Gracefully Truthful

Adoption,Christ,Cross,Digging Deeper,God,Sacrifice,Sin,Suffering

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Romans 8:14-17

14 For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, 17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

The Original Intent

1) What is the spirit of slavery? (verse 15)

Slavery is a concept Paul’s readers would have known and understood as it was commonplace in their everyday lives from household slaves to business slaves.

In Acts 16, Luke records the story of Paul’s interaction with a slave girl, setting her free from demons. (Acts 16:16-24) Paul’s Roman audience, a mix of both Jews and Gentiles, knew the history of Jews enslaved in Egypt for 400 years as told in the Torah, which is a Jewish holy text, comprising the first 5 books of what we know as the “Old Testament” in our Bibles. You can read of Jewish slavery in the book of Exodus. Slavery also existed in the Old Testament when a poor person would sell themselves to another person in order to pay a debt they owed. (Leviticus 25:39)

However, God included clear commands in Leviticus instructing slave owners not to force these slaves into labor, but instead to view them as hired workers who would be released in the Year of Jubilee. (Leviticus 25:40-41)

Paul is using this base knowledge with his audience to explain their condition as sinners. They were slaves of the debt they owed God because of their sin against Him.

The Everyday Application

1) What is the spirit of slavery? (verse 15)

The type of slavery Paul referenced in this passage was not slavery we think of in western culture today. It was selling yourself as a hired hand to pay a debt, knowing you would one day be released, free of your debt, in the Year of Jubilee, which God had instituted. God outlined specifically how slaves were to be treated in Leviticus 25.

Paul uses the term “spirit of slavery” to convey our position before the God of Justice without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. We are sinners bound to the debt we owe as sinners, which is death. (Romans 6:23)

Each one of us rightfully deserves death and punishment for our sin and it’s fundamentally imperative we do not forget what we deserve.

The Original Intent

2) What is the Spirit of adoption? (verse 15)

In Roman culture, an adopted person lost all rights in his old family and gained all the rights of a legitimate child in his new family. He became a full heir to his new father’s estate, while forfeiting all ties to his past.

Paul uses this imagery to convey what happens spiritually when an individual accepts Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice on the cross, which paid the debt of all sin. (1 John 2:2) This person has lost all ties, ownership, rights, and connection to the previous “family”, ruled by Sin and Death, they become adopted by God as members of His family. Through Jesus, God as Father, gives the person who fully surrenders themself to Him, the “right to become a child of God”. (John 1:12)

This is the only way to be accepted by God and be given an inheritance of eternal life instead of the rightfully earned condemnation of eternal separation from Him. (John 14:6Ephesians 1:3-12) Children of God no longer belong to the world and its slavery to sin, instead they are welcomed in to God’s family as co-heirs with Christ, the Son. (verse 17)

The Everyday Application

2) What is the Spirit of adoption? (verse 15)

The day we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin we become co-heirs with Christ (verse 17). We are no longer bound by our sin but instead welcomed into God’s family. The ownership chains of sin and slavery have been removed, we are officially declared “dead to sin”. (Romans 6:11)

He becomes our Abba, meaning Father, and, just as an ancient Roman son would become an heir to their father’s estate, so we become an heir to our Father’s inheritance. We are fully adopted into the family of God, our penalty of death is paid through Jesus’ death for us and we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit to live within us, promising us our final inheritance is yet to come in eternity with our Father. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

We are given the gift of a restored relationship with our Father, that was once broken because of our own sinfulness!

The Original Intent

3) What does it mean to suffer with Christ? (verse 17)

Roman crucifixion was one of the worst forms of death, if not the worst form of punitive punishment, ever invented. It was grotesquely brutal and Paul’s audience knew it full well. Likely, some in his audience had even witnessed it firsthand or had heard the horrendous cries of anguish accompanying such a torturous death.

The prophet Isaiah conveys the suffering of Jesus’ horrible death in Isaiah 52:13-53:12, hundreds of years before crucifixion was even invented by the Romans. The recipients of Paul’s letter also knew there was a price for choosing to follow Christ, meaning many of these early believers would face persecution or death for their faith.

Paul knew the persecution was growing more intense for the Church and he wrote to remind the believers that the price of following Jesus was known, expected, and shared among all true followers of Christ, but that reward was coming! (Luke 14:26-27verse 18) They must be willing to suffer with Christ as part of their adoption. “…if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (verse 17)

However, there is the comfort in knowing nothing they would endure would compare to the suffering of Jesus as He bore the punishment for our sin. (1 Peter 2:24) Praise God, no believer will ever be alone after trusting Christ for salvation for God will always be present through the Holy Spirit!

The Everyday Application

3) What does it mean to suffer with Christ? (verse 17)

In modern western culture, the concept of suffering and persecution as a believer for their faith is foreign. However, believers around the world are currently persecuted for their faith in Jesus, many in torturous ways or through death.

If the Lord has currently blessed your life, keeping you from facing the same type of persecution other brothers and sisters in the faith face, I urge you to please use the freedom you’ve been given to share Christ! Regardless of where we live, or what the cost of following Jesus looks like for us specifically, we must not forget we are all called to a higher standard as a child of God. We are to be set apart from the world, which will inevitably make us “stick out”, often bringing on forms of suffering.

Paul calls his readers not to be conformed to the world’s pattern of sin, but instead to be transformed by His Spirit (Romans 12:2); this leads to suffering. (John 15:18-21) We are called to love and serve like Jesus and this will come at a cost. The world hated Jesus, and it will hate all who follow Him as well. Jesus Himself calls believers to pick up their cross (Matthew 16:24-28), deny self, and follow Him.

Each of us will pay a different price for our faith in Jesus, but we can be sure following Him won’t be suffering free. However, we can cling to the truths Paul wrote of to encourage the early believers. Jesus experienced worse than we can ever imagine, we are never alone, and the final battle for our souls has already been won.

We can say with strength as the psalmist did, “The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid. What can a mere mortal do to me?” (Psalm 118:6) We are able to endure whatever lies before us because of the One who has gone before us!

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