Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Spirit of Bondage and the Spirit of Adoption

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)
Notice what is contrasted here: The spirit of bondage and the Spirit of adoption. The spirit of bondage leads us into fear; the Spirit of adoption leads us to reach for our Father.

Why does the apostle Paul make this contrast? I believe the answer has to do with fatherhood. “Spirit of adoption” speaks naturally of having a father, a family, a name, a place of belonging and an inheritance. But “spirit of bondage” speaks of slavery, without family or name or inheritance — without a father.

In other words, the spirit of bondage is a spirit of fatherlessness. There are many ways a person might experience fatherlessness. It might be because of a father who literally abandoned his family. Or it might be a father who died young, leaving his children orphans. Divorce also leaves a type of fatherlessness. Or there might be abuse, physical, emotional, even sexual — these all leave their mark upon the soul. It may be as simple as neglect, or a father who is emotionally absent from his children. Fatherlessness breeds helplessness and a loss of identity, leading to bondage and resulting in fear.

The spirit of bondage is demonic. It comes from the devil, whose purpose is to deceive us and draw us away from our Father. He wants us to doubt, not only the Word of God, but the heart of God, the heart of our Father.

God has not given us the spirit of bondage. He does not call us slaves. Rather, He has given us the Spirit of adoption—the Holy Spirit resident and at work within us, revealing to us our identities as children of God. We call God our Father, He calls us His children, His sons and His inheritance.

As Paul tells us, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17).

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul speaks to this same theme of adoption:
When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Galatians 4:4-7)
The spirit of bondage is the spirit of fear! But those who have received the Lord Jesus Christ no longer need to remain the slaves of fear. For we now have the Holy Spirit in us, by whom we cry out to our true Father — Abba, Poppa, Daddy. Claim your inheritance and walk in your identity in the house of your heavenly Father.