by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 2 Study # 11 October 9, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
1901 ASV Translation:
16 The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God:
A. There is the "grammar": Paul uses the singular "spirit" with the plural "our". This implies some kind of "collective spirit", though there does not appear to be such a teaching in the New Testament. In 2:15 Paul did the same thing by writing of "their" conscience.
B. The fact of mystery: Jesus told Nicodemus that the issues involved in "birth by the Spirit" included a "like the wind" reality in which you can "hear the sound of it" but you "cannot tell where it comes from or where it goes" (John 3:8).
C. The requirement of evaluation: Paul told the Corinthians that there was a necessity to test the underlying "spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:3); he commanded them to examine themselves to see if they were "in the faith" (2 Corinthians 13:5); John commanded his readers to "try the spirits" because "not every spirit" is "of God" (1 John 4:1); he gave multiple "evidences" for "knowing" if one is saved or not, one of which is the "Spirit" (1 John 4:13); and there are several other biblical texts which insist that there are at least some objective standards for being able to "know" whether one has been born of God. There is no autocratic ("this is so because I have the Spirit of God") single level establishment of Truth. Even Paul "reasoned" with people in his presentation of Jesus instead of simply imposing his "apostolic identity" upon them (Acts 18:19).
D. The contextual impact of the Spirit: God is "Abba".
1. The "Abba" texts (there are three -- Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; and Galatians 4:6) do not make everything "OK". In the Galatians 4: 6 context in particular, Paul told the Galatians that they were heirs of God while, in some way, wondering about them (4:11) because they were not demonstrating one of the most fundamental characteristics of true believers. In other words, one can, apparently, have the "Abba" crying Spirit without demonstrating the most basic evidences of His indwelling, but it does cause serious doubts in those who are observing.
2. On the other hand, however, if not for the Spirit, we are undone. No matter what else may, or may not, be "present", if the Spirit is not present we are hopeless. Life by the Spirit is, indeed, by the Spirit and, ultimately, by His input without which we have nothing.
3. There is, in the Bible, a constant insistence that nothing has only one side to it. Every issue involves multiple other issues. This is the nature of integrated Truth. Thus, though Paul was insistent that the Romans learn how to so relate to the Spirit that they could actually put to death the evil deeds of the body, he offered no simplistic way for that to happen.