Notes for Young Believers on the Epistle to the Romans: No. 14 - Chapter 8:9

Romans 8:9
There is no doubt, nay, " Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Yet there are different stages of the work of God in the soul, as we have seen typified in Israel's redemption.
Chapter viii. 9. This verse will answer the question—When may we conclude we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit? " But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." Then, plainly, if the Spirit of God dwell in you, you may safely conclude you arc not in the flesh. Is there, then, a distinct stage between the quickening, or new birth, of a soul, and the dwelling of the Spirit of God in us? Be it long or short, scripture bears out the fact in every case. Yes, in the case of Cornelius and his company, as well as in the baptized believers at Samaria, who did not receive the Holy Ghost until the apostles came down from Jerusalem.
Cornelius was evidently a quickened soul, and all his house (Acts 10:22A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. (Acts 10:2)), but not delivered, and hence it was that he was in the flesh, until the word came with the power of the Holy Ghost, and then the Holy Ghost Himself. (Ver. 44.) This, then, is the question—" Have ye received the Holy Ghost?” If not, though quickened, you are still in the flesh, seeking its improvement—it may be by works of law. Cornelius could not be said to be a Christian until he received the Holy Ghost; neither can you, in the full sense of the word, until you have received the Spirit. u Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
We met an aged man, the other day, who said he had been in Egypt thirty years. Where are you, reader, in bondage, or delivered?—In the flesh, or in the Spirit? This is not a question to be trifled with.
Verse 10. This does not imply sin eradicated, or the evil nature improved. " And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin." If the doctrine of perfection in the flesh were true, the body could neither be dead, nor could it die, for by sin came death. We see the effect of sin in the body, even death. " But the Spirit is life, because of righteousness.” There is death, on account of sin; there is life, on account of righteousness—not ours, but the righteousness of God, accomplished by the death of His Son for us.
Is the body, then, to remain dead because of sin? No. (Ver. 11.) " But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from among the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from among the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." How complete the victory of Christ! The redemption of our bodies is thus certain. Does the Spirit of God dwell in us? Then the quickening of our mortal bodies is certain.
We are not, then, in the flesh, though it is in us; but we are not debtors to it, to live after it. The end of sin, or flesh, is death. It is ever ready, we find, to our sorrow, to act in the body. 66 But if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." If our old nature was not still left ready to act, we should not need to mortify the deeds of the body. It is not mortifying the body, but the deeds of the body. The great thing to see, is, that it is through the Spirit. This is fully brought out in Gal. 5:16-2516This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17For 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. 18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16‑25).
Verse 14. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Jesus said, “And the servant abideth not in the house forever; but the Son abideth ever." (John 8:3535And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. (John 8:35).) We are not in bondage, but in the wondrous liberty and privileges of the Son. Was not this His first message by Mary, in resurrection? " Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." (John 20:1717Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:17).) “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God." (1 John 3:11Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1).)
And what is the proof of all this? "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." It is said also, " But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under law." (Gal. 5:1818But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18).) Assuredly the Spirit cannot lead us under that ministration of law which is done away. (See 2 Cor. 3:7-187But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. 12Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:7‑18).) As we have seen all along, for a believer to be placed under, or led under, law, is to be under the ministration of death and the curse. The Spirit will ever lead us to behold the glory of the Lord, and to be changed into the same glory. The Spirit gives liberty, not bondage. Which is your portion—the liberty of the sons of God, or the bondage of the servant, the slave? And the sons do not cease to be sons, and become slaves again.
Verse 15. “For ye have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Can a son cease to be a son? Can Christ, the Son, cease to be the Son? Have we not heard from His lips that God is our Father, even as He is His Father? That relation can never change, can never cease to be. Oh, the riches of His grace! We, who are conscious that we only deserved His eternal wrath, to be brought into such an unchanging relationship—the sons of God. One spirit with the Son. No bondage or fear again, but the Spirit of adoption, whereby do we cry, as sinners, far from God, Have mercy upon us? No; but, Abba, Father. And mark, this is the very special witness of the Spirit.
Verses 16, 17. " The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Yes, the two great facts of which the Spirit bears witness, are these, in this scripture, to our abiding sonship, heirship; and in Heb. 10 he bears witness that we are perfected forever, continuously, by the one sacrifice of Christ; so that God will not remember our sins any more. Nothing is more frequently denied, or, at least, doubted, than these two blessed facts.
Yes, it is a fact, that we, if believers, are perfected forever. And it is also a fact that we are joint-heirs with Christ. The Spirit bears witness.
And mark, if we are joint-heirs of all the coming glory of Jesus—Son of man—do not overlook these few words; "if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." That this was the case, see the whole history of the Acts. The world, and especially the religious part of it, hated the disciples of Christ, as they hated the Lord. And they suffered with Him. How is it that it is not so now? Because the religious world now pretends to be christian; and, alas! we sink very much to its level. But, in proportion as we are led by the Spirit, we shall certainly suffer the world's hatred. Do you, beloved reader, know anything of being led by the Spirit? or are you led by the organizations and plans of the religious world? If so, is there any wonder that you should be a stranger, both to the enjoyed relationship of a child of God, or of suffering for Christ's sake? Can you say you are led by the Spirit in your daily life—your shop, your business—or are you led simply by the maxims of the world? If so, you grieve the Spirit, and cannot enjoy the blessed relationship of sons of God—joint-heirs with Christ. It is a wonderful thing to have the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, always abiding with us, well able to take care of us, and all our interests here below, as the children of God. Oh, to be led at all times by Him.
We cannot over-estimate or over-state the work of the Spirit, whether in us, as verses 2-13, or His work for us, verses 14-27. Then, to the end of the chapter, we shall find God for us, in all His eternal and absolute sovereignty—blessed ultimate purpose of God, that we may be also glorified together with Christ. Yes, let us remember this is the end God has in view, in all our sufferings and afflictions. Let every reader, however, know, that if he has not the Spirit of Christ, if that does not characterize him, he is none of His. And, further, if he is not suffering with Christ, it is most questionable whether he is a joint-heir of Christ, led by the Spirit.
Refuse to be led by the Spirit, and you may have the honors and applause of the religious world. If led of the Spirit, you will certainly be despised, as Christ was despised, and it will be your happy privilege to suffer with Him. But, oh, the glory so soon to be revealed in us. What a contrast! to be led by the Spirit, or to be led by the fashions of this world. Oh, how many there are that will sacrifice eternity for the fashions of this poor deceived world, and, all the while, pretend, yea, think, themselves Christians. Fatal delusion! If this should be the state of any reader of these lines, may God use these words to awaken him out of this delusive slumber. Surely we all need these searching words: "If so be that we suffer with him."