Sinners, Servants, or Sons? Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Sin separates the child of God from the blessings of God, and it will separate the unbeliever from Him forever.
Title: Sinners, Servants, or Sons?
Text: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)
Bible Reading: Romans 8:12-17
In Genesis, Paul describes the beautiful life God had in mind for people when He created them. Following every act of creation, God announced that it was good. When God created man and woman, it was also a good creation. He placed them in the beautiful Garden of Eden where He provided all they needed. But, this perfect couple fell into sin and that created a problem for them and for you and me. In Chapter 5 Paul describes the problem and the cure. The problem, he says, is sin. Sin literally means “to miss the mark” or “to fall short of reaching God’s standard.” Sin is often recognized as bad behavior, such as stealing, murder, adultery, or lying. However, a more fundamental attitude deep within the human heart lies behind all “sins” and is expressed as “I know better than God in this matter.” This attitude led Eve to that first, fatal, disobedient act in the Garden of Eden.
Adam had told her that God had forbidden the eating of the fruit, but when the fruit was presented to her as good, pleasant, and desirable, she allowed her own judgment to take precedence over the Word directly from God, and she ate the forbidden fruit. God has not given us His Word just so we can decide whether or not to obey Him. He has given us His Word because that Word is truth and life, and we are to obey it without question and with unhesitating confidence.
The problem we face today is the same. Romans 3:23 says that we are all sinners. Sin separates the child of God from the blessings of God, and it will separate the unbeliever from Him forever. But there is a cure for the disease of sin, and His name is Jesus Christ. His death on the cross paid our sin debt and made it possible for us to be reconciled to God. In Romans 6:11-14 Paul gives us the choice we must make. We can do one of two things; we can yield ourselves to God or allow some sin to be the king of our lives. We will sin as long as we remain in these bodies, but by yielding ourselves to God we will never again be caught in the trap of continuing in sin.
In Chapter 7, Paul pictures the struggles of a person with a mixed nature. Here is where Paul describes the constant struggle that goes on within the believer between two natures. Each one tries to control the person. The old sinful nature causes you to do something, and then hate yourself because you’ve done it. The new nature is given by God to all who are saved by faith in God’s Son.
This nature cannot sin, so it struggles against the old nature.
In Chapter 8 Paul gives God’s plan for His people. Folks, our old nature is totally depraved. God doesn’t have a plan to redeem it.
Instead, He gives us a new nature. In addition, the Holy Spirit lives within every child of God. Because of what God gives us, and because we are sons and daughters of our heavenly Father, we can live in this world as more than conquerors. His plan for His children is for them to proclaim Christ for as long as they live, and when we die our soul flies to our Savior.
Read the scripture, Romans 8:12-17.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
13 For 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.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
Those were the words of the apostle. He has a message for you and me in these verses. Therefore, let's look closely at the passage, and it will become apparent that--Every person falls into one of three categories.
Category #1 is Sinners—all sinners are rebels against God
Category #2 is Servants—they were purchased by His blood and belong to Him
Category #3 is Sons (or daughters)—they are those who truly love the Father and desire to please Him
There’s a big difference between these groups. For one thing, sinners are limited to the temporary peace the world gives.They are ruled by their old nature and they worship the god of money, or power, or fame, or sex, or drugs, or the things that money can buy. They may believe that they’ll be saved sometime before they die. Their hope is that being members of a mainstream church will commend them to God so they will go to heaven when they die.
Servants are the second group; they are limited to the action they believe their Master wants. Servants are as busy as bees. They do a lot of good things, because they believe good deeds commend them to God. But, the only thing that God is interested in is, do you love His Son and is He your Savior.
The third group is sons (or daughters) who live in total freedom because of the love of the Father. This is the group I hope you are all in. I know I am part of this group, since I have been saved through faith in Jesus. Someone may ask, “How do you know you were saved?” I have a great answer, “I know I am saved, because I was there.” Folks, we determine which relationship we have with the Lord. It’s a choice we make.
We choose between two paths. One is broad and many people are on this path, but the only place this path goes is to the Judgment Seat of Christ, where they will receive the wrath of God. But there is another path, and it is narrow and there aren’t many on this one. But Jesus is the guide, and leads them to a place of joy and eternal peace. Today’s lesson is about the nature of the life lived by sinners, servants, and sons. As we go through the lesson, think about what your relationship with the Lord is now, and what group that puts you in.
Let’s look first at the nature of the sinful life, which is described in John 8:19-24. In the verses coming just before this passage, Jesus is speaking to some Pharisees who brought a woman to Him that had been caught in the act of adultery. What could be more crude and rude and brutal than this act of these religious leaders? Our Lord was setting in the temple area teaching the people, when there was a hullabaloo outside. Then here come these religious rulers dragging a woman with her clothes looking like a mess, and her hair all messed up; but she is defiant and resisting them. They fling her down on the ground and then they make this crude statement, “This woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.” There is no doubt about it, she is guilty. But Jesus baffled the crowd by stopping those who wanted to stone her to death, and then declaring, “Your sins are forgiven, go in peace.”
This incident caused a sharp conflict between the religious leaders and Christ. He told them that he was sent by His Father and that His Father could bear witness that what He said was true, so they asked the question—
19 "Where is your father?" they asked. Jesus answered, "You don't know who I am, so you don't know who my Father is. If you knew me, then you would know him too."
20 Jesus made these statements while in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, for his time had not yet run out.
21 Later he said to them again, "I am going away; and you will search for me, and die in your sins. And you cannot come where I am going."
22 The Jews asked, "Is he planning suicide? What does he mean, 'You cannot come where I am going'?"
23 Then he said to them, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not.
24 That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am the Messiah, the Son of God, you will die in your sins."
John 8:19-24 (Living)
The Pharisees were attacking Jesus’ credibility. They said He can’t be the Messiah or He wouldn’t have been born to such a poor family. They said He was uneducated and that He was a liar. They were looking for the coming of the Messiah, but they were expecting a political leader who would lead them to victory over the Romans, and make their country great again. But, Jesus set the record straight. (vv. 12-18) He said, “I am the light of the world.” Christ shines as the Light in the world of darkness and sin. If anyone accepts and trusts the leading of that Light, he … shall have the light of life. However, many will never receive the light of salvation, because they are bound by their sins, and by the state of affairs in the world. Folks, sinners are bound by the conditions of this world. (v. 23) We are all limited by what our minds and bodies can do. And our old sinful nature will never release us from its grip as long as we are in this body. But those who conform themselves to the world, rather than to Christ, have three characteristics in common.
First, they are more interested in what feels good than what’s right. Jesus told the religious leaders they didn’t know where they were going or where He was going, because they were in the dark spiritually. They had the light of the Law and of conscience, but they did not have the light of life. Consequently, they didn’t know the Father or understand what Jesus taught them. Rather, they did whatever felt good and satisfied their selfish desires.
Second, they can justify their actions to themselves but not to God. That’s easy if you’re not a Christian and there is no Holy Spirit to say to you, “What you did is wrong.”