Summary: Three privileges of being sons of God and one responsibility

Stiffkey 21-07-02

Rom 8: 8-17: Sons of God

As I was reading Romans 8:8-17 yesterday, I was struck by Paul’s words when he said:

“The Spirit testifies that we are God’s children (Rom 8:16)

Paul was writing to the Christian church in Rome, people who had made a commitment to follow Christ.

And Paul called them God’s children.

St John in his Gospel put the matter like this:

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name he gave the right to become children of God” (Jn 1:12)

Belief in Jesus day was not simply intellectual assent. It meant making a commitment to follow the Master.

In the first Century AD, if you said you were a disciple of a teacher like Socrates, Aristole or Epicurus, it didn’t just mean that you assented to the principles he preached. It would mean that you would LIVE YOUR LIFE according to those principles.

As Michael Green, a famous Biblical scholar and lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, wrote about our Gospel reading today (Mt. 13: 24-30 and 36-43):

“The problem of nominal Christianity did not yet exist” (The Message of Matthew – Michael Green p. 156).

And it was as true for Paul’s day as it was for Jesus’ day.

So as I thought about that verse I wondered

“What does it mean to be a child of God?”

And it seemed to me that there are four things that being children of God means– all beginning with R

1. The first R is that we are privileged to have a RELATIONSHIP with God.

Paul says: “….but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry “Abba, Father” (Rom 8:15)

Abba is an Aramaic word that is quite intimate, and might more accurately be translated “Dad” or “Daddy”.

I find it amazing that as Christians we are allowed to call the Almighty God – Dad.

Have you ever thought of that? We are privileged with a special relationship with God – a father–son relationship.

2. The second R is that we have a RANK in God’s kingdom. Our rank is that of being Sons of God.

In the Roman world, if a man adopted a person as his son – that son had the same rights as a naturally born son.

And the analogy is similar for us. When we received Christ, we became adopted into God’s family – having the same rights of sonship as Jesus Himself has.

In fact, our sonship is of the same rank of sonship as Jesus’.

3. The third R is that we are RECIPIENTS of God’s Holy Spirit

We are privileged as children of God, to receive the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Paul the apostle said: “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you” (Rom 8:11)

3. The final R is RESPONSIBILITY

The apostle Paul tells us that we have an obligation to live according to the Spirit and not according to our sinful nature.

Paul in Romans 8:12-13 said:

“Therefore, brothers we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature you will die, but (if you live) by the Spirit…you will live (Rom 8:12/13)

As sons of God , we have a responsibility to live Christian lives.

Please note: we do not become Christians by doing good works – we become Christians by faith in Christ’s atoning death on the Cross in our place. But once we are Christians, we have the responsibility of doing the good works that the Holy Spirit tells us to do.


So in conclusion, we have three tremendous privileges as sons of God and one great responsibility.

1. The first privilgege is that we have a father-son RELATIONSHIP with God himself

2. The second privilege we have is that we have been given the RANK of being sons of God.

3. The final privilege is that we are RECIPIENTS of God’s own Spirit within in us – The Holy Spirit and

4. And we have one RESPONSIBILITY - that of choosing to live according to the leading of God’s Spirit and not our own sinful way.

Let us close in prayer:

Heavenly Father we thank you for the privilege of being your sons and daughters – and for the relationship we have with you, for the rank that you have given us and for being recipients of your Holy Spirit.

Please enable us to live out the Responsibility of following the leading of your Spirit in our lives.

We ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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