Rom 8:14-17 for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, *these* are sons of God. For ye have not received a spirit of bondage again for fear, but ye have received a spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God. And if children, heirs also: heirs of God, and Christ’s joint heirs…
According to the flow of Romans 8, to be led by the Spirit is to respond to the voice of the Spirit of sonship within our hearts, which cries “abba Father”, and it is to respond to the voice of the Holy Spirit, which bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and heirs together with Christ.
The person who is led by the Spirit has a certain kind of mind, which Romans calls “the mind set on the spirit” which is “life and peace.” The mind set on the Spirit is the mind that has been fundamentally touched so that it no longer responds as a slave in bondage to fear, but a son beloved by the Father.
The person who is “led by the spirit” is not one who is necessarily “spiritual” in a mystical sense, but one who has come to a realization:
Nothing can separate me from the Love of God which is in Christ. Everything is being actively worked together for my good by my Father who loves me and has lovingly organized every detail in my life.
I am His treasure, His beloved Son, destined to inherit glory with Christ. He is not dealing with me in wrath, His judgement is not lingering over me like a cloud – it was all put away with the death of Christ.
The natural man, the man that I was apart from Christ, the “old man” , the “flesh” – was put away from God’s view in the death of Christ, and the new man, the inner man of the heart who is re-created in the image of Christ in righteousness and true holiness is the one that God sees.
Regardless of what I am in the flesh – whether sinful or “good” in a religious sense, God is not dealing me according to this. He deals with Christ, and deals with me in Christ, according to His merit, His work in death and resurrection, and His position at the right hand of God.
Romans 8 says “those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God.” To be led in this way is not just outward as the mystics and charismatics emphasize – (I went to the store because God led me to the store... ) rather its a fundamental training of the mind that comes from believing the gospel. The gospel teaches us to embrace the reality of our new relationship with God as Father.
The gospel trains us our mind to recognize the voice of God to realize that our life is entirely ruled by the principles of His Grace. This is in contrast to the way we were trained in our old man, which was to be ruled by fear of wrath or by seeking reward. Learning to be “led by the Spirit” means learning to respond to God as a son that is a rightful heir and not as a cringing slave!
The natural mind of the old man is so strong that it takes much diligent study in the word to dig out the gospel truths and defeat all of the arguments of the old man that raise themselves up against this knowledge of the God of grace.
We can be assured that this pursuit is led and supervised by the Spirit of grace who has been given to us – who is patiently and continually reasoning with us by the truth of the word that we have been justified, and that there is now no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!