Family values

Romans 8.9-17

This note was originally published on Tuesday 9 March 2021.

... the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’


Our experiences (bad or good) of being ‘fathered’ – by family, friends, mentors, etc – affect how we respond to God as Father. Spend some time reflecting on your experience, noticing how you feel.


Romans 8.9-17


As in yesterday’s reading, words like ‘controlled by’ or ‘realm’ (v 9) are added by translators. Paul actually uses the word ‘in’: ‘you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit’. To understand this, we need to read verse 15.

Notice how Paul says we ‘receive’ our adoption (as ‘sons’ – that is, we have the same status as God’s Son). This is not something we discover within, nor something we earn. Instead of belonging to sin, now we belong to God’s family. And God gives all his children the Spirit, to enable us to live the family life – however imperfectly – in two ways.

First, ‘mortification’ (v 13) – or ‘putting to death’: we are already set free from condemnation and the penalty of sin, but our ongoing struggle with it shows we are not yet free of sin’s power. Yet God enables his children to resist it: ‘By the Spirit put to death the misdeeds of the body’.

Second, dedication (v 14): God’s children are those who are ‘led by the Spirit’. God’s Spirit is at work within us, enabling the (imperfect) obedience we need to follow and live God’s way.


Christians should not be passive recipients of a gift – God gives his Spirit to enable us to live as his children. How actively do you live by the Spirit in the two ways we have identified today?