Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. Fir if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.
Previously in Romans 8 Paul compared our sin natures to the Spirit, listing the benefits and consequences of each. His conclusion is that we have an obligation to the Spirit, not the sin nature. We must choose between the two. A live sin nature will lead to death. A dying sin nature will lead to life. The only way to kill the sin nature is by the Spirit. If I choose that, I show who my Father is.
This next sentence is interesting. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. The implication is that life apart from God, life controlled by the sin nature, is a fearful life. Instead of that, we receive a life of sonship. God is now our Father rather than our Judge. God as Judge is a fearful thing, but we call Him Daddy, not Judge.
The Spirit in me, the Spirit that puts to death my sin nature and gives me life and peace, is my own proof that I am God’s child. Do I see evidence of the Spirit putting to death my sin nature and controlling me? If so, I can know that I am God’s child and heir with Christ, and I will share in His glory. But that also means I will suffer with Him. In fact, this last verse makes sharing the suffering a condition of sharing the glory. This verse alone refutes the prosperity gospel so prevalent today. The next section will deal with that more in depth.