Led by the Spirit
Text: Romans 8:14-16 7/2/2017
Main Point: The Holy Spirit leads Christians.
There is unfortunately a great deal of confusion in the church regarding the Holy Spirit. There is also a great deal of false teaching regarding the Holy Spirit and these errors often cause great personal turmoil. What is speaking in tongues? Should I speak in tongues? Am I less than Christian because I don’t speak in tongues? That one is easy, 1 Corinthians 12:30 tells us that not everyone speaks in tongues. The difficult passage is our passage today, Romans 8:16, and the promise that the Spirit will testify with our spirit that we are children of God. This is a universal witness and if you don’t have it then you are not a Christian. Let’s stop worrying about tongues and start worrying about the witness of the Spirit.
I. To be led by the Spirit means you are a Christian
- Who are the sons of God?
- The sons of God are the redeemed people of God
- Sons of God is another way of referring to Israel God’s people
- Deuteronomy 14:1-2, sons of the Lord your God, people holy to the Lord, chosen people, treasured possession
- Isaiah 1:2-4, my people, my children
- Hoshea 1:10, new covenant, children of the living God
- John 1:12, he gave the right to become children of God
- Sons of God is another way of referring to Christians, God’s people. Christians are sons of God. Christians are children of God
- The sons of God are those who have been given the Spirit of God
- Galatians 3:14, “in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham has come to the Gentiles, we receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.”
- The mark of the people of God is no longer circumcision, the Promised Land, or the temple. The mark is not preeminently baptism. The mark of the people of God is having received and being led by the Spirit of God. The seal of the Spirit is confessed in baptism (Acts 2:16-18, 33, 41).
- The sons of God are those who are led by the Spirit of God
- Romans 8:14
- Led by is a present passive verb- all those who are being led by the Spirit of God are sons of God
- The sons of God are disciples who make disciples
- Biblically speaking, discipleship is fundamental and universal in the Christian life. In our day we have made discipleship unnecessary and inconsequential. Jesus said, “Go make disciples and teach them how to obey everything Jesus commands.” This most certainly includes the command to be led by the Holy Spirit.
- We are meant to learn how to follow the Spirit according to the Word and with the help of other believers
- Since it is the case that Christians are those people who are led by the Spirit it is crucial to understand what it looks like to be led by the Spirit.
II. Evidence of the Spirit’s leadership
- The Spirit leads us to believe, confess, and depend on Christ for life (John 6:63; 1 Cor 12:3)
- The Spirit leads us to put to death the deeds of the body (Rom 8:13)
- The Spirit leads us away from a fear of punishment (Rom 8:15; 2 Tim 1:7)
- What is the spirit of slavery?
- Fear God and fear the future
- Fear God- I don’t measure up, I’m not good enough, God doesn’t love me, God couldn’t love me, I am doomed to hell
- Fear of the future- what is going to happen?
- Rom 5:5, hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us
- The Spirit leads us to cry out to God as Father (Rom 8:15)
- Spirit of adoption- sealed with the Spirit
- Eph 1:3-6
- Know the care and trustworthiness of God such that you pray to Him
- One evidence that God is your Father is when you are actively concerned about and practically doing helpful things for your brothers and sisters.
- The Spirit leads us to love the church (1 John 3:10; 1 Cor 12:7)
- 1 John 3:10, “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil, whoever does not practices righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
- We serve in the new way of the Spirit (Rom 7:6). We don’t serve in order to gain something from God. We serve because we have been made sons and daughters of God. We do not sit like parasites on the church. Led by the Spirit, gifted by the Spirit, we encourage, build up, correct, and exhort our brothers and sisters. If you have an active and practical concern for these people in this room, that is good evidence of the Spirit dwelling in you. If you have no active or practical concern for your fellow members that should cause serious concerns in your mind about your salvation. You may indeed not have the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads us to love the church.
- The Spirit assures us of our reconciliation to God (Rom 8:16)
- See in the text that this is not a verbal witness to our ears. We are promised a witness alongside of our own spirits. You should not sit in silence waiting for this inner testimony of the Spirit. Instead, of waiting in silence we are to act upon our rights as children of God.
- We confess, “we are children of God.” The Spirit comes alongside and gives a corroborating witness, “these are children of God.”
- A corroborating witness is a witness who supports or confirms testimony already given
- Deuteronomy 19:15, “only on the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses shall a charge be established.”
- John 15:26 the disciples bear witness to Jesus and the Holy Spirit bears witness about Jesus. This also is corroborating evidence.
- What is happening here? To whom are the children of God and the Spirit of God testifying? Are the children of God and the Spirit of God trying to convince God of their rights? No, Ephesians 1:5 tells us it is the Father who predestined these children for adoption.
- Zechariah’s vision of Joshua the high priest in Zechariah 3
- Is the witness to Satan then? Are we testifying to Satan and the Spirit is testifying with us to Satan that we are children of God. Maybe, but I think that falls short of the context of Romans 8:14-16.
- More specifically, it seems to me, in the context of the struggle of Romans 7 with remaining sin and the blessing of sonship in Romans 8 that the witness is given by the Holy Spirit to us to continue crying out to the Father in light of our weakness, struggle, and sin.
- We confess Christ as our Savior, our justification, and our righteousness. We are sons and daughters. We so desperately want to come boldly to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace in our time of need. But we are often divided between pursuing the things of God and the things of the world. Our affections are very weak. We don’t feel like sons and daughters. Why should we think God would hear our cry to him as Father? As we pray depending on the Son and asking for the Father’s help, it is the Spirit who testifies alongside of us. We sheepishly and shyly go to the Father overwhelmed by His holiness and our sinfulness. Satan accuses us, “You have sin, your affections are weak, you don’t belong here. Don’t cry out to God, He’s not your Father.” But our spirits testify, our regenerated spirits testify that we have been adopted and justified children of God. It is the Spirit who comes alongside of us and testifies in response to our weakness and Satan’s accusations, “This one is a child of God.” It is as if the Spirit puts his arm around us to hold us up. To the children of God the Spirit says, “Keep praying, Keep crying out.” Against Satan’s accusations the Spirit says, “This one is a child of God!” The Spirit leads us, because of our weakness and sin, to keep crying out to God.
III. What do we do with all of this?
Stop sitting in silence playing some spiritualized form of duck, duck, goose. Maybe today the Spirit will tap me on the head, say goose, and then I’ll get to run around like a Christian. Romans 8:16 does not promise an internal warm fuzzy. Instead, because of adoption and justification, expect the Spirit to convict you of remaining sin while also encouraging you to cry out to your heavenly Father who loves you.
Expect the Spirit to lead you to put sin to death because you are a child of God.
Expect the Spirit to lead you to see and savor the great work of Jesus Christ securing righteousness and forgiveness so you can be a child of God.
Do not look for some second blessing. Instead, read and pray, expecting an ever deepening and satisfying appreciation for Christ’s righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection. The testimony of the Spirit can only be heard beneath the cross.