Yesterday, I preached Romans 8:14 in our series through Romans. As we’ve noted already, the eighth chapter of Romans is a commentary on the ministry of the Holy Spirit and much of that ministry is centered upon the assurance of salvation. One of the great threats to joy and traps of discouragement in life is the lack of assurance that many people struggle with as they pass through this evil world. Some of that lack of assurance is because of struggles with sin and yet others are merely the ongoing attacks of the ancient enemy of God—the devil. In this one verse, we learn how to have assurance as believers.
Mortification of Sin Produces Assurance
Paul writes, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” The word translated led comes from the Greek term “ἄγω” which means,
“To direct the movement of an object from one place to another.” In Luke 4:40 the text says that people “brought” all those who had diseases and sicknesses to Jesus to be healed. This is the same word translated led in Romans 8:14. It implies movement. To be a Christian will involve movement and this movement known as sanctification involves waging war with sin.
Notice the connection between 13 and 14 as we see the connection language of “For” by Paul which is being used as a hinge. In other words, everyone who is led by the Spirit of God will be able to overcome sin and will be engaged in the mortification of sin. This is not something we can do on our own, but as we overcome sin, it’s yet another proof that we are being led by the Spirit and empowered to victory.
Progressive sanctification is the ongoing and progressive work of the holy Spirit changing from one degree to another—an ongoing spiritual growth that results in spiritual maturity—causing us to become more conformed to the image of Christ than the world. We see this language of sanctification and holiness all throughout the New Testament (1 Thess. 4:7-8; 1 Cor. 9:27; 1 John 4:4; Heb. 10:23). In other words, if you are not pursuing holiness and overcoming sin as a result of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, you don’t have a right to call yourself a Christian. In such a case, you should lack assurance.
The New Birth Produces Assurance
In all of our study of salvation, we must not forget that the work of salvation is a work of our triune God. As we study the Trinity, we must not forget that the Holy Spirit himself is God. He is no less God than the Son, nor is he less God than the Father. He is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son—never created and will never cease to be God.
- In Job 33:4 – The Breath of Almighty
- In Psalm 51:12 – The Generous Spirit
- In Psalm 143:10 – The Good Spirit
- In Psalm 51:11 – The Holy Spirit
- In Isaiah 11 – The Spirit of Wisdom, counsel, might, understanding, knowledge, and fear.
- In Hebrews 9:14 – The Eternal Spirit
- In Hebrews 10 – The Spirit of Grace
- In John 14 and 15 – The Comforter
- In 1 Peter 4 – The Spirit of Glory
- In Revelation 1 – The Seven-Fold Spirit
- In Romans 8:9 – The Spirit of Christ
One of the great errors of many within religious circles – even many within evangelical circles – is to place a hyper-focus upon the Holy Spirit. When we read the New Testament, we find that his ministry is to lead us to Christ—not to himself. Therefore, the overarching ministry of the Spirit is to direct us to Christ in the pages of the Bible (2 Pet. 2:21) and to draw us by his work of conviction to a place of repentance and faith. We see this language of being called to salvation throughout the New Testament in verses such as:
- called to fellowship with the Son (1 Cor. 1:9)
- called to inherit a blessing (1 Pet. 3:9)
- called to freedom (Gal. 5:13)
- called to peace (1 Cor. 7:15)
- called to holiness (1 Thess. 4:7)
- called to a worthy walk (Eph. 4:1)
- called to one hope (Eph. 4:4)
- called to eternal life (1 Tim. 6:12)
The work of salvation is not a work of our human will. It’s a work of God’s saving grace. It is the work of the Spirit who causes us to be born again. After the new birth, we leave behind a life of slavery to sin and walk in obedience and submission to our new Master—Jesus Christ. We become slaves of righteousness. It’s the work of the Spirit to lead us and guide us to truth and to correct us of error.
As we live the life of a Christian, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us and leading us, and the Spirit leads us to identify with God’s people in the church. Notice the language Paul uses in Romans 8:14, “sons of God.” That’s family language which implies that we are apart of God’s family. We have brothers and sisters in the faith—God is our Father—we are his sons and daughters. Therefore, we need one another and God never intended for anyone to journey alone. One of the evidences that you are a “son” or “daughter” of God is that you love the church! We are called to love the church, serve the church, forgive one another in the church, and encourage one another in the church.
Love the Church
- Romans 12:10 – Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
- 1 Peter 1:22 – Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart
- 1 John 3:23 – And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
- 1 John 4:7 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Serve the Church
- Galatians 5:13 – For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Forgive One Another
- Ephesians 4:3 – eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Encourage One Another
- Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works
Are you plagued with fears and doubts regarding your salvation? Ask yourself a couple of very important questions as you examine your own soul. Do you have evidence that the Spirit of God is causing you to hate sin and to fight against it? Do you have a love for the church of Jesus Christ? If this is not true of you—you may simply have religion, but your religion apart from genuine faith in Jesus Christ is empty and vain.
If you’re not a Christian today—why not come to Jesus in repentance admitting that you’ve sinned against God and that you need his love and mercy and forgiveness through Christ?
If you desire to be a Christian – it’s God who works in you such a desire. Respond to him – call upon the Lord even now. He loves to save sinners.