Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature,[f] you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) – Romans 8:12-25 [NLT]
Does every gift come with strings attached? Do I open the door for someone ladened with a heavy load and no free hand, in order to receive a thank you? Do I give a Christmas gift so that I will receive one from the giftee? Before you’re too quick to say your gifts are given entirely for altruistic motives, let me ask you a question. If you give a nice gift and don’t receive a thank you what happens in your heart? Does a sprig of resentment begin to grow? Do you feel cheated?
This section of Romans begins with a therefore. And whenever you see a therefore, you look to see what it’s there for. So, take a look at the immediately preceding verse:
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. – Romans 8:11
You might wonder about God’s motive in his gift of life and the hope of the resurrection. You might even say that God has an ulterior motive in giving us the Holy Spirit. We might think that our salvation brings an obligation to us.
But a closer look reveals something quite different. Because we have the Holy Spirit, and the hope of the resurrection we are no longer under obligation to our sinful nature. And there’s the rub. Part of the fall and the impact of the sinful nature is sin’s allurement. Sin looks good. Forbidden fruit is pleasing to the eye, good for food and desirable for wisdom. Who wouldn’t want that?
However, we know the sharp barb that bait hides. We know the wages sin is death. We know about the bitter poison hidden in that fruit. Those who have been taken down into the abyss of death, darkness, and despair – where sin always leads – know better. Those see God’s love for what it is know where sin always leads. As Billy Graham has said:
The Bible declares that there can be pleasure in sin. We know this from our own experience. But the Bible also says that sin’s pleasure is only for a season (Hebrews 11:25). Then it’s over, leaving us bitter, and finally destroying us. A day of reckoning always comes. The Bible says, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
We have the Holy Spirit in our hearts and we are therefore no longer under the obligation of our sinful nature. We are no longer obligated to death. To be freed from that obligation is a great gift.