Wednesday, March 21, 2012

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God

This is a beautiful verse that speaks about our relationship with God. It speaks more about our relationship with Him than about receiving guidance from God.

We like to quote this verse each time we speak of following the leading of God.

Sadly, it says in this verse (Romans 8:14) that "for as many as are led..." because the reality is that not many are led by the Spirit of God.

Admittedly, all born-again believers desire to be led by the Spirit of God. Who doesn't? However, it takes more than a casual interest from us to actually be included in the "for as many as are led..." category. As we ponder over this verse let us pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to us and draw us into a deeper reality and relationship with Christ Jesus.

Our natural minds think very differently from the ways of God. This is why our minds need to be renewed from the day we are born again into the kingdom of God. Even though our spirits are now made alive unto God, our old mindsets and thought patterns remain with us. Hence, oftentimes, in our pursuit of following God, we tend to align our thinking according to the old self. One example is in the area of being led by God. We would like to think that to be led by God would mean following a list of instructions. When we pray "Lord, lead me!" what we actually mean is "Lord, please show me Step 1, Step 2... on this... and that... " And we live in cycles of doubt and despair that God has not revealed His will to us or that He has not heard our prayers.

When we take a closer look at the life of Abraham, we do not see that God showed him all the steps he were to take after receiving the call of God to leave his hometown. More often than not, God's revelation comes to us in the form of pieces of puzzle. And how could we decipher His will when all we hold in our hands is but a piece of puzzle out of the total of 700 pieces which will ultimately be fitted together to form a beautiful picture? What is of utmost importance in our natural minds is to lay hold of the next piece of the puzzle but God's desire is for us to know Him that we may learn of His faithfulness. The One who holds the balance of 699 pieces of puzzle longs to reveal Himself to us more than just giving us a list of steps for us to fulfill His will.

In God's perspective, "these are sons of God" is His goal. One who is led by the Spirit of God knows God as His Abba Father. The converse is also true. If we begin to know God experientially, we will see that we are beginning to be led by His Spirit. Do we know Him as our Father? What kind of a Father God do we have? Do we seek to know His heart? In fact, we always tend to think that the ten commandments are but an arduous list of do's and don'ts. However if we were to look beyond the surface of these commandments, we would see the Father heart of God. We often fail to realize that we are given the Scriptures so that we may know Him, the Word of God made flesh, and not just to merely know the written word. Knowing God is a key to be led by the Spirit of God.

At the same time, we should also be aware that to be led by the Spirit of God is not an "answer-focused" pursuit. We are after the Person and not just the answers for our questions. Most of the time, we are desperate to hear a word from the Lord just for the sake of knowing the answer to our problem or to know a solution to our predicament. However, let us be reminded that the verse beautifully connects the leading of the Spirit of God with the sonship of God. As we begin to understand the ways of God and know His nature, we are in the process of maturity to be His sons and not just remain as little children. And naturally, we are led by His Spirit to be at the right place at the right time. However, when we are always focused to seek the answer or the solution, we will miss the Person and the relationship He offers and consequently may miss His leading altogether.

When we are being led by the Spirit of God, it speaks of us following a Person, the Spirit of God. We are not following a set of religious rules set by man for when we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, we are free from the bondage of religious spirits. Yes, we need teachings and certainly doctrines are beneficial but we cannot be bound by a set of rules or laws at the expense of following the fresh leading of the Holy Spirit. It's easy for us to logically determine that if A+B=C then C-B=A. Unfortunately, most of the time, God's ways are not boud by such equations because God's ways are established in the supernatural laws of love, peace and joy which are always consistent with His character, not a set of man-made laws. The more we follow His character we begin to see His purposes unfold in our lives. One way of following Christ is to be found in His Presence. To be led by the Spirit of God speaks of being with God Himself. How can we hear, how can we see if we are not in His Presence?

Lastly, most Christians would like to think that they are led by the Holy Spirit not knowing that it could be the "self" or the "flesh" that is driving them. We would rather follow our own natural impulses than being led by the Holy Spirit when it involves something that would cause inconvenience to our flesh. This is because when we want to be led by the Spirit of God, our convenience is not His priority. We read in the Matthew 4 that Jesus was led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness. And we know the rest of the story where our Lord Jesus emerged victorious after encountering the adversary and its venomous temptations. This is the most tricky part. We are told in Jeremiah that our heart is deceitful and we cannot deny that. When we "see that the fruit is pleasant to the eyes and the tree is good for food" immediately we would con ourselves into thinking this must be His will for me! What then is a sure way to avoid such self deception?

The answer is illustrated in the account of a father and a son at Mount Moriah. Isaac was bound and placed on the altar. He yielded his life into his father's hands. When we surrender ourselves and all our preconceived ideas and our strong will and place ourselves on the altar, we are the sons of God. Christ Himself, the Son of God laid down His life on the cross for us and accomplished the Father's will in His life. Do we want to be led by the Spirit of God? Do we desire to fulfill His will and purposes in our lives? God is also calling us to surrender ourselves fully to Him. To be led by the Spirit of God is to live a surrenderred life (not my will but yours be done) and to be His bondservant.
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