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Sermon #83 — Romans Series
Title: “The Spirit of Adoption”
Text: Romans 8:9-17
Reading: 1 John 3:1-10
Subject: The Indwelling of the Spirit
Date: Sunday Morning — April 3, 2016
While you are turning to the 8th chapter of the book of Romans, I want you to listen to these three statements. — May God the Holy Ghost enable you to hear them, for Christ’s sake.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ is the sinner’s only hope (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13).
2. Christ alone is God’s salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
3. The God of Glory, the God of all grace is ready, willing, able, and anxious to save sinners for Christ’s sake. — “He delighteth in mercy!” — He calls us, invites us, commands us to trust his darling Son (Isaiah 45:22; Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 3:23). — Will you obey God’s call? — Will you, now, trust the Lord Jesus Christ?
“How sad our state by nature is!
Our sin, how deep it stains!
And Satan binds our captive souls
Fast in his slavish chains.
But hark! The voice of sovereign grace
Sounds from the sacred Word;
Ho, ye despairing sinners, come,
And trust upon the Lord!
My soul obeys the Almighty’s call,
And runs to this relief;
I would believe Thy promise, Lord;
O help my unbelief!
To the blest fountain of Thy blood,
Incarnate God, I fly;
Here let me wash my filthy soul
From sins of deepest dye.
Stretch out Thine arm, victorious King,
My reigning sins subdue,
Drive the old Dragon from his seat,
With all his hellish crew.
A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
Into Thy hands I fall;
Be Thou my strength and righteousness,
My Savior, and my all.”
— Isaac Watts
Do you trust the Lord Jesus Christ? Has God saved you by his grace? If so, here in the 8th chapter of the book of Romans you will see how God the Holy Ghost describes your new life in Christ. As we look at Romans 8:9-17 together and see what God’s grace has done for us, is doing for us, and shall yet do for us, oh, may God the Holy Spirit awaken you who are yet dead in your sins, call you by his omnipotent grace, and give you faith in our Lord Jesus Christ! — Oh, how I pray that God will be pleased to save you, for Christ’s sake!
Our text is Romans 8:9-17. The title of my message is — “The Spirit of Adoption”. Let’s begin reading at verse 1.
(Romans 8:1-9) “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (5) For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (8) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
“The carnal mind is enmity against God!” — “They that are in the flesh cannot please God!” — That’s where we were when God saved us by his grace. That’s what we are by nature. But, thank God, that is not all that this chapter says. Read on…
(9) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
“But ye are not in the flesh.” — That is to say, “You who are born of God, you who live by faith in Christ, you who walk in the Spirit no longer live after the flesh. You are no longer carnal and spiritually dead, but alive unto God and spiritual. You no longer live after the flesh, but after the Spirit. You no longer mind the things of the flesh, but the things of the Spirit. You no longer live for the world, but for God. You no longer live to fulfil the lusts of the flesh, but for Christ. You no longer trust the works of the flesh, but trust the Lord Jesus Christ.
“If so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” — If the Spirit of God does not dwell in you, you are still dead in trespasses and sins, without God, without Christ, and without hope! That is precisely what the Apostle tells us in the last part of verse 9. — “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
Let’s pick up at verse 10.
(Romans 8:10-17) “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (11) But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (12) Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. (13) For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (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.”
Now, by the grace of God, being born-again by God the Holy Ghost, being made new creatures in Christ, — now — we are the sons of God!
(1 John 3:1) “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!”
(Galatians 4:4-7) “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (5) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (6) And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. (7) Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
State of Nature
1st — In order to show us more fully the blessedness of being in the Spirit, the Apostle first describes what we are by nature, in our natural, fallen, depraved state, as the sons and daughters of Adam. — What an alarming account Paul has given of fallen man!
That is the nature of man! That is the condition of man! — That is our nature and our condition without Christ! Look back, O my soul, look back, my brother, look back, my sister, to the rock from whence you have been hewn and the hole of the pit from which you were dug by the grace of God. — Don’t ever forget!
Illustration: “My Remembrance Room”
While we remember what we are by nature and where we were when God saved us by his grace, let us be inspired anew to devote ourselves to God our Savior (1 Corinthians 6:11, 19-201).
(1 Corinthians 6:11) “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
But now we are the sons and daughters of God, saved by his almighty grace.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Life in the Spirit
State of Grace
2nd — In verses 9-11 the inspired Apostle tells us what it is to be brought by God out of our state of nature into a state of grace. — This state of grace is a state of life, life in Christ, life in the Spirit. — Life in the Spirit simply means that God now lives in us and we live in God. Yes, we live in God and God lives in us!
(Romans 8:9) “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
(Romans 8:10) “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”
If Christ is in you, if Christ is in me, though these bodies must die because of sin, “the Spirit is life,” and we, having the life of God in us, shall live because of righteousness.
(Romans 8:11) “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
We no longer look to the body, and the deeds of the flesh for righteousness before God. The body is dead (dying) because of sin. The body is not renewed until the resurrection. The child of God, the heaven-born soul, does not expect righteousness from that dead stock called “flesh.” — “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). — “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). And, after this body returns to dust in death, we shall be raised by the Spirit in the last day. This mortal body shall be raised in immortality! ——— What does all of that mean? Read verse 12…
Debtors to God
3rd — All that concerns this physical body of flesh and all the workings of this body of sin and death distress and afflict our souls in relentless opposition to the life of grace in Christ; but we are not debtors to the flesh to live after the flesh. Christ has freed them from all the debt of sin.
(Romans 8:12) “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.”
(Romans 8:13) “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
God the Holy Ghost preserves us by his sanctifying grace from the baleful influences of the flesh. By God the Spirit we are enabled to mortify the deeds of the body.
It is God the Holy Ghost who by his grace bears us up and carries us through all the paths of our sojourn here. Without him we are, like Samson when shaved, as all other men. But with him, all the foes of our souls (all the Amorites, Hittites, Jebusites, and Philistines) residing in this mortal flesh shall never prevail over us. — “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit,” but the flesh can never prevail over the Spirit (Isaiah 59:19).
(Isaiah 59:19) “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.”
Being born of God, we owe the flesh nothing. We are debtors to the God of all grace, and to him alone.
“A debtor to mercy alone—
Of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on,
My person and off’ring to bring.
The terrors of law and of God
With me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.
The work which His goodness began,
The arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen,
And never was forfeited yet;
Things future, nor things that are now,
Not all things below nor above,
Can make Him His purpose forego,
Or sever my soul from His love.
My name from the palm of His hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains,
In marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the Earnest is giv’n—
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified sprits in heav’n.”
— Augustus Toplady
Led by the Spirit
4th — Being born of God, sinners saved by the grace of God, living in this dark, dark world, are led by God the Holy Spirit (vv. 14-16). Having free access to God in and by Christ Jesus, having free access to the Throne of Grace by the blood and righteousness of Christ, we can and do say, with all the blessed liberty of grace call God “our Father which art in heaven,” saying, “Abba, Father” to the God of Glory! — Robert Hawker rightly observed…
“No servants, no bonds-men, no unregenerate; none but of the family of God in Christ, who are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, can so approach [God], or claim such a relationship.”
(Romans 8:14) “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
Believers enjoy eternal life in Christ because we have the Spirit of life; and we have “the Spirit of life” because we are the sons of God. — “To be led by the Spirit,” “to walk after the Spirit,” and to “live by faith” all express the idea of being under the rule and government of Christ our Lord by the Spirit. God’s people live in this world under the constant, efficacious influence of the God the Holy Spirit. As children are led by the hand and influence of their parents, so the children of God are led by the Spirit.
He ever leads us to see the iniquity of our hearts and to lay hold on Christ and salvation by him. God the Holy Ghost leads us into the grace, and love, and favor of God in Christ our Savior.
“They are the sons of God,” the objects of God’s peculiar love and tender care, who are thus led by the Spirit.
Chosen sinners come to know their election and adoption as the children of God, only as God sends his Spirit into their hearts in the saving operations of his grace, giving them faith in Christ. At the time of love, God sends his Spirit and causes his adopted children to gladly receive the adoption of sons. When he creates faith in us, he gives us the right in our own consciences to be called the sons of God, enabling us to lift our hearts to heaven and call God himself our Father. — “To as many as received him to them gave he power to become the children of God.” — John Gill wrote…
“This is a privilege that exceeds all others. It is better to be a son than to be a saint. Angels are saints, but not sons. They are servants. It is better to be a child of God than to be redeemed, pardoned, and justified. It is great grace to redeem from slavery, to pardon criminals, and justify the ungodly; but it is another and a higher act of grace to make them sons; and which makes them infinitely more honorable, than to be the sons and daughters of the greatest potentate upon earth; yea, gives them an honor which Adam had not in innocence, nor the angels in heaven, who though sons by creation, yet not by adoption.”
To be called a son of God is the most noble title in heaven or earth. If we are sons, we should live in the enjoyment of all the privileges of full-grown sons in the family of God. Soon, we shall know fully and perfectly what Paul meant when he spoke of “the glorious liberty of the children of God.” We should ever live in the joy of life in Christ, as the peculiar objects of God’s everlasting love and heirs of his kingdom.
(Romans 8:15) “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.”
All who are led by the Spirit really are the sons of God. This is made manifest by the fact that God the Holy Spirit enables us, by faith in Christ, to confidently call the God of Glory our Father. The Spirit of God dwelling in us raises us into this blessed state of sonship.
Look at verse 15 again…
(Romans 8:15) “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.”
Religion brings bondage, the terrible bondage of rules and regulations devised by men, ever threatening punishment. Christ, by his Spirit and by his gospel, brings liberty. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of grace we have received, does not produce a slavish, fearful heart of bondage, such as that which possesses those who live under the law. All who live in the Spirit, live in the liberty of the sons of God, and from hearts of God-given, God-wrought love, gratitude, faith, and joy, we confidently look upon the holy Lord God, and call him Father. We who once, with good reason, feared God, and did everything we could to hide from him and avoid him, now love him, seek him with all our hearts, and delight in his company, having no fear of wrath, judgment, or condemnation. God the Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of adoption,” because it is by him that we are given the nature of God’s sons in regeneration, and because he is, by dwelling in us, the seal, or the pledge, or assurance of our sonship and final salvation (Ephesians 1:14).
(Romans 8:16) “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:”
God the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. — What does that mean? If read and understood in the context in which it is given, it appears to me that it can mean only one thing. God the Holy Spirit, by that which is written in the Word of God, bears witness with our spirit of faith, the Spirit of adoption dwelling in us, by which the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts, that we are the children of God. Here is the witness of the Spirit. — “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (John 5:1, 9-11).
Joint-heirs with Christ
5th — Being the children of God in union with the Lord Jesus Christ, we are heirs of God and join-heirs with Christ.
(Romans 8:17) “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.”
If that doesn’t ring your bell, your clacker’s broke! — If we are the children of God, we shall possess all of the inheritance of the saints in light. — That is only reasonable. But here the Spirit of God tells us that all who live by faith in Christ, that all who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit, being totally free from all sin and from all fear of condemnation, or even the possibility of it, live in the constant, immediate hope and expectancy of the glorious liberty of the sons of God, as “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” Being one with Christ, all God’s elect shall fully possess all that Christ himself has earned as our Mediator. The Savior himself declares that the glory God the Father gave him as the reward of his obedience (John 17:4-5) he has given to us (John 17:22).
If there were no other statement regarding the heavenly inheritance of God’s saints with Christ, this one statement shows the utter folly of those work-mongers, who, constantly seeking a place for works in the scheme of grace, teach that there are degrees of reward in heaven. The doctrine of degrees of reward for God’s elect in heaven is as foreign to the Bible as the papists’ doctrine of purgatory. It exists without a shred of evidence in Holy Scripture. I have no idea who concocted this doctrine. Whoever he was, he was totally ignorant of the gospel of the grace of God.
Without question, the Scriptures teach that there are degrees of punishment for the wicked in hell (Matthew 11:20-24). Those who are given greater light and despise it shall have greater condemnation in hell than those who sinned against less light. Those who go to hell shoving God out of their way, despising the gospel, will suffer greater wrath than those who go to hell rejecting only the light of nature and creation. There shall be degrees of punishment, because there are degrees of wickedness and guilt; but there are no degrees of righteousness.
Not only do the Scriptures not teach the doctrine of rewards in heaven, the doctrine is contrary to and contradicts everything taught in the Bible about grace, and the believer’s acceptance with God in Christ. How can there be degrees of joint-heirship with Christ? To be a “joint-heir” is to be a co-possessor of the inheritance.
The doctrine of degrees of reward among the saints makes the inheritance of eternal glory a matter of works. Those who teach it try to say “grace;” but it still comes out “works.” They tell us, “We are saved by grace; but after we are saved, we must earn our crowns and positions in heaven by our own faithfulness and obedience to the will of God.” In other words, they would have us believe that God gets us started toward heaven by grace, through the merits of Christ’s blood and righteousness, but we earn the ultimate glory and blessedness of heaven by our own merits! The Lord our God does not give grace and then make us earn glory. It is written, “The Lord will give grace and glory!”
The doctrine of degrees of reward in heaven denies the completeness of Christ’s atonement for sin. The Lord Jesus did not make atonement for some of his people’s sins, but for all of their sins: past, present, and future. There is not one iota of difference between this and the Roman doctrine of purgatory. It teaches that the believer must suffer for his sins (failures, lack of faithfulness, etc.) forever in heaven. — What utter nonsense!
The doctrine of degrees of reward in heaven denies the gospel doctrine of imputed righteousness. The Holy Spirit tells us that all who trust Christ are presently and forever worthy of the inheritance of God’s saints (Colossians 1:12). We are worthy of that inheritance which is the very glory of Christ our Mediator (John 17:22), because his righteousness is our righteousness before God. Just as Christ was made sin for us and was justly rewarded for our sin with wrath, condemnation, and death, all who are made the righteousness of God in him shall be justly rewarded with eternal life, in all its fulness, possessing the very glory of heaven! Our sins were not partially imputed to Christ; and his righteousness is not partially imputed to us (Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16; 50:20).
The Spirit of Adoption…