What does Romans 8:14 mean?
ESV: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
NIV: For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
NASB: For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons and daughters of God.
CSB: For all those led by God's Spirit are God's sons.
NLT: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
KJV: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Christians have God's Spirit, and those who have God's Spirit are Christians. Period. That's the point Paul is emphasizing in this verse, but he adds a new layer that he will begin to build on in the following verses. In the previous verse, he wrote that the ones who will live are those who put to death the sinful deeds of the body by the Spirit's power. He was not saying that we are saved by our works or our ability to stop sinning. That would contradict the entire message of Romans up to this point.
This verse clarifies that statement. The Spirit leads Christians—every Christian—in a specific direction away from their sinful choices. We are saved by God's grace alone through our faith alone. Then, the Spirit, also by God's grace, begins to set a new direction for our lives and to give us the power to go that way.
Why does God do this? Paul answers here: We are God's children. All who become God's children through faith in Christ are led by God's Spirit. All who are led by God's Spirit are His children. Put negatively, we are not in God's family if His Spirit does not lead us.
What is the implication of this? Looking forward, Christians should expect to be directed and empowered by their loving Father away from their sin and toward Him. Looking back, we should trust that He has been leading and empowering us on the path that we have walked as His children.
What an amazing and encouraging way to view our lives in Christ!
Romans 8:12–17 describes our position in Christ as God's children; those who have been saved through faith in Christ. First, though, Paul warns us that we owe nothing to our old lives in the flesh. That's not who we are any longer. No, since we are led by God's Spirit, we are God's children. God has not given to us a spirit of slavery, but a spirit of adoption into His family. By God's Spirit, we cry out to Him as our ''Abba,'' which is an informal term for ''Father.'' He confirms in our spirit, too, that we are His children.
Romans 8 begins and ends with declarations of the Christian's absolute security before God. There is no condemnation for those in Christ, and nothing will ever be able to separate us from His love. Having believed the gospel, we now live in the Spirit of God. That allows us to call God Abba Father. We suffer with Christ, and we suffer along with all creation while we wait for God to reveal us as His sons. With the help of the Spirit, we are confident that God is for us and loves us in Christ.
In Romans 7, Paul revealed his frustration of trying to do good only to be thwarted by his sin. He begins Romans 8, though, with the triumphant statement that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. We live in the Spirit, and we relate to God as a child does to a father. The Spirit helps us in this season of suffering along with all of creation while we wait for our adoption to be complete with the redemption of our bodies. We are confident, though, that God is for us and nothing can separate us from His love.
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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