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A New Way to Live


“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” C.S. Lewis


“You are a child of God… We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.” Marianne Williamson






I enjoyed babysitting when I was a teen. I liked being with children and earning some money. I also found it interesting to see how people lived. Each house was a little different. Each parent had different guidelines for their children and babysitters.


I especially enjoyed babysitting for one family. They were incredibly kind people. Their home was calm and things were always picked up on the main floor. The father had told me that I was welcome to go to the basement, after the kids were asleep. That is where the television was set up. The basement was usually not picked up. That is one of the reasons I felt comfortable at this house. It was not perfect. Efforts had been made to create a calm, loving home and it was a work in progress — orderly and messy. It felt true to me. As we go through life, we continue to have to choose how we will live. Despite our best efforts there will always be some chaos and messiness. We have to choose what our guidelines will be.


I have recently been reflecting on Romans chapter 8. As you go through it, you can’t help but notice the two ways of life being contrasted. You can walk according to the Spirit, the ways of God, or the flesh, the ways of humanity. One scholar put it this way: If you rely on yourself, you are fighting a losing battle. If you receive the life and the power of the Spirit of Christ, you are more than conquerors. (v 37)1


With the Spirit, we find new life and become new people who can live in a new way. Paul tells us that the Spirit of Christ dwells in us. (v 9). Paul also tells us. “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 3: 20) Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, alive and at work in us, we are able to live in a new way. We are able to know that nothing can separate us from the love of God.


The way we understand the Spirit is important. The Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. The Spirit lives in fellowship with God the Father and Jesus the Son. In general, you could say that the Spirit is God’s presence in the world. In the Bible you read that the Spirit is like the wind or breath. Jesus tells us that the Spirit is our Advocate, our Comforter, our Helper. (Jn 14-17) The Spirit is love and leads to a life of love with God. Paul tells us “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Rom 5:5)


It is so much more than you may think at first glance. One church father said, “Scripture is like a pair of spectacles which dispels the darkness and gives us a clear view of God.” 2 The challenge is, we have to take off our other spectacles in order to truly see. It can be very hard to realize our own biases.


Let us enter into Romans 8 mindful of its author and his context. At that time there was a well known legal custom. The first born son was the heir. He received the largest share of the family wealth and carried on the family name. Not only that, your identity was shaped by your family. Sons would go on to do and become what their fathers were. The son of a farmer would become a farmer. The son of a fisherman would become a fisherman. Jesus himself, was known as the carpenter’s son. (Mt 13:55) His earthly father was a carpenter and Jesus went on to work as a carpenter before he began his ministry.


In Ancient Rome, if you had gotten on in years, and you did not have a son, you adopted a son. It was a legal procedure. Upon adoption, the sons’s debts were paid, he received a new name and was instantly the heir of all the adopted father had. Sonship was a status; an identity.


This is where we need to take off our modern day spectacles. This is where we want to be careful not to let our understanding of gender and equality get in the way of what Paul is trying to say because it is quite striking! It helps to know what he has already taught others. He told the church in Galatia, with Christ, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28-29)


With that in mind, look at what he tells us: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are ‘huioi’ ”. This is the word that is used in the original text. This word is used in Romans 8:14,15, and 19. It is best translated “sons”. All are sons of God. More specifically, adopted sons of God. (v15) Paul is taking a common practice of his day and using it to explain who we are in Christ. It’s striking because in Christ, we all are adapted as sons of God - the Jew and the Greek, the slave and the free, the male and the female. The point here is status. In Christ, like the first born son of Paul’s day, we are all children and heirs. Paul emphasizes this by also using the word “teknon”,3 meaning children. (v16,17,21) All who believe in Christ have the Spirit of God dwelling in you (v 9) and receive a spirit of adoption (v15) — both male and female are adopted sons and children of God. (Jn 1:12)


Jesus told a parable that helps us see what kind of Father God is.(Lk 15:11-32) In the story of the prodigal son, the younger son of the family, asked for his share of his inheritance early. He left his home and squandered it. At one point he found himself working as a pig feeder. He realized even the pigs were better off than he was. No one gave him anything to eat. He realized even his father’s hired hands were provided for and living a better life than he was. He decided to go back to his father. He practiced what he would say, “Father I have sinned against heaven and before you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”


He set off to return home. But while he was still far off, his Father saw him. He ran out to the boy and put his arms around him and kissed him. The son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But before he could share the rest of the message he wanted to say, the Father lavished him with love and prepared a great celebration. The prodigal son wanted to be accepted as a servant. The Father loved him and welcomed him as a son.


As a beloved son or daughter of God, adopted as his own child, we need not fear (v15). We can rest assured. (v16). We can call out to God - Abba, Father 4 (v15)


C.S. Lewis writes, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” When you know that God loves you and claims you as his very own son or daughter, it can move you to live in a different way. (Eph 5:15, 18b) You can set your mind on things above. (Rom 8:6, Col 3:2) You can be guided by love and live loved as a beloved son or daughter.


Those led by the Spirit are children of God. (v 14) God our Father is always looking out for you and ready to embrace you as His own.


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1 F.F. Bruce, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Romans

2 John Calvin, Institutes I.VI.I

3 You may find that your translation of the Bible renders the word “huioi” as “children”.

4 Abba is the Aramaic word for Father used by Jews to this day. Jesus called out in prayer to God saying Abba. The significance of being able to call out to God as our Father is emphasized here but using both the Aramaic and Greek words — “Abba, Father.”


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