What on earth is the Holy Spirit doing Pt 2? (Apr 2020)

Three reflections on Romans 8
1. Romans 7:21-8:13
2: Romans 8:14-17
3. Romans 8:18-39

Romans 8:14-17

During the COVID crisis lots of restrictions were placed on us. Some of them were enforced! Living within these restrictions isn’t comfortable. Some people find them irksome, others find them objectionable. Some question their legality. Fortunately, very few flout them.

That’s what happened when the government called on us to submit to these restrictions.

Were we prisoners or slaves when we complied? Do we live in fear of the authorities? Maybe fear of infection, of fines or fear of running out of toilet paper, but not fear of the government. The vast majority of us could see the point of the rules and the sense in the advice we were given.

People make choices all the time. For example, they can choose between living in fear of God, his judgement and his eternity, or they can choose to pretend he does not exist and they can do what they like. As CS Lewis put it, “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right then, have it your way’.”

But there is a third option. Knowing God gave his only son to death by crucifixion and then raised him to life. And knowing, (John 3:16) God so loved us he gave his only begotten son so that as we believe in him we will not perish but have eternal life. Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

So, we receive the Holy Spirit and have an obligation to live under his leadership. But this doesn’t come naturally to us. Submission to leadership grates on us and we feel it when it impacts on our life. However, this is a very special kind of leadership.

Romans 8:14For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

We have no reason to be fearful of God. We are children of God. We have been adopted by God the Father who only knows how to love us and love us perfectly. We have a father of whom it can be truly said, “Father knows best.” He is the Father of Jesus the Son and is the same Father to us, his adopted children. Children not due to our physical birth but by being born again by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was the firstborn, the preeminent son, the first of the family to be raised from the dead.

We are adopted children of God the Father. Adopted but by no means unimportant members of the family of God. Our standing as adopted children is that of fully legal heir of God the Father. We are God’s inheritors. The presence of the Holy Spirit assures us, testifies to our spirit that the acceptance, the adoption is real, secure and eternal.

When we listen to this testimony within we are comforted, reassured and all fear is gone. It’s as if we snuggle into the embrace of Father God and our spirit cries, “Abba, Daddy, Father.”

My spirit cannot communicate with your spirit and I seem to have no idea what your spirit would want me to know. But we have the Spirit of God and this Holy Spirit communicates with our spirit. Spirit to spirit. Of course, God’s Spirit knows exactly God’s thoughts, God’s will, and at the same time he knows and understands our thoughts, our desires, our feelings – and our faults. God knows us at the deepest of deep levels. By his Spirit God can lead, guide, help, comfort, strengthen and enable us.

Jesus Christ is the first in God’s family and is therefore due to inherit the kingship of the Kingdom of God. And look! We, the adopted children are heirs and co-heirs with Christ. We inherit what Christ inherits with him as the one who rules over all. There will come a time when we, too, will reign with Christ.

I do like the picture in the Revelation that we will take great joy in laying down our crowns before the throne of Jesus in an act of praise and worship!

In the meantime, having the consolation of the Holy Spirit, having the assurance of his love and presence, knowing our eternal is safe in Jesus’ hands, we are told in Romans 8:17 that in this life we share in his suffering in order that we may also share in his glory. Being realistic, we know that we will experience suffering. Jesus told us it would happen. Here we are reminded it is part of life.

COVID driven isolation, locked down lifestyle, shopping problems could all be considered suffering but they are really more like inconveniences. Losing your job or your business and economic hardship can cause suffering. Being infected with the disease could also lead to suffering. And so does being challenged, mocked, ignored or – as it is happening in some countries – being physically beaten and losing your house or even your life because you follow Christ is certainly suffering.

However, the presence of Christ’s Spirit can empower you as he empowered Jesus, empowering him to the extent of raising him from the dead!

When Jesus gave the promise he would send his Holy Spirit the title and description given him includes calling him the “comforter”. This english word derives from two latin words; Cum and Forte. Cum forte means “with strength, with power”. In old castles a strong, easily defended stronghold was erected as an impregnable tower of defence and it was called the ‘comfort’. The Spirit of Jesus brings that sort of comfort. He comes with security, safety, strength and power. Our comforter comes with power.

Obviously those who have the Holy Spirit living in and with us have the power of the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. That’s power!

2 Timothy 1:7 tells us For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Give thanks to God for Jesus. Give thanks to God for the Holy Spirit. Pray for him to make himself real to you.