by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 2 Study # 6 September 4, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
1901 ASV Translation:
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
15 For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God:
I. The "Leading" of the Spirit of God.
A. This is not a concept that is mentioned by this terminology very often.
1. Paul only referred to the "leading of the Spirit" twice in all his writings.
a. Romans 8:14 -- those "led of the Spirit" are the "sons" of God.
b. Galatians 5:18 -- those "led of the Spirit" are not "under the Law".
2. Elsewhere it is only found in Luke 4:1 where Jesus was "led" by the Spirit into the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil.
B. This is a concept that is fraught with all manner of "problems".
1. There are those who, at a very fundamental level, reduce the "Spirit" down to their own particular interpretations of the words of God -- taking Jesus' words in John 6:63 to justify their reduction down to the "words" and then totally ignoring the fact that there is a "step" between the words of God and the understanding of men called "interpretation".
2. There are those, on the opposite end of the spectrum, who divorce the "Spirit" from the written revelation of words from God so that "inner inspiration" and "sudden thoughts" are the Spirit at work in "leading".
3.Somewhere in the mix of the questions regarding how people come up with the ideas upon which they are going to act, there is a "leading of the Spirit" that gives both direction and power to the individual.
C. There are contextual associations in Paul's writings.
1. In Romans 8...
a. The indwelling of the Spirit is declared and required (8:9).
b. There is a "law" of "Life" in Christ Jesus that is tied to the "Spirit" (8:2).
c. There is a clearly connected concept of "walking according to (after) the Spirit" (8:4).
d. There is an issue of "mental focus" (8:5).
e. There is the fact of a real, discernible, set of consequences ("death" for those whose mental focus is on the "flesh" and "life and peace" for those whose mental focus is on the "Spirit"). In addition to this set of consequences, there is the fact that those who are "led" by the Spirit produce a kind of righteousness that the Law does not condemn (8:4, 7).
f. There is also the very real fact that those who are "led" by the Spirit do not see any life arising from the "flesh" or any focus upon "the deeds of the body" (8:11, 13).
g. The "leading" of the Spirit is directly/immediately tied to Paul's statement, "...if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body..." (8:13). This gives a direct focus upon the action that is going to be taken.
h. The problem of "fear" is rejected as "not of the Spirit" (8:15 and note Paul's encouragement to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7).
i. There is a "Spirit" to "spirit" witness regarding our identity (8:16).
j. There is an open acceptance of "suffering" as a part of the "Spiritual" reality (8:17-18).
2. In Galatians 5...
a. There is an intense focus upon the principle of "freedom from the yoke of bondage" (5:1-4). This boils down to a primary thesis: there is no "vengeance" upon those who fail (Romans 8:1).
b. There is a clear declaration of the necessity of "faith working through love" (5:5-6).
c. The problem of seeing divine acceptance as the result of human performance is highlighted (5:7-9) so sharply that even if there is a "smidgen" of this concept, it will "leaven" one's entire life (5:9).
d. There is a clear declaration that "freedom" does not mean "freedom to indulge the flesh", but "freedom to serve out of love" (5:13-15).
e. There is a connection between "walking by the Spirit" and "being led by the Spirit".
f. There is a set of "manifest" results by which one can tell what is "of the Spirit".
g. There is the claim that "Christians" have "crucified the flesh and its passions" (5:24).
h. There is a distinction made between "living by the Spirit" and "walking by the Spirit" (5:25).
3. The "net" impact of these "contextual associations".
a. The two "bottom line" issues [Galatians 5:5-6: faith working through love] are outside the realm of human capacity.
1) Love, the fundamental of all fundamentals, is defined by divine illustration as an immutable willingness to sacrifice without limitation (the Death of God) and that is beyond man's capacity (especially since the fall; but it appears to have been the problem that resulted in the fall). Only one human being is recorded in Scripture as having attained to that: Paul, in Romans 9:1-3. There is a reason for the paucity of human realization of that degree of Love: 2 Peter 1:2-7 [Love is developed over time in terms of "degree" and few walk that path].
2) Faith, the fundamental methodological fundamental, is also defined by divine illustration as a single-minded commitment to the "workability" of a stated description of the processes of reality so that there is no turning aside. This also stands outside man's capacity for many reasons, some of which are evil and some of which are simply the way things are.
a) The absolute conviction that disallows any flexibility requires a broad grasp of the Truth. No one obtains that grasp overnight regardless of whether they are "love" motivated, or not. It is no accident that God has insisted that His church be governed by "elders" ("youngers" simply do not have the "grasp", regardless of how zealous they are).
i. This is not to be mistaken for evil bullheadedness that refuses to flex only for issues of pride and the unwillingness to admit weakness.
ii. Absolute conviction should never be imposed on others unless there has been an adequate demonstration of the "broad grasp" and the issue involved will significantly harm them.
b) Since absolute conviction generally runs into the mists of ignorance (who has a sufficiently broad grasp of the Truth so that there are not mists?), most people of "absolute conviction" are simply insecure people who are overcommitted to saving face.
b. Since the foundations are beyond human capacity, there will be no walk by the Spirit unless the Spirit has taken the initiative.
1) The fundamental promise of the New Covenant is that of a "new heart"; a heart circumcised by the Spirit (Romans 2:29 compared with Ezekiel 36:24 and following and Jeremiah 31:31-34).
2) The fundamental impact of the initiative of the Spirit (the Word of God) is "faith" (Romans 10:17).
a) It might be of help to realize that Jesus "delivered" the Word before the Spirit was given. The apostles were discipled by Jesus for several years before they were given the gift of the Holy Spirit -- implying that the Word precedes the effectual working of the Spirit.
b) Faith is a fundamental seed upon which, and by which, all other development in Life occurs (2 Peter 1).