Key Verse: Rom 8:14
I. What Is the Test of a Born-Again Believer?
A. One is not marked as a believer by a mere profession of faith, but rather by being indwelt and led by God’s Spirit (Rom 8:11,14). We are told that the Holy Spirit dwells in us as believers in Christ (Rom 8:9-11). Paul uses this same idea when he speaks of our being "sealed" by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13; 4:30). We are consequently led by Him (Rom 8:14).
B. In Rom 7:17, Paul uses the same words ( oikô en , "dwell in") to refer to sin dwelling in him as when he speaks of the Spirit dwelling in him (Rom 8:9). Therefore, Paul is saying that his sinful nature has not been eradicated by the entrance of the Holy Spirit into his life.
C. Paul desired to serve the indwelling Spirit instead of the sinful flesh which struggled against this (Rom 7:22,23).
D. If he had been led by his old nature, one could question whether he were truly saved. This is confirmed by Rom 8:11, "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." The verb for "quicken" is zœopoiêsei , "shall make alive." Once we have come to possess spiritual life by means of the implanted Spirit, or after having been "born again" (John 3:3), it is impossible for the dead flesh to rule over the live Spirit on a permanent basis (1 John 3:6).
II. The Born-Again Believer Has a Responsibility to Follow the Spirit
A. The Lord does not produce in us a static, dormant stupor when the Spirit enters. In fact, just the opposite occurs; we are immediately called into active combat.
B. "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh" (Rom 8:12). The expression, "we are debtors" indicates that we are under obligation to God. Because we personally did nothing to merit the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are indebted to God for His presence in our lives. The way we repay God for His grace is to follow after the Spirit and not the flesh.
III. There Are Inevitable Consequences of Our Lifestyles
A. Paul declares in Rom 8:13,14 that our way of life clearly demonstrates whether we have been born again into God’s family.
B. "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die" (Rom 8:13). Such a person clearly does not have the Spirit in him and will be eternally separated from God, no matter what profession of faith he makes. He is excluded because his life yields the fruits of the flesh (Gal 5:19-21).
C. Those who follow the Spirit, on the other hand, grow from the immature state of childhood ( tékna , "children" [John 1:12]) to the maturity of sonship ( huioí , "sons" [Rom 8:14]), who as grown-ups voluntarily conform to Jesus Christ. Their conformity to Christ confirms that they were indeed born again and are "joint-heirs" with Christ. In Rom 8:16 the word "children" is used: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children [ tékna ] of God."
Téknon means "one born," thus, it refers to the new birth (John 1:12). Afterwards, however, comes the maturation process. This growth into sonship is achieved by means of obedience to the Holy Spirit in our lives (Rom 8:14) and God’s will for us (Eph 2:10).