Our Debt to God
Therefore, brethren, 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 as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 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.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 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. (Romans 8:12-17)
We may not often think about it, but every believer owes something to God. After all, God is the One who redeemed us and saved our lives in time and for eternity. In reality, we owe everything to Him.
The big question is, what exactly do we owe Him? According to today’s passage, we owe it to God to walk in the Spirit. There are loving reasons for this indebtedness: a choice to live in the flesh produces nothing but spiritual death (which is the absence of life; no love, no joy, no peace, etc.). But a choice to trust the Holy Spirit to deal with our sinful body appetites produces God’s life in our experience.
Those who make the consistent decision to walk in the Spirit and to be led by Him prove themselves to be His [mature] sons and daughters. By inference, those who do not walk in the Spirit prove themselves to be [at best] carnal believers, like immature little children. At worst, they are demonstrating that they may not, in fact, be true believers at all.
The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of adoption. That is, He is the One who places us as adult children into God’s family with all of its privileges … much like an unwanted orphan who is fully made a part of a loving, caring family. Chief among those privileges is that we have an endearing relationship with God the Father. We call Him “Abba,” similar to “Daddy” or “Papa.” The Spirit’s ministry to us is to testify to our human spirits that this is the relationship we have with God. It is the Holy Spirit providing assurance of our salvation.
As God’s children, we are His heirs, with the promise that we share in the inheritance that belongs to the Lord Jesus! The inheritance itself is [at least] partially determined by our suffering with Christ. Since we are brothers and sisters of Jesus (as well as sons and daughters of the Father), we should expect the same kind of treatment experienced by our Lord. When we suffer as a Christian, we bear a striking resemblance to Him who died for us.
For Further Review
1. What does the believer owe to God, and why?
2. What are some benefits of living a Spirit-filled life? In what ways are you enjoying those benefits in your own life?
3. Application: ask the Holy Spirit to send you assurance of your relationship with God. Record your thoughts and impressions for a few days to track God’s answer to your prayer.
4. While Jesus was on earth, what were some of His sufferings? In what ways have you experienced similar kinds of suffering?
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