The Spirit of Sonship

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As God's people, we are no longer slaves; rather, we are a part of His family.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ (Romans 8:15)

We have probably all heard children say to one another – perhaps in an attempt to settle some dispute – ‘My dad is bigger than your dad!’ What they’re really saying, of course, is, ‘I’m not scared of you – because I’ve got someone to back me up!’ And that’s exactly what the Holy Spirit does for us whenever we are afraid or in difficulties. He comes and whispers, ‘Remember who your Dad is!’

Paul had left his young associate Timothy in charge of the large, flourishing church at Ephesus. Reading Paul’s letters to him, it is clear that it hadn’t been too long after his departure before some members of the church were letting Timothy know that he wasn’t doing quite as good a job as the previous pastor and were starting to ‘flex their muscles’ in all kinds of ways. Not surprisingly, Timothy got rather anxious about all this. But Paul reminded him that he needn’t be anxious or afraid, for he had the Holy Spirit with him, constantly reminding him of his Father in heaven. And this Spirit, Paul told him, is not ‘a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline’ (2 Timothy 1:7). He is there within us, encouraging us to be ‘strong in the Lord and in his mighty power’ (Ephesians 6:10) as he reminds us of who we are in Christ and of the resources of heaven that we can call upon.

As God’s people, we do not need to be ‘like cowering, fearful slaves’ (Romans 8:15, NLT). We aren’t slaves any longer, but ‘sons’ – part of God’s family. God himself is our Father – a Father bigger than anything that might stand against us; and the Holy Spirit is his promised gift to us to enable us to remember this truth and to live in the good of it today.

Since you are God’s children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and the Spirit cries out, ‘Father’. So now you are not a slave; you are God’s child, and God will give you the blessing he promised, because you are his child. (Galatians 4:6-7, NCV)

Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont

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