(Rom 8:15) “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!””
Living in the Spirit means living as a child of God.
Living as a child of God means an intimate, personal, joyful relationship with God, not like the bondage and fear demonstrated by the law. As believers in Christ, God has made us His children, and a child of God can have a relationship with God so close that they may cry out, “Abba, Father!” (Daddy!) We can come before Him without fear or hesitation, as our beloved Father, being confident that we are truly His sons. We can cry to Him “Abba” with tenderness, dependence and a relationship free of fear and anxiety, and full of filial reverence. This cry proceeds from the Spirit in us, drawing forth the filial exclamation in our hearts. Here, it proceeds from our own hearts under the vitalizing energy of the Spirit, as the very element of the new life in believers.
In “Abba, Father”, Abba is an Aramaic word signifying father but in an intimate way (like the English Daddy); Father is the Greek word pateir. And why “Abba, Father”? Because Christ the Son said so in prayer, Abba, Father: and we have received the Spirit of the Son. It denotes an affectionate appealing persistence, and a believing stress laid upon the relation. Little children, begging of their parents, can just say Father, Father, and that is rhetoric enough. It also denotes that the adoption is common both to Jews and Gentiles: the Jews call Him Abba in their language, the Greeks may call Him pateir in their language. In Christ Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew, for all are one in Him by faith.
It is easy to see Jesus relating to the Father with this joyful confidence, as He is the Son by Nature, but we may see ourselves as disqualified for it. However, we are in Christ – and in Him we have the privilege of relating to the Father even as Jesus Christ does.
Men may give a charter of adoption; but it is God’s privilege, when He adopts, to give a spirit of adoption — the nature of children. The Spirit of God works in the children of God a filial love to God as a Father, a delight in Him, and a dependence upon Him, as a Father. A sanctified soul bears the image of God, as the child bears the image of the father. The God-dependent voice of every believer’s prayerful heart is here called crying, which is not only a sincere, but a natural expression of desire; children that cannot speak vent their desires by crying. Now, the Spirit teaches us in prayer to come to God as a Father, with a holy humble confidence.
In the Roman world of the first century AD an adopted son was a son deliberately chosen by his adoptive father to carry on his name and inherit his estate; he was not inferior in status to a son born in the ordinary course of nature.
Under Roman adoption, the life and standing of the adopted child changed completely. The adopted son lost all rights in his old family and gained all new rights in his new family; the old life of the adopted son was completely wiped out, with all debts being cancelled, with nothing from his past counting against him anymore.
Are you the adopted son who lost all rights in his old family and gained all new rights in his new family? Have you already received from God a spirit of adoption as a son by which you cry out, “Abba! Father!”?
If not, I invite you today to examine yourself, to come to Jesus with a repentant heart, to fully trust your life to Him Who gave you life, so you may receive that spirit of adoption as a son by which you may cry out, “Abba! Father!”
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, fill you with a spirit of wisdom, Amen!