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Sermon #3153

The Spirit and The Law

A Sermon on Romans 8:14-15


Romans 8:14-15 ESV KJV
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (ESV)

Sermon Description

As the apostle Paul recounts his autobiography, conviction from the law of God seems absent from his former life in Judaism. What is to be made of this? How is it that the apostle knew God’s law so well as a Pharisee and yet never felt condemned by the law? In this sermon on Romans 8:14–15 titled “The Spirit and the Law,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones expounds the nuances of various viewpoints as he defends his interpretation. In the end, Dr. Lloyd-Jones highlights the peculiar work of the Holy Spirit. Before the Spirit brings liberty, He brings a spirit of bondage and of fear, as the apostle Paul wrote. In other words, the Holy Spirit brings the Christian down and shows them their need. It is not until the Holy Spirit brings fear, condemnation, and conviction through the law of God that anyone will find the joy of repentance. This spirit of bondage always precedes the Spirit of adoption. Moreover, the spirit of bondage, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, is great evidence of assurance of salvation. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones moves through his detailed exegesis in order to demonstrate how it is good news when the Holy Spirit brings a bondage of fear.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle Paul is giving assurance of salvation by showing our sonship to God.
  2. Our position as Christians is not just being forgiven but being adopted into God's family.
  3. We can know we are God's children if we are led by the Spirit of God. This is shown through practical tests of conduct and desire.
  4. Some interpret "being led by the Spirit" as God's guidance in life's decisions. But this is too subjective. The main meaning is mortifying sinful deeds through the Spirit.
  5. Another proof of sonship is not receiving a spirit of bondage again to fear, but receiving the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry "Abba, Father."
  6. "Spirit" here could mean disposition or feeling, referring to discouragement vs. joy. But the context and capital "S" in the second use show it means the Holy Spirit.
  7. The Spirit produces our adoption, not just comes in after. But the Father primarily does the adopting.
  8. Galatians 4:6 also shows the Spirit leads us to cry "Abba, Father," confirming the second use of "Spirit" here means the Holy Spirit.
  9. It is unlikely Paul would change the meaning of "Spirit" without indicating it. The translators also saw the second use as referring to the Holy Spirit.
  10. Unbelievers don't have a spirit of bondage and fear. They feel secure in their sins. The "received" and "again" show Paul refers to those who once received this spirit.
  11. The context is about the Holy Spirit. Verse 16 refers to "our spirit," so if Paul meant our spirit here he would say so.
  12. The Spirit produces bondage and fear through applying the law. Unbelievers don't feel this just from knowing the law or circumstances. Only the Spirit can convict of sin.
  13. 2 Corinthians 3:17 means where the Spirit's work is complete, not where He first begins. The Spirit first produces bondage, then liberty.
  14. Romans 7 and Galatians 4 show Paul is referring to the Holy Spirit producing bondage, then adoption.
  15. The Spirit of bondage always precedes the Spirit of adoption.

The Book of Romans

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.