Summary: 1) Arrangement of Adoption (Romans 8:14), 2) Access through Adoption (Romans 8:15), 3) Assurance of Adoption (Romans 8:16)
Somewhere in Canada tonight, a child will go to bed in a room that’s not their own, will cry for a mother who is not there, will long for the embrace of a father to keep them safe. This child is waiting to belong. In fact, there are more than 30,000 adoptable kids in Canada who are waiting just like this. Most of these kids will go to bed tonight still waiting for a forever family . (http://waitingtobelong.ca/)
In Romans 8, using the figure of adoption, Paul explains the believer’s intimate and permanent relationship to God as a beloved child. In these verses, Paul continues to disclose the ways in which God confirms that believers are eternally related to Him as His children, testifying that we are led, given access to God, and granted inner assurance by His own Spirit. These three means of assurance are closely related and intertwined, but each presents a distinctive truth about the Spirit’s work in the believer’s life.
You may not be called to adopt or foster a child, but someone touched by adoption needs your help. (Likely) are, they are right alongside you, in your church family. They may be parents-in-waiting, discouraged by their long search for a child, or foster parents struggling to heal a wounded, disruptive child. Will you show them Christ's love - a love that gets involved? Will you help other waiting children find a home? (http://waitingtobelong.ca/help-adoptive-families/church-members)
To understand the spiritual significance of adoption and what tangible and practical means we may involve ourselves, the Apostle Paul explains our Spiritual Adoption by God, through the: 1) Arrangement of Adoption (Romans 8:14), 2) Access through Adoption (Romans 8:15), 3) Assurance of Adoption (Romans 8:16)
1) Arrangement of Adoption (Romans 8:14)
Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (ESV)
The first inner confirmation of adoption is the believer’s led by the Spirit of God. A person who is truly experiencing the leading hand of God at work in their life can be certain they are God’s child. The “leading” (ἄγονται, agontai) ...refers to being “controlled by” or “determined by” or “governed by” the Spirit The passive form of the verb is significant, in that it suggests that the Spirit is the primary agent in Christian obedience, that it is his work in believers that accounts for their obedience (Schreiner, T. R. (1998). Romans (Vol. 6, p. 422). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.).
The genuine believer’s life is basically characterized by the Spirit’s leading, just as it is basically characterized by Christ’s righteousness. Therefore, to be “led by the Spirit” probably means not to be guided by the Holy Spirit but, as in Gal. 5:18, to have the direction of one’s life as a whole determined by the Spirit. (Moo, D. J. (1996). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 498). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)
A merely professing Christian does not and cannot be led by the Spirit of God. One may be moral, conscientious, generous, active with church and other Christian organizations, and exhibit many other commendable traits. But the only accomplishments, religious or otherwise, one can legitimately make claim to are those of their own doing. One's life may be outstandingly religious, but because one lives it in the power of the flesh, they can never be truly spiritual and will never have the inner conviction of God’s leading and empowering. But if you so meet sin by the Spirit, if you are so led by the Spirit, you do show yourselves nothing less than God’s own sons. He has called you to nothing lower than sonship; to vital connection with a divine Father’s life, and to the eternal embraces of His love (Moule, H. (1975). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 223). Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade.)
Please turn to Matthew 5 (p.809)
Our heavenly Father wants His children to be certain at all times that they belong to Him and are secure in Him. As Paul has just stated (Rom. 8:13), a person who is succeeding in putting to death sin in their life are not doing so in their own power, that is, in the power of the flesh, but by the power of the Spirit. Those who see victory over sin in their lives, who see their sinful desires and practices diminishing, can be certain they are sons of God, because only God’s Spirit can bring victory over sin. Our finite minds cannot comprehend how the Spirit leads a believer, just as we cannot fully understand any of the supernatural work of God. We do, however, know that our heavenly seeks our willing obedience. It is when we are genuinely submissive to Him that our Lord supernaturally reshapes and redirects our will into voluntary conformity with His own. It is our heavenly Father’s great desire for His children to submit to the leading of His Spirit, for the sake of His glory and for the sake of their spiritual fruitfulness, well-being, and peace.