Authentic Christians have the spiritual reality of Christ within them. Their inner-substance is nothing less than the very life of Christ.
The Holy Spirit makes you a Son of God (8:14-17; Gal 4:6)
First, the Holy Spirit makes you sons of God. Romans 8:15-16 says, “….” He is called the Spirit of sonship. If He lives in you then you are a son of God. Now, what I really like about this is two things: one pertains to FREEDOM and the other to FATHERHOOD.
First, you have FREEDOM. “You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear…”
A slave here is douleia, meaning someone is in bondage, in slavery, held captive and forced to serve a master. In this case Paul says we used to be slaves to fear. What does this mean? How did fear enslave us? It means that as a son of God you no longer fear God. It means you are free from having to live in fear of His terrors. There is no longer any reason to live in fear of God’s terrors.
Now, a person can feel fear, being condemned by their conscience, and perhaps through ignorance of God’s Word think that they are in danger of God’s terrible judgment. But that is the subjective feeling of fear based on something that isn’t true. It is not true that God is going to condemn them if they are His child. Their subjective feelings are not based on the objective truth that all basis for fearing God has been taken away. Your days of living in fear of God’s judgment are over. The chapter began with these words, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” You could therefore say, “There is now no fear for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
The point of application here is this: Live more confident that you are forgiven. Live more confident that God has liberally lavished His grace on you and forgiven you all your sins and will never condemn you. Watch how freeing that will be.
Another relevant verse is Hebrews 2:14-15. You don’t live afraid of God or afraid of death anymore as a Christian. You have no reason to. The point in this sermon is that the Holy Spirit enables you to live with that freedom as He dwells in you. Fear doesn’t come from Him
On the other hand, there may be some among you who need to be awakened to fear. You are not children of God, you are condemned, but, to your own hazard, you live happily in ignorance. You feel just fine, you feel sure, you feel good, you have no sense of the danger you are in – you are self-assured and keep going your way. But the reality is that God does condemn you right now. If you slipped right now from this life, unexpectedly, and met your Creator, you would be met with fierce judgment because right now your sins are counted against you. You must confess them, call on the name of Jesus to save you, and He will do just that. He will send His Spirit to live inside of you and you will come to belong to Him. And you will no longer be a slave to fear
Fear is not from Faith. Fear competes with Faith. Fear leads to disobedience whereas faith leads to obedience. When the Israelites were led out of Egypt the LORD brought them to the border of Canaan – the land He promised to them. He told them to go in and take possession of it because He had given it to them – He had gone before them and was going to give them victory over the nations who were in it. Before going in they sent spies into the land to scope it out and they found out two things. First, that the land was amazing and plentiful. Second, they would never be able to conquer it. The people were too big and strong. So, their fear robbed them of their faith and their willingness to do what God told them. God commanded them to go in and take it because He would give them victory. To obey that command required faith that God was telling the truth. But, rather than faith in God they feared man. In that fear they refused to go into the land as God commanded them. Fear led to their disobedience. They feared man rather than God. Rather than seeing God as bigger than their opponents they saw God as too small for the situation.
Living by faith and living by fear are mutually exclusive. The Christian life lived faithfully will often be tested in this way. Will we act on fear or act on faith? Obedience is at stake. And just like in the case of the Israelites, so is blessing.
Second, God is now your Father. When you become a Christian, God puts His Spirit in you, making you His son. Which means He makes Himself your Father. Notice again Romans 8:15-16, “but you received the Spirit of sonship And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father”. Abba is Aramaic for “Father”.
We call President Trump “President”. But Barron Trump doesn’t. He, along with his other siblings call him dad. He is their President, but, he is something more personal and intimate to them as their Father, their “Abba”.
One mark by which you know you are a son of God is that you love THE Son of God, Jesus. John 8:42a, “If God were your Father you would love Me…”
When you are a son of God you are one permanently, John 8:35, “A slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.” How do you go from being a slave to a son? Galatians 3:26, “You are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ”. When that happens God gives you the Spirit, Galatians 4:6, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts”.
The Spirit brings this confident view into your heart – that God is your Father and you are His son. Romans 8:16. The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirits that we are God’s children.” There is an inward communication the Holy Spirit has with us where He confirms we are sons of God. It is the personal experience of confidence that each believer has that they are a child of God. That confidence comes, in one way, from the indwelling Holy Spirit telling us we are God’s sons.
See what it also says: the Spirit who lives in us “calls out” “Father”. The point of that phrase emphasizes how we now relate to God. We relate to Him now as our personal heavenly Father. We call on Him, we look at Him, we see Him, we relate to Him as our Father.
Some of you need to have a corrected view of what a father is supposed to be because your earthly father was miserable. When someone starts talking about you having a heavenly Father you transfer to Him your picture of your earthly father. You think “Well, I know what dad’s are like, and, frankly, I don’t need another one like the one I got.” But, what I want you to see today is that God is the Source of all fatherhood. Father’s are to picture to their children what the Ultimate Father is like: the love, the care, the provision, the protection, the discipline. The failure of your earthly father can mess up this idea of God being your heavenly father, but, don’t let it. Instead, accept that your father failed to be what he should have been and turn to your Heavenly Father now. Let Him show you what a true Father is. Let Him heal what was wounded and fill what was left empty. Let Him replace the picture you have in your heart of what a father is. Let Him come near and love you. Let yourself love Him and know Him.
#2: The Holy Spirit gives you New Birth (John 3:5-8; 6:63; Titus 3:5-6; 1 Pet 1:23)
The Holy Spirit gives you New Birth. Turn with me to John 1:12-13; 3:3, 5-7….. Eph 2:4-5….Col. 2:13….Titus 3:5…..1 Pet 1:23
Notice the language here: born of God, born again, born of the Spirit, made alive, rebirth. The Holy Spirit not only starts something brand new in you, but, makes you new. You have brand new life that you didn’t have before until He came to live inside of you.
The New Birth distinguishes what George Whitefield called the “almost Christians” from the “authentic Christians.” Almost Christians go about with many outward Christian-like features, appearing in many ways perhaps to be real Christians. But, they are not bonafide Christians. They lack what the authentic Christians have. Authentic Christians, actual Christians have the spiritual reality of Christ within them. Their inner-substance is nothing less than the very life of Christ living in them. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me” Galatians 2:20 says. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” Colossians 1:27 declares.
- George Whitefield is perhaps the greatest evangelist in the history of the Church.
- George Whitefield’s religious devotion prior to his conversion makes embarrasses us. Read pg 67-68. He was deeply religious, ruthlessly disciplined in his devotion to the things of God.
- Here’s the one thing: He saw his devotion as the way to achieve salvation. Read 71, 72
- Then Whitefield read a book that blew his whole world up. It was by Henry Scougal called “The Life of God in the Soul of Man”, and it was here for the first time that he learned the teaching of the New Birth. That God must bring a new birth into a man’s life. Listen to Whitefield’s stunned response (pg 73)
A person can be a “good Christian”, meaning they give all kinds of outward evidence of being devoted and religious, but, one glance inside their soul and there is a barren, silent, darkness where no life of God exists. (Whitefield, pg 77)
Do you have the reality of Christ in you? Or do you have just the outward things of Christianity? You must be born again Jesus said. You “must”. It is imperative, essential, required for your salvation.
To receive this new birth stop what you’re doing right now. Stop working to please God, stop guilting yourself and beating yourself up, stop thinking you have more time, stop thinking God doesn’t care about your offense to Him as much as you don’t care, stop thinking I as the preacher are making a bigger deal out of this than is necessary. And start right now to trust in Jesus for your eternal life. Then the Holy Spirit will enter you, make you come alive with the new birth, and you will be a new creature, the old having passed away and the new having come forth (2 Cor. 5:17).