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(Romans 8:12-15) Hand in Glove

(Romans 8:12-15) Hand in Glove

Ref: Romans 8:12–15

The Apostle Paul says that we have been adopted by God, which means we are God's kids! We are children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! What are the eternal and immediate implications of that? Find out in this message, "Hand in Glove."


Hand in Glove

Romans 8:12-15

I want to thank you for praying for me these past 2 weeks especially.  I received a number of calls and emails and cards indicating your support and offering encouragement as I spent time writing what turned out to be a small book on the subject of church discipline and restoration.

We have tried to anticipate and answer all the questions that come up regarding this forgotten exercise of the church.

Questions like:

“How do you determine which sins to discipline?”  “How do you treat someone under church discipline?”  “Is someone a true believer who has experienced discipline and refused to repent?”

We are still receiving requests for this information – from numerous Christians and church leaders throughout this area and even from other states.


We are printing the book this week and will have it available for you in the media center, located to the right of the lobby, on next Sunday.

Thus far, in Romans chapter 8 we have discovered:

A new pardon from the King

A new friend in the Holy Spirit

And a new obsession by means of a new mind-set.

And we’re about to discover that, because of the Spirit of God in our lives, there are a lot more new things to experience.

I brought along something that I’m not sure I’m ever going to need this winter – my pair of gloves.

Usually by late November, I’ve worn them at least 2 or 3 times.  But not this November.  Here we are in the low 70’s, enjoying sunshine and beautiful, utility free days . . . isn’t that great – you don’t need air conditioning and you don’t need heat – the utility companies must view these days with an entirely different perspective.

We think we’re in the millennial kingdom, and they think we’re in the great tribulation.

The only thing I don’t like is my grass is still growing – it thinks its still summer.

Well, if it ever does get below 60, I’ll pull out these gloves and pull them on.

They’re wonderful things . . . and they can do amazing things. 

My gloves can:


They can roll down a window

They can throw a stick for my dog, only to have her look at me like I’m out of my mind to think she’d ever run after it – if I threw a piece of meat – that would be different;

My gloves can shake hands;

They can wave good-bye to a friend

My gloves can applaud an amazing last minute win by the Wolf-pack – if they ever get one.

My gloves can smack somebody for saying that.

My gloves can pat somebody on the back

They can even make the sign for “I love you.”

My gloves are amazing things, right?!

Of course not . . . they are entirely useless unless my hands are inside them.

What a glove does is directly related to what’s inside it, right?

You could say it this way: “whatever possesses the glove determines whatever the glove performs.”

Whoever activates the glove, determines the activity of these gloves.

Or it could be put another way (I had entirely too much time to think about this illustration): 


Here it is, “The occupation of these gloves depends entirely upon these gloves being occupied.”

For without me, these gloves can do . . . . nothing!


Sound familiar?

Jesus Christ said, “Without me, you can do . . . nothing.

And the Apostle Paul has already informed us in Romans 8:11 that the believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. 

The believer is occupied . . . inhabited . . . energized . . . by the Holy Spirit.

Christianity is nothing less than a hand in glove experience – it is impossible to live it on your own – we are merely the willing gloves – God’s Spirit is the omnipotent hands.

And because the hands of God are occupying us . . . there are several new things that occur in the believer’s life.

First of all, you are able to follow Someone new!

Let’s rejoin our study in Romans 8 and at verse 12

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

The new thing?  It’s divine leadership. 

Paul first speaks in general terms – reviewing what he has already taught in the previous verses of this chapter.  If you live in for the flesh you’re going to die.

Now, this isn’t one of those, “I can lose my salvation verses.”  Paul is teaching much like you’d teach your child – “Listen, if you walk out in the street without looking, you’re gonna get hit by a car; if you put your hand on the oven you’re gonna get burned; if you put the cat in the microwave – you’re gonna have to explain that to your mother.

These are painful thoughts.  Well, if you live according to your fleshly desires and pursue only those things that appeal to your pride and your flesh and your way and your own desires – you’re gonna make a mess of your life and then live a horrible existence in hell.

Paul is simply reiterating general truth – he is not implying that a believer can somehow not live good enough and thus lose his salvation.

Then Paul makes this wonderful statement – those who are indwelt by the Spirit – verse 11 – have the privilege of being led by the Spirit.

What does it mean to be led by the Spirit?

There are numerous answers floating around.

Some believe Spirit leadership comes through mystical experiences, special intimations; unusual feelings and even divine revelation.

The latest fad coming down the evangelical pipe, I believe, is what will be viewed as Spirit induced dreams.  Dreams from God which will now direct the believer and reveal God’s will. 

You’ll have to learn how to interpret these dreams and since the New Testament says nothing about it, numerous authors will fill in the blanks and put their speculations into print. 

Believers will only be distracted by one more gimmick which takes their minds off the revealed truth of God.

As far back as the days of Jeremiah, false teachers stood and said they had dreams from God. 

In the last days you will clearly understand it. “I did not send

these prophets, But they ran. I did not speak to them, But they

prophesied.  I have heard what the prophets have said who

prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a

dream!’ . . . Is there anything in the hearts of the

prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the

deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people

forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one

another . . .  The prophet who has a dream may relate his

dream, but let him who has My word  speak My word in truth .

. . Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord, “and like a

hammer which shatters a rock? Behold, I am against the

prophets,” declares the Lord, “who use their tongues and

declare, ‘The Lord declares.’  Behold, I am against those who

have prophesied false dreams,” . . . “and related them and led

My people astray by their falsehoods . . . yet I did not send them

or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest

benefit,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:25-32

Remember that when you see a book about some leaders dreams and visions.

The enemy knows that if he can get you to believe that the scriptures are not sufficient for everything you need for godly living, he has won a major victory.  Like Eve in the garden, the word of God is no longer final.

So today, the Bible is no longer the settled word of God, for now the church needs to vote its feelings and its opinions and its own feelings to determine which way to live.

That’s how you can have a faction within the Episcopalian church vote a practicing homosexual into office as an official  representative of Jesus Christ on earth who speaks for God.

Oh that God would give us the passion of the Psalmist who cried, “Establish my footsteps in Thy word, and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me (Psalm 119:133)

Or again, “Make me to walk in the path of Thy word, for I delight in it.” (119:35)

Since one of the key roles of the Holy Spirit is to illumine the scriptures to the mind of the true believer, being led by the Spirit is to be led into the word of God. 

Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come, “whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:25-26)

This promise had special significance for the apostles, who would become Christ’s uniquely authoritative witnesses to His truth after Christ ascended back to heaven.  But the promise also applies in a general way to all believers after Pentecost.  From that time on, every believer has been indwelt by Christ’s own Holy Spirit, whose ministry to us includes that of shedding divine light on scriptural truths so that we can understand them.

John MacArthur, Romans: Volume One; (Moody Press), 1991, p. 432

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, “The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.  But he who is spiritual appraises all things . . . for we have the mind of Christ.”

Being led by the Spirit is to be led into the study of the word.

Furthermore, being led by the Spirit is to be led into obedience to the word.


Paul wrote, “I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the  flesh.” (Galatians 5:16

Or like Paul who encouraged Timothy by reminding him, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, prepared/equipped for every good work.

Are you being led by the Spirit? 

Ask it this way: 

  • are you in the word of God? 
  • are you obeying the word of God?

The Greek verb for “led” (ago) has a number of different nuances that reveal wonderful truth:

            -are you attended by the word;

            -are you accompanied by the word;

            -are you driven by the word;

            -are you pulled, tugged, hauled and moved by the word;

-are you escorted, conducted directed and piloted by the word of God;

The word also appears around 200 hundred times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament.

The very first time it appears in scripture is that breathtaking moment when Adam is roused from his deep sleep and God leads Eve to him.  He ‘brought her’ –  here’s the verb – He ‘led her to Adam.’ 

Donald Grey Barnhouse wrote, “I could not help but look down through the years to that moment when the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon our Lord Jesus Christ, and there, upon the cross of Calvary, He opened up the side of the Lord and from that suffering and death he would created the church of His redeemed people – yes the very bride of Christ.”

Adapted from Donald Grey Barnhouse, Romans: Volume III, (Eerdmans Publishing); 1959, p. 85.

For those indwelt by the Holy Spirit, you are able to have the incredible privilege of following Someone new – Divine Leadership!

Secondly, Paul goes on to say that you are able to belong to Someone new!

What is this new privilege?  It is not only divine leadership, it is a divine relationship.

Verse 14 again – For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  15. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons.

What does it mean to be an adopted son of God?

I can tell you ahead of time that it is one of the most beautiful and moving nuances of our redemption.

We are no longer enslaved to the fear of not measuring up to the requirements of the law; we are not freely accepted into the beloved as adopted sons of God.  What does he mean?

The word adoption is rare in the Bible.  In fact, it never appears in the Old Testament.  And it doesn’t appear in the Old Testament because the Jews didn’t practice adoption – they had other measures in place to care for orphans and the legal issues of inheritance.

The word adoption only appears 5 times in the entire New Testament – 3 of which are found in the Book of Romans.

We tend to think of adoption in terms of transferring a child from one family into another.

But it also referred to a special ceremony whereby the Roman father would adopt his own son – a ceremony that inducted the boy into manhood.  The ceremony of adoption literally bestowed on the young man the full rights of his Roman citizenship. 

Likewise, adoption into God’s family, in this sense, meant that we have been inducted into the full rights of heaven’s citizenship.  We have the right to inherit our father’s fortune.  This is what Paul refers to in verse 17 where he calls us the fellow heirs of Christ.  Imagine that – we will inherit our Father’s fortune!

But there is also the use of this word adoption for the transference of one child into another. 

A Roman adoption, in this sense, did 3 things:

            1)  The adopted person lost all rights in his old family and gained all the rights of a legitimate son in his new family.  In the most binding legal way, he literally got a new father.

            2)  By law, the old life of the adopted person was completely wiped out; for instance, all his debts were cancelled.

            3)  In this ceremony, the adopted son received the right to carry on the name of his new family as well as share in the family’s inheritance.

One incident in Roman history provides an outstanding example of how binding and complete this ceremony was.

The Emperor Claudius adopted Nero in order that he might succeed him on the throne; they were not in any way related by blood.  Claudius already had a biological daughter, Octavia.  Nero would later want to marry Octavia in order to strengthen his hold on the throne.  Even thought Nero and Octavia were not related by blood as brother and sister, before they could marry, the Roman senate had to pass special legislation allowing it.  Why?  Because Roman law considered them brother and sister – even though they weren’t related by blood – Nero had been adopted – it was as if he had been the biological son of Claudius.

We have been adopted by God the Father. 

In the mind of Paul, we have entered  into the very family of God.  We did nothing to deserve it: God, in his amazing love and mercy, has chosen lost, helpless, poverty-stricken, debt-laden sinners and adopted them into his own family, so that their debts are cancelled and the inheritance of heaven is their own.

Because the Spirit of God is the hand inside our glove, we are able to follow Somebody new; we are able to belong to somebody new and one more thing for now:

We are able to speak to Someone new!

Not only do we follow divine leadership and have a divine relationship, but now, we can experience divine worship.

Notice verse 15b.  you have receive a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba!  Father!”

Talk about new!

No Jew ever addressed God as Father.

Even the names of God were more and more withheld from public speech and prayers. 

James Boice, Romans: Volume 2; (Baker Books), 1992, p. 841

Even in writing the names of God, the scribes would first set his quill down, wash his hands, pick up a special quill, write the name of God, then set the quill aside and continue on with writing.

The wonderful part of this was reverence for God.  The sad part of it was distance from God.

The Spirit of God would change all of that.  Because of Christ’s atoning death and the Spirit’s creation of spiritual life in those who trust Christ’s work alone, the Christian can now call God, Father.

It’s fascinating to discover that Jesus Christ always spoke of God as His Father, but he also used this address in all of his prayers. 

He never prayed to “God.”  He always prayed to the Father.

With one exception.  His cry from the cross, when He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).  But this only enforces the point.  That prayer on the cross came from Christ’s lips at the moment in which he was made sin for us and in which the relationship he had with his Father was temporarily broken.

Ibid, p. 842

Our Lord taught His disciples to pray like He did – and his model prayer began with the words, “Our Father.”

What exactly does Abba mean.  It is simply the Aramaic word for Father as well.

The only difference was the fact that abba was the address of small children to their fathers.  Jewish commentary confirms that when a child is weaned they learn to say abba and imma – that is, Daddy and Mommy.

Ibid. p. 842

This is radically new stuff.  Not only would a Jew never consider addressing God as his father, he would consider it presumptuous to enter God’s presence and call Him Pappa or Daddy.

Jesus combined the two names together when he prayed in the garden . . . when put together they show both intimacy and trust and respect.

To put it in contemporary English you would say, “My dear heavenly Father . . .”

This is saying something entirely new to God.  And by what right?!  The indwelling, occupying, enabling person of the Holy Spirit.

Put gloves back on:

This winter . . . if it ever comes . . . every time you put on a pair of gloves, I trust you will be reminded of the principle of God’s spirit indwelling us, activating in us these wonderful truths.

And by the way, if these gloves could talk . . . they’d never think of saying, “I’ll go it alone today . . . I can do this by myself.”

They would never grit their teeth . . . if they had any, or complain that they have to get out of the warm closet and go out into the cold.  They simply surrender to the hand that indwells them.

But by yielding to the indwelling movement and direction of the Holy Spirit – like a glove yields to the hand, we are empowered by Him, enabled by Him, secured by Him and directed by Him;

Christianity is simply . . . hand in glove.


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