For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
I. A PRIVILEGE — to be the sons of God. The glory of children is their fathers (Proverbs 17:6); but the privilege is not only of honour but of profit (ver. 17). All God's children are heirs, as all are partakers of the Divine nature. They have —
1. A spiritual right to all the creatures — "All things are yours."
2. An interest in God Himself, and in His promises, mercies, etc.
3. Right to guardianship of angels (Psalm 91:11; Matthew 18:10; Hebrews 1:14). What a safeguard against the powers of darkness!
4. A claim to eternal glory (Colossians 1:12; Matthew 25:34). In comparison with this how poor the thoughts of men! "How may I get a good bargain, enjoy myself, be revenged on my enemy?" rather than, "How shall I become a child of God?"
II. THE QUALIFICATION. "So many as are led," etc. It is not enough to be the sons of God, unless we know ourselves to be so.
1. How shall we know ourselves to be the sons of God? There are many signs besides the one here mentioned, as —
(1) Every child is like His Father, It is not so in carnal generation always. But you must try your spiritual sonship by this rule — your Heavenly Father is holy (1 Peter 1:15, 16), merciful, righteous, slow to anger, abhors all manner of evil; are we like that, or the reverse?
(2) Bears a filial love to His Father. His love to us is infinite (Psalm 103:13); what return do we make? We can perhaps talk largely of our love, but if we loved Him could we estrange ourselves from His interest, hear His sacred name blasphemed, etc.
(3) Reverence Him.
(a) As for his actions, he dares not do anything wilfully that would displease Him (Malachi 1:6).
(b) As for his sufferings, he receives them submissively as corrections.
(4) Depends on His provision, expecting such patrimony as He shall bestow upon him, and waiting for it patiently.
(5) Is led by His Spirit; which brings us to —
2. What it is to be led by the Spirit of God. In leading there must be a hand to guide and a foot to follow; good motions on God's part, and motions to good on ours. Every man is led by some spirit; one by a spirit of error (1 Timothy 4:1), another by the spirit of giddiness (Isaiah 19:14), another by the spirit of bondage, another by the spirit of the world (1 Corinthians 2:12), and all, besides, by the unclean spirit. Let us see, then, how a man may know that he is led by the Spirit of God. He leads —
(1) In a right way, the way of God's commandments. All other ways are crooked, as deviating from the straight line of righteousness.
(2) By a just rule — the Word of truth. Uncertain and variable traditions, private and ungrounded revelations which cross this recorded will of God, are the deceitful guides of the spirit of error.
(3) Sweetly and gently. Those who are carried with furious impetuousness are not led by the spirit of meekness.
(4) Progressively, from grace to grace and virtue to virtue, whereas passion goes by sudden flashes.
(5) To life, whereas other spirits, the flesh included, lead to death.
III. THE CONNECTION OF THIS QUALIFICATION WITH THE PRIVILEGE. How far does the leading of God's Spirit evince our sonship. If we would have a comfortable assurance we must be led by the Spirit in —
1. Judgment (John 16:13), i.e., into all saving and necessary truths; so as to free us from gross ignorance and error.
2. Disposition. If the Spirit have wrought our hearts to be right with God in all our affections we may be assured that we are His sons.
3. Practice (Ezekiel 36:27).
Parallel VersesKJV: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.