Verse 13 tells us that we will die. Through Adam it is true that all of us will die at some point. So we are told to put to death the deeds of the body so that we may live. Christian lifestyle does not assure salvation but it does serve as proof of it. The epistle of James spends a great deal of time explaining this exact thing to us. But we do not have to do this on our own. It is the Spirit that leads us to Christ and then leads us in Christ.
Christianity is more than a decision. It is an ongoing commitment to discipleship. The decision to be disciples has to be daily because in this fallen world, the need to know God is required daily. How strong is the pull of the flesh but how much more so the leading of the Spirit.
The pull of the flesh is strong because fear is the driving characteristic of the old nature. We are taught to fear so many things. We are taught to fear the loss of our possession, our health, our money, our loved ones, even our identity. But we have a new identity. One that cannot be taken away from us. All believers become children of God. We are adopted into his family. We are no longer slaves but we are now family. It is why we can call God “Abba”. This is what you would call your father at home, in a familiar setting. Fallen humanity can now speak to the holy creator of the universe in such a way. The indwelling of the Spirit has replaced the fear of God with family love. And it is our crying out “Abba” that is actually the Spirit testifying to our new standing as God’s children. Our spirit and the Spirit of God are bearing witness together to whom we belong.
What we can’t do is slip into the thinking that assurance is meant to soften holiness. Assurance is based on the Father’s love and mercy, the Son’s sacrificial work and the Spirit’s leading us to Christ and then forming us in his likeness. And the evidence of those things is a change in our worldview, heart, lifestyle and hope. And it is here that Paul tells us that we get to be God’s children- YEA!! That sounds good. And we not only get to be his children but that we are his heirs- DOUBLE YEA!!! That sounds even better. Then we find out that we get to be joint heirs with Christ himself- INFINITE YEA!!!!! Oh, man. How amazing!!! But then there is the next part. Paul tells us that if we are all those things then we will also share in the suffering of Christ. Oh. Well. That doesn’t sound as fun. But it was Christ’s suffering that brought glory. It was his suffering that gave the rest weight and meaning and value. Not that we want suffering or that we should go out looking for suffering for its own sake. But we should have the knowledge of the FACT that being God’s children, being God’s heir, being a joint heir with Christ, is going to bring suffering. But we should also have the knowledge that God can take that suffering and turn it into glory.