Romans 8:14

Romans 8:14 — For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

led — implies cooperation with the one doing the leading — "walk after the Spirit" (verse 4).

they — emphatic, they and none other

sons — refers to the dignity of the position and the moral character consistent with it.

The filling of the Spirit isn't automatic for Christians. It is a goal to be obtained by grace through faith as we allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit.

  • And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
  • For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law (Galatians 5:17-18).

There are two families and two fatherhoods in this world. We were once in the foul family of Adam, and we are now declared to be the sons of the living God through the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit. We have been made partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4); we have been made alive who were once dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). We who were once children of the darkness are now made children of the light (Ephesians 5:8). We who were once children of wrath, children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2-3), are now the objects of the divine affection, and are children of His love, and children of faith and obedience. We are, in short, children of God. — Donald Grey Barnhouse, God's Heirs, page 65.

To put it simply:

  1. In the past, fellowship with God depended upon obedience to the Law.
  2. In the present dispensation, grace and faith are elevated to their highest place. Grace provides the needed help of the Holy Spirit, and this help is appropriated by faith. we are neither simply commanded to obey God, nor does the Holy Spirit arbitrarily take control and "cause" us to obey. Rather God's people enjoy fellowship with Him as they yield themselves to the leading of the Spirit.
  3. In the future, when our Lord reigns on earth, the Holy Spirit will control the people of God and "cause" them to obey His will (Ezekiel 36:24-27). C. R. Stam, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, page 191.
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