Romans 8:14
Moses displayed a beautiful absence of jealousy when he cried, "Would to God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them!" His wish is realized under the Christian dispensation, where "the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." This gift is the fulfilment of Christ's promise that his disciples should not be left "orphans," and our investiture with his Spirit is a testimony to the efficacy of the work of Christ. The Spirit operates silently but powerfully on the heart; though unseen, his presence is most real. Science acquaints us with subtle forces that work on matter. Place a bar of steel in the magnetic meridian with the north end downward, and, if struck with a wooden mallet, the bar will be magnetized. ]No outward difference is perceptible, yet the particles have assumed a uniform direction, have acquired new properties. So does the Spirit impart a new tendency, a new nature, and the whole man is changed. The Spirit works not like the influences of our environment from without inwardly, but from within outwardly.

I. THE LEADING FOR WHICH THAT OF THE SPIRIT IS SUBSTITUTED. It is called "self," or "the flesh," where the inimical power of the great adversary is the chief factor. The aim of the life may not be clear to the man possessed. He may seem to have no definable object of pursuit; led on now by one impulse, now by another, its force and persistency varying in all degrees. Some rely on their own native wisdom for the steerage of their course, others are governed by the maxims and customs of the society in which they move. The "spirit of the age" is a prevalent controlling force. In proportion as any one goal is kept in view, and "reached forth to' perseveringly, is the man esteemed strong and successful. And the Christian is strong according to the heartiness and fidelity with which he surrenders himself to the guidance of the Spirit. He acknowledges that "it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."

II. THE ROAD TRAVELLED UNDER THE GUIDANCE OF THE SPIRIT. It is a heavenward journey; the affections are "set on things above." It begins with taking up the cross to follow Christ, and implies self-denial in order to please God. It is a pilgrimage. This world is not our rest, or our final home. It involves a warfare, for many foes beset our path, and there is no turning aside to By-path Meadows for the man under the influence of the Spirit. How the natural life is glorified and transfigured by this conception of the unseen hand impelling us! No man is ever harmed by the Spirit's leading, and if he falls into a snare it is because he has mistaken the Divine indications of his route.

III. ASCERTAINING THE MIND OF THE SPIRIT. We are not led blindfold and irresistibly; the reason is illumined, the emotions are quickened. All that strengthens the spiritual life contributes to the clearness with which we recognize the Spirit's prompting, and to the readiness with which we yield to his gentlest touch. Prayer keeps open the communication with the spiritual realm. Ask for guidance before, not after, commencing an enterprise; nor expect the Holy Spirit to come in as a deus ex machina to rectify your errors. Compare your judgment and conduct with the precepts and principles of Scripture, and with the example of good men, especially of Jesus Christ. We are taught in his school. Like an artist intently studying some work of genius and imbibing its spirit, so meditate on Christ till you catch his enthusiasm for goodness and consecration to the will of God. Make the most of the seasons when you are blessedly conscious that you are "in the Spirit," be it on "the Lord's day" or any other. It is sin that darkens our spiritual perceptions, as some accident to the body may blunt the finer sensations, may dull the hearing and dim the sight.

IV. THE FAMILY LIKENESS WHICH THIS GUIDANCE IMPARTS. The Spirit of God enables us to realize our sonship. Hatred and disobedience and fear are exchanged for glad communion and willing service. We become increasingly like our Father, like our elder Brother Christ, and like the rest of the redeemed children. It is not identical sameness, but similarity, which results. Members of the same home may differ much in exact lineaments, yet the stranger can discern a family likeness. By his Spirit is the Saviour preparing his brethren for their heavenly home, to enter with intelligent zest into its enjoyments, the society of the angels and of the blest, into holier worship and higher service than we can render here. - S.R.A.







For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
We are led not as brute beasts, but as reasonable creatures; not as though we do nothing, but lest we should do no good thing. Neither are we led against our will, but in the leading made willing to be led; so willing, that when God hath once breathed His grace unto us, we cannot resist, but earnestly desire to be led. And yet is not the nature of the will Overthrown. But as orators by their eloquence do rule in the mind of their auditors, so God much more effectually draws us to desire Christ, and affect the gospel. If a covetous man were offered to take what he would of a heap of gold, no man doubts but he would gladly embrace such occasion, though simply and absolutely it were in his power to refuse it. So our Heavenly Father doth so commodiously show us the riches of His grace, so lovingly doth He invite us to receive it, and so aptly doth He exhort us, that He doth persuade us, without any impairing of our wills; so a beast with provender, children with nuts, and every one is led or drawn by his pleasure.

(Elnathan Parr, B.D.)

I. IT LEADS THE WILLING.

1. "Led." Not drawn by rope, not hauled, but led.

2. Yea, more — gladly led. It is not the leading of the sulky horse behind the dray, pulling and being pulled, but of one following along with dangling halter. It is not the picture of him who says, "my name is down on the church-book — that is enough," but of him who says, "Here am I, Lord; send me." This is the test of our discipleship — if we go gladly.

II. LEADERSHIP OF THE SPIRIT IS POSSIBLE. There are those who doubt this. They say, "How can God influence us this way or that?" Well, look at the things that do influence us. Sometimes we are all down with the blues. It is not that we are weaker than usual, but some influence from the outside world is moving upon us. The market has gone wrong, politicians are sending the country to ruin, etc. At other times other influences come to us. The silent trees swaying gently in the wind, or the smooth surface of some quiet lake soothes us; and if the things of nature can so affect us, cannot the Creator? Then surrender to Him. Open your heart, and He will come in and reign.

III. GOD WILL LEAD HIS CHILDREN. The other night you heard a faint knock at the door, and when it was opened there stood a timid little beggar girl with a pinched, wan face, and as you looked down at her she said something about bread. By and by the door burst open and in came a great big boy. He bounded across the room, jumped upon your knee, flung his arm around your neck and, plunging his hand into your pocket, helped himself. So we who are led by the Spirit do not go to God as beggars, but as His own sons, whom He receiveth as a father receiveth his children. Conclusion:

1. Led by the Spirit! So let us live, work, believe, enjoy and triumph by the Spirit.

2. He comes into our hearts as the old warriors used to go into a city. When they had broken through the wall they marched straight for the citadel. Merchants, when they entered, went about, this way and that, through the streets. But the conqueror went first to the citadel, and, when he had taken that, he sent one platoon down this street to clear out the enemy there, and another down that street to drive out that body, until all were driven out; then he had the city in his grasp, and he ruled over it. So when the Spirit comes into our hearts it goes straight to the conscience and lays hold on that, then it sends a truth down this way to drive out this passion, and another that way to subdue that jealousy, and another that other way to quell that rebellion. Then, when all is driven out, He makes His abode in that heart, and becomes its counsellor, guide and ruler for ever.

(C. H. Fowler, D.D.)

I. THE NATURE OF THE ACT.

1. Distinctions premised.(1) It is either common or peculiar. There is a leading which extends to all creatures. For all of them, by His Divine power, are to the glory of the Creator and the good of the universe. This also may be said to extend to all men; as He, the first Cause and Sovereign (Acts 17:28), in a common and providential way, orders all their several actions. Now, most certainly, this is not that "leading" in the text, for many are thus "led by the Spirit" who yet are far from being "the sons of God"! The leading here intended is, therefore, peculiar to God's people.(2) The special leading of the Spirit is extraordinary or ordinary. Prophets and apostles were "led by the Spirit" as they were immediately inspired and guided by Him in their work (2 Peter 1:21). But this was extraordinary, and so limited and temporary. The latter leading appertains to all God's children, and at all times.(3) This act of the Spirit may be considered either as it is exerted at conversion or after. He leads at and in order to conversion; as He irradiates the mind, inclines the will, spiritualises the affections, and so leads the whole soul to God and Christ. Then He leads all along in the whole course of a Christian's life.(4) There is the having of the Spirit, and the leading of the Spirit (ver. 9). Now, although these be inseparable, yet they are distinct. To "have the Spirit" is to be made a possessor of Him in His indwelling in us; to be "led by the Spirit" is our partaking of His directive influence, after we are made possessors of Him.

2. The special acts included in the Spirit's leading.(1) Something on the Spirit's part.(a) His special guidance (Isaiah 30:21; Isaiah 48:17; Isaiah 58:11; Isaiah 61:8; Psalm 25:5; 37:23; 83:24; 143:10). What the cloud was to the Israelites, what the guide is to the traveller who knows not his way, that the Spirit of God is to believers.(b) His powerful inclination. He leads not only by a naked guidance or directive light (Colossians 1:9; Ephesians 5:10), but also by the efficacious inclining of the heart, the bowing and bending of the will, the overpowering of the affections, to close with and follow His guidance in the doing of what is good, and in the shunning of what is evil (Psalm 119:35, 36).(c) His co-operation and corroboration. When one leads another both have their proper action and motion, and both unite and concur therein (Isaiah 26:12; Philippians 2:12, 13). So His leading resembles the mother's or nurse's leading the child. They take it by the hand, hold it up, join their strength with its weakness; and so they enable it to go (ver. 26; Ephesians 3:16).(d) His Agency. Where He governs, there He leads. It is like a general leading an army: they are subject to his will, steered by him in their motions, as the ship is by the pilot, or the chariot by him that drives it.(2) Something on the creatures' part. And that is their yielding up of themselves to this guidance. Without this, it is not "leading"; for that imports motion after something that goes before. And that motion must be voluntary, or else it is being dragged, not "led" (Isaiah 2:3; Song of Solomon 1:4).

3. Four things opened about the Spirit's leading.(1) What the Spirit leads unto — truth and holiness (John 16:13; Ephesians 5:9; Psalm 23:3). This holiness includes holy affections, the exercise of the several graces (2 Thessalonians 3:5), and the avoiding and mortifying of sin (Romans 8:13).(2) The rule by which He leads — the written Word (Proverbs 6:22, 23; Psalm 119:105, 133; Micah 6:8), which is the Christian compass by which he must steer his course, the star that must direct him in all his motions (Isaiah 8:20). The Spirit gives light and life to the Word; and the Word gives evidence that the guidance is from the Spirit.(3) The manner of His leading.(a) With power and efficacy. The person led shall certainly follow Him (Ezekiel 26:27; Jeremiah 31:18).(b) With all sweetness and gentleness. The will is determined, but so as that not the least violence is done to it, to the infringing of its liberty (Psalm 110:3; Hosea 2:14).(4) The extent of His leading.(a) In regard of the subject or person led. It extends to the whole man; first to the soul, understanding, will, and affections, and then to the body, yea, to the whole conversation.(b) In regard of the object or matter that the Spirit leads unto. The whole duty of a Christian; to all that he is to know, believe, and do.(c) In regard of the degree and measure of it. All have the thing in the necessary and substantial part of it, yet some have more and some less.

II. SOME PRACTICAL INQUIRIES ABOUT IT.

1. What inducements are there to excite men to attain and live under this leading?(1) The excellency of the thing. The person leading, the great Spirit of God; the act, Divine and supernatural leading; the object, the loving of God, delighting in God, conformity to God.(2) The necessity of it. What becomes of the blind man that has none to guide him? of the weak child that has none to uphold it?(3) As the natural guide is defective and insufficient, so there are other guides which are destructive and damnable. Such as Satan, depraved nature, indwelling sin, the flesh, the world.(4) Weigh the way and manner of the Spirit's leading —

(a)With great exactness and wisdom (Isaiah 11:2; Psalm 32:8).

(b)With infinite truth and faithfulness (Proverbs 4:11; Genesis 24:27, 48; Psalm 107:7).

(c)Safely, in reference both to the way and to the end (Psalm 78:53).(5) The blessings that result from this leading.

(a)Inward peace and comfort.

(b)A readiness to all duties of holiness.

(c)Sonship to God.

(d)The glory and blessedness of heaven (Psalm 73:24).

2. How may this leading of the Spirit be attained?(1) There must be the having of the Spirit before there can be the leading of the Spirit. Therefore attend upon the gospel, by which He is conveyed.(2) The first leading of the Spirit must be had before the secondary leading. He must first lead you to God by conversion.(3) Be willing to follow the motions of the Spirit.(4) Let your dependence be upon God and His Spirit for guidance (Psalm 25:9; Proverbs 3:5, 6; Job 18:7; Proverbs 20:24).(5) Pray much for this grace of the Spirit (Psalm 143:10).

3. What duties are incumbent upon those who are led by the Spirit?(1) They should more and more follow the leadings of the Spirit.

(a)More exactly (Numbers 9:18, 21).

(b)More fully (Numbers 16:24).

(c)More uniformly and constantly.

(d)More readily and freely.

(e)So as to make further progress in the way.

(f)With stronger resolution and purpose of heart.(2) Let it be your great and constant care and endeavour to get the Spirit's leading continued to you.(3) Labour after the having of the leading of the Spirit in a higher degree and measure.(4) So live as that it may appear to others that you are led by this Spirit.(5) Be very thankful for this glorious mercy.

4. May such who are led by the Spirit fetch comfort from it? Undoubtedly —(1) It is a clear evidence, a deciding argument, of your being the sons of God.(2) As it is certain evidence of sonship here, so it is a certain pledge of heaven and salvation hereafter.

(J. Jacomb, D.D.)

(Isaiah 42:16, and text): — Both Isaiah and St. Paul affirm the reality of a very intimate and tender connection between good men and God. There is a leading and a being led — with a privilege mysteriously grand, growing out of that relation. So far the two writers agree. What is it, then, that distinguishes them?

I. ISAIAH REPRESENTS THAT MORE ADVANCED CULTURE, IN THE ELDER CHURCH, where the original meaning of the revelation at Sinai had begun to come out into a clearness approaching that of the gospel-day. More confiding impressions of the unseen Father were certainly stealing into the soul Hence comes the promise of Divine guidance, personal and gentle.

1. There is no one that has not found out by rough experience that there are crooked things in his life which need to be made straight, and dark places which need to be made light. This common need of heavenly leading puts us into one company with those Hebrews, and makes us prize the promise that was so comforting to them.

2. This instinct which desires and follows leadership is nearly universal, and religion employs it to train our best attachments and confidences up to heaven. With all his self-reliance and self-will man likes to trust and follow a leader. It appears among bands of youth, in exploring parties in political combinations and social reforms, and especially in the military spirit.

3. The next step shows us this guiding love of the Heavenly Father as independent of anything that we think, or do, or feel. It leads us in paths that we had not known. It deals with us as a mother handles her child just beginning to know only her face or her voice (see Isaiah 45:5). We were too infantile in the childhood of our spiritual life to know God when He took us up. Who of us cannot recall some trying time when the utter dismay came over him of not knowing what way to take — the sun gone down, human helpers away or feeble, human advisers indifferent or undecided? But God was there before us, and when we waited on Him we found He was waiting for us; and then, very often, the one path which, of all those that opened, was the least inviting was the one into which He led our unwilling feet.

4. God goes invisibly before His child, like the good shepherd of the Eastern pastures, to reassure the alarmed and doubting, to take. the briers and stones and to scare the beasts out of the way, to straighten what is crooked, to hold a lamp over the dark passages among the rocks, to lead those that have faith enough to be willing to be led in paths that they have not known.

II. FROM THIS PROMISE WE PASS OVER TO THAT GIVEN US BY ST PAUL.

1. We see at once that there is an advance into another plane of religious thought. Instead of Jehovah we are told of "the Spirit." Then, instead of being taught of a mere outward change wrought by this leading, there is a transformation of our whole interior nature and condition. They who were before merely creatures and servants, or children only as by creation, become children in a new and profounder way. Nothing is taken away that Isaiah had said, only much is added.

2. What is signified by being "led by the Spirit"? In the Greek there are two terms for "leading." The one signifies a violent and rather irregular act of propelling a body — a driving or pushing on as by winds or waves. This St. Peter uses when he speaks of the moving of the minds of the Old Testament saints by the mind of God. The other, employed in the text, refers to an even, constant, unbroken force, acting not less powerfully because it acts gently and steadily; the leading of a Spirit who abides, always at His gracious work on the heart, in His chamber within it, and does not come and go. You can illustrate this by any mother walking with a little child or shepherd with sheep. The hireling, who only follows after, and, when the charge wanders or falls into danger, hurries up and catches hold irregularly, pushing the body here and there over a hollow or through a thicket, does not lead as that blessed Comforter leads. "He shall abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth," etc.

3. What, then, is the peculiar privilege of those who are so led? "They are the sons of God." How can it be? There is one only-begotten Son of God, becoming also the Son of man, born of Mary, our humanity being for ever taken up into His Divinity and glorified by it. It is only by our spiritual union with Him, that we, in a secondary sense, yet a most vital and precious one, are made also "sons of God." Hence the expressions "Spirit of God" and "Spirit of Christ" and "Holy Spirit" are often used as equivalent. Christ gives the Comforter. When He is received into the heart a new nature is born; a Son of God, in the image of Christ. Here "the Spirit" is not a mere influence exerted on character as by a foreign benefactor; it is an inwrought and essential principle of the believer's life. He is a new creature, a son. And as there are two New Testament terms in the original, to signify two kinds of leading, so there are two to signify children. One has reference to mere natural descent or begetting, irrespective of any tender, filial feeling, The other, used when sons of God in Christ are intended, includes an affectionate and sacred dependence, or lovingness of the child's and the parent's heart. The tree may take an influence from the sun, and that foreign influence tends to make the tree tall, vigorous, green, and fruitful. But the tree is not the child of the sun.

4. With this comes a special characteristic of our service to Christ. It is not a service of compulsion or restraint, rendered "grudgingly or of necessity." It is labour in a free and joyous spirit, such as befits the thankful receivers of an unspeakable gift in its true character. Wise employers always select workmen that love their work. This distinction between sonship and servantship runs through all that pertains to a Christian's obedience.

(Bp. Huntington.)

I. WHAT IS IT TO BE LED BY THE SPIRIT?

1. Our answer must depend on our idea of the nature of the Spirit of God and His relations to us. Men speak of the Spirit as a mere influence, an effect of the outgoing of Divine energy. But, according to the New Testament, the Spirit of God is God, regarded especially as within us and in communion with our spirits. His presence is not discerned by mystic signs: we do not see it in a burning bush or in cloven tongues of fire, we do not hear it in a mighty rushing wind, or in a still small voice; but as we do not sea the air above us, nor even hear it in the calm of summer, yet we perceive its existence by the gentle stirring of the trees, the strong flight of birds, the slow sailing of great clouds; so the unseen and silent Spirit reveals His presence by the life He brings, the influence He exerts.

2. The leadership of the Spirit must be regarded as the influence which is thus exerted over the souls of men, and freely yielded to by them. All who choose to follow are led. It depends upon our will and action (ver. 13). It implies following the Spirit —(1) As a guide for the intellect — seeking light in prayer, and humbly searching the inspired Scriptures.(2) As a leader for the will, and yielding self-will to the voice of God in the conscience and in revealed law.(3) As the loving presence of God, with the over-ruling of earthly passion by the love of God.

II. THE PRIVILEGES OF DIVINE SONSHIP TO WHICH THE LEADERSHIP OF THE SPIRIT INTRODUCES US. By nature we are all God's children, and cannot cease to be so. Yet we may be practically orphans when we wander far from our Father and live in rebellion against Him. To be reconciled to God is practically to be made sons again in a fuller sense than that in which unfallen man was a son in the ignorance and tutelage of childhood. St. Paul regards this as an adoption (ver. 15), St. John as a second birth (John 1:12). The effects of this are many and great.

1. Liberty in deliverance —

(1)From the bondage of sin,

(2)From the slave-like obedience of the subjects of mere law (2 Corinthians 3:17).

2. Security from fear, either —

(1)Of God as an avenging judge, or —

(2)of any evil in life, since now we are safe in our Father's care (ver. 15).

3. Restoration of the love of God in our hearts. We now cry, "Abba, Father." This restoration is the source of our deepest joy.

4. Heirship of glory (ver. 17). The son is not simply saved, he is honoured. The returned prodigal is not treated as a hired servant, but as a privileged child (Luke 15:22, 23).

(W. F. Adeney, M.A.)

Man is a traveller to the eternal world. Left to self-guidance he possesses vast and uncontrollable powers of self-destruction. What is he without a guide in the wilderness, a pilot on the ocean? Some recognise no other spirit, and are guided by no other spirit, than the spirit of the world — i.e., by the "god of this world."

I. THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THE SPIRIT FOR THIS GUIDANCE.

1. He knows the path to heaven — all its intricacies and dangers: the sunken rock, the treacherous quicksand, the concealed pit, the subtle snare, the windings, and intricacy, and straitness of the way. It is utterly impossible, then, that He should mislead.

2. He knows His own work in the soul All its light and shade, its depressions and revivings, its assaults and victories, are vivid to His eye. Dwelling in that heart He knows where wisely to supply a cheek, or gently to administer a rebuke, or tenderly to whisper a promise, or sympathetically, to soothe a sorrow, or effectually to aid an incipient resolve, or strengthen a wavering purpose, or confirm a fluctuating hope.

II. WHAT IS IT TO BE LED BY THE SPIRIT?

1. It assumes —(1) The existence of spiritual life in those He leads. He does not undertake to lead a spiritual corpse, a soul dead in sins, The leading of the Spirit, then, is His acting upon His own life in the soul.(2) Entire inability to lead themselves. What can we see of truth, of providence, of God's mind and will, of ourselves?

2. It involves leading as —(1) From ourselves — from all reliance on our own righteousness, and strength. But this divorce from the principle of self is the work of a life. And who but this Divine Spirit could so lead us away from self, in all its forms, as to constrain us to trample all our own glory in the dust? But more: He leads us from an opposite extreme of self — from a despairing view of our personal sinfulness. How many walk in painful and humiliating bondage from not having thus been sufficiently led out of themselves! Thus from sinful self, as from righteous self, the Spirit leads us —(2) To Christ. Are we guilty? — the Spirit leads us to the blood of Jesus. Are we weary? — the Spirit leads us to abide in Jesus. Are we sorrowful? — the Spirit leads us to the sympathy of Jesus. Are we tempted? — the Spirit leads us to the protection of Jesus. Are we sad and desolate? — the Spirit leads us to the tender love of Jesus. Are we poor, empty, and helpless? — the Spirit leads us to the fulness of Jesus. The holy Spirit is our Comforter, but the holy Jesus is our comfort.(3) To truth — "He shall guide you into all truth." Though many claim Him as their Teacher, He disowns them as His disciples. Tossed from opinion to opinion, perplexed by conflicting creeds, are you anxiously inquiring, "What is truth?" commit yourself to the guidance of the Spirit. He can harmonise apparent contradictions, reconcile alleged discrepancies, clear away overshadowing mists, and place each doctrine, precept, and institution clear before your mind.(4) To all holiness. As the "Spirit of holiness," it is his aim to deepen the impress of the restored image of God in the soul, to increase our happiness by making us more holy, and to advance our holiness by making us more like God. All His unfoldings of Christ, views of God, rebukes, joys, have this for their object — the perfection of us in holiness.(5) To all comfort. If sorrows abound, consolation much more abounds, since "the Comforter" is the Holy Ghost. He comforts by applying the promises — by leading to Christ — by bending the will in deep submission to God — and by unveiling to faith's far-seeing eye the glories of a sorrowless, tearless, sinless world.(6) To glory. There He matures the kingdom, and perfects the building, and completes the temple He commenced and occupied on earth. In conclusion: Beware of being guided by any other than the Spirit of God. The temptation is strong of being biassed by the profound research, the distinguished talents, the exalted piety, and admired example of men. But this must not be. It is inconsistent with the honour that belongs, and with the love that we owe, to the Spirit. "Thou shalt guide me by Thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory."

(O. Winslow, D.D.)

I. THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT. He —

1. Leads and instructs in the way of salvation (John 16:7-10). He is infinitely wise, powerful, good, etc., and therefore His guidance will be perfect.

2. To a perception of our lost and ruined condition. The methods are various — meditation, personal affliction, the prayers of Christians, some sermon, etc.

3. To contrition. Sin now appears in all its hateful qualities and effects; as that which has offended God, which condemns, curses, and defiles the soul. The Spirit leads to "godly sorrow, which worketh repentance unto salvation," etc.

4. To a discovery of Christ as the Saviour (John 16:13, 14). He removes "the veil on the heart," dispels prejudice, and affords that inward and Divine light by which alone Christ is perceived for saving purposes (Galatians 1:16).(1) Christ's greatness and dignity. Sinners have very mean thoughts of Christ.(2) The power of Christ to save, as the end of the law for righteousness, the great atonement, our "Wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption."

5. To the exercise of saving faith in Christ.

6. So He renovates the mind, deadens the soul to sin, and disposes it to holy obedience and love (Titus 3:4, 5).

II. THE PRIVILEGE OF GOD'S PEOPLE: "They are the sons of God." Consider —

1. The names by which they are distinguished — "sons and children of God," a "chosen generation," a "royal priesthood," "kings and priests unto God."

2. Their liberty. They were under the dominion of sin, the tyranny of Satan, the curse of the law, and consequently the sting of death.

3. "All things are theirs."

4. Christ is engaged to protect and defend them.

5. They have free and certain access to God as their Father (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 3:12).

6. They enjoy a title to an everlasting inheritance (Galatians 3:29: Romans 8:17; 1 John 3:1, 2).

III. THE PEOPLE OF GOD CHERISH AND ENJOY THE INFLUENCE OF THE SPIRIT, AND THEREBY EVIDENCE THAT THEY ARE THE SONS OF GOD. By the Spirit sinners not merely become children of God, but followers.

1. They are sensible of their ignorance and weakness, and recognise the enlightening and strengthening energy of the Spirit.

2. They are careful not to "quench " or "grieve" the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30).

3. They pray for that influence.

4. In the discharge of all their duties they seek His aid.

5. They have the inward witness of the Spirit (ver. 16), and the "fruits of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22).

(J. J. S. Bird, B.A.)

I. WHITHER DOES THE SPIRIT OF GOD LEAD THE SONS OF GOD?

1. To repentance.

2. He leads them, while they think little of themselves, to think much of Jesus. If the Holy Ghost has never made Christ precious to you, you know nothing about Him.

3. When the Spirit has glorified Jesus He leads us to know other truths. He leads the sons of God into all truth. On the other hand, truth is like a closed chamber to the unregenerate man.

4. The children of God are led not only into knowledge, but into love. The Spirit causes every true-born son of God to burn with love to the rest of the family. "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." And not only so, but He leads us into intense love for the souls of sinners. If any man shall say, "It is no business of mine whether men are lost or saved," the Spirit of God never led him into such inhumanity.

5. The Spirit leads the sons of God into holiness. If you are proud, covetous, lustful after worldly gain, false in your statements, and unjust in your actions, the Holy Ghost never led you there. If I find a child of God mixing with the ungodly, using their speech, and doing their actions, I am persuaded the Holy Ghost never led him there. But if I see a man devout before God, and full of integrity before men, I know that the Spirit of God is his leader. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace."

6. Into vital godliness — the mystic essence of spiritual life. For instance, the Holy Ghost leads the saints to prayer, which is the vital breath of their souls.

7. Into usefulness, some in one path, and some in another, while a few are conducted into very eminent service. II you are doing nothing for Jesus the Spirit of God has never led you into this idleness.

II. HOW DOES THE SPIRIT LEAD THE SONS OF GOD?

1. We cannot explain His mode of operation, but probably it is somewhat in the same way in which our spirits operate upon other men's spirits. We act upon matter by machinery, but upon mind by argument, by instruction, and so we endeavour to fashion men as we desire.(1) One great instrument which the Holy Ghost uses upon the mind is the Word of God. Quote chapter and verse for an action, and, unless you have wrested the passage, you may rest assured you have acted rightly.(2) The Spirit also speaks through His ministers. The Word preached is often blest, as well as the Word written, but this can only be the case when the Word preached is in conformity with the Word written.(3) He directly, apart from the Word, speaks in the hearts of the saints. There are inward monitions which are to be devoutly obeyed, guidances mysterious, which must be implicitly followed. There will come to you sometimes, you know not why, certain inward checks, such as Paul received when he essayed to go into Mysia, but the Spirit suffered him not. At another time a proper thing comes upon you strongly that it is to be done at once, and for some reason you cannot shake off the impression. Do no violence to that impulse.

2. Note that the Spirit "leads." The text does not say, "As many as are driven by the Spirit of God." No, the devil is a driver. Whenever you see a man fanatical and wild, whatever spirit is in him it is not the Spirit of Christ.

III. WHEN DOES THE SPIRIT LEAD THE SONS OF GOD?

1. He would always lead them, but, alas, there are times when they will not be led. They are wilful and headstrong, and start aside.

2. The healthy condition of a child of God is to be always led by the Spirit of God. Not on Sundays only, nor alone at periods set apart for prayer, but during every minute of every hour of every day. We ought to be led by the Spirit in little things as well as in great. If only one action apart from the Spirit were suffered to run to its full results, it would ruin us. A pilot who only occasionally directs the ship is very little better than none. Child of God, the Spirit must lead you in everything.

3. "Well, but," say you, "will He?" Yes. When you are in difficulties, consult the Holy Spirit in the Word. If no light comes from thence kneel down and pray. Cast yourself upon the Divine guidance, and you shall make no mistake. The Lord will never let a vessel be dashed upon the rocks whose tiller has been given into His hands. Conclusion: Use the text —

1. As a test. Am I a child of God? If so, I am led by the Spirit.

2. As a consolation. If you are a child of God you will be led by the Spirit.

3. As an assurance. If you are led by the Spirit of God then you are most certainly a son of God.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The Spirit is everywhere present. He controls all the operations of nature. He operates on the minds of men, endowing and controlling them. He specially operates on the children of God —

1. In renewing them.

2. In imbuing them continually with a new life.

3. In determining their inward and outward life.

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY BEING LED BY THE SPIRIT? It is not by blind suggestions or impulses. It is not by a miraculous or abnormal operation, directing what text the eye shall fall upon. The Spirit is the determining principle of the life, and His leading —

1. Is consistent with our rational nature, liberty, and responsibility.

2. Mingles with our consciousness, and determines it, but cannot be distinguished from it.

3. Is not always irresistible. Hence men are said to resist, grieve, quench the Holy Spirit.

II. THE RESULT OF IT.

1. The knowledge of the truth — not by inspiration or revelation, but illumination.

2. The love of truth, or the conformity of our hearts to the standard of God's will.

3. The conformity of our outward life to the will of God.(1) It leads to the government of the tongue, the control of the passions, the ordering of the conduct.(2) It gives right views and motives to determine us in all emergencies.(3) It enables us to choose that Christian work for which we are best qualified.

III. WHY ARE THOSE WHO ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT THE SONS OF GOD.

1. What is meant by the sons of God? Those who —(1) Partake of His nature by regeneration.(2) Are adopted into His family and made the objects of His parental care and heirs of His kingdom.(3) Governed by a filial as opposed to a slavish spirit.

2. Why are such led by the Spirit? Because(1) Submission to the spirit of our whole inward and outward life is the only evidence of our sonship.(2) The Holy Spirit is in His nature the Spirit of adoption. He is not a servile Spirit, but the Spirit of the Son, and therefore sent into sons. Those only who are actuated by this filial Spirit are the sons of God, i.e., are such in their inward character and temper.(3) In so far as sonship involves the idea of exaltation, power, blessing, etc., the indwelling of the Spirit is the immediate source of all these distinctions.

IV. THE NECESSARY CONDITIONS ON OUR PART IN ORDER TO THIS GUIDANCE.

1. We must renounce our own guidance and that of others, whether of the world, Church, or individuals.

2. We must submit to, and have full faith in, the guidance of the Spirit.

(C. Hodge, D.D.)

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).

(Bp. Hall.)

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY BEING LED BY THE SPIRIT? It is as if a blind man had asked the way to a certain city, and one had not only told him of it, but taken him by the hand to lead him therein. Or it is as if a little child in the dark had not only asked direction from his father, but had seized that father's hand, so to trust implicitly to his guidance (see also Psalm 23. 2-4; 143:10). This leading by the Spirit is —

1. A practical thing. If the Spirit leads us it is to govern and control our Words and actions (Titus 2:10-15; Isaiah 48:17, 18; Galatians 5:16-25; 1 John 3:1-10).

2. A work of inward influence and sweet secret suasion of all our moral being. True, there is a law, but it is a law of liberty — a commandment which love delights to obey, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty," not licentiousness; that liberty which consists not of freedom from moral obligation, but of disposition to comply with such obligation (Psalm 119:32).

3. Thorough. and perfect, steadily and continuously maintained. Do not confound with it transient emotions, occasional convictions, fitful resolutions, and short-lived periods of a reformation of life.

4. "According to the Scriptures," and is maintained through the habit and exercise of prayer. Here is nothing mystical, fanciful, fanatical. All is sober and rational, as it is sacred and solemn.

II. THE HIGH PRIVILEGE OF THOSE WHO ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD. They are the sons of God (2 Corinthians 6:18). God is our Father —

1. Nominally. He calls us His children, and we may call Him our Father. A formal act and covenant of adoption is entered into, whereby our Maker assumes in our favour a parental position and name, and we are permitted to believe in His paternal relation to us, to talk about it, and to act upon it (John 1:12, 13; Galatians 4:4, 5; 1 John 3:1).

2. Really God does more than call us children. He makes us so. We are His by regeneration as well as adoption, by a new birth as well as by a new title. Just as children resemble their parents in physical form and feature, and so prove themselves partakers of their nature, so do the sons of God resemble Him in moral lineaments, in spirit and disposition, and thus prove themselves partakers of His nature.

3. Effectively. Our Father treats us as His sons. He feels a parent's sympathy for us, and He fulfils all a parent's duty. He provides for us, defends us, extricates us out of our difficulties, instructs us, corrects us, makes us privy to His plans, and will eventually take us home to Himself, that we may dwell for ever in our Father's house.Conclusion:

1. If led by God's Spirit, rejoice in the thought of your Divine sonship.

2. As God's children let us evermore seek to be led by His Spirit.

(T. G. Horton.)First, to take notice of the property itself here mentioned which is to be led by the Spirit of God, where we may observe that there is such a thing indeed in the world as this is, which some persons are partakers of. There is a twofold leading by the Spirit; the one is common and ordinary, the other is special and peculiar. Now this is considerable with a double reference, either first of all to our first conversion; or, secondly, to our following conversation. There is the leading and guiding of the Spirit, which is requisite and necessary for Christians in each of these conditions. First, to look upon it in order to our first and primitive conversion. The children of God they are led on by His spirit in this. And there are three things which do make up this unto us. First, information, or discovery of such and such truths in the proposition. Secondly, illumination, or enabling of the mind to conceive and apprehend those truths which are thus discovered. Thirdly, inclination, or bowing of the will and affections to close and comply with such truths and motions which are apprehended. The Spirit of God does all these three in the work of conversion. The second is the communication of this property to a diversity and plurality of persons — "As many as are led." From whence we may observe this much, that this being led and acted and guided by the Spirit of God, it is not only the property of one or two particular persons, who are singular and alone by themselves, but it is the condition of a whole society and generation of men. There are many of them that are thus led (John 1:12; Acts 9:42; Galatians 6:16; Philippians 3:15). There is a variety and diversity of such persons as are thus guided and carried. First, in a succession of times, in one age after another. There have been always men guided by God's Spirit, and still are, and always will be. There were so in the times of the prophets, and there were so in the times of the apostles, and there are so still in ours, and will be further to the end of the world. And secondly, for one and the same time. There are many that go the same way and are in the like manner inclined. That as some thrive in wickedness, so others should thrive in goodness; and as Satan enlarges his kingdom, so the Lord also should increase His. This may therefore take off the slander which is cast upon religion as a private and singular business, as the invention only of some few persons, which they take up to themselves. No, it is no such matter; there are multitudes and varieties of them. The third is the consent or correspondency of this conduct in this variety, where many and different persons are intimated to be guided by one and the selfsame Spirit. Grace is one and the same for substance in all sorts of Christians, and they are led by the same Spirit of God, which is the worker and preserver of it in them there where it is wrought. "We having the same Spirit of faith, according as it is written" (2 Corinthians 4:13). "By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, and have been made all to drink into one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:13). This appears to be so in regard of the same effects, which it works in several persons. Where we find the same operations we may conclude there are the same principles. Again, they are not neither after one and the same manner. Grace, though it be in all one for substance, yet it is not in all one for modification, for the ordering and disposing of it. And lastly, it should very much persuade and prevail with Christians to mutual love and charity to one another, forasmuch as they are all led by the same common Spirit. The second is the predicate, or consequent, in the privilege belonging to these persons. It may further be cleared to us upon these considerations. First, such as are led by the Spirit they are undoubtedly the children of God, because they have the seed of God remaining in them, as the apostle John declares it of them (1 John 3:9). Secondly, those that are led by the Spirit, they are made conformable and like unto God, and have His image stamped upon them. Thirdly, they are members of Christ. Whosoever belong to Christ, who is the natural Son of God, they are consequently themselves the adopted sons of God. And this are they which are led by His Spirit. Now for a further clearing of this point still unto us, we may moreover take notice of it in a twofold illustration; the one as holding indefinitely, and the other as holding exclusively. Indefinitely, if they be led by God's Spirit, they are His children, let them be who they will be. Exclusively, if they be not led by His Spirit, whatever they be else they are none of His children. First, take it indefinitely. If they are such as are led by God's Spirit they are His children, let them be who they will. And that again in a twofold explication. First, in the indefiniteness of nations; and secondly, in the indefiniteness of conditions. This word, as many, it carries each of these latitudes in it. This teaches us likewise to own religion wheresoever we find it, let the persons in other respects be what they will be. The second is as it may be taken, exclusively. If they be not led by His Spirit, whatever they be else, they are none of His children. This proposition here before us is to be understood convertibly and by way of reciprocation. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God. And again, as many as are God's children, they are such as are led by God's Spirit. Whosoever are none of the former they are none of the latter. There's nothing less than the conduct of God's Spirit which will entitle one to a state of adoption. And here again two more. First, who are led by a different spirit, and they are excluded as defective. Secondly, as are led by an opposite spirit, and they are excluded as destructive. Now this being led of the Spirit of God may be very much judged of by us from these observations. First, by our delight in the Word of God, and our conformity and agreeableness to that. Secondly, by the goodness of the ways themselves in which we converse, we find these two joined together (Ezekiel 36:27, 28). Thirdly, by our cheerfulness and activity in the ways of God. And then lastly, as a concomitant, and that which is annexed hereunto. If we be led by the Spirit we shall be tender of grieving the Spirit, and doing anything which may be offensive to Him. There is no wise man who would offend his guide whom he depends upon for safety and direction.

(Thomas Horton, D.D.)

I. WHAT IT IS TO BE LED BY THE SPIRIT; or what it is that the Holy Spirit does for the furthering our salvation. Our Lord, taking His leave of His disciples, consigned them, as it were, over to the care and guidance of the Holy Ghost (John 16:13), who would guide them into all truth, and abide with them and the Church for ever (John 14:16; Acts 1:5-8). This, however, is not to be so understood, as if the Holy Ghost were now our sole conducter, exclusive of the other two Divine Persons (John 14:23; Matthew 28:20). Such guidance (which often goes under the name of grace) is ascribed to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it is the common work of all. And yet the Holy Ghost is emphatically styled "the Spirit of Grace," as being more immediately concerned in the work of grace. He gives —

1. Illuminating or enlightening grace, inasmuch as He instils good thoughts and salutary instructions; opening the understanding to receive them (Psalm 19:18; Acts 16:14).

2. Sanctifying grace, when He rectifies the heart, inclines the will, and meliorates the affections (Philippians 3:13). This is distinguished into preventing, assisting, perfecting; being considered, first, as laying the early seeds of that spiritual life; next, as contributing to its growth; and lastly, as adding the finishing hand to it.

3. The grace of true devotion, attended with deep compunction of heart (ver. 26).

II. IN WHAT MANNER DOES HE OPERATE AND EFFECTUATE WHAT HE DOES.

1. Ordinarily in a gentle, moral, insinuating way, and not by mechanical, irresistible impulses, such as would take away human liberty, or reduce men to intelligent clockwork, or reasoning machines. For upon that supposition every good work, word, or thought, would be so entirely God's, that no part of it would be ours. The operations of God's Holy Spirit, then, only prepare us for godliness, or incite us and enable us thereto; the rest must come from ourselves. Accordingly, men are capable of resisting, grieving, and even quenching the Holy Spirit.

2. To be a little more particular, the Holy Spirit works upon the mind by proper applications to the reason and conscience, the hopes and fears; suggesting what is right and good, and laying before men, in a strong light, the happiness to be obtained by obedience, and the misery consequent upon disobedience. And one very considerable article of Divine wisdom and goodness lies in the providential ordering affairs so as to serve the purposes of grace; not exempting good men altogether from temptations, but so restraining, limiting, and governing the temptations, that they shall not press harder, or continue longer, than may best answer the design of God's permitting them.

III. BY WHAT MARKS WE MAY DISCERN WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT OPERATES UPON US, AND WHEN WE ARE LED BY HIM.

1. These appear chiefly either in checks of conscience dissuading us from evil, or in godly motions, inciting us to what is right and good. For though what passes within us of that kind is not distinguishable by the manner of it from the natural workings of our own minds, yet revelation, in conjunction with our enlightened reason, assures us that every good thought, counsel, and desire, cometh from above.

2. But before we draw such conclusion with respect to any particular thought, special care should be taken that we proceed upon sure grounds; otherwise we may be apt to ascribe the rovings of fancy, or mere dreams of our own, to the Holy Spirit of God. Some very good men have been observed to make it a rule in cases of perplexity to lean to that side wherein they find most ease to their own minds. But sometimes it happens that a person may be under the influence of unperceived prejudices, or passions, which warp him to a side. And therefore there is no safe and certain rule to go by in such cases, but a strict examination into the nature and quality of the action. And if, upon reflection, we find that what we are inwardly dissuaded from is really evil, or what we are inwardly prompted to is really good, then may we safely and justly ascribe such motions to the Holy Spirit of God. As to our judging of our whole conduct, and whether, or how far we are conducted by the Holy Spirit, we have a safe rule to go by — God's commandments (1 John 3:24; Galatians 5:22-25).

IV. THE USE AND IMPROVEMENT TO BE MADE OF THE WHOLE.

1. To be ever mindful of the world of spirits whereunto we belong; and particularly of that blessed Spirit who presides over us, and whose temple we are, while we behave as becomes us.

2. To pray that the Spirit of God may alway dwell with us, and to take care to avoid all such practices as may offend the Holy Spirit.

3. Since the benefit of all depends upon our own willing compliance and hearty endeavours, let us make it our constant resolution to attend the motions, and to obey the suggestions of God's Holy Spirit, and so to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

(D. Waterland, D.D.)

By nature we are children of God, but we do not occupy the place of children. The prodigal was still the child of his father, but he was away from his father.

I. THE NATURE OF THIS SONSHIP.

1. A renovated heart.

2. Leading by the Spirit of God.(1) To clear views of the truth.

(a)By understanding the Bible.

(b)By comprehending the meaning of Divine providences.(2) To safety. He who is led does not lead. Some Christians think themselves wise enough to instruct God as to the experiences through which they should pass.

3. Peculiar love. Say what we will about universal charity, we love our children with a special love.

4. Heirship with Christ; sharers of His glory.

II. ITS DUTIES.

1. Reverence.

2. Trust.

3. Obedience.

4. Maintenance of the family honour.

5. Resignation. A true son will let God have His way.

III. HOW ARE WE TO BECOME SONS OF GOD. By our natural birth? By hearing His Word? By admission into His Church? No; John gives us the answer (John 1:12). Conclusion:

1. To all those who come home the door is open.

2. God takes great delight in being loved.

3. We come to God through prayer, then find provision, then protection.

(T. L. Cuyler, D.D.)

I. THE DESCRIPTION. We might almost have called it a picture. We are all travellers, and every step of our journey is under the guidance of influences which never cease to operate upon our character. Some are guided by the spirit of the world, some by the spirit of self-dependence, some by the spirit of superstition; but the children of God are led by the Spirit of God.

1. Why does the Spirit lead them? Because(1) They need guidance. Neither in thought nor action are we competent to take a single step by ourselves; and yet every step we take brings us nearer to God or takes us farther from Him.(2) Other guides are ready to lead astray.

2. Where does the Spirit lead them? Not in the paths where the garments will be defiled; not into the scenes of worldly dissipation and amusement, but often through many obstacles —

(1)To the Cross, where they find rest to their souls.

(2)To the closet, where they may find communion with their heavenly Friend.

(3)To the house of God

(4)To the Lord's table.

(5)To duty.

(6)To conflict.

(7)To heaven.

3. How does He guide them? By an inward impulse and by an outward ministry, and by these conjointly.

II. THE PRIVILEGE. "The sons of God." This privilege —

1. Commences with adoption. Adoption is the taking and treating a stranger as one's own child. It is a mere act of grace.

2. Is effectuated by regeneration. For it is in nature as well as in name that believers become the children of God.

3. Is sustained by Divine nourishment. There is milk for babes, and meat for strong men.

4. Is confirmed by Divine instruction. The world is converted into a vast school for the benefit of the Church, as the wilderness was when God brought His people out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 4:36; Deuteronomy 32:10).

5. Is manifested by Divine resemblance.

6. Is witnessed by the Divine Spirit.

7. It is the pledge of the highest glory.

(P. Strutt.)

I. THE CONDITION ON WHICH WE ARE "SONS OF GOD."

1. Not mere creatureship. The stars, the birds, the flowers, are God's creatures.

2. Not mere resemblance. Even fallen men are made in the image of God, and have a potential likeness to Him.

3. But filial disposition. Men are the special creation of God; may have a special resemblance to Him; may have affection, not fear; may cry "Abba, Father."

II. THE EVIDENCE THAT WE ARE "SONS OF GOD." There is —

1. The witness of God's Spirit.

2. The testimony of the spirit of man.

III. THE RESULTS OF OUR BEING "SONS OF GOD."

1. We are heirs of God.

2. We are joint-heirs with Christ.

(U. R. Thomas.)

I. THEIR SPIRIT is —

1. Obedient.

2. Confident.

3. Loving.

II. THEIR ASSURANCE is —

1. Divine.

2. Unquestionable.

III. THEIR PROSPECTS.

1. Glorious.

2. Certain.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. HIS PRESENT CONDITION. He is "led by the Spirit of God."

1. There are two things which may render it necessary for a person to be led, defect of vision or circumstances of peril. A blind man is under the necessity of being led, in order that he may be preserved from the dangers into which he would be otherwise betrayed.

2. Or a man may be exposed to such perils that it is necessary that he should put himself under the guidance of some one who may enable him to detect and overcome the danger. Both these, in a moral point of view, coalesce in the case of every one by nature.(1) Our moral eyesight is blinded. The reason of man is perverted; it is clouded by prejudice; it attaches undue weight to things that are of no importance, and overlooks the things which are of first-rate importance. Spiritual truth we are utterly unable to perceive. The various sciences have distinct nomenclatures which they who are not initiated do not understand. Now, gospel truth is just as unintelligible to one who has not been renewed by the Spirit of God. Mr. Pitt was once taken by Wilberforce to hear William Cecil; that statesman listened attentively, and when he was retiring, upon being asked by his friend how he liked the statements he had heard, the honest answer was, that he could not understand one single sentence. Why? Not that the preacher had clothed the truth in unintelligible language, but in the language of Scripture, inspired by the Spirit of God, and therefore in a language which that statesman was unable to comprehend because it was to be spiritually discerned.(2) And our way is encompassed with peril.(a) We are treading, as it were, upon the margin of eternity, and in an instant we might be summoned to stand before the bar of judgment.(b) We are surrounded with a host of spiritual beings, who are continually operating against our safety.(c) The world around us is continually placing temptation in our way.(d) We have a traitor within. Now, if all this be the case we need a leader such as the Spirit of God.

2. How is it that the Spirit of God leads?(1) By unfolding the meaning of the written Word. That Word is our great sheet-anchor in the present day, and. we have an infallible interpreter thereof in the Spirit who indited it.(2) By the various providences of which Christians are the subjects in their passage through life. He who will watch for providences shall never want a providence to watch. It is true that we have not a visible pillar of cloud and of fire; yet if we will only attentively listen to the voice of God's providence often we shall find it true — "Thine ear shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand or to the left."

3. How is it to be known whether a person is led of the Spirit? The marks are —

(1)Separation from the world.

(2)Obedience to God's will.

(3)A single eye to God's glory.

II. HIS PRIVILEGE.

1. As relating to the present life.(1) He may look up to God as his reconciled Father in Jesus.(2) Trials may befall him; but he knows that "all things work together for good to them that love God." God loves him too well not to try him. Thus he can look upon his trials with thankfulness, believing that they shall work out for him, "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."(3) He may come to God with the confidence of a child.(4) As his course draws nearer and nearer to eternity it grows brighter and brighter.

2. And as for his privileges in eternity, "Eye hath not seen" etc.,

(Bp. R. Bickersteth.)

1. They are led by His Spirit.

2. They bear the name of children (vers. 14, 16).

3. They speak the language of children (ver. 15).

4. They render the obedience of children.

5. They feel the confidence of children.

6. They participate in the inheritance of children.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

Clerical World.
I. THEIR CHARACTER. They are "led by the Spirit of God." This implies —

1. An active and progressive, not a passive and stationary life.

2. Something altogether different from abandonment to natural impulses.

3. A contrast with the leading of the spirit of the world, which conducts so many astray.

4. Guidance by means of the revealed Word of God, yet due to a Divine and supernatural influence.

5. Issues in progress in the way of holiness and obedience which leads to life eternal.

II. THEIR PRIVILEGES. They are regarded and treated by God as His sons. This involves —

1. Their regeneration and adoption by Divine grace.

2. Participation in the Divine character and likeness.

3. Favour and fellowship.

4. Heirship. They are joint heirs with Christ, and the time shall come when they shall enter upon a heavenly and immortal inheritance.

(Clerical World.)

1. How may I became a child of God?

2. How can I know that I am a child of God?

3. How must I prove that I am a child of God?

4. What advantage have I as a child of God?

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

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