Passage: Romans 8:12-17
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
Christianity, at its very core, is about adoption. Christians are people who have been adopted by God, their heavenly Father, and who live out the implications of their adoption in their lives.
In Romans 8:12-17, Paul explains that as God’s children, we’ve been adopted into a new battle. Like Israel, who was called God’s “Son” in the time of the Exodus, Christians are God’s “sons” who have been rescued by the blood of the lamb and set free from slavery. Similarly, just as Israel battled the temptation to return to their former slavery, so too Christians live in a constant battle not to return to the slavery of sin, and to live instead in the freedom of being God’s children, by the power of the Holy Spirit. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (8:14).
Because God wants us to have the felt assurance that we are his children, his Spirit “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (8:16). His Holy Spirit is called a “Spirit of adoption”, because he makes vivid the experience of our adoption, and gives us a new “cry”—“Abba! Father!”—the cry of those who have come to know God personally as their Father!
Finally, being adopted by God means we have a new inheritance—“if we are children, then we are heirs” (8:17). As God’s children, we stand to inherit God himself and all that he promises us—and we ourselves are God’s inheritance, the ones he treasures above all else. The more we rest in the felt assurance of these truths, the more our lives will be transformed.
- Adopted into a New Battle (8:12-14)
- Adopted into a New “Cry” (8:15-16)
- Adopted into a New Inheritance (8:17)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (Romans 8:12-17)
Adopted into a New Battle (8:12-14)
Q) Pastor Bobby said that Christians have been “adopted into a new battle.” Re-read Romans 8:12-14. What is the battle being described in these verses? How have you seen this battle play out in your life recently?
Q) In verse 13, Paul says, “If you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” What do you think it means to put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit? How is this different than other strategies people might employ for fighting sin?
Q) Pastor Bobby said that though Christians have been set free from the power of sin, we often return to the sin that enslaves us. Can you think of a time in your life when you willingly returned to a particular sin of your past? What was behind your returning to this particular sin—i.e. what made it appealing? What false promises did it make?
Q) Pastor Bobby said that the Christian life is a battle to live out the implications of being children of God, and he mentioned a chart from Jack Miller, comparing the life of a Christian with an “orphan mindset” to the life of a Christian with a “child of God mindset.” Take 5 minutes to mediate personally on this chart. Share with your group where you feel like you’re living out of the “orphan” column, and where you feel like you’re living out of the “child of God” column?
Adopted into a New “Cry” (8:15-16)
Q) Re-read Romans 8:15-16. How is the Holy Spirit described in these verses? What is his “title,” and what does he do for believers?
Q) Have you experienced a time in your life when the Holy Spirit gave you a fresh personal assurance that you were God’s child? When was it and what was it like? What changed in your life as a result of this experience?
Q) What would be some characteristics of a church where the majority of its members were deeply assured that they were God’s children? What would be some characteristics of a church where most of its members lacked this assurance?
Q) What can we do, practically, to pursue a deeper assurance of being God’s children?
Adopted into a New Inheritance (8:17)
Q) Re-read Romans 8:16-17. Why does Paul call Christians “heirs”? What do we stand to inherit?
Q) How can the knowledge that we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” help us as we face times of uncertainty in these coming months?
Q) CASE STUDY: You’re talking to a friend who grew up in a strict religious household as a young child, but who has been disengaged with the church since his parents’ divorce at age 9. “I know that Christians describe God as their ‘Father in Heaven’, and I remember having to memorize a prayer about ‘Our Father, who art in heaven’, but to be honest, that concept of God really doesn’t resonate with me. My own father, who was the most ‘religious’ person in our house, walked out on our family. God has always seemed cold and distant to me, though I acknowledge that might just have been what I remember as a kid. How am I supposed to believe that God is a father-figure? I’m not even sure I want that.”
Q) How might this week’s passage and sermon help you have a conversation with your friend?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.