Romans 8:9–17. Lesson 13. The Work of the Holy Spirit.
Key Notes: Abba, Father. Adoption of orphans. Indwelling of the Spirit.
Romans 6 introduced us to the task of overcoming sinful practices. The foundation of our salvation and the battle with sin is our union with Christ. That chapter gives us three mental processes to deal with sin. Romans 7 poses the dilemma of persistent sin. Romans 8 provides the solution. This lesson elaborates on the work of the Holy Spirit.
First, a brief review.
*The first admonition is to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. 6:11
*The second instruction is to yield our members as instruments of righteousness and not to sin as instruments of wickedness. 6:13
*The third word is to yield ourselves to God as His slaves—slaves of righteousness. 6:19
*Romans 7 poses the dilemma. Paul still finds the struggle with sin a losing battle. Something else is required.
* Romans 8 solves the problem. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who provides the dynamic.
8:13 “…if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
It is the power of the Holy Spirit that makes effective spiritual work possible. Putting to death the works of the flesh is based on reckoning ourselves dead to sin and yielding our members to God, becoming God’s slaves empowered and energized by the Holy Spirit.
In 8:13–16, four personal actions of the Holy Spirit are given.
* Putting to death the deeds of the body 8:13
* Leading us 8:14
* Freeing us from fear 8:15
* Praying in us 8:16
There are many admonitions (more than 60) in Scripture against being afraid. Now we have the resource we need—the Holy Spirit—to meet this temptation as well as the others.
It is hard to imagine that the Holy Spirit prays in us when we cry “Abba,” but Paul says it again in Gal. 4:6: “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father!”
We will hear more of the Holy Spirit praying in 8:26.
Clearly it is by revelation that we may address God as Father. Jesus was the first to use the word "Abba" addressing God. (Mk. 14:36). It was forbidden to the Jews. For a Muslim believer to call God "Father" is difficult if not impossible. One must understand a relationship with God that implies personality and intimacy. "Abba" is the usual Aramaic word for father as "pater" is in Greek. Both words are given here, as in Mark 14:36. Abba should not be thought of as diminishing our respect for God, although the sounds are among the first that a baby makes. Papa is a similar word in English, clearly a term of affection used by a child.
8:15–17 The passage also gives us two pictures of our relationship to God—indwelling (8:9) and adoption. (8:15). The two pictures are quite different.
Adoption (Gr. uiothesia, to place in the status of a son) is a legal procedure which makes an orphaned child a member of another family with all the rights and privileges of that family. It also involves renouncing the attachments to the previous family. The adopted child has the same rights to the family property and belongings as the natural child.
Adoption enables an orphan to become an heir. The word" heir" (Gr. kleronomos) comes from two Greek words—"kleros" meaning a lot or portion and "nomos" meaning rule or order--rules on property distribution. A lot first meant a short or long straw drawn to make a settlement. A lot also meant a lot of ground, a piece of property (perhaps decided by drawing straws) given to the children by the father. Adoption made a land allotment available to the orphan as to the other natural children according to the law. The adopted child became an heir. When we are adopted into God’s family, we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. What are we going to inherit? We have little idea. All we want is to see our God: “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psa. 73:26
Indwelling is a very different concept and one that has no analogies—unless we wish to include demon possession. The indwelling involves the Trinity, as Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word and My Father will love him and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (Jn. 14:23). Since the Holy Spirit is like wind or breath, we may envision His presence as our vital breath, at the center of our being. We lose control but gain power. We have given up control to Him, as the demon-possessed person has given up control to an evil spirit; only the Holy Spirit releases God’s power in our lives. We are not likely to understand it.
Anecdote: I was in Milwaukee teaching John 3 to college students, and how we can be born again. After the talk, a student approached me and said, “I was in the park a week ago by myself and decided to give my heart to Christ. Something happened to me, but I did not know what it was until tonight. But it was much like what you described. I think I was born again.”
That is the miracle of salvation. You don’t understand the details when you accept Christ. "...He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through His Spirit which dwells in you." (8:11) The Holy Spirit works the change in your life ("born again") whether you understand the concepts or not. But eventually you should know all you can find out so that you can better understand yourself and help the next person.
Adoption puts us in God’s family with Christ’s status.
Indwelling renews us by the Holy Spirit’s personal presence and power.
These concepts are beyond our comprehension. We can only say “Praise and thanks to You, O Lord.”