Pastor Brad wrote:
When you write "when your spirit leads your flesh" you mean, I believe, the new spirit that God has given you. No problem there. But when you write that "the Spirit of God testifies to the Father in the same way your spirit, leading your flesh, testifies to the Father" I am scratching my head here. If you are referring to Rom. 8:15, I understand you. But even there I think you'd have to suppose that the "spirit of adoption" refers not to the Holy Spirit but to your newly created spirit. (I believe it is a reference to the Holy Spirit.) If you are referring to 8:16, I do not.Here’s what I’m saying:
v. 16 reads “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”. Well, bears witness to whom? To us? That doesn’t make sense – because we are the other witnesses. If I may take some interpretive liberty with the text, it is not saying “The Holy Spirit tells us as we bear witness that we are God’s children” but “we are one witness and the Holy Spirit is another witness that we are children of God.”
The Spirit (big “S”) is not testifying to our spirit (small “s”), but is testifying with our spirit. They are both making the same testimony – to whom?
That’s the question you have to answer.
Here is how I understand 8:16, and I believe that this is the most important part of our discussion:The new spirit Paul has already described in v. 9-11. The Spirit of New Life; the new creation in Christ, if I may grab a phrase from outside of this passage to underscore my point.
When Paul writes, "The Spirit Himself" I believe that he is referring to the Holy Spirit. (I think you agree.) Paul says the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit. You also write, If you are sons of God, you will be led by this new spirit in you. Which new spirit?
Do you mean to say that we will be led by our new nature? I believe that is true. However, verse 14 explicitly says, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God", not by our "new spirit". When Paul speaks of sanctification in 1 Thess. 4:3-8, he ends by saying, "Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit" (v. 8). Why did God give us His Holy Spirit? To justify and cleanse us. I do not believe that the Holy Spirit justifies us and then leaves it up to our new spirit to walk in sanctification.No, I don’t think that either, when you put it that way. I think that our new nature, the new creation in Christ, is of the same mind as Christ, the same mind as the Holy Spirit. I admit I’m having a little rational block tonight and can’t seem to say, “because it is the Holy Spirit,” because while I believe we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, we still have our personal souls which are being sanctified.
I have a gap in my argument. So the beating I was looking forward to giving you will have to be postponed until I can overcome that.
How, then, is one "led by" the Holy Spirit? How are we even led to do good works? I believe that the Holy Spirit does, in a mysterious way, bear witness to use through the mediums that I listed above. It is this witness that gives me the assurance of salvation, not the reflection upon the deeds that I have done.I think I also have an allergy for the phrase “led by the Holy Spirit”. I think it somehow says the right thing the wrong way, but I don’t have it worked out tonight.
If I am wrong about this, I implore others to help me see my error. I am, after all, a pastor. So far, Centuri0n, I do not know what you are really saying about how one gains assurance of salvation. We have agreed that regeneration is a revelation, why then does God not continue this witness throughout our sojourn here in this flesh?
So you’re going to be able to preach on Sunday, but put your people on notice that after Sunday you may receive a theological thrashing that will change you in a significant way. Perhaps requiring rebaptism or rehabilitation.