From Slaves To Sons (2)
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
In light of Black History month this text speaks not of the salvation and the redemption of the African American slave, but of the redemption and freedom of all God’s children. This is not to make light of the horrific period of oppression that our country has been recovering from, but it is a parallel to a more costly form of slavery. (At this point I’m trying to grasp a good way to parallel the thematic thrust with American slavery)
This text makes for a wonderful black history month opener, because African American history began with slavery. Our own stories began with slavery, slavery to sin.
The pericope which is encompassed in verses 12-17 really hinges upon verse 15. The use of the word for connects everything before verse 15 with everything after verse 15, within the scope of this periscope. There is an interesting contrast found in verse 15 that describes two very distinct spirits. The first spirit being a spirit of slavery, which we have not received. The second, a spirit of adoption as sons, which we have received. What do we know about the spirit of slavery? Well the text states that this spirit of slavery leads us to fear again. Which brings us to another great question, what is it that we feared? Within the larger context of this chapter one can assume that the bondage of sin and death lead us to fear. John MacArthur comments, “No matter how cleverly they may manage to mask or deny the reality of it, sinful men are continually subject to fear because they continually live in sin and are therefore continually under God’s judgement. Slavery to sin brings slavery to fear, and one of the gracious works of the Holy Spirit is to deliver God’s children from both”(add footnote to reference MacArthur’s New Testament Commentary on Romans). Fear is rooted in our tainted relationship with the righteous God. Because of our sin, and it’s affect on our status before God, we fear death. Hebrews states, “and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (). Paul then goes on to state that we have not been given this spirit of fear, but the spirit of adoption as sons. He then expounds upon the benefits of this adoption in verses 16 and 17.
The text has three transitions that are easily identifiable. The first being the idea that we are slaves. We are slaves to the flesh, which makes us slaves to sin, which makes us slaves of fear. The second thought in this text is the idea of sonship. We are sons of God just as Christ is a son of God. Thirdly, since we are in Christ, and have the spirit of Christ, we are heirs of God with Christ.
What are the implications of this text for believers?
Being a slave, or obligated to anything, carries with it a weight. In terms of the text the yoke of slavery carries with it the weight of fear.
For I brought you up from the land of Egypt
and redeemed you from the house of slavery,
and I sent before you Moses,
Aaron, and Miriam.
Being adopted makes you a rightful heir or inheritor into the family in which you are adopted. to be taken from the tyranny of sin, death, and fear extinguishes also the the chains that characterize that life. Being adopted gives life a new portrait. Being adopted means you are entitled to all the rights and privileges of that family. If you look at the emancipation of the slaves, this was not always the case. Although they were freed from slavery they were still not citizens in the land, much like we are just pilgrims in this land. But we await the inheritance that is in heaven, where we will obtain all the rights and privileges of that place as heirs. There are conditions surrounding the adoption and the inheritance. Before you can obtain the inheritance you have to be adopted, and the text says that proof of your adoption is the Spirit by which you live. Paul states, “all who are being led by the Spirit of God these are sons of God” (). (Remember in this section to follow the for’s). Paul explains all of the rights and privileges of children of God in his letter to the church at Galatia. (Be sure to include and do a study of Galatians 4:1-7)
Follow the For’s
Follow the For’s
The for’s in the text give us the formula for freedom that leads to an inheritance with Christ.
There is obviously an evangelistic implication for us in that Christ frees us from bondage and is our great liberator. What is deeper than that is that he delivers us from something into something. There is a sense in which sometimes being delivered from something almost seems counter productive, because you have no sense of direction or no refuge. Christ takes us out of bondage and brings us into the family of God, where a rich inheritance awaits. Forty acres an a mule hardly compares to the riches that are found in Christ. (It could be possible, after the accuracy of that interpretation is verified, to parallel the restitution promised to slaves, to the inheritance gained in Christ)