Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

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Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

Post by zone on Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:17 am

Romans 8:14
"For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."

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Carried by the Comforter

An Exposition of Romans 8:14 that Shows What "Led by the Spirit" Really Means.

by Bob DeWaay



“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

Romans 8 offers profound, eternal comfort to Christians. In it Paul assures us that all true Christians shall ultimately be glorified and conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29, 30) and that nothing in the entire created universe can separate them from God’s love (Romans 8:31-39). After the lament in Romans 7 that even the redeemed still battle with sin, Romans 8 assures all Christians of ultimate victory.1 In the midst of this chapter of hope, Paul tells us that “sons of God” are led by the Spirit of God.

In this article I will answer three questions that arise from Romans 8:14.

1) Who are the sons of God?

2) What does it mean to be led by the Spirit?

3) Where are the sons of God being led?

If we stick to the context, the answers are clear. But elitists often make false claims based on a misuse of Romans 8:14 and other passages in Romans 8. These false claims I will address later in this article.



Who are the Sons of God?

Romans 8 begins with this promise: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Condemnation means to be ultimately condemned by God at the last judgment because of one’s sin. Paul assures us that if we are “in Christ,” we are free from ultimate, eternal death. Here is the reason: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:2). In the Greek, the verb “has set” is in the aorist, meaning something that happened at a point in time. That point in time is conversion. All who believe the Gospel, trusting the finished work of Christ who died and was raised bodily from the grave, have been set free! The “you” in “set you free” (Romans 8:2) is all true believers, all who are regenerate.2 Condemnation, as we will see later, does not mean, “feeling condemned,” but means being condemned however one might feel. Freedom likewise is objective. Having been set free from the penalty of sin, the believer stays in this state of freedom, even when feeling “wretched” (Romans 7:24).

So far Paul has been talking about all true believers. Let us see if he continues to do so. In Romans 8:5-8, Paul takes up a discussion of the flesh and the Spirit. He speaks of the mind set on the flesh and the mind set on the Spirit. Some have become confused at this point and thought that Paul was speaking of two classes of Christians, the “carnal Christians” and the elite, “spiritual” ones. For example, verse 6 sounds like this may be the case: “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). They assume that some elite Christians listen to the Holy Spirit’s inner promptings and thus experience more life and peace, and other carnal Christians listen to the flesh and experience “death” -- lack of spiritual vitality. However, the next two verses show that this interpretation is untenable. The mind set on the flesh is not just lacking inner joy, it is hostile to God and unable to submit to His law: “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; [It gets even worse:] and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7, 8).

Being hostile toward God and unable to please Him does not sound like a description of born again believers. But it is a perfect description of the unregenerate. Consider what Paul wrote elsewhere: “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1Corinthians 2:14). The context of this passage shows that the “things of the Spirit of God” have to do with the message of salvation through a crucified Messiah which is considered foolishness to the Greek mind. If a person cannot accept that message, he or she is lost. The cross is the only way to salvation. So those in the flesh who cannot please God are the unregenerate. The next verse in Romans 8 says so explicitly: “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9). One either has the Holy Spirit and belongs to Christ, or does not have the Spirit nor belong to Him. All true Christians are born of the Spirit and belong to Christ. He calls us “His own” (John 17:9, 10).

Therefore, in Romans 8:1-9 Paul is clearly talking about all true believers. He is not writing about two classes of Christians -- the carnal ones and the elite, spiritual ones. He is contrasting the redeemed and the condemned, with the former having the Holy Spirit and the latter not. Those who have the Spirit belong to Christ and are truly alive. They all have the same hope, which is the resurrection from the dead and conformity to the image of Christ. Paul continues his thought: “And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you” (Romans 8:10, 11). The fact of being indwelt by God’s Spirit assures us that these mortal bodies will be transformed even as Christ’s was, He being the “first fruits” of those to be raised from the dead.3 Those without the Spirit mind the things of the flesh and cannot please God. The flesh in this context means “all that one is outside of Christ, in his sinful nature.” It is not an anatomical term, but describes the nature of the entire person.4

The answer to the question, “who are the sons of God?” is “all true believers, all the regenerate.” Nowhere in the context of Romans 8 is Paul making a distinction between elite “spiritual, mature sons” and “carnal, immature” ones. Romans 8:9 specifically says that one either has the Spirit and belongs to Christ or has neither the Spirit nor Christ. There is no two tier version of “have and have not” Christianity taught here or anywhere else in Scripture. This goes for the entirety of Romans 8, all the way through to the glorious “Christian’s Triumph Song”5 of Romans 8:31-39 . No blood bought child of God is excluded. All who are justified shall be glorified (Romans 8:29, 30 ) and constitute the “sons of God.”



[b]What Does it Mean to be Led by the Spirit?

The question of what Paul means by this statement: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God,” (Romans 8:14), must be determined by the context, Paul’s grammar, and word usage. Paul uses the logical connection “for” in each of the verses of Romans 8:13-15:

For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

The logical sequence is important.

Verse 13 begins by saying, “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die.” Having taught in Romans 6 that the “wages of sin is death,” Paul is again referring to the unregenerate. Even those who teach the two tier “carnal -- spiritual” scheme of the body of Christ rarely claim that those in the carnal camp are to end up in hell. So they would have to either take “die” as meaning something other than spiritual death (which makes no sense since even believers die physically) or admit that Romans 8:13a is referring to the unregenerate, which is my claim. This phrase, “living according to the flesh,” is antithetically parallel to Romans 8:13b and Romans 8:14. This means that the opposite of living according to the flesh is “by the Spirit putting to death the deeds of the body” and “being led by the Spirit.”

Therefore the Holy Spirit provides the escape from ultimate, spiritual death. This is true of all who have believed the Gospel and been born again. “Putting to death” in verse 13 is in the continual present tense in the Greek. This shows that the battle against sin is a life long process, true for all who have the Spirit. We are not content to sin continually and unremittingly; we trust God through Christ’s finished work and lay aside the works of the flesh. There is no special “second blessing” or other experience that puts sin to death once for all outside of the resurrection at the return of Christ.

Paul then says that Spirit indwelt persons are “being led by the Spirit.” Remember that in context this is the opposite of “living according to the flesh.” Therefore it has to at least include the idea of putting aside the old sinful practices of the flesh. The Spirit is leading us in a lifetime process of putting to death the old “deeds of the body.” So far nothing in the context would indicate that “led by the Spirit” means, “gaining revelations and subjective guidance.”

Now we need to consult Paul’s word usage. The word translated “led” is ago_ (long O for omega). It is a common Greek word in the New Testament. It is a common Greek word in the New Testament and means “bring or carry,” a much stronger word than the idea of, “gaining impressions from.” Used elsewhere in the New Testament it can even mean, “being brought” forcibly. For example, the word ago_ is translated “brought” in this passage: “[A]nd you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak” (Matthew 10:18, 19 ). Notice that “brought” is synonymously parallel to “deliver you up.”

Paul uses the same word ago_ in a passage that is similar to his thought in Romans 8: “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law” (Galatians 5:18). In this parallel passage it is clear that “being led by the Spirit” is true of all Christians because Paul denies that any Christian is under the Law (Romans 6:14). The form of the verb is passive. Paul uses the term to describe how the Corinthians had been before they were converted: “You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the dumb idols, however you were led” (1Corinthians 12:2). It denotes being under their idol’s control, not “gaining impressions” from them. C. E. B. Cranfield discusses the use of ago_ in Romans 8:14:

Though the active participation of the Christian is indeed involved [he references in brackets the Greek word translated “put to death” in verse 13], it is fundamentally the work of the Spirit (hence the passive agontai). For the use of agein [the infinitive form of ago_] compare Lk 4:1; Gal 5:18: also Rom 2:4; 1Cor 12:2; 2Tim 3:6. It is used by classical authors of being led, controlled, by reason, anger, desire, pleasure, etc.6

“Led” is a strong term for the activity of the Holy Spirit showing that He “brings us” somewhere. Where He brings us will be the subject of the next section; but here is a verse which also uses ago_ that will give us a foretaste: “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10). “Bringing” is from the word (ago_) translated “led” in Romans 8:14. Aside from the question of where we are being brought which will be dealt with later, this passage shows the sovereign activity of God. It does not mean that He gives us subjective directions and guidance as to where glory is so we can make our own way there. He sovereignly brings His sons to glory.

Consider all of the other things Romans 8 has told us the Spirit does: He indwells all believers (verse 11); He will resurrect all believers (verse 11); He enables us to put to death sinful deeds (verse 13); He causes us to be adopted as sons (verse 15); He gives us a witness within that we are God’s children (verse 16); He causes us to long for glorification (verse 23); He intercedes for us (verse 26); and He brings us to glory and conformity to the image of Christ (verses 28-30). In the midst of these strong statements about the Holy Spirit’s powerful and sovereign work in the life of every believer, are we to believe that verse 14 means that the Spirit is trying to give subjective guidance but only certain elite Christians have figured out how to hear this guidance and follow it? The context and grammar show that this interpretation is in error, grossly contrived and far from Paul’s thought.

Therefore being “led” by the Spirit means that God the Holy Spirit brings us along, toward God’s purposes for us. He “carries” us to our proper destination. That we will get there is assured by His sovereign work in our lives.

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Re: Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

Post by zone on Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:23 am

Where are God’s Adopted Sons being Led?

We have already hinted at the answer to the question about our destination: all true believers are being carried by the Holy Spirit to glorification. The proof of this is found in this passage:

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first‑born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Romans 8:29, 30)
We have answered the question of “who” is being led -- all true Christians. We have seen that being led means to be sovereignly carried along to our destination by the Holy Spirit. The passage before us tells us what we shall be like upon our arrival and that the destination is glorification. In the process Paul gives strong assurance that every true believer will arrive because the outcome is dependent upon God’s sovereign decision from all eternity.

The first thing Paul tells us about God’s adopted sons is that they were foreknown. This idea needs to be understood in the Biblical sense of “knowing” (yada in Old Testament Hebrew) that means “having a relationship with.” God’s foreknowledge of His sons is not that He merely knew that we would one day exist, nor can it be construed to mean He knew that we would choose Him. God is the active party throughout Romans 8.7 This is not about God reacting to our actions, but God acting to adopt sons and bring them to glory. Foreknowledge in Romans 8:29 means that God chose His own from before the foundation of the world.

Cranfield comments on this passage: “The -egno_ [to know] is to be understood in the light of the use of yada in such passages as Gen. 18:19; Jer 1:5; Amos 3:2, where it denotes that special taking knowledge of a person which is God’s electing grace.”8 This is an important observation. Consider for example Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Foreknowledge in the context of God calling forth a people means more than “have knowledge of in advance,” but means to “choose for a covenant relationship.” In the Amos passage, the verb yada, known, is actually translated “chosen” by the NASB: “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth;” (Amos 3:2a).

The Hebrew use of “know” in a relational sense is also seen in the New Testament. For example, consider the miracle workers in Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus said to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (verse 23b). “Knew” here means, “I never had a relationship with you.” Here is another instance of such usage, “[I]f anyone loves God, he is known by Him” (1Corinthians 8:3). Obviously, “known by Him” means “have a relationship with God.” So “foreknown” means choose ahead of time for a relationship.

This leads to the question of the meaning of “predestined” in Romans 8:29. Some argue that if “foreknown” means choose in advance, then “predestined” is a redundancy. However, in this passage Paul is using predestined do describe the final state of all of the redeemed, “conformed to the image of His Son.” All of God’s adopted sons are predestined to be conformed to the image of the One unique Son, Jesus Christ. Cranfield explains the meaning of the Greek words: “Whereas proegno_ [to foreknow] denoted God’s gracious election, proo_risen [predestined] denotes His gracious decision concerning the elect, the content of which is indicated by the words which follow.”9 These ideas are also taught in Ephesians: “[J]ust as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Ephesians 1:4, 5). Remember that in Romans 8 adoption as sons is seen as already (verse 15) and not yet (verse 23). The adoption process begins with our redemption and ends with our glorification. All God’s elect are predestined to adoption in the fullest sense, conformity to the image of Christ.

The journey from what we are now as redeemed sons to what we shall be is characterized by sufferings: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:18, 19). Present sufferings are true for all of God’s adopted sons, but so is future glory. The “revealing of the sons of God” happens at the return of Christ and the resurrection, which is called “the redemption of our body” in Romans 8:23. Romans 8:29 tells us that this means being conformed to the image of Christ. This is the destiny of all the redeemed. This passage teaches the same idea: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1John 3:2). The “already -- not yet” tension is found throughout the New Testament. Both Paul and John tie the completion of the change God is working in His sons to the return of Christ.

Romans 8:30 continues the “golden chain” argument saying that all the predestined are “called.” Foreknowledge and predestination are from before the foundation of the world. Now Paul addresses what happens on the scene of history. God’s elect are “called.” This has to mean “effectively called,” because those thus called are glorified. Romans 8:28 describes the redeemed as “called according to His purpose.” The good end to which all things are being directed by God’s sovereign purpose is the honor that will be brought to His own name through the glorification of the Son and all the sons He is bringing to glory.

Those effectively called actually respond. Cranfield comments, “When God thus calls effectively, a man responds with the obedience of faith. Indeed, calling in this sense and conversion might be likened to the obverse and reverse of the same coin: they are the same event seen from two different points of view.”10 This call is properly distinguished from the universal call of the gospel. The universal call goes out to all people through the preaching of the gospel. Those chosen by God actually respond to it, being effectively called. Jesus describes this: “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). The many “called” in the parable of the wedding guests all received an invitation. Most rejected it. God is commanding everyone to repent and believe the gospel (Acts 17:30). The effectively called do repent and believe. This must be true otherwise Paul would not say that they are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ and glorified. The distinction between what is often described as “the outward call and the inward call” or, “the universal call and the effective call” is necessary to make sense of the terminology of the New Testament.

The fact that the call is effective is further shown by the next term that describes the same group, “justified.” Paul is using what is known in logic as a chain argument. The foreknown, predestined, called and justified are the same group of people, and all of these things are true of every member. Paul’s grammar is clear and logic inescapable. If there was one person foreknown, predestined, and called, who was not justified, then God’s word here in Romans 8:29, 30 would be proven false. God cannot lie and His Word is inerrant. These are the people who are described throughout Romans 8 as having received the Holy Spirit who is at work in them. These are justified by faith as Paul argued in Romans 3:28-30.

The final link in the golden chain is glorification. All the justified are glorified. Herein lies rock solid proof of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. All God’s adopted sons will be glorified. They are being led by the Spirit to glory. As we have seen, they are being powerfully and effectively carried along by the Holy Spirit to glory. The Holy Spirit who regenerates all true believers will never “drop the ball” and allow one of His to perish. Our hope lies in the electing love and sovereign power of God and not in the feeble powers of man.

So certain is glorification that Paul uses an unexpected verb tense, the aorist (point in time action in the past). Leon Morris comments on the use of the aorist here: “[I]t is used of set purpose to bring out the truth that our glorification is certain. So certain is it that it can be spoken of as already accomplished.”11 The “not yet” is “already” certain!

The conclusion of Romans 8 is a beautiful description of the security of all believers in God’s love. This beautiful assurance of God’s love overcoming any and all opposition to it is given to us as our ultimate comfort and hope. What amazes me is that though these verses offer hope and encouragement, many Christians apparently want neither. Some are so wed to the ideas of free choice and human ability, that they refuse to see the security of the believer in Romans 8. For example, consider Paul’s list of things that cannot separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:36-39). Using pairs of extremes, which is a common Biblical way of including everything (like our phrase “from A to Z), Paul lists all the possible things that could separate us from God’s loving purposes. He denies that any can. God’s adopted sons have glorious security.

Yet I have seen a number of people argue that the list actually is not comprehensive. They say, “but the list does not include our own selves, we can remove ourselves from God’s love.” I was thinking about that claim one day and reading the text again. I saw this conclusion to the list: “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). Not only do the pairs of extremes show that Paul intends his list to be comprehensive, but he explicitly says it is with the phrase, “nor any other created thing.” The human will is a created thing. Only God is not created. We will not separate ourselves from God’s redeeming love if we are those who are justified. We will stay in God’s love not because we are incapable of gross sin or even blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, but because God’s grace is effectual and the Holy Spirit has promised to lead (carry) us to glory. God will insure that we will not become apostate by all the considerable means at His disposal. God keeps his promises: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself” (2Timothy 2:13).

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Re: Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

Post by zone on Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:24 am

Elitist Interpretation of Romans 8

There has been a long history of the misuse of Romans 8 by those who hold to various elitist understandings of Christianity. What they have in common is the idea that Romans 8 is not about what God is doing by His Spirit for, in, and through all true Christians, but that it is about two types of Christians: carnal and spiritual. The problem starts with the King James translation of Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (KJV). The phrase “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” is not in the best Greek manuscripts. Because it is so poorly attested in the Greek, new Bible translations do not include it because of the strength of the evidence suggesting it was not in the original manuscript. However, this phrase makes the verse sound like it may be talking about two different types of Christians. The idea would be that elite Christians who walk by the Spirit do not experience feelings of condemnation, but “carnal Christians” do.

This interpretation is wrong for a couple of reasons. First, the term “condemnation” is not a reference to guilt feelings, but is forensic terminology concerning a legal sentence. Leon Morris writes, “Condemnation is a forensic term which here includes both the sentence and the execution of the sentence. But for believers there is no condemnation at all.”12 The passage is simply stating that all who are “in Christ” will not be condemned at the final judgment, as I noted earlier in this article. People are in Christ because they have been justified by faith ─ Paul’s theme throughout Romans. Justification and condemnation are antithetical. Jesus did not come so that the more advanced Christians who have learned to follow the Spirit will not have “guilt feelings.” He came to deliver all who trust in Him from the final judgment, God’s wrath against sin.

Second, even if one accepted the King James text here, the rest of the context rules against an elitist interpretation. The elitist idea is that “carnal Christians” are lesser in both experience and practice. They supposedly have not had a full experience of the Holy Spirit’s power and do not know the secrets of the spiritual life (or “deeper life” as elitists sometimes call it). Is this what Paul means by the term “flesh” in Romans 8 ─ “that which characterizes Christians who have not had a secondary experience or learned to walk in the deeper life of the Spirit”? Let us examine the issue in its context.

Consider these verses: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3, 4). The previous chapters of Romans make it clear that what the Law could not do was make a person right before God through “law works.” The Law shows us how sinful we are. Those who try to make themselves right before God by works of the Law shall fail every time and remain in their lost condition. Sinners can only be justified by faith ─ trusting God through the finished work of Jesus Christ. So when Paul says, “[T]he requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us,” he is speaking of those who have been justified by faith and therefore have right standing before God on that basis, not law works. Therefore “us” in Romans 8:4 is all true believers. Therefore no true believer can be said to “walk according to the flesh” in the sense the phrase is used in this passage.

That Paul considers no Christian to be “walking according to the flesh” can be clearly demonstrated from Romans 8:6-9 which I expounded earlier in this article. These verses show that those who “walk according to the flesh” are “hostile to God.” Sinners are hostile to God and remain outside His kingdom, but surely not redeemed Christians. Consider Paul’s terminology in Romans 7; “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.” (Romans 7:5,6). Again he speaks of the difference between being unsaved and unjustified and being in Christ and free. Paul includes himself when he says, “when we were in the flesh.” Clearly this is not true now. The Christian life is serving God “in newness of the Spirit.” The phrase “oldness of the letter” denotes seeking to keep the law and please God through works righteousness.

As mentioned earlier Romans 8:9 shows conclusively that Paul is contrasting the lost and the saved and not two different types of Christian. Here is what Paul writes, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9). To not belong to Christ is to be lost. To belong to Christ insures that one will be His for all eternity. Listen to what Jesus said about those who belong to Him:

All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. (John 6:37, 38)

Carefully follow the logic here; this is very important.13 Those who belong to Christ are given to Him by the Father. All of those given by the Father to the Son actually come to Jesus. Christ accepts all the individuals given to Him by the Father. None of these will be lost. All of these will be raised up on the last day. The category of persons described here is true Christians. This is what we also learned from Romans 8:29, 30 discussed earlier. We also know from the passage before us (Romans 8:9), that all who have the Holy Spirit belong to Christ. Therefore, according to Romans 8:9, all true Christians are in the Spirit and none are “in the flesh.” There is no third category called “carnal Christian” discussed here, just the regenerate who have the Spirit and those in the flesh who do not.

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Re: Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

Post by zone on Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:26 am

Elitist Answers to Romans 8:14

In the first part of this article I raised and answered three questions from Romans 8:14: who are the sons of God?, what does it mean to be led by the Spirit? and where are they being led? Let us consider how elitists who claim that Romans 8 is about two classes of Christians (the carnal “have nots” and the spiritual “haves”) typically answer these same three questions.

According to elitists the “sons of God” are not all Christians, but just mature ones. Ignoring Paul’s obvious meaning of “son” as “those adopted into the family of God” (Romans 8:15), they claim “son” means “mature son” because of the use of huios in the Greek (the common term for son) rather than a word that would denote a small child or young person. This is bad doctrine and shoddy hermeneutics. At issue is neither the relative age nor the relative degree of development of the persons, but whether or not they belong to Christ. The context will allow no other interpretation. All who are His as “sons” by adoption shall always be so. Future growth and development all the way to conformity to the image of Christ is assured for all (again see Romans 8:29, 30).

The second question also has a different elitist answer. They claim that “being led by the Spirit” means that certain people have learned the secret of “hearing God’s voice” and are willing to follow the subjective guidance they receive. As I showed earlier, the term “led” does not mean, “gain subjective guidance,” it means to “bring or carry.” The elitists think that “being led” is a spiritual capability that certain advanced Christians have learned and developed over the years. Those who have the most remarkable stories about “guidance miracles” are considered the truly advanced Christians.

There was a time in my life when I believed these elitist’s interpretations. I spent five years trying to be a “mature spiritual son” who “followed the leading of the Spirit.” I listened to hundreds of hours of tapes from spiritual leaders who told amazing stories about having visions of Jesus, talking to angels, hearing God’s voice in their spirits, etc. When these great men of God followed the special guidance they received God did tremendous miracles. I wanted to be one of those men, desperately so. I joined a group founded by a man who had huge repertoire of “miracle stories of divine guidance.” I was trained in spiritual elitism. I read books about how to be a “spiritual man” by following my spirit, which I was told was already perfected by being one with God. I was taught that my soul was caught in a “twilight zone” between my body and the outward world of sense perceptions, and my spirit and the inward world of God’s revelation knowledge. If only I could get rid of the influences of the body and its perceptions and get my mind attuned to the Spirit, then I would be one of those miracle-working men of God. I tried the “spiritual disciplines” prescribed by various elitists who knew the secrets of the deeper life. When I read the Bible, however, rather than get revelations like they did, I could only see what the words said and meant. My revelatory abilities seemed muted compared to their claims. I never got good at preaching anything but what the Bible said. I was told that the problem was my education and logical mind.

After several years living in a Christian community totally dedicated growing past “carnal Christianity” to a deeper, purer form of living by faith and following the Spirit, I was confronted with the truth of Colossians 2:8: “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self‑abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, . . . These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self‑made religion and self‑abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence” (Colossians 2:18, 23). The “deeper life” did not make us more spiritual. Problems that plague the world were still evident in us. I began to notice that the real changes evident in certain people happened because of their conversion. God changed their lives through the Gospel. But the troubled Christians who sought special answers through a higher order of spirituality became more troubled, not less so.

Eventually I found help from the comfort and the encouragement of the Scriptures. The Scriptures are God’s revelation to us, not the means to a subjective personal revelation somehow hidden in them. As I am writing this I am thinking of what would have happened if this article had been written by someone else and handed to me in 1976, given who I was then. Would I have allowed the Scriptures to correct me and free me, or would I have pushed this aside as the writings of someone “not Spirit filled, not following the Spirit ─ too educated”? It is impossible to know the answer. However, bringing the Scriptures to bear on important issues that trouble the saints is always the best thing to do. The Scriptures led me out of the error I was in.

There is one last question to be addressed from the elitist perspective: where are we being led? When I was an elitist myself I hoped to be led to a glorious manifestation of the Kingdom of God now on earth that everyone could see in external, supernatural power. I thought that if we could just follow the leading of the Spirit, all the sick people would be healed, miracles would be common events, and our group would so obviously have something superior to everything around that many, many people would want to join us.

There are many forms of elitism. I have not offered a catalogue of them in this article. I have given the basic ideas common to elitist spirituality. They all offer some form of over-realized eschatology. That is, they are promising “the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19) now in a way that goes beyond the Scriptures.14 The elitists think they are being led to some sort of heaven on earth before the return of Christ. This ranges all the way from perfectionism (that we can be sinless now), to claims that we can get immortal bodies now, to dominionist teachings that prescribe world rulership for Christians before the return of Christ and others. There are many versions. One thing they all do is belittle us “ordinary Christians” who long for the return of Christ and future glorification. They call us “defeated.”

cont....
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Re: Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

Post by zone on Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:29 am

Conclusion

I have presented two radically different understandings of Romans 8:14. The text of Romans has to determine which is from God. The evidence is clearly against elitism. Most of us who realize that we are “ordinary” Christians ─ “sinners saved by grace,” know people who think we are quite pathetic. We have not reached the plane of spirituality they claim to have acheived. Paul offers hope to us ordinary Christians who stumble in many ways, but hope fully in Christ. He assures us that by the finished work of Christ and justified by faith, we are adopted into the family of God. In God’s family it does not matter where you stand in someone else’s estimation of being a “great person of God.” In God’s family the “least shall be the greatest.” We have no reason to fret over others who judge us as being not very spiritual. We are trusting Jesus and because He has given us His Spirit, we shall never be separated from His love and shall surely be like Him one day. Let us be encouraged by that.


Issue 76 - May/June 2003
http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue76.htm
...
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Re: Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

Post by zone on Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:38 am

i know i keep harping on this, but its such a great study itself, as are all bob's teachings. [though i make it clear there are some areas in which i disagree with him radically. i'm happy to elaborate if anybody's interested].

here's the above written article covered in 3 audio radiocasts-the text of which are also available at site:





Led by the Spirit Radio Broadcasts






Romans 8:12-17; Being Led by the Spirit
Presented by Bob DeWaay and Dick Kuffel
Broadcast Monday, October 25, 2010
This program shows that being led by the Spirit is about God carrying true believers through adoption as Sons unto ultimate glorification. It is not about mystical revelations, guidance, or elitism.
MP3 (duration 00:25:35)




Led by the Spirit, Part 2
Presented by Bob DeWaay and Dick Kuffel
Broadcast Monday, January 1, 2007
This program discusses Romans 8:14 showing that all true Christians are led by the Spirit. We refute false elitist interpretations that claim only certain Christians know how to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
MP3 (duration 00:26:00)




Led by the Spirit, Part 1
Presented by Bob DeWaay and Dick Kuffel
Broadcast Monday, December 25, 2006
This program discusses Romans 8:14 in the light of its context in Romans 8. We show that being led by the Spirit means being carried to glory, not "given subjective revelation."
MP3 (duration 00:26:00)

....



folks if you haven't listened to (or read) these studies yet, do take the time. they're short, bob is an excellent teacher; the audios are easy listening; studies are short 20+ minutes each); and the Spirit truly is at work in them, as he is whenever the Word of God is actually faithfully taught.

you WILL be blessed by this study, and you will be able to answer these Finneyite/Wesleyan/Charismatic false teachers....the same group with the same aberrent teachings/activities Phil Johnson (sword & trowel) has noted have grown so much, and become so influenential NOT because what they believe and teach is TRUE, but because they've intimidated most of the "regular (read: "carnal")" christians, while at the same time becoming very aggressive in their promotion of this error - which accompanies and props up the SIGNS AND WONDERS crowd.

Pentecostalism used to be considered apostate and was marginalized...but the tables have turned (though this isn't unexpected according to eschatology).
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Re: Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

Post by zone on Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:58 am

zone wrote:

Romans 8:14
"For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."

αγονται verb - present passive indicative - third person
ago ag'-o: to lead; by implication, to bring, drive, (reflexively) go, (specially) pass (time), or (figuratively) induce -- be, bring (forth), carry, (let) go, keep, lead away, be open.

71. agó

agó: to lead, bring, carry
Original Word: ἄγω
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: agó
Phonetic Spelling: (ag'-o)
Short Definition: I lead
Definition: I lead, lead away, bring (a person, or animal), guide, spend a day, go.

Word Origin
a prim. verb

Definition
to lead, bring, carry

NASB Word Usage
arrest (1), bring (11), bringing (3), brought (26), go (5), going (2), lead (1), leads (1), led (12), led away (1), session (1), taking (1), took away (1).

STRONGS NT 71: ἄγω

ἄγω; imperfect ἦγον; future ἄξω; 2 aorist ἤγαγον, infinitive ἀγαγεῖν (more rarely 1 aorist ᾖξα, in ἐπάγω 2 Peter 2:5); passive, present ά᾿γομαι; imperfect ἠγόμην; 1 aorist ἤχθην; 1 future ἀχθήσομαι; (from Homer down); to drive, lead.

1. properly (A. V. ordinarily, to bring);

a. to lead by laying hold of, and in this way to bring to the point of destination: of an animal, Matthew 21:7; Luke 19:35; Mark 11:7 (T Tr WH φέρουσιν); (Luke 19:30); τινα followed by εἰς with the accusative of place, Luke 4:9 (others refer this to 2 c.); Luke 10:34; (ἤγαγον καί εἰσήγαγον, Luke 22:54); John 18:28; Acts 6:12; Acts 9:2; Acts 17:5 (R G); Rec.; ; ἐπί with the accusative, Acts 17:19; ἕως, Luke 4:29; πρός τινα, to persons, Luke (Luke 4:40); ; Acts 9:27; John 8:3 (Rec.).

b. to lead by accompanying to (into) any place: εἰς, Acts 11:26 (Acts 11:25); ἕως, Acts 17:15; πρός τινα, to persons, John 1:42 (John 1:43); ; Acts 23:18; followed by the dative of person to whom, Acts 21:16 on which see Winers Grammar, 214 (201) at length (cf. Buttmann, 284 (244)) (1 Macc. 7:2 ἄγειν αὐτούς αὐτῷ).

c. to lead with oneself, attach to oneself as an attendant: τινα, 2 Timothy 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (Josephus, Antiquities 10, 9, 6 ἀπῆρεν εἰς τήν Αἴγυπτον ἀγών καί Ιερεμιαν). Some refer Acts 21:16 to this head, resolving it ἄγοντες Μνάσωνα παρ' ᾧ ξενισθῶμεν, but incorrectly, see Winers Grammar (and Buttmann) as above.

d. to conduct, bring: τινα (Luke 19:27); John 7:45; (John 19:4, 13); Acts 5:21, 26,(); ; πῶλον, Mark 11:2 (where T Tr WH φέρετε); (Luke 19:30, see a. above); τινα τίνι or τί τίνι, Matthew 21:2; Acts 13:23 G L T Tr WH.

e. to lead away, to a court of justice, magistrate, etc.: simply, Mark 13:11; (Acts 25:17); ἐπί with the accusative, Matthew 10:18; Luke 21:12 (T Tr WH ἀπαγομένους; (Luke 23:1); Acts (Acts 9:21); Acts 18:12; (often in Attic); (πρός with the accusative, John 18:13 L T Tr WH); to punishment: simply (2 Macc. 6:29 2Macc. 7:18, etc.), John 19:16 Griesbach (R καί ἀπήγαγον, which L T Tr WH have expunged); with the telic infinitive, Luke 23:32; (followed by ἵνα, Mark 15:20 Lachmann); ἐπί σφαγήν, Acts 8:32 (ἐπί θανάτῳ, Xenophon, mem. 4, 4, 3; an. 1, 6, 10).

2. tropically,

a. to lead, guide, direct: John 10:16; εἰς μετάνοιαν, Romans 2:4.

b. to lead through, conduct, to something, become the author of good or of evil to some one: εἰς δόξαν, Hebrews 2:10 (εἰς (others, ἐπί) καλοκἀγαθίαν, Xenophon, mem. 1, 6, 14; εἰς δουλείαν, Demosthenes, p. 213, 28).

c. to more, impel, of forces and influences affecting the mind: Luke 4:1 (where read ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ (with L text T Tr WH)); πνεύματι Θεοῦ ἄγεσθαι, Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18; ἐπιθυμίαις, 2 Timothy 3:6; simply, urged on by blind impulse, 1 Corinthians 12:2 — unless impelled by Satan's influence be preferable, cf. 1 Corinthians 10:20; Ephesians 2:2; (Buttmann, 383f (328f)).

3. to pass a day, keep or celebrate a feast, etc.: τρίτην ἡμέραν ἄγει namely, ὁ Ἰσραήλ, Luke 24:21 (others (see Meyer) supply αὐτός or ὁ Ἰησοῦς; still others take ἄγει as impersonal, one passes, Vulg.tertiadiesest; see Buttmann, 134 (118)); γενεσίων ἀγομένων, Matthew 14:6 R G; ἀγοραῖοι (which see, 2), Acts 19:38; often in the O. T. Apocrypha (cf. Wahl, Claris Apocr. under the word ἄγω, 3), in Herodotus and Attic writers.

4. intransitive, to go, depart (Winers Grammar, § 38, 1, p. 251 (236); (Buttmann, 144 (126))): ἄγωμεν let us go, Matthew 26:46; Mark 14:42; John 14:31; πρός τινα, John 11:15; εἰς with the accusative of place, Mark 1:38; John 11:7 (Epictetus diss. 3, 22, 55 ἄγωμεν, ἐπί τόν ἀνθύπατον); (followed by ἵνα, John 11:16. Compare: ἀνάγω, ἐπανάγω, ἀπάγω, συναπάγω, διάγω, εἰσάγω, παρεισάγω, ἐξάγω, ἐπάγω, κατάγω, μετάγω παράγω, περιάγω, προάγω, προσάγω, συνάγω, ἐπισυνάγω, ὑπάγω. Synonym: cf. Schmidt, chapter 105.)

http://concordances.org/greek/71.htm



zone wrote:

Romans 8:14
"For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."

this is such a comfort. why do people fight so hard against the assurances God Himself gives us?

thank You Lord. thank You so much for the gift of the Blessed Comforter.
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Re: Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

Post by zone on Sat Jun 02, 2012 10:05 am

[see also CIC's exposition/exegesis of "walking" in the Spirit]

look below at a few other examples of "led/ago" - do these resemble the subjective distortions: "because i'm so uber-spiritual and self-disciplined (i'm mortifying/taste not touch not handle not), i've learned how to 'walk' in the Spirit and I AM by led by the Spirit (while you 'carnal" christians who have no power are not".... the distortions of this wonderful truth by Pentecostals and other assorted (esp: american) EXPERIENTIALLY LED / assured evangelicals - (TRUTH: that God WILL absolutely lead/ago all His sons to glory)?

just look at how STRONG this "leading" is!!!


Matthew 10:18 V-FIP-2P
BIB: καὶ βασιλεῖς ἀχθήσεσθε ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ
NAS: and you will even be brought before
KJV: And ye shall be brought before
INT: and kings you will be brought on account of me
Matthew 21:2 V-AMA-2P
BIB: αὐτῆς λύσαντες ἀγάγετέ μοι
NAS: with her; untie them and bring them to Me.
KJV: loose [them], and bring [them] unto me.
INT: her having untied [them] bring [them] to me

Matthew 21:7 V-AIA-3P
BIB: ἤγαγον τὴν ὄνον
NAS: and brought the donkey and the colt,
KJV: And brought the ass, and
INT: they brought the donkey

Matthew 26:46 V-PSA-1P
BIB: ἐγείρεσθε ἄγωμεν ἰδοὺ ἤγγικεν
NAS: Get up, let us be going; behold,
KJV: Rise, let us be going: behold,
INT: Rise up let us go behold has drawn near

Mark 1:38 V-PSA-1P
BIB: λέγει αὐτοῖς Ἄγωμεν ἀλλαχοῦ εἰς
NAS: He said to them, Let us go somewhere else
KJV: unto them, Let us go into
INT: he says to them Let us go another way into

Mark 13:11 V-PSA-3P
BIB: καὶ ὅταν ἄγωσιν ὑμᾶς παραδιδόντες
NAS: When they arrest you and hand
KJV: when they shall lead [you], and deliver
INT: But when they might lead away you delivering [you] up

Mark 14:42 V-PSA-1P
BIB: ἐγείρεσθε ἄγωμεν ἰδοὺ ὁ
NAS: Get up, let us be going; behold,
KJV: Rise up, let us go; lo,
INT: Rise let us go behold he who

Luke 4:1 V-IIM/P-3S
BIB: Ἰορδάνου καὶ ἤγετο ἐν τῷ
NAS: from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit
KJV: Jordan, and was led by the Spirit
INT: Jordan and was led by the

Luke 4:9 V-AIA-3S
BIB: Ἤγαγεν δὲ αὐτὸν
NAS: And he led Him to Jerusalem
KJV: And he brought him to
INT: he led also him

Luke 4:29 V-AIA-3P
BIB: πόλεως καὶ ἤγαγον αὐτὸν ἕως
NAS: Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow
KJV: the city, and led him unto
INT: city and led him unto

Luke 4:40 V-AIA-3P
BIB: νόσοις ποικίλαις ἤγαγον αὐτοὺς πρὸς
NAS: diseases brought them to Him; and laying
KJV: with divers diseases brought them unto
INT: with diseases various brought them to

Luke 10:34 V-AIA-3S
BIB: ἴδιον κτῆνος ἤγαγεν αὐτὸν εἰς
NAS: beast, and brought him to an inn
KJV: his own beast, and brought him to
INT: own beast brought him to

Luke 18:40 V-ANP
BIB: ἐκέλευσεν αὐτὸν ἀχθῆναι πρὸς αὐτόν
NAS: and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near,
KJV: him to be brought unto
INT: commanded him to be brought to him

Luke 19:27 V-AMA-2P
BIB: ἐπ' αὐτοὺς ἀγάγετε ὧδε καὶ
NAS: over them, bring them here
KJV: over them, bring hither, and
INT: over them bring here and

Luke 19:30 V-AMA-2P
BIB: λύσαντες αὐτὸν ἀγάγετε
NAS: sat; untie it and bring it [here].
KJV: loose him, and bring [him hither].
INT: having untied it bring [it]

Luke 19:35 V-AIA-3P
BIB: καὶ ἤγαγον αὐτὸν πρὸς
NAS: They brought it to Jesus,
KJV: And they brought him to
INT: And they led it to

Luke 22:54 V-AIA-3P
BIB: δὲ αὐτὸν ἤγαγον καὶ εἰσήγαγον
NAS: Having arrested Him, they led Him [away] and brought
KJV: him, and led [him], and
INT: moreover him they led [him away] and led

Luke 23:1 V-AIA-3P
BIB: πλῆθος αὐτῶν ἤγαγον αὐτὸν ἐπὶ
NAS: of them got up and brought Him before
KJV: of them arose, and led him unto
INT: multitude of them led him to

Luke 23:32 V-IIM/P-3P
BIB: Ἤγοντο δὲ καὶ
NAS: who were criminals, were being led away to be put to death
KJV: other, malefactors, led with him
INT: Were led and also

Luke 24:21 V-PIA-3S
BIB: ταύτην ἡμέραν ἄγει ἀφ' οὗ
KJV: this, to day is the third
INT: this day it brings from which

John 1:42 V-AIA-3S
BIB: ἤγαγεν αὐτὸν πρὸς
NAS: He brought him to Jesus. Jesus
KJV: And he brought him to
INT: he led him to

John 7:45 V-AIA-2P
BIB: τί οὐκ ἠγάγετε αὐτόν
NAS: to them, Why did you not bring Him?
KJV: have ye not brought him?
INT: why not did you bring him

John 8:3 V-PIA-3P
BIB: Ἄγουσιν δὲ οἱ
NAS: and the Pharisees brought a woman
KJV: and Pharisees brought unto him
INT: Bring moreover the

John 9:13 V-PIA-3P
BIB: Ἄγουσιν αὐτὸν πρὸς
NAS: They brought to the Pharisees
KJV: They brought to the Pharisees
INT: They bring him to

John 10:16 V-ANA
BIB: δεῖ με ἀγαγεῖν καὶ τῆς
NAS: I must bring them also,
KJV: I must bring, and they shall hear
INT: it behoves me to bring and the

.....



look at the LORD at Work here, for example! - does this sound as though the LORD has gone through all this from Creation to Cross and Resurrection, to delivering us to Glory; that He WILL absolutely DO ALL this as Jesus says below.... and yet somehow the justified Christian's feeble subjectivity in trying to "follow" some subjective inner impression will thwart His Plan?Rolling Eyes :

John 6:37
All
that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
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Re: Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

Post by zone on Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:00 pm

Walking By the Spirit

The Means by Which Christians Grow in Grace

by Ryan Habbena



Ever since the fall, humanity has been engaged in an age-old struggle against the power of sin. Sin, being defined as "both fallen humanity's state of separation from God and as a person's purposeful disobedience to God's will as evidenced in concrete thought or act,"1 is the ultimate problem of the human race. While remaining corporate, it is also a very real individual problem. We find this truth presented from virtually the beginning of the Biblical accounts. When Cain was enraged with his brother regarding the insufficiency of his own sacrifice, God informed him "sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it" (Genesis 4:7b [emphasis added]).2

Throughout the history of the church, we discover many feeble attempts to "master" sin. The Ascetics believed sin could be mastered by withdrawing from the world. Those who practiced asceticism would attempt to remove all "outside" temptations, living a life of rigid self-denial. Those who vowed to live an ascetic lifestyle found themselves just as tormented and drawn by sin as those living "in the world."

Most know of Martin Luther's "insanity" before he came to a realization of the grace of God. In his understanding of the intensity of sin, he would physically discipline himself in an attempt to overcome it. In fact, "he punished his body so severely that he later commented it was in the monk's cell that he did permanent damage to his digestive system."3 Perhaps the most amusing case of attempting to master sin through rigorous external means is that of the ascetic Simeon Stylites. He was so troubled by the people who came near the cave he dwelt that "he put up a pillar and made his home on the top of it for over thirty years."4 Regarding this man, I once heard a teacher state "The real saints were the ones who picked up after him for thirty odd years!"

Throughout the extremes noted above, a common thread is evident. All of these believed (and practiced) that sin could be mastered through rigorous external means. This is not a phenomenon that is exclusive to the past. Similar legalistic teachings are just as prevalent today. Given the extremes we encounter through all of these, a pertinent question arises: a question that is of utmost importance for all who are truly regenerate believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How does one "master" sin in this present age?

The task of this work revolves around this very question. In our struggle against sin, the Scriptures never command us to physically beat ourselves.5 Nor do they command us to retreat from the world.6 It is clear from the examples noted above that no one can successfully hide from the sinful desires of our fallen humanity. However, the Scriptures do proclaim that believers have been freed from slavery to sin and are now under the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 6:17, 8:2). Perhaps the most significant passage regarding the "how" of mastering sin is found in Galatians chapter 5: "But I say to you, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please" (Galatians5:16-17)

Therefore, the two-fold task of this work is as follows. First, we must clearly understand what this text is proclaiming, especially when Paul most significantly asserts, "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh." Second, given the generality of this command, we must explore the whole counsel of God in discovering exactly how one indeed "walks by the Spirit." When these two tasks are carefully examined, accepted, and brought into everyday life, one is well equipped to "master sin" by "walking by the Spirit."



What is "Walking by the Spirit"

Paul's epistle to the Galatians carries with it a severely admonishing tone. Many in the church at Galatia had succumbed to the dangerous teaching of the "Judaizers" - a sect that proclaimed one must rigorously follow the Old Testament law in addition to Christ in order to remain in God's favor. As a sign of this, circumcision needed to be added to the grace of Christ. For the apostle Paul, this was a departure from the only true Gospel.

In this epistle Paul attempts to correct the Galatians' perilous departure. After Paul affirms the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ and the necessity to abide in it, he turns to matters regarding Christian living. It is fairly safe to assume these Judaizers were after a stringent keeping of the Old Testament law. In Paul's discourse regarding Christian living, he declares that "life in the Spirit" is not antinomianism, a doctrine many accused the apostles of teaching.7 Rather, a "life in the Spirit" is one that seeks to obey and serve God in a profound, intensified manner

For Paul, faith in the Gospel is a necessary prerequisite for "walking by the Spirit." Thus, one must "begin" in the Spirit before "continuing" in it. Paul's overriding concern is clearly seen in the following:

You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1-3)

Paul's rhetoric is unmistakable. The Galatians, having begun in the Spirit by believing, were now seeking to mature by obeying a system that was only a shadow of things to come. Such a practice was utter "foolishness" to Paul. Therefore, in chapter 5, Paul gives the definitive answer to how one matures and obeys the true and living God: "Walk by the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh." This phrase is begun with a command (Walk by the Spirit) and finished with a promise (you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh). There are three elements in this passage we must understand in order to grasp Paul's intention. We must understand the terms "walk," "Spirit," and "flesh."

Walk - The Greek word peripateite is one of four verbs used in Galatians 5 to designate "life in the Spirit." All seek to convey a similar meaning - a lifestyle consumed by the power of the Holy Spirit. "Although this is the only place in Galatians where the word 'walk' is used in this sense, it is a common Pauline designation for one's daily conduct or lifestyle."8 Therefore, Paul is using the word "walk" in the sense of a continual lifestyle.

Spirit - To ascertain Paul's intention of the Greek word pneuma one needs to examine the context. This Greek word has a variety of possible translations: the human spirit, wind, unity, the Holy Spirit, etc. Given the context of the entire epistle and the immediate passage, Paul is clearly referring to the Holy Spirit, which empowers the regenerate believer to live a dynamic, obedient life in relationship to God.

Flesh - There has been considerable debate over the translation of the Greek word sarx, mainly stemming from the NIV translation committee's decision to translate this word "sinful nature" in many instances. While I have some reservations in accepting that word translation, overall I believe sarx, in this particular context, indeed carries the meaning of the fallen nature of humanity. Timothy George notes, "Throughout Galatians 5-6 flesh is used as an ethical term with a decidedly negative connotation. Flesh refers to fallen human nature, the center of human pride and self-willing."9 Therefore, "fulfilling the desires of the sarx" is simply equivalent to "sinning."

In light of the above observations, the meaning of Paul's command can be succinctly stated as the following: Live your life by the power of the Holy Spirit and your sinful desires will remain unfulfilled. Again, George is helpful here: "In Paul's vocabulary, to walk in the Spirit or be led by the Spirit means to go where the Spirit is going, to listen to his voice, to discern his will, to follow his guidance."10

Therefore, this text confirms it is not through external means, such as a legalistic regiment, as the Judaizers were affirming, or self-inflicting punishment, or a manipulation of one's own environment, that sin may be overcome. On the contrary, it is through the inner working of the Holy Spirit, changing the heart and purifying it in service to God, that one "does not fulfill the desires of the flesh." This does not entail, however, that we take absolutely no part in our sanctification and the mortifying of the "flesh." To be sure, it is the Holy Spirit, not our human wills, that ultimately purifies us from all unrighteousness, yet, He accomplishes this through certain and various means, in which we are called to participate.

Therefore, since we know what "walking by the Spirit" is, we must answer the question: How specifically do we "walk by the Spirit" so we do not "fulfill the desires of the flesh?" A careful reading of the Scriptures reveals three prime "devotional disciplines" that the Spirit works through in continually purifying the children of God. It is primarily through these that we engage in our "walk."

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Re: Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

Post by zone on Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:01 pm

How Does One "Walk by the Spirit"

In the day of Pentecost, after the promised Holy Spirit was poured out, the apostle Peter proclaimed: "This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 'And it shall be in the last days,' God says, 'that I shall pour out my Spirit on all mankind'" (Acts 2:17). The new discipleship community was being established. Those who believed had indeed "begun by the Spirit." With this having occurred, how were the individuals rooted in this community living in this radical new way of life?

Those who believed and were included in this new discipleship community did not remain passive. On the contrary, after Peter gave his Pentecost address, it is written that "those who had received his word were baptized . . . they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:41,42 [emphasis added]). Having "begun with the Spirit" these were indeed "continuing in Spirit." In the above, three devotional disciplines are clearly presented: Feeding upon the Word of God, Practicing Prayer, and Devotion to Christian Fellowship.11 It is through devotion to these, I will argue, that one fulfills the heart of the command: Walk by the Spirit.


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Re: Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

Post by zone on Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:02 pm

Feeding Upon the Word of God

"Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). The word of God is proclaimed as spiritual nourishment for all those who believe. The Scriptures testify that the Holy Spirit is active in fueling the believer with power and growth through the word He inspired. "Like newborn babes," exhorts Peter, "long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation" (1 Peter 2:2 [emphasis added]).

The Scriptures must be read with an awareness and dependence upon the Holy Spirit. There is indeed an objective nature to the reading of the Scriptures. However, we must be careful, lest we divorce the necessity of illumination when the Scriptures are read by an open heart and mind. The great 19th century preacher, Charles Spurgeon has noted:

It is one of the peculiar offices of the Holy Spirit to enlighten His people. He has done so by giving us His inspired Word, but the Book is never spiritually understood by anyone apart from the personal teaching of its great Author. You may read it as much as you will and never discover the inner and vital meaning unless your soul is led into it by the Holy Ghost Himself. You may have done well to learn the letter of truth, but you still need the Spirit of God to make it the light and power of God to your soul.12

This illumination is presented in John 16:13: "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth." These were the words spoken by Jesus to His disciples, yet they also have significant meaning for all that believe. R. Kent Hughes notes regarding this verse: "The Holy Spirit guides us into 'all truth.' We will grow as he further illuminates the Scriptures to us. That does not mean we will have all knowledge regarding the sciences, but we will be taken deeper and deeper into the essential truth about God and Christ and eternal life and our souls."13

The Scriptures should never be divorced from the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit. He has inspired and brought illumination to the significance and power of the Scriptures. When one devotes oneself to the Scriptures, with a keen awareness and dependence upon the Holy Spirit, the believer will be equipped and upheld by His powerful working through the inspired word.

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Re: Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

Post by zone on Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:03 pm

The Practice of Prayer

Prayer is clearly and directly commanded in Scripture: "Devote yourselves to prayer" (Colossians 4:2). Prayer is simply communication with God, and is practiced through a variety of means: petition, thanksgiving, praise, worship, intercession, etc. The Holy Spirit is especially active in this endeavor. Not only are we commanded to pray, we are commanded to pray "in the Spirit" (Jude 20, Ephesians 6:18). Praying in the Spirit "seems to indicate a deep, free, and intensive time of prayer, when the Spirit takes over and controls and leads the prayers."14

Scripture affirms the special presence and activity in the believer's endeavor of prayer, for "we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Romans 8:26). Therefore, prayer is a devotion in which we are commanded to participate, as the Holy Spirit comes beside us, both inspiring us towards communication with God15 and interceding "for the saints according to the will of God" (8:27b). As we, by the Spirit's inspiration, devote ourselves to communication with God, the Holy Spirit actively works by interceding, comforting, sanctifying, and protecting in ways our finite minds are not able to grasp.


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Re: Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

Post by zone on Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:04 pm

The Blessings of Christian Fellowship

Christ has established the church as a community. The benefits of being in Christ not only entail participating in the eternal relationship of the Trinity, but also fellowship with other believers. Contemporary Evangelical culture often centers on the individual nature of faith and practice. While individual, daily worship and service are indeed a characteristic of a healthy spiritual life, it is incomplete without belonging to a local fellowship of believers. There needs to be devotion to Christian fellowship.

The Holy Spirit is active in a special way "wherever two or three are gathered" in the name of Christ. In Old Testament Israel, the Temple was where God's special presence resided: within the "Holy of Holies." However, it is now in the collective hearts of His children where His special presence resides through the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul proclaims, "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" Here Paul is not referring to a believer's physical body as God's temple, but rather the community of believers. The Greek word for "you" in this verse is in the plural. It is in this fellowship where God's Spirit dwells in a special and powerful way.

The benefits of Christian fellowship are numerous. It is in this community setting where we worship, hear the word of God, corporately pray, serve God and others through our spiritual gifts, and remember Christ's death through the Lord's Supper. In all these things the Holy Spirit is working powerfully: conforming believers, both individually and corporately, into the image of Christ and the triune God.

By devoting oneself to Christian fellowship, a believer is engulfed in activities where the Spirit is actively working. In fact, in the New Testament, when members of the church are placed out of fellowship for disciplinary reasons, they are said to be "delivered unto Satan."16 They had been removed from God's sphere of safety present within the church. Being plugged into a body of true believers offers protection from our spiritual enemy and the temptations of this fallen world. Clearly, therefore a devotion to pure fellowship protects and edifies the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Re: Led by The Spirit - Romans 8:14

Post by zone on Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:05 pm

Conclusion

A pure devotion to these disciplines was prevalent in the new discipleship community after the Spirit was poured out on Pentecost. It is clear the Holy Spirit is especially active throughout all of these devotions, conforming the individual and the community into the image of Christ and the triune God. Thus, devoting oneself to these will result in an "ever-increasing walk" intoxicated with the Spirit of God. As a result there will indeed be an "ever-decreasing fulfillment" of the desires of the flesh.17

In his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald S. Whitney has noted:

Discipline without direction is drudgery. But the Spiritual Disciplines are never drudgery as long as we practice them with the goal of Godliness. If your picture of a disciplined Christian is one of a grim tight-lipped, joyless half-robot, then you've missed the point. Jesus was the most disciplined Man who ever lived and yet the most joyful and passionately alive. He is our Example of discipline.18

As we seek to walk by the Spirit, we must not lose sight of the ultimate goal. The goal is not to focus on the devotional disciplines themselves, but rather through them be brought into a deeper relationship with our Savior. The ultimate goal is to be conformed into His image, for His glory. While we walk by the Spirit, "let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2 NIV).


http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue60b.htm

Issue 60 - September/October 2000
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