Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered May 8, 2004 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Romans: One Life to Live

Romans 8:12-17

We only have one life to live. It had better be lived right, and don't want to live as a child of only earthly parents. I also want to be a child of the King. And we can be.

One day I noticed a monster poison ivy vine that was growing on a very large oak tree. The vine grew on every side of the trunk and was dangling way out in the air making the tree look twice as large as it was. I thought, "That poor tree! That vine is going to suffocate that tree. I had better do something." So, I got my ax, and that poison ivy at the base of the tree was as thick as my arm. I chopped a two-inch section out of that poison ivy. And I just know that somewhere down in the fibrous woody heart of that tree it was thankful for what I did. In much the same way the grace of God through Christ has cut the power of sin from our lives. We need to respond to His salvation with joy and thankfulness.

The Bible says that we are in major debt. You want to look in Romans 8. Jesus died to completely pay for our sins, so we own Him everything. We have a lot of debts. You may have thought, "Well, I have my house paid for, and everything is paid for." No, you're in major debt. The least we can do is not live the old life of sin. Romans 8:12, Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. You owe it to the Lord to live a holy clean life because He saved you.

We don't have to give in to that old sinful nature. Through the power of Jesus, He can uplift you. He has cut you free from the power of sin. We are debtors. Salvation comes first, and then the debt.

That's how it is with God's law. Before God ever gave the law, what did He do first? He delivered the Israelites from Egypt. The deliverance came first and the came the law. Not until the Israelites were rescued from Egypt did God give the written law. That's alway the way it is in the Bible. Love precedes rules and regulations. Genesis 20:2 tells of the rescue and verse 3tells of the law. I think every time we choose to hang the ten commandments up on our wall, we ought to precede them with Exodus 20: 2. This will remind us of the great deliverance because mercy always precedes responsibility. You have no right to spank a child unless you have loved that child first and have spent time with that child and you have a relationship with that child.

We are debtors because we have been saved. Let's utilize the new life that God provides for us. Romans 8:13, For 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 We need to put them to death. I heard Paul Harvey this week speaking of a problem they have Japan. They've been burying a lot of people alive, and they're seriously considering legislation to put a panic button on the inside of the casket so that if you are alive you can push that button and it will recall the grave diggers. They've had a big problem with that. Romans 8:13 says that we must mortify the deeds of the flesh. We need to put them to death. We are morticians! A mortician needs to make sure the person is dead. That ought to be one responsibility of a good mortician I would think. Mortification is our obligation. We are to mortify the deeds. We are to put to death the passions and sinful desires of your sinful nature.

We can't do it alone. The Holy Spirit has to help us. And He will help us to have the resoluteness and strength to reject sinful behavior. You see, the battle is in your thoughts. Romans 13:14 - Rather clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. The battle is in the thoughts.

    Why must you "practice mortification?
  1. Because you have an obligation (Romans 8:12).
  2. Because those who do "Shall Live" the rich life here on this earth if they do.
- (Knight p. 203 Romans 8:13)

Now, Paul shows us exactly how we enter the family of God. There are three steps:

(1) We are directed by the Holy Spirit

Rom 8:14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Are you led by the Spirit? There is a story of a certain old guide who lived in the deserts of Arabia. There was and every where and he could get out in the middle of the desert and would always find his way back home. It didn't matter if he was in the middle of a sandstorm or what. People asked, "How do you do it?" He just had an uncanny sense. What he did was keep a homing pigeon on a little light line. When in doubt as to which path to take, he threw the bird into the air. The pigeon quickly strained at the cord to fly in the direction of home, and thus led the guide accurately to his goal. He could always find his way home. Because of this unique practice he was known as "the dove man." We ought to be "Dove people." We ought to follow the Dove, Holy Spirit. So, too, the Holy Spirit, the heavenly Dove, is willing and able to direct us in the narrow way that leads to the abundant life if in humble self-denial we submit to His leading.

Are you guided by the Holy Spirit? Are you Guided by the Heavenly Dove? The church deserves leaders who themselves are led by the Holy Spirit. At our nominating committee we should choose leaders based on spirituality not fame or popularity. It shouldn't be, "Now who can I think of." It should be "Who is the spiritual person I would like to represent this church on that committee?" Not fame nor popularity, but are we led by the Spirit?

If you are led by the Spirit then the Bible says You are a son of God - Verse 14. Praise the Lord for that. So, I have a question: Doesn't the Holy Spirit lead everybody? We don't all follow His leading. But He does lead for all. So, does this mean that everybody is a son or daughter of God? NO! We must accept Jesus. John 1:12- Yet to all who received Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. You must be led of the Holy Spirit and you must receive that guidance and receive Jesus, even those who believe on His name. So, how do we enter God's family?

(2) We are Desired

God wants us. Not just as a friend or acquaintance, but God loves us so much that He wants us as a part of His very own family. He wants us so much He wants us to be His child. We are chosen and accepted as sons and daughters of God. Romans 8:14 - those who are led of the Holy Spirit are the children of God.

How do we become children of God? Ephesians 1:4,5 (New Jerusalem Bible) Thus He chose us in Christ before the world was made to be holy and faultless before Him in love, marking us out for Himself beforehand, to be adopted sons, through Jesus Christ. We must be adopted. This is also mentioned in Romans 8:5. We become children of God by being adopted. If you are not that person's child, and that person wants you as their child, that person must adopt you. You have to be adopted. In Bible times the Roman adoption was quite complicated. Roman Fathers had absolute power over their family. They even had the power of life and d death. And you never out-grew that power until your daddy died. Not until the father died did a Roman son escape this life and death control. An adopted son came fully under this power. There were five steps to adoption in the Roman culture that Paul is speaking of here:

  1. The lad and the new dad must both be willing.
  2. The lad would be purchased, usually with copper.
  3. The boy would lose all rights to his old family. All that would be cut loose.
  4. The boy would become a co-heir with all other sons.
  5. The boy's old life was obliterated. All debt was cancelled, the past was eradicated.
To be legal there must be seven witnesses.

Paul links the adoption process with joining the family of God. The Holy Spirit is the witness- Romans 8:16. In our past we were under the full control of the sinful human nature. But in the future we will be under the full control of our new Heavenly Father. He has life and death control over us. So, what are the steps?

  1. God is willing, but are you willing to be His son? You have to be willing.
  2. Jesus did purchase us with an exceedingly great price... far more than copper.
  3. The Old life has no more hold on the Christian. The past is gone. The past is wiped out, All sin is forgiven, all debt is cancelled. The old family is gone. Jesus said: Matthew 19:29 "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." The past has to be gone and then you will become a child of the King.
  4. The new Christian becomes a full brother to Jesus with full equal rights. He is a full heir to all of the family riches or the family pain. If Christ had to suffer we inherit suffering. Jesus received eternal life. We sons and daughters will also be heirs to eternal glory. You become an heir. You inherit eternal life.
  5. 5 We become a brand new person with a new heart and a new life.

1 Corinthians 15:50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. You've got to inherit it. You can't earn it. It's going to be given to you in your Father's will. We need the new life. We must become a new person. Are you a son or daughter of God? God is willing to adopt you, but are you ready to follow him?

Matthew Henry went to London and he met a young lady of the nobility, who was also wealthy. and they fell in love. She went to her father and said, "I'd like to marry this man." Her father said, "We really don't want you to do it. We don't know Matthew Henry. He's got no past, no background. We you don't know where he's come from." She said, "Yes, I know that, but I do know where he's going and I want to go with him." I will tell you that we know where God is going, don't we. And we want to go with Him.

God wants you to be His child, He wants you to be His family. You will never be disappointed.

How do you know if you are a daughter or son of God? One verification is if you are cooperating with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You are following where He is leading you. God loves to guide his children. He led the Israelites in the wilderness by fire at night and a cool cloud in the day. Even a small child could follow that pillar of fire.

You might think, "Well, I'm not being guided by the Holy Spirit so I must not be one of His children." Well, you probably are being guided by the Spirit and you might not realize it. We quench His still small voice by not providing a daily quiet time with Jesus. If you don't provide that, you're quenching that voice. You quench that still small voice if you don't spend daily time with the Word of God. You quench that voice if you don't spend time on your knees praying to the Lord on a regular basis. We repress his leading. It's not that He's not leading, it's that we are quenching the Holy Spirit. Let's not do that.

The Holy Spirit will lead you to God. He'll lead you all the way to heaven if you don't resist. You're going to be saved if you don't repress the leading of the Holy Spirit. Look at Romans 8:15 - For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship (adoption - KJV). And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

"Abba". Is that a word in your vocabulary? Abba means Daddy or Papa. It is an Aramaic term that would be used by a small child in complete trust of her daddy. Jesus in Gethsemane said: Abba, Father. in Mark 14:36. This shows that Jesus had complete childlike trust in His heavenly Daddy.

Adoption makes God your Daddy. Adoption is that act of God by which we who were alienated, and enemies, and disinherited, are made the sons of God, and heirs of his eternal glory.

A Sunday school superintendent had two new boys in Sunday school. In order to register them she had to ask their ages and birthdays. The bolder of the two said, "We're both seven. My birthday is April 8, 1976, and my brother's is April 20, 1976." "But that's impossible!" answered the superintendent. "No, it's not," answered the quieter brother. "One of us is adopted." "Which one?" asked the superintendent before she could curb her tongue. The boys looked at each other and smiled, and the bolder one said to the superintendent, "We asked Dad awhile ago, but he just said he loved us both, and he couldn't remember any more which one was adopted."

Romans 8:16 - The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

The first step is the we are Desired, the second is that we are Directed. The third step in joining God's family is that:

(3) We are Dignified by the Spirit.

We are Glorified and Honored by receiving full status as an Heir. All His riches become ours. This distinguishes us above all others who are not daughters and sons of God. What a special privilege and honor to be adopted into a family of high rank. What an honor to carry on the reputation and qualities of our new father.

Romans 8:17, first part. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, Paul says by our faith in Christ we become his adopted brothers and sisters--adopted sons and daughters of God. We are fully accepted children, we share the identical inheritance as the begotten Son, Jesus our new brother. All creation is eagerly anticipating our adoption.

Galatians 3:29 - If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

What we could never afford, we freely inherit!

This is like a king who would make a poor beggar his loving son and heir by adoption. The boy would be greatly bound to love him, and to be thankful to him forever; even so much more we ought to love the Son of God, who has made us sons and heirs to his Father by his death and redemption. Cawdray

Titus 3:7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Romans 8:17last half If indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Here is one more condition to receiving the gifts of our new Father. The first is that we must become his children. The second is that we must share in his suffering. This means that the Christian life will not be easy. We can expect trouble and pain in this old world. We were actually born on an active battlefield. Planet earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between Christ and Satan. Your home is a spiritual foxhole. So suffering is inescapable.

The bishop of Madras was touring India. He was introduced to a young slave girl who was an outstanding witness for the Lord. By her quiet persistence in telling others of Jesus and His love, she had won many to Christ. As the bishop looked at her, he saw that her face, neck, and arms were badly scarred. She had received many beatings for her faithful testimony. With tears in his eyes he asked, "Child, how could you bear this brutality?" Somewhat surprised, she replied, "Aren't you glad if you can suffer for Christ, sir?" Her humble response spoke to his heart. It reminded him that if one is true to the Savior, he can expect ridicule and even harsh treatment from the world. Our suffering will not last long. But the glory that awaits us will last forever.

Spurgeon said: "I owe more to the fire and the hammer and the file than to anything else in my Lord's workshop. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see most. Life is perfected by suffering."

Do you suffer? Pain is hard. So is blindness. John Milton said: "It is not miserable to be blind; it is miserable to be incapable of enduring blindness. "

I think that when we get to heaven, God will not look us over for medals, degrees, awards or diplomas, but for scars.


Illustrations Unlimited, by James S. Hewett, Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc,
1988,  pp. 250-251.

 Elbert Green Hubbard.

Walking with Paul through the Book of Romans, by George R. Knight, Review and
Herald Publishing Association, Hagerstown, MD, 2002.

The Letter to the Romans, by William Barclay, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975

Exploring Romans, by John Phillips, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, 1991

Hymn of Praise: #82,  Before Jehovah's Awful Throne
Scripture:  Romans 8:12-17
Hymn of Response: #468,  A Child of the King


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