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Summary: Now, we are members of the family of God, and have all the privileges of a son, including being joint heirs with Jesus.

(26) The Blessing of Liberty

Romans 8:12-17

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Introduction

The topic of verses 12-17 is Christian Liberty. We are no longer following a list of “Do’s and Don’ts,” in order to obtain God’s approval. Now, we are members of the family of God, and have all the privileges of a son, including being joint heirs with Jesus. We enter God’s family by the new birth, not by adoption (John 3); but adoption gives us an adult standing in His family. He deals with us as mature sons and daughters and not as “little children.” We can talk, walk, and use our inheritance right now. We are free, but we are still debtors to the Lord (v. 12).

The Blessing of Liberty

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

Now when we see the stark contrast between the flesh and the Spirit, what conclusion do we draw? We owe nothing to the flesh, to live according to its dictates. The old, evil, corrupt nature has been nothing but a drag. It has never done us a bit of good. All we derive from it is death. If Christ had not saved us, the flesh would have dragged us down to the deepest, darkest, hottest places in hell. Why should we feel obligated to such an enemy?

Each Christian must refuse to follow the inclinations and desires of his sin nature. Paul said that we are not to live according to the flesh. We must deny the efforts of that nature to impose its lifestyle on us—“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). Our initial response to God’s grace must be denying ungodliness. Some very blindly accuse those who believe salvation is exclusively by grace of turning grace into a license to sin. That is not so, for grace teaches that we are to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. While in the world, the believer is not of the world and his desires are not to be set on this world system and its values. Rather, we should live soberly. We are to also live righteously, or in simple terms, just do right no matter what others may do!

Godly means in a godly manner, not “holier than thou,” but with true piety. The gospel is not a pie in the sky, but it is for the here and now, and it teaches how to really live in this present world, and not just exist, as the world does.

My friends, the flesh—and we all have it—is a low-down, dirty rascal. In addition, we don’t owe it anything.

13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die;--Those who live according to the flesh must die, not only physically but also eternally. To live according to the flesh refers to those who are unsaved. This is made clear in [1]Romans 8:4, 5. However, why does Paul address this to those who were already Christians? Does he mean to imply that some of them might eventually be lost? No, but the apostle often includes words of warning and self-examination in his letters, realizing that in every congregation there may be some people who have never been genuinely born again.

The unsaved person cannot have fellowship with God. In that sense, they are dead to Him. I am not talking about a theory; if you are a child of God, you know this from experience. If you are a child of God, and you have unconfessed sin in your life, do you want to go to church? Do you want to read your Bible? Do you want to pray? Of course you don’t. You are separated from God.

but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.—The “Spirit” in this case is the Holy Spirit, not the human spirit. God acted to put to death the selfish acts of the body through the death of Christ. This verse states the responsibility of the believer—to die to worldly desires. The power for this is not his own, but must come from the Holy Spirit.

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