Link to the January 2022 Challenge here.
So then, brothers we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
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 all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons,
by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs—
heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Romans 8:12-17 ESV
Living the Christian life is a lot more about an attitude than it is about all the details.
This passage is not telling us how to live the Christian life in a legalistic sense, but rather with what attitude. If we live life according to the flesh or the worldly system, we are under pressure to provide for ourselves completely. We must totally provide for all of our needs: material, spiritual, emotional, from our resources. It can become a burden as well as a very lonely and difficult existence. We are not to live it according to the flesh, in fear. with an attitude of slavery to our needs and how to meet them ourselves. Why?
Because, as Christians, we were adopted into God’s family when we became “in Christ.” We were forgiven. We became part of a new family and heirs and heiresses to a new set of resources. We no longer have to live in fear, as slaves or orphans. We have all the resources of an omnipotent God at our disposal. Imagine!
Imagine how a wealthy father would feel if his child, who had every resource available to her, lived only on what she could afford on her own, without an education, without any of the resources he could provide for her. One of the reasons he worked so hard to earn his money was to provide well for his child or children. If one of them didn’t accept that provision, it would be an insult to him.
Yet, Christ has provided so much for us as we read in the Bible. He has provided all the resources we need for life and godliness (II Peter 1:3). We are blessed with every spiritual blessing and lavished with grace (Ephesians 1:3-10). You can find other passages that describe what He provided by His death for us and adoption in the family as we come to Him asking forgiveness for our sin and an awareness of our need that only He can meet.
Because we are in Christ and heirs with Christ, we can speak to our adopted Father with the familiarity that comes from being part of the family.
We can walk into the very presence of God and speak to Him with the familiar terms of a child with her daddy. Or stand boldly before our father, the King of the world, someone with limitless resources. But because we are his child, we can ask Him for anything. That is the kind of access we have. If it is something He is willing to give us, He will. But we understand that He knows what is best for us better than anyone.
The Holy Spirit within us bears witness with the Spirit of God that we belong to Him. What does that mean? It isn’t simply our wishful thinking. It is that quiet prompting that lets us know, “Yes, you belong to me.” or “No, you need to make things right with me.” It is not a vague feeling of guilt. Or even that voice in your head that makes you feel guilty over every little thing you do. That is different. It is probably not from God either.
If we are a child of God, then we are now an heir of God and those attributes that come with Him. We are also a co-heir with Jesus Christ. Why? Because they are one and the same. It’s a lot to think about as you memorize this section of Romans 8.
Here are some questions to think about as you read and memorize this section. Keep the ones that are helpful.
- What do you think it means to live according to the flesh and what would it look like?
- What would it look like to put to death the deeds of the body? You need some concrete answers here. What would it look like?
- Compare and contrast slaves and adoptees. Which would you prefer to be and why?
- How secure are you as an adopted child and heir in your status/relationship? Did you know that many states in the US have laws that protect adoptees in such a way that you were not allowed to disinherit your adopted child.