Jun 27, 2023
The Spirit you received doesn’t make you slaves. Otherwise, you would live in fear again. Instead, the Holy Spirit you received made you God’s adopted child. By the Spirit’s power we call God Abba. Abba means Father. The Spirit himself joins with our spirits. Together they tell us that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:15,16).
In the beginning, before there was anything wrong in this world, our first parents lived without fear or shame in the Garden God had made for them. When they sinned, both shame and fear came crashing down upon them. It invaded their souls and shaped they lives. They were ashamed of their nakedness and attempted to cloth themselves. They were afraid of God when he approached them, so they attempted to hide from him.
Human history has been a sorry tale of fear and shame and hiding ever since. We ourselves are subject to the same fears and shames that afflicted Adam and Eve. Like Adam and Eve, we try to cover ourselves up. We try to pretend that we are not afraid, we can conquer everything. We pretend we are “pretty good” people, so we have nothing to be ashamed of.
But we know this is not true. We are afraid; afraid of failing; afraid of rejection. We are ashamed; ashamed of what we have done; ashamed of whom we are. But why do we try to cover up? Why do we pretend we are not afraid? Pretend we have nothing to be ashamed of? We pretend because we want to be liked. We want people to think well of us. We do not want to be left alone, friendless. We want to be accepted.
We believe that we must earn the right to be in relationship with others. Even when it comes to family, we fear we will be rejected. After all, how many people have not had that experience? There is ample evidence that the fear in our hearts is legitimate. If we only try harder, it may not happen.
For this reason, Jesus came into the world. He came to remove our shame and our fear. John wrote that to everyone who believes in Jesus, he gives “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12, 13). When Adam and Eve sinned, they were banished from the garden. This was also symbolic of their banishment from the presence of God.
Jesus came to remove that banishment. He came to make us children of God once again. This is who we are. This fact has tremendous import for us. In a world with very little security, not even in families, the fear of rejection is real. But here, says the Bible, is one thing that is guaranteed. By faith, we are children of God. Period! End of story! Nothing can take that away. Here in lies our security. God declares that we are his children. He does not go back on his word.
This is the single focus of Romans 8. The Spirit testifies to us, lest we forget, that we are God’s children (16). God knows that we are forgetful. Not only forgetful, but doubters. He knew we would not act like his children ought to, and fear of rejection would muddle our heats again. And so, the Father said to the Spirit, “Go. Live in the hearts of my children and remind them who they are.” God does not want us to forget.
God would have us live with this confidence: through faith in Jesus, we belong to Him. When ever fear enters our hearts, the Holy Spirit whispers, “Remember who you are. You will not be abandoned. You will not be left alone.”
And the church is called to be the community where this is lived out. It is the one fellowship on earth to which we belong only by faith in Christ. Nothing else matters. Do you know someone who needs reminding that in Christ they belong? Who knows, your reaching out may be the words of the Spirit for that person.