Paul's Epistle to the Romans, The Blessing Of Liberty

 (26) The Blessing of Liberty
Romans 8:12-17


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.

 

Introduction

The topic of verses 12-17 is Christian Liberty. We are no longer following a list of “Do’s and Don’ts,” in order to obtain God’s approval. Now, we are members of the family of God, and have all the privileges of a son, including being joint heirs with Jesus. We enter God’s family by the new birth, not by adoption (John 3); but adoption gives us an adult standing in His family. He deals with us as mature sons and daughters and not as “little children.” We can talk, walk, and use our inheritance right now. We are free, but we are still debtors to the Lord (v. 12).

The Blessing of Liberty

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

Now when we see the stark contrast between the flesh and the Spirit, what conclusion do we draw? We owe nothing to the flesh, to live according to its dictates. The old, evil, corrupt nature has been nothing but a drag. It has never done us a bit of good. All we derive from it is death.  If Christ had not saved us, the flesh would have dragged us down to the deepest, darkest, hottest places in hell. Why should we feel obligated to such an enemy?

Each Christian must refuse to follow the inclinations and desires of his sin nature. Paul said that we are not to live according to the flesh. We must deny the efforts of that nature to impose its lifestyle on us—“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). Our initial response to God’s grace must be denying ungodliness. Some very blindly accuse those who believe salvation is exclusively by grace of turning grace into a license to sin. That is not so, for grace teaches that we are to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. While in the world, the believer is not of the world and his desires are not to be set on this world system and its values. Rather, we should live soberly. We are to also live righteously, or in simple terms, just do right no matter what others may do!

Godly means in a godly manner, not “holier than thou,” but with true piety. The gospel is not a pie in the sky, but it is for the here and now, and it teaches how to really live in this present world, and not just exist, as the world does.

My friends, the flesh—and we all have it—is a low-down, dirty rascal.  In addition, we don’t owe it anything.

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.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die;--Those who live according to the flesh must die, not only physically but also eternally. To live according to the flesh refers to those who are unsaved. This is made clear in [1]Romans 8:4, 5. However, why does Paul address this to those who were already Christians? Does he mean to imply that some of them might eventually be lost? No, but the apostle often includes words of warning and self-examination in his letters, realizing that in every congregation there may be some people who have never been genuinely born again.

The unsaved person cannot have fellowship with God. In that sense, they are dead to Him. I am not talking about a theory; if you are a child of God, you know this from experience. If you are a child of God, and you have unconfessed sin in your life, do you want to go to church? Do you want to read your Bible? Do you want to pray? Of course you don’t. You are separated from God.

but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.—The “Spirit” in this case is the Holy Spirit, not the human spirit. God acted to put to death the selfish acts of the body through the death of Christ. This verse states the responsibility of the believer—to die to worldly desires. The power for this is not his own, but must come from the Holy Spirit.

In Colossians 3:9, the believer is said to have “put off the old man with his doings.”  That is the initial act of the new life that begins when a person is saved. It describes what is characteristically true of genuine believers. By the enablement of the Holy Spirit, they put to death the deeds of the body. They enjoy eternal life now, and will enter into life in its fullness when they leave this earth.

Here the body is regarded as the instrument of the flesh (the old nature), which tends to animate feelings that lead to committing sinful acts. If we continually serve the flesh, our life is characterized by a state of death. However, if by the Spirit you [2]put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. The deeds of the body are those fleshly activities, which characterize one who is not alive in Christ Jesus. Paul exhorts us to [2]mortify or reckon as dead [3](see 6:11) these deeds and no longer engage in them. When that is the case, and our thoughts and deeds are energized by the presence of the Spirit of God, we will truly have a born-again attitude and pattern for our life. Because of the fruit borne by our life, men shall know that the Spirit of God resides in us.

In this verse, Paul is saying, “Brethren, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live after the flesh (or, to crave the things of the flesh); but we have within us the Holy Spirit, who leads us into spiritual thinking, spiritual living, and into living a spiritual life. He gives us the energy and power to continually and gradually be killing our sins, which is a process that is never completed in this life. He accomplishes this process through our faithful obedience to the simple commands of scripture.

If we live after the flesh, we die; if we love the world, the love of God is not in us. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and taking pride in the things of life, are not of the Father, but are of the world. The world will pass away, and the lust of the world will pass away; but we who do the will of God will abide forever. However, the only way a person can do the will of God is to be possessed by God and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

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[1]Romans 8:4-5 (NKJV) "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit."  

For they that are after the flesh—And here is the great distinction between Jews and genuine Christians: the former are after the flesh—are under the power of the carnal, rebellious principle; and consequently mind, προνουσιν, relish, the things of the flesh—the things which appertain merely to the present life; having no relish for spiritual and eternal things.

But they that are after the Spirit—They who are regenerated, who are born of the Spirit, being redeemed from the influence and law of the carnal mind; these relish the things of the Spirit—they are spiritually minded, and pass through things temporal, so as not to lose the things which are eternal. And this, which in these apostolic times distinguished between the carnal Jew and the spiritual believer in Christ, is the grand mark of distinction between the nominal and the real Christian now. The former is earthly minded, and lives for this world; the latter is spiritually minded, and lives for the world to come.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

[2]Mortify and the phrase put to death is one-in-the-same. They mean to discipline one’s body and physical appetites through self-denial. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5 KJV). The New Testament calls believers to be “crucified with Christ” by mortifying or putting to death, such sinful deeds, and thoughts as those listed here.

[3]Romans 6.11; NKJV: "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead—Die as truly unto sin, as he died for sin. Live as truly unto God, as he lives with God. This seems to be the spirit of the apostle's meaning.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

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14 For as many as are [4]led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Another way of describing true believers is to say that they are led by the Spirit of God (or are being led). Paul is not referring here to spectacular instances of divine guidance in the lives of well-known Christians. Rather, he is speaking of what is true of all [5]sons of God. Sonship implies reception into God’s family, with all the privileges and responsibilities of adult sons. A new convert does not have to wait a certain time before he enters into his spiritual inheritance; it is his the moment he is saved, and it applies to all believers, men and women, boys and girls. There is one characteristic quality of all, who are truly born again. That quality is that in their thoughts, behavioral patterns, and life-styles they are constantly and habitually led by the Spirit of God—“Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Mt 7:20). A day-by-day response to the leading of the Holy Spirit indicates the one to whom we belong, because we follow the one to whom we belong. This is a more dependable criterion than our emotional highs and lows. Elation without obedience is a fraud. In addition, as children of God, Christians are debtors (v. 12). They are obligated not to live according to the sinful, selfish desires of the flesh. Those who are led by God’s Spirit are indeed God’s children. On the other hand, those who are not led by God’s Spirit are not God’s children. Obedience to God’s Word and yielding to the influences of the Holy Spirit is the test of ones personal relationship with the Lord.

As far as I am concerned, that puts some people in a very bad position, spiritually speaking. You will never convince me that God’s Holy Spirit leads Christians to go to some of the places they go, do the things they do, and keep the company they keep. I believe that a person led by the Holy Spirit will walk in paths of righteousness (read Psalm 23). The Holy Spirit will always lead you away from self and into the will of God

When you think about it, this verse makes sense, doesn’t it? God does not drive His sheep. He leads them. When our Lord told of the safety and security of the sheep, He made it clear that they were not forced to do His will, and that of the Father. He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them [and I drive them out, Oh no!], and they follow Me” (John 10:27). They are the ones who are safe and secure, because they follow Him. The Spirit of God leads them. They hear His voice, because they have a new nature, and they follow Him.

Believers are God’s children and heirs by adoption (see verses 15 and 17). In Paul’s day, the adopted individual was regarded as a new person beginning a new life. Legally, the adopted one gained all the rights of one born into the family as the legitimate heir to the father’s estate. God’s children enjoy security in their relationship with Him. They also enjoy intimacy.

Someone may want to know how the Holy Spirit leads. Believers are not led through mental impressions or promptings to provide direction in making life’s decisions—something scripture nowhere teaches. Instead, God’s Spirit leads His children through the orchestration of circumstances—“After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:7), but primarily He leads in two ways:
1. Illumination of God’s word. The Spirit clarifies scripture to make it understandable to our sinful, finite minds— “Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” (Lk. 24:44-45).
2. Sanctification, by divinely enabling us to obey scripture. We need to have the habit of continually walking by the energizing power and under the divine direction of the Holy Spirit. This is the only way of deliverance from selfish lusts. When God saved us, He did not eradicate the old nature, neither did He reform the old life; He gave us an absolutely new life. The old nature is “not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom 8:7). The Christian can conquer the self-life and have continual victory by walking by the Holy Spirit.

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[4]led by: The words, “led by,” are usually used in the New Testament with regard to persons, and it implies cooperation on their part with the one who is leading. Here, therefore, the wholehearted response to the leading of the Holy Spirit is suggested. To be led by the Spirit of God is to walk after the spirit: "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:4; NKJV)

[5]sons of God — This phrase has three different meanings in the Bible:
1. In the Book of Job the phrase is used for angelic or nonhuman beings (Job 1:6; 2:1). These sons of God presented themselves before God in what might be called a heavenly assembly. Satan appeared with them, although this does not necessarily mean he was one of the “sons of God.” Thus, the stage was set for the telling of the story of Job.
2. The phrase, “sons of God” appears in the New Testament as a name for people who are in a covenant relationship with God. This exact phrase never appears with this meaning in the Old Testament, although the idea is implied. For example, God referred to the scattered children of Israel, whom He promised to gather again, as His sons and daughters (Is. 43:6; 45:11). In the New Testament, the apostle Paul encouraged the Christians at Rome to live not “according to the flesh,” but “by the Spirit,” because those who “are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” The process is described as one of adoption, by which the believer becomes a child of God, and therefore an heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ (Gal. 4:5; Heb. 2:10; 12:7). Other passages use the phrase “children of God” with the same basic meaning (John 1:12; Phil. 2:15; 1 John 3:1–2).
3. The third usage of the phrase occurs in Genesis 6:1–4. Certain “sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose” (v. 2). The offspring of these unions are described as “giants,” “mighty men,” and “men of renown” (v. 4). The question centers on the identity of these “sons of God” mentioned in this passage. There are two basic possibilities. The phrase could refer to nonhuman beings such as those mentioned in Job (1:6; 2:1). On the other hand, the phrase may be an unusual way of referring to human beings. The context of the verse gives important clues that the “sons of God” in this case are not angelic beings. Nowhere else in the Bible is there even a hint that nonhuman and human beings can mate. There are many parallels in pagan thought, but none in biblical thought. A second clue occurs right in the passage itself. The Hebrew verb in verse two translated as “took them wives” is the standard verb in the Old Testament for marriage. In the New Testament, Jesus stated that angels do not marry (Matt. 22:30). Thus, “sons of God” in this passage must refer to human beings.

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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.”

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear,--The for here, connects this verse to the preceding verse, and the words, “these are sons of God.” Therefore, Paul is saying, “I say that you are sons of God, for you have received the Spirit of adoption.” There is a contrast here between the life of a servant and the life of a son. When Paul says that we have not received the spirit of bondage he is saying that when the Spirit of God dwells in us we are not treated by God as servants but as sons—“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (I Cor 2:12). We who are believers are not in bondage, nor are we under Law. We are under grace. We are not afraid…fear has been removed. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 Jn. 4:18). We are God’s sons on the merit of the finished work of His only begotten Son, and salvation removes fear. Born again children of God do not fear death or the judgment; nor do they fear meeting God. Fear means, “to be frightened,” “alarmed,” or “terrified.” John pointed out that people fear because they anticipate pain, torture, or punishment. Yet he argued that the person who stands in a relationship of love with God need not be afraid of God. If a person is afraid of God, he or she does not yet have a mature relationship with Him. As love for God increases, fear is “cast out.” John concluded his thought with a profound statement regarding the believer’s relationship to God: “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19). God’s love is the most important; our love is merely a response to His eternal love for us.

Deeper love … down to our very soul.
It’s there we have an anchor who will not let us go;
The Lord who calmed the sea is the One who sees us through;
He’s given us … a deeper love.
Diane Machen

The “spirit of bondage” is a spirit possessed by, and characteristic of, slaves. We do not fear God as the slave fears his masters; rather, we love Him as a son loves his father. The slave does his master’s bidding because he knows he will be punished if he does not. However, where the Spirit of God dwells, there is no element of fear that can intrude into his service for the Lord. He serves the Lord as a son lovingly serves his loving father.

“Again to fear,” means, tending to fear, the fear of death, for instance—“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” (Heb. 2:14, 15). Such a fear is characteristic of men in their unregenerate state; it is the fear of an unwilling slave. Because of their life of sin, they are slaves to their fear of death, and to their fear of the final judgment and the punishment that follows. Believers are adopted sons, not slaves, so they do not have to be enslaved by sin or live with fear.

but you received the Spirit of [6]adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”—Those living under law are like minor children, bossed around as if they were servants, and shadowed by the fear of punishment. However, when a person is born again, he is not born into a position of servitude. He is not brought into God’s household as a slave. Rather, he receives the spirit of adoption; that is, he is placed in God’s family as a mature son. By a true spiritual instinct, he looks up to God and calls Him “Abba, Father.” Abba is an Aramaic word, which suffers in translation. It is an intimate form of the word father—such as “papa” or “daddy.” “Abba” was the familiar expression of intimacy used by Jewish children to address their fathers. Here the cry “Abba, Father” is said to come from our own hearts under the energy of the Spirit. While we may hesitate to use such familiar English words in addressing God, the truth remains that He who is infinitely high is also intimately nigh.

The phrase the Spirit of adoption is a reference to the Holy Spirit as the One who makes the believer aware of his special dignity as a son. He produces a Spirit-filled awareness of the rich reality that God has made us His children, and therefore, we can come before Him without fear or hesitation. It included the confidence that we are truly sons of God.

But you received the spirit of adoption, refers to the state of a son, given to one to whom he does not belong by natural birth—“who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises” (Rom. 9:4). That very fact indicates that the Holy Spirit is the One, by whom the relationship is established in the case of the believer. Just as natural relationship is established upon the event of natural birth, so spiritual relationship is established immediately upon spiritual birth.

Adoption is used in three different ways in Romans. Here it refers to the consciousness of sonship, which the Holy Spirit produces in the life of the believer. In Romans 8:23 it looks forward to that time when the believer’s body will be redeemed or glorified. In Romans 9:4 it looks back to that time when God designated Israel as His son—“Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Israel is My son, My firstborn” (Ex. 4:22). In Galatians 4:5 and Ephesians 1:5, the word means “son-placing”—that is, the act of placing all believers into the family of God as mature, adult sons with all the privileges and responsibilities of sonship. Every believer is a child of God in that he is born into a family of which God is the Father. However, every believer is also a son—a special relationship carrying the privileges of one who has reached the maturity of manhood.

The son is on entirely different footing than the servant. The spirit of adoption, or sonship, enables us to enter into a relationship with God the Father that the unbeliever can never experience. In the first century A.D. the adopted son was one who was deliberately chosen to perpetuate the name of his father and inherit his estate. He was not at all inferior to a son born after the course of nature. Thus, we are enabled to cry Abba, Father. The word [7]abba is an Aramaic word, which was never used by the Jews in addressing God. However, when the Holy Spirit dwells within us, our relationship to God the Father is such that we may address Him as freely as we would our own father.

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by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”—In the parallel passage in Galatians 4:6 it is the Holy Spirit that is said to cry this. So intimate is the relationship between the divine Spirit and the human spirit in the child of God, that what is said in one place of the former is said in another place of the latter. It is the action of the Spirit of the Son on the spirits of the sons that enables them to cry “Abba! Father!”

[6]adoption is the process of making a person a son or daughter and an heir. It is one of the first works of grace by which a believer becomes a child of God, is given his name as a Christian, grafted on to the divine stock, and promised his inheritance. “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Gal. 4:6–7).

[7]"Abba” is the simple, helpless cry of the infant. It is an untranslated Aramaic word for the English word “papa.” The translators of the first English Bibles, who had great reverence for the word of God, who believed it was indeed the word of God, refused to translate it.

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16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

Paul is saying, it is the Holy Spirit Himself who is the witness to our adoption into the family of God. There is a spiritual instinct present in the newborn believer that makes him aware that he is a son of God. The Holy Spirit tells him that it is so. The Spirit Himself bears witness with the believer’s spirit that he is a member of God’s family. He does it primarily through the word of God. As a Christian reads the Bible, the Spirit confirms the truth that, because he has trusted the Savior, he is now a child of God. However, for many Christians, the question remains, “How can we be sure that we are the children of God?” I would answer this way, “We know, because we take God at His Word and we have the ever-present Spirit of God dwelling within us to give us assurance that we are indeed the sons of God.”

In Roman culture, for an adoption to be legally binding, seven reputable witnesses had to be present to attest to its validity. God’s Holy Spirit confirms the validity of our adoption, not by some inner mystical voice, but by the fruit He produces in us, and the power He supplies for spiritual service—“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). To be a witness for Jesus in Paul’s day, was costly to men and women who faithfully shared the gospel and, according to history, suffered torture and even death. A witness is a person who has seen an event and, in a court of law, can tell about his or her own experience based on personal observation. Here, Christ challenged believers to bear witness of Him in their lifestyle and speech.

This witness of the Spirit was obvious in Peter’s confession of Christ—“Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 16:16-17). Even though others had observed Christ and drawn certain erroneous conclusions, Peter received spiritual insight from God, as to who Jesus really was.

What is the witness of the Spirit? I assure you that it not a mere feeling. How foolish it would be for a child to fall into the delusion that he must have certain feelings to prove he is a child of his parents. It is just as foolish for a child of God to expect the witness of the Spirit to be a feeling. Our own Spirit tells us we are God’s children, but the voice with which it speaks is prompted and inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself. Thus, “in the mouth of two witnesses the thing is established.” Do not tell me that God abides in you, and yet you do not know it! To me that is an impossibility. The Holy Spirit testifies to us through our spirit (the inner man) that we are God’s children.

The word children is frequently used to describe the relationship between believers and God, brought about by the new birth. As His children, we look at the world a bit differently when our lives are in sink with His commands. All that we are and experience as God’s children is the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

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.

and if children, then heirs—An heir is one who receives an allotted possession by right of sonship. Believers, in virtue of the sonship bestowed upon them, are, as heirs, to share in all that belongs to Christ. Since we are, the children of God, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit keep our inheritance safe and secure for us. 

heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,--“Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Gal 4:7).  Because we are no longer servants but sons, we are the rightful heirs of God. However, even more than that, we share in the inheritance of Christ Jesus because we will inherit by grace the glory, which is His by right. “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (Jn 17:22–24). This is Christ’s final request. He desires that all who believe on Him would see His glory. All that the Father has belongs to the sons. “And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them” (John 17:10). Christ has shared whatever we have as children of God with us. His inheritance is by virtue of His eternal relationship with the Father, and through His death and resurrection, He shares His inheritance with those who by grace are children of God. What is it that we will inherit? The Bible says that we will inherit the following.
1. Eternal salvation. “That having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, God reckons us righteous by an act of amazing grace. In addition, we become heirs of all that God has prepared for those who love Him. Everything that is included in being with Christ and like Him for all eternity is our hope.
2. God Himself. “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). John hears an announcement from heaven that the tabernacle of God is with men and that He will dwell with them. As His people, they will enjoy communion with Him closer than ever dreamed of. God Himself will be with them and be their God in a nearer and dearer relationship.
3. Glory. “Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2). To rejoice in hope of the glory of God means that we joyfully look forward to the time when we will not only gaze on the splendor of God, but will ourselves be manifested in glory (see John 17:22; Col. 3:4). We cannot comprehend the full significance of that hope here on earth, nor will we get over the wonder of it through all eternity.
4. Everything in the universe. “Has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Heb 1:2). To be “heir of all things” means that the universe belongs to Him by divine appointment and He will soon reign over it.

There are noticeable differences between the conditions assigned to this inheritance and those relating to an earthly inheritance. A natural inheritance is frequently received when a father dies. The inheritance to be enjoyed by believers is given by and shared with the One who never dies. Again, under Jewish law, the eldest son received the largest share, and the daughters were excluded, unless there were no sons. Under Roman law sons, daughters and adopted children shared an inheritance equally. All believers will share Christ’s inheritance. Moreover, the inheritance has been won for them by His death, and will be received by them through grace.

if indeed we suffer with Him,--The status of sonship, however, involves not only the privileges of inheritance, but also the adversity of suffering. “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29).   Christians should remember that it is a privilege to suffer for Christ as well as to believe in Him. This does not mean that our relationship with God is in any way contingent on our suffering in this life. However, the term “if indeed” indicates here that to suffer with Christ is characteristic of believers generally. The type of sufferings Paul is talking about is not the adversities that come from our common humanity, such as illness, bereavement, or the loss of employment during a recession. Rather, they are the sufferings that come from following Christ. True Christianity involves, in one way or another, a certain amount of suffering in this world. What Paul has in mind here is not the rewards we will receive in the hereafter, which will be given for enduring sufferings in this life, but the eternal rewards of those who are in Christ as distinct from those who walk after the flesh and do not belong to Him. The sufferings of Christians today have the same cause as the sufferings of Christ in the days when He walked on the earth in human flesh. These sufferings resulted from the hatred that the world had for God. Man hated Christ, not because of His good work, but because He revealed His deity. The world does not hate Christians because of their good works; it hates their confession of Christ and their testimony of their relationship with Him. Paul took pleasure in his sufferings for Christ. “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:10, 11). Paul did not feel he had lost anything worthwhile by trusting Christ. Instead, he gained everything really worth having. Someday, in eternity, we will all wish we had suffered a little more for Him, because that is the way He schools and trains us. “For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6). When we read the word chastening, or chastens, we tend to think of a whipping. However, here the word means child training or education. It includes instruction, discipline, correction, and warning. All are designed to cultivate Christian virtues and drive out evil. In this passage, the chastening was not punishment for wrongdoing, but training through persecution. The passage in Proverbs distinctly states that God’s discipline is a proof of His love, and no son of His escapes chastisement. “For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov. 3:12). Everything that God allows to come into our lives is purposeful. We should not detest it or despise it. Neither should we shrink from it or give up under it. Rather we should be concerned that God’s purpose is achieved through the discipline, and thus we reap the maximum profit from it. God’s ultimate purpose in the disciplines of life is that we become partakers of His holiness. Discipline is a proof of love, not anger. Correction is a proof of sonship. Thought: A gardener prunes grapevines but not thistles.

that we may also be glorified together.—God has decided that present suffering should result in future glory.


Summary

The three significant points found in this passage are:
1. Believers are led by the Spirit of God, showing that they are sons of God.
2. They have received the Spirit of adoption leading them to cry “Abba, Father.”
3. They have the inward witness of the Spirit that they are the children of God, and that they are joint-heirs with Christ, and that they will receive glory in the future for any suffering they go through in the present.

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