The Letter to the Romans



26. The Spirit of Sonship


Romans 8:9-17

9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin,k yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raqised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation-but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.

13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,

14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.


Key Words









In verses one through eight, Paul explains the answer to the dichotomy between our overlapping desires to live by the flesh and to honor God's law. Living by the Spirit, instead of by the law or by our natural desires, is the answer to the intrinsic lure of sin in our flesh. In this passage he explains the necessity of our continuing to choose to live by the Spirit who makes us alive, promises us the resurrection, and witnesses to our status as God's sons and daughters.

1. Verse 9 makes two statements regarding the spiritual conditions possible in a human: 1) if a person has the Spirit, the flesh is no longer in control, or 2) if a person does not have the Spirit, he does not belong to Christ. Many people profess Christianity but not all of those have the Spirit. How does a person receive the Spirit? (see John 14:15-18; 3:5-15; Acts 2:36-41; 10:34-48; Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:3-8)


2. If the Spirit of Christ is in us, we are alive in our spirits although our bodies still are dead and sinful. What is the promise the Spirit bears for our mortal bodies as well as for us while we inhabit them? (see John 5:21; Romans 6:6; 7:6; 8:26, 28; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 1:18-20; 6:10-18; 2 Timothy 2:22-24; 1 John 4:13-16)


3. Many of us grew up with the understanding that putting the misdeeds of the body to death by the Spirit (see v. 13) meant committing ourselves to keeping the law and to refusing to do the sins that beset us. What does putting sin to death by the Spirit really mean? (see Romans 2:29; 7:6; 9:30-32; Philippians 3:8-11; Ephesians 5:15-21; Colossians 2:11-16; 3:1-4, 12-17, 18-24)


4. Many people say all humans are God's children. Is this statement true, and if not, who are God's children (sons), and what is their identifying mark? (see verse 19; Hosea 1:10; Malachi 3:16-18; Matthew 5:9, 45; John 1:12-13; Galatians 3:26-27; 4:4-7; Ephesians 1:4-8; Revelation 21:6-8)


5. The Spirit "testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Many of us learned that our spirit was our breath. When we died, our literal breath returned to God, What evidence is there that our spirits are not merely the breaths in our noses and lungs? (see Psalm 31:5 & compare with 2 Peter 2:23; Matthew 26:41; Luke 1:80; 23:46; John 4:23-24; 1 Corinthians 2:11; 5:3; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Philippians 2:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 3:3-4)


6. The word translated "sonship" in verse 15 means "adoption", or being legally taken into the family with full rights as sons. How does "sonship" oppose fear, and what are the implications of sonship for our relationship with God? (see 12 Timothy 1:7; Matthew 6:9-15; 25-27; 31-34; 7:9-11; 11:27; John 6:44; 14:26; 15:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:18; 1 John 2:15-16; 3:1; 4:16-18)


7 What do we inherit as heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ? (see Acts 20:32; Galatians 3:29; Genesis 12:7; 13:15-16; 17:2; 7-8; 24:7; Ezekiel 27:21-23; Matthew 5:5; 19:29; 1 Corinthians 6:2; 5:20; 2 Corinthians 5:4-5; Ephesians 1:13-14; 3:6; Colossians 1:10-14; 2 Timothy 2:12; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 2 Peter 1:3-4; 3:13; Revelation 20:6; 21:1-7; 22:3-5)


8. How do we share in Christ's sufferings? (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-6; 4:8-12; Galatians 6:17; Philippians 3:7-11; Colossians 1:24, 28-29; 1 Peter 4:12-16, 19; 5:6-11


9. What difference has it made to you that your spirit is not merely your breath?


10. How has knowing you are God's son or daughter and a co-heir with Christ affected you?


11. In what ways have you suffered for the sake of Christ?


12. Ask God to help you know what he wants you to surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit in you. Ask Him to replace your fear and worry and guilt with His Spirit and to make you new in those places you have habitually struggled. Ask Jesus to keep you grounded in reality and to strengthen you with His power. Praise God for giving you a new identity in Jesus, and surrender yourself to His sovereignty and love.

Copyright (c) 2004 Graphics Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted September 18, 2004.
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