. But they can't do good
good." Good good is that which is not only good on a human level,
but that which pleases God. And I think that's right.
2. To those who have the indwelling Holy
From verses 9 to 11, we look at the spiritually-minded,
those who know life and peace. In the earlier portion of this text of
verses 4b through 8, the focus was on the fleshly, particularly in verses 7 and
8. Now we come to verses 9 to 11, and we get a look at the
spiritually minded people.
you,” he says in verse 9, “are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit."
That signifies a state of grace, a state of salvation, and a new
creation. You are now in the Spirit. You literally live and move in
Him. His life is your life.
is true,” he says, “if, indeed, the Spirit of God dwells in you."
That could be translated “since,” so it would read like this:
"You're not in the flesh, but in the Spirit since, indeed, the Spirit of
God dwells in you." What happens when you become a believer?
At the time of your salvation, the Holy Spirit immediately takes up residence
in you. And therein lies the dramatic change. He's not talking
about some profession. You're in the Spirit because you said you were, or
you're in the Spirit because you wanted to be. You're in the Spirit
because the Spirit's in you.
verse 9, "The Spirit of God dwells in you," is the word “to live in
as a home,” that is to say, a permanent residence. The Holy Spirit's home
is in the believer. He takes up residence in the believer. Some,
through the years, had the idea that you got saved, and then you got the Holy
Spirit later. Not so. If you didn't have the Holy Spirit, you didn't have
the transformation that His coming brought, and so you weren't converted at
all. You weren't regenerated.
he reverses his statement in the middle of verse 9 and says the same thing, but
in a reverse way, "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he doesn't
belong to Him."
Literally, God Himself dwells in you.
The Holy Spirit is called in the
New Testament the Spirit of Christ. In fact, He is called the Spirit of
Christ right here in this passage. Back to Romans 8, he is the Spirit of
Christ who dwells in you. He is also the Spirit of God who dwells in you,
in the same verse, and He is also the Spirit. Verse 9: "The Spirit,”
“the Spirit of God,” “the Spirit of Christ," all in the same verse.
what it shows is the marvelous reality of the Trinity and how the Holy Spirit
sustains the same relationship to the second person of the Trinity that He does
to the first person of the Trinity. So every believer is the possessor of
the Holy Spirit.
10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead
because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
again, could be translated “since.” "Since Christ is in you, though the
body is dead because of sin." What does he mean by that? Well,
though your human body still bears the death of its sinfulness.
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.
Again, it could be translated since. “Since the Spirit of
Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you (that's the Spirit of God) He
who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies
through His Spirit who indwells you."
To understand this is to understand
the nature of the Christian. The spirit dwells in you, and He is the
Spirit that raised up Jesus. In the New Testament, it talks about the
fact that Jesus was raised from the dead by the Spirit. The Spirit gave
Christ life through death. He raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him
physical resurrection life. And He that raised up Christ from the dead,
who is God the Father through the Spirit, will also give life to our mortal
bodies. We're going to get new bodies.