How do you see yourself?

The answer to that question affects our attitudes, actions, responses and reactions to life’s circumstances. If we see ourselves as the helpless victim of Satan and his schemes, we will likely live like his victims and be in bondage to Satan’s lies. If we see ourselves as children of God, we will likely live like children of God. In order to live like a child of God, we need a firm grip on God’s Word. We need to understand who we are as a result of who God is and what he has done. The only way we can gain this understanding is to consider the work of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, also known as the Trinity.

There are many mysteries in the Christian faith, one of which has to do with the nature of God. How can we understand God who is described in the Bible as both the one true God and the God we know as Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Today, Trinity Sunday, is the one Sunday when we consider this important part of the church’s doctrine, instead of considering a teaching or message from Jesus.

Believers are debtors who have to share the Gospel with the world and live righteous lives. They are responsible to live according to the Spirit instead of the flesh. No one can destroy the flesh in this life, but they can destroy the deeds of the flesh. The indwelling of the Spirit gives people the ability to kill the corrupt deeds that once defined them, thereby enabling them to taste a life that won’t perish.

Following the Holy Spirit’s leadership is proof that we are children of God. For believers, conviction of sin and a pattern of repentance are assurance of our salvation. Two effects confirm that someone has been released from fear into sonship: adoption and an ability to call God “Father.” The Spirit of adoption provides release from the spirit of bondage. Slavery to sin leads to fear. The Spirit delivers us from fear and does not take us back to it again.

God does not punish us for our fears. Instead, he redirects our attention to him. He wants us to turn from fear to faith. He wants us to turn away from anything that feeds our fears and focus on him. Paul invites us to imagine a life of courage, the courage of those who have been adopted by God and invited into the full measure of God’s blessing and riches.

Christ and fellow believers sanctify us, but we have to take an active role in battling sinful habits. We are freed from sin’s slavery and are adopted as children of Christ’s family. We do not have to fight this battle alone. The Holy Spirit will show us the way and give us the tools that we will need.

The Christian walk won’t be easy. Following Jesus won’t mean a life that is free from trouble. In fact, it will often lead to more problems and struggles. Some of the most committed Christians have lived some of the most difficult lives. Some of them paid a heavy price. Some of them even died because of their faith. The Bible even tells us to expect problems and to be joyful when we face them. With Christ, we can do that. Without Christ, we will fail.

We can learn from suffering. We must not be angry or bitter. We should look at our suffering as a way to become more intimate with Christ. We should use that time to sense his love and compassion. We should use the time to grow to trust him and grow closer to him.

Every time people pray and call God “Father,” the Holy Spirit does the same thing. That is dual evidence of sonship. Sonship does not rest alone on one’s changing spirit for affirmation. The affirmation of sonship rests on the unchanging testimony of the Holy Spirit. The rewards of sonship are being children and heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. An heir has not yet received his inheritance, but expects to receive it in the future. The biblical idea of an heir implies possession and enjoyment in the future.

We are heirs of God’s kingdom, but that does not mean we will inherit it like we would inherit something when a loved one dies. Our heavenly inheritance means that we are in a privileged position as a result of our place in God’s family. Our hope for growth, meaning and fulfillment as a member of God’s family is based on our understanding of who we are as a member of God’s family. That understanding will greatly determine how we live our lives.

We have certain obligations as a member of God’s family, just like we have obligations in our earthly families. One of the obligations we have as a member of God’s family is to use his gifts to fulfill the Great Commission. One day we will be judged for what we’ve done with what we’ve been given. If we use God’s gifts for God’s purposes, we will be rewarded for this choice.

The Holy Spirit is a gift from God for all of us. It can’t be bought or sold. Because the Spirit is in us and because we have access to the mind of God, we have an obligation to allow the Spirit to do good deeds on our behalf. We will become more like Jesus and share the blessings that are due him. We also gain practical benefits:

  1. Everyday leading from God.
  2. Fearless intimacy with God.
  3. Assurance of belonging to God.
  4. A continual reminder of our value before God.

All we have to do is let the Spirit be spiritual within us. When we do, we will start to understand God’s grace.

God is not a distant ruler. He is up close and personal; therefore, our unconditional faith in God the Father is taken seriously. That Spirit bears witness to our faith, and that faith is created when we accept Jesus (also known as God the Son) as our Lord and Saviour. God spared no expense to save us from a life of slavery to sin. God will stop at nothing to make us his own. He pursues us relentlessly until we are completely adopted into his family.

When we die with Christ, we are one with him in his death, but our sufferings are not meaningless. We suffer so that we can share his glory. The path to suffering is the path to glory. We must “mind” the things of the Spirit rather than those of the flesh. We must choose to walk with the Spirit instead of walking with the flesh. This can be hard for us to do when we are not faced with difficulties that challenge us. We can become so comfortable with our lives that we don’t see the need to deepen our spiritual lives. Christ’s grace allows us to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to put to death our earthly, sin-filled lives.

Paul did not outline what the things of the flesh and the Spirit are, but it appears that he was thinking of the presence of the Spirit within the believer. When the believer constantly thinks of the Spirit, it impacts a believer’s thinking. If we think of the Spirit of truth constantly, it will take us exactly where we need to go and help us to reach our maximum potential in life. In Paul’s mind, Jesus’ radical message was that Christ’s love offered belonging and forgiveness, and goodness would flow from our new relationship with God because love creates love, not fear of disobedience. The doing of righteousness is a work of the Holy Spirit. God’s law is realized in the life of a believer through the direct and personal intervention of Christ.

We are proof of Christianity. We are proof that God saves lives and that the Spirit changes them completely. The Spirit lives in us and gives us faith when we don’t have any. We have a choice. We can accept the Spirit and live a new life in Christ, or we can continue living our sin-filled, earthly lives.

The power of sin dwelling within us prevents us from doing what is good and right in spite of our best intentions. The solution to this problem is the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. A mind that is set on our earthly lives separates us from God and his Spirit. If we reject Christ, we condemn ourselves to an eternity in hell. If we accept Christ, we will be with him in heaven for eternity. Where would you prefer to live?

Bibliography

 

  • Jeremiah, Dr. David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013)
  • Swindoll, Charles R.: Swindoll’s New Testament Insights on Rome (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan; 2010)
  • ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 10 Bible software package.
  • Morris, L.: The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Erdmans; Inter-Varsity Press; 1988)
  • Briscoe, D.S. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 29: Romans (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982)
  • Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, NKJV (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2015)
  • Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “Fear Turned Into Sin.” Retrieved from my devotional@leadingtheway.org
  • Stephen Davey, “Evidence From Within.” Retrieved from Christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com
  • Neil Anderson, “Following our shepherd.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
  • Rick Renner, “Is the Holy Spirit ‘Tugging’ at Your Heart Today?” Retrieved from Christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com
  • Steve Arterburn, “Struggle.” Retrieved from Christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com
  • Steve Arterburn, “Learning Through Suffering.” Retrieved from Christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com
  • Pastor Rick Warren, “The Power of Eternal Thinking.” Retrieved from connect@newsletter.purposedriven.com
  • Neil Anderson, “Understand Who You Are.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
  • Neil Anderson, “How We Perceive Ourselves.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
  • Neil Anderson, “A Solid Belief System.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
  • Pastor Dave Risendal, “The Feast of the Holy Trinity.” Retrieved from donotreply@wordpress.com

 

    1. Audrey West, “Commentary on Romans 8:12-17”. Retrieved from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1343
    2. Elisabeth Johnson, “Commentary on Romans 8:12-17”. Retrieved from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=321
    3. William Loader, “First Thoughts on Year B Epistle Passages from the Lectionary: Trinity.” Retrieved from http://www.staff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/BEpTrinity.htm 

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