Sanctification: Results – Pt. 6

A summation regarding the results of sanctification can be stated in two parts: present ‘newness of life’ and future glorification. Moreover, it has been stated that if Paul were to give a summation of his doctrine on sanctification, he would answer with something to the likening of Romans 8:14-17.

Romans 8:14-17

Before studying the passage, one must look at the preceding texts where his premise is unfolded. Specifically, Paul states the necessity of ‘putting to death the deeds of the body’ (Romans 8:13) amongst the non-existent ‘obligation… to the flesh’ (Romans 8:12).  Therefore, Romans 8:14-17 concerns the method of such mortification, which concerns the firstly stated result of sanctification: ‘newness of life’.

‘Newness of Life’

Firstly, in this passage, the truth is glorified in that the justified are ‘led by the spirit’ (Romans 8:14). Some commentators call this being ‘driven’ by the Spirit – it is at “the most natural sense” a “being constrained by a compelling force, of surrendering to an overmastering compulsion.”[1] However, Stott observes that “the verb ago… does not, either necessarily or normally, imply the use of force.”[2] Cranfield asserts that mortification comes by “means of… being led, directed, impelled, controlled by the Spirit.”[3] Moreover, those led by the Spirit are ‘sons of God’ (Romans 8:14). Yet, Paul tames his elucidation of his phrase the ‘sons of God’ at this point to reserve it for its appropriate exegesis, i.e., to reveal it as the distinctive condition regarding the Spirit’s leading of people. The Spirit only leads those who are God’s children. Paul assets the implications of adoption for his second point found later in the passage (Romans 8:15b).

 Secondly, the Holy Spirit restores freedom in one’s reconciled relationship with God (Romans 8:15a). It is indeed true that one is still a ‘slave to Christ’ (Romans 1:1; 6:22) but “these slaveries… are its essence”.[4] Slavery to Christ and freedom in God are not discordant, and this is seen in the apostle’s mention of ‘fear’. Slavery to Christ does not lead to fear, and therefore the sons of God can be pronounced and prosper as free. Paul is known to use the contrast of freedom and slaveship to expose the ‘newness’ of the Christian life, but with that contrast he also clings to the likeness of ‘adoption’ and receiving of inheritance (cf. Galatians 4:1). A ‘spirit of adoption’ is used here to institute some imagery into this newfound freedom with God, and it is another great and necessary element of sanctification (Romans 8:15b).

The distinction ought to be made that ‘adoption’ is a deeper sonship that that of all of creation being God’s offspring (Acts 17:28) – in that, it comes by a certain reconciliation (Romans 8:15; cf. John 1:12; Galatians 3:26; 1 John 3:1, 10). It is absolutely necessary to the true implications of ‘adoption’ that one analyzes its concept in its Greco-Roman context.

“In the Roman world of the first century… an adopted son was a son deliberately chosen by his adoptive father to perpetuate his name and inherit his estate; he was no whit inferior in status to a son born in the ordinary course of nature, and might well enjoy the father’s affection more fully and reproduce the father’s character more worthily.”[5]

 As adopted children of God, those being led by the Spirit “are granted a specially close, personal, loving relationship with” the “heavenly Father” by which they ‘cry out, Abba! Father!’ (Romans 8:15b).[6] Calling God ‘Abba’, an Aramaic word, has superb connotations that are greatly noted in Joachim Jeremias’ study. He concluded that the term was “an everyday word” that certainly “no Jew would have dared to address God” as.[7] Moreover, the overtones of intimacy ring true in Jesus’ distinct use of ‘Abba’ in His prayers with the Father (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2). ‘Abba’ was without doubt a term of affectionate family-oriented relationship.

Assured Glorification

This intimacy is ‘testified’ to God’s children by ‘the Spirit himself’ (Romans 8:16). Assurance is the great means of Paul’s premise, seen in Romans 8:13, that the justified indeed ‘will live’. Therein is the second gracious result of sanctification, the eternity promised in glorification. Therefore, the leading of the Holy Spirit aids in mortification, as well as assures one of their adoption as God’s son or daughter; these are two great elements of one’s sanctification. Conclusively, as already noted, the Spirit is the great stirrer of sanctification, and His function is manifested in practical mortification and theological invigoration. Here, let one continue in the theme of glorification in regards to sanctification’s permanency.


 

[1] James D. G. Dunn, Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 38a, Romans 1-8 (Downers Grove, Ill.: Thomas Nelson, 1988), 450.

 

[2] John R.W. Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2001), 231. Stott continues by saying “the same verb is used of the spirit ‘leading’ Jesus from his baptism in the Jordan to his temptation in the desert (Luke 4:1).” For further analysis see Stott’s prolonged thoughts and footnotes.

 

[3] Cranfield, Epistle to the Romans, 1:395.

 

[4] Stott, The Message of Romans, 232.

 

[5] Bruce, F.F. The Letter of Paul to the Romans, in The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Inter-Varsity Press and Eerdmans, 1963; second edition, 1985). Cited in Stott, The Message of Romans, 231.

 

[6] Stott, The Message of Romans, 231.

 

[7] Jeremias, The Prayers of Jesus (SCM, 1967), pp. 57ff. Cited in Stott, The Message of Romans, 231.

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