The spirit of sonship

Daily RSS Feed


How do you feel about God as Father? And why?

Image of the day

Bible reading: Romans 8:1–17

Romans 8

Life Through the Spirit
 1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

 5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

 9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

 12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

Explore the Bible


In first-century Rome an affluent adult would often adopt a young boy, often a slave (girls were adopted in rare situations), to become their son. Adoption was a public act before witnesses, acknowledging the end of an old life and the beginning of a new one.

This new son’s life was forever changed. He received a new status, a new security, new responsibilities and duties, a new family, and an inheritance. Unlike a biological son, the adopted child could never be disowned; he had permanent access to the father. 

A new beginning

Paul articulates his message to the Roman believers using this image of adoption. It’s an illustration that can inform our lives, too. Our heavenly Father has taken the initiative to adopt us into his family (vs 14,15), and has set us free from the fear that enslaves us (v 15). Our old lives are over; we have a new beginning.

We can never be forgotten, discarded or rejected, because we have been adopted. We have a new security; we have a new family in our community of believers. We have new responsibilities and duties as the Father commissions us onward; and we have an inheritance (v 17; see also 1 Peter 1:4).

God is our Father; we don’t just believe in him, we belong to him. Not on account of what we have done, but on account of who he is. We’re adopted.


‘Heavenly Father, show me what it means to be your child, adopted into your family.’

Deeper Bible study

The way our inner disposition controls the way we live is a regular theme in the Bible (see, eg, Jeremiah 31:33,34; Ezekiel 36:25,26). Paul again offers two contrasting lifestyles (vs 5–8). Note how he connects people’s way of life to their underlying way of thinking. The word translated ‘mind’ (vs 5–7) indicates the direction of a person’s will, or their ‘mind-set’ (Ephesians 5:17). The convictions of our hearts will steer the course of our lives.

So, says Paul, having the mind-set of the Spirit will enable the believer who already lives in the Spirit (v 9) to live according to the Spirit (v 4b). If I truly want to please God, I need to nurture a disposition of heart and mind that is both Spirit-led and Spirit-filled. That challenges me to ask, ‘what am I filling my mind with?’ If I am serious about growing in the Christian life, am I seeking to fill my mind with spiritual food? Do I engage with Scripture? Do I really seek God in prayer? This isn’t optional – we have an obligation to live in a Spirit-guided way (v 12; eg Ephesians 4:22–24).

Paul wants us to know the assurance of ‘no condemnation’ (v 1) while also heeding the warning of verse 13. We need this balance in our lives. ‘Security without responsibility breeds passivity, but responsibility without security leads to anxiety.’1 If the Spirit is truly present in our lives, we will produce fruit, but the Spirit does not do his work without our response, and we can only do this through the Spirit (Galatians 5:16,17,25).

We are the dearly-loved children of the King of the universe! We will never be rejected. If we really understand this, how can we not break out in amazed praise (vs 15,16)? And what a motivation to put to death the misdeeds of the body (v 13)!

1 Moo, Encountering the Book of Romans, p258

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

1 Kings 16,17

Psalms 58,59


Listen to today's podcast on the WordLive website or subscribe to get them automatically delivered to you each week.

Tags: Podcast

Join us on Facebook and Twitter

As well as bringing you great content here on the WordLive website, we're also available on your favourite social media networks. If you like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, you'll start to get WordLive content in your news feeds. Come and join us!

Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter

Podcast RSS Feed


Once again (Jesus, Christ)
Matt Redman
Copyright © 1995 Thankyou Music
Buy this and other great worship songs at

Move in our lives
Jamie Pearson and Kate Cooke
© 2010 Vineyard Records (UK/Eire)

  • Andrew McGill | Friday, 24 May 2013

    I really empathise with Paul's words about 'doing the things I should not and not doing the things I should'. Sometimes it is like we get carried along by sin and are unable to choose the right way. Maybe when we are closer to God and full of the Holy Spirit we are better able to resist sin and make good choices.

  • Carl Dorey | Friday, 24 May 2013

    I am Gods SON, WOW, I am Gods SON!!!!!!!! God has adopted sinful ME into his family! Thank you God!!!

  • Oakley Bookworm | Friday, 24 May 2013

    How wonderful to wake up and hear this GOOD NEWS!

  • Sarah Ellum | Friday, 24 May 2013

    I find the term "of the body" (v13 and elsewhere) one that allows me to excuse myself too often- does anyone know if there is a difference in the original sense of the phrase. Most of my sin is in my mind or out of my mouth - I appreciate that the passage covers this but knowing if there is another translation might give me something further to think about. By the way although it is "Good News" when you've been a Christian as long as I have sometimes I am inclined to think - why do I not see its fruit more abundantly - or even a little!

  • Rae Bigwood | Friday, 24 May 2013

    #Prepare I immediately thought of Annie's Song by John Denver ..............You fill up my senses like a night in a the mountains in spring a walk in the a storm in the a sleepy blue ocean...You fill up my senses.....Come fill me again....Come let me love you, let me give my life to you,let me drown in Your laughter,let me die in Your arms, let me lay down beside You, let me always be with You, Come let me Love You, Come Love me again

  • Derek Forster | Friday, 24 May 2013

    Sarah if you go to the portion deeper Bible study and click on the red Bible refs. and then click on show resourses you will get the help you need. It certainly has helped me.

  • Elizabeth Watts | Friday, 24 May 2013

    JB Philips says "your instinctive actions". Does that help,Sarah? (Biblegateway is a great resource!!) I heard someone say recently that a child might be conceived by accident but adoption is never by accident - it is always a deliberate action. Praise God that He CHOSE to adopt us.

  • Kirsten Bradshaw | Friday, 24 May 2013

    As a child of God I can embrace the phrase 'Abba, father' . I must be careful though; not to live a life centred on own desires, but rather the desires of the spirit.

  • Anne Glover | Friday, 24 May 2013

    Because we are adopted, we cannot be disowned. We always have access to the Father.

  • Dora Bennett | Friday, 24 May 2013

    How wonderful, how marvellous I am God's child always, forever, for eternity. I run to his sweet embrace and find myself held by his loving arms. Praise God.

  • Roger Hall | Friday, 24 May 2013

    Why do I keep sinning? I don't want to, but I do. Now, if I come to Jesus, say as I read wordlive, and confess, then the sin is gone. I don't seem able to stop, but as time goes by, I think that time spent reading Gods Word, and seeking guidance, means that I'm less inclined to do things which are sinful. However, I hope that my sin, my cofessions, will slow down. I hope! Because, as time goes by in Jesus presence, I discover more about mjyself and my motives. I know I shall never be perfect, and I need the Holy Spirit beside me all the time, because he will show me myself, and show me my saviour, and this book will live as God's word takes over. He has such a task with me."Make the book live to me oh Lord, show me Thyself within Thy Word. Show me myself, and show me my Saviour, and make the book live to me."

  • Ruth Lewis | Friday, 24 May 2013

    In God's Word, the Bible, we read that "All have sinned and come short of His Glory." When we acknowledge our sins before our HeavenlyFather, and repent He forgives us and wipes our slate clean, just as we never had sinned.

My Comments

Please login to make a comment