Spirit Of Sonship. Spirit Of Warfare.

Once upon a time there was this little boy who was growing up in a horrid home situation. His parents were abusive to one another and to him. They were cooking Meth, shooting up heroin, engaged in sexual perversions, and living in squalor. They neglected him and left him for days at a time to fend for himself. The outlook for his life was bleak at best. As he grew up, this was the only life he knew. He thought that this was the way that life was to be lived. Consequently, he adopted this way of life for himself, following the pattern of his parents who had, by the culture they developed in the home, developed this way of thinking and living in him. He knew nothing else.

One day a man and his wife learned of the situation and decided to try to help the boy. The biological parents objected strongly (as parents in these situations are sometimes prone to do even though they don’t care at all for the child). However, the child saw something in this man and his wife that was attractive. He wanted to be a part of their family.

Arrangements were made, and, at great expense, the young boy was adopted by the man and his wife. His new life was beautiful. He was treated with great love. Life wasn’t always easy because his parents required discipline from him, but it was incomparably better than it was before. His new parents provided for him richly, not only with food, clothing, and shelter, but with the affection he had never known. Living as their son he would not only be provided for now but in the future. He was an heir to everything his new parents owned.

He had been rescued from a horrible situation. He was grateful. However, the ways he had learned in the years he spent in his original home were not excised easily. He constantly fought attitudes and desires that pulled him back to that old culture. He hated those ways of his biological parents, but they were also comfortable in a sick sort of way. Now, on the one hand, he felt this obligation, this debt, as it were, to his biological parents. On the other hand, he felt a debt to his adoptive parents because of the kindness and love shown to him in rescuing him. This new life was beautiful and held great promise for the future. But was this what he really wanted?

If he goes back to his old way of living, he is forsaking his inheritance and it is certain misery and death. If he stays where he is, his future is secure and beautiful. What will he do?

I don’t know. You tell me. You are that child, Christian.

Because of our heritage in Adam, we still have a pull toward the thinking and ways of the flesh; thinking and living that questions the goodness of God’s purposes and commandments and wants to go in the opposite direction. There are times we might even think that we just can’t help ourselves because we are in these bodies of death (or mortal bodies; cf. Rom 6.12). However, we are not debtors to the flesh to live after the flesh (Rom 8.12). That old flesh was crucified with Christ in baptism (Rom 6.1-11). All the debts have been paid. There is no reason to be under the sway of sin. If we adopt the old fleshly ways of living, no matter the profession of our lips, we will die (Rom 8.13). That is the fruit of allegiance to the flesh.

We are no longer debtors to the flesh, but we are debtors: debtors to God the Father, his Christ, and his Spirit. The Triune God has bound us to himself in a covenant that requires that we pay the debt of loving him with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. This love expresses itself in willingness to engage in warfare against the flesh, putting to death the deeds of the body through the power of the Spirit. This is the way of life (Rom 8.13).

Those who engage in this battle with the sinful deeds of the body manifest that the Spirit of God is truly working in them. God’s Spirit bears witness with their spirits in this way. They are desiring the same thing. They are walking in the same direction. They love the Father and the Son as the Spirit loves the Father and the Son and want nothing more than to please them with the way they are living. They want to hear, “Well done!” Those who live this way, those who are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Being led by the Spirit doesn’t mean that the battle with the deeds of the body will be easy or without pain. In fact, it means just the opposite. The children of Israel were led by the Spirit of God into the inheritance of the Promised Land, but that leading meant doing battle with giants in the land. Jesus was led (actually driven!) by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the devil. The Spirit leads us into and through battle, not around it.  The Spirit has always led God’s sons into battle. The Spirit of adoption or sonship is the Spirit of warfare.

Furthermore, there is no silver bullet that will end the battle. God has called us into a fight that ends either in the death of the deeds of the body or our own eternal death. He gives us everything that we need through the power of his Spirit, but you will have to fight day in and day out.

One day the fight will end. It may not be this day, but that day is coming. Those who have suffered with Christ in these battles will inherit glory with Christ. Our promised rest is coming. Our future is beautiful and secure in Christ Jesus. Don’t turn back to the ways of the flesh. Keep fighting!