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Eighth Sunday after Trinity - EPISTLE (1881)

Romans 8:12-17

Christians are called and are children of God. Even hypocrites, men of the world
think they are children of God, because God created them and has rewarded them with
all sorts of earthly blessings. But we are all by nature children of wrath. Only true
Christians who are reborn by the grace of the Holy Spirit and have recognized in Christ
the Redeemer of the human race, actually are children of God. Only believing
Christians grasp and understand what our text extols:

The Glory and Joy of Children of God;

1. their external service and calling;
a. the flesh still clings to Christians. They feel in themselves fleshly lusts
and desires, fleshly wrath and zeal, enmity against God. These are
indeed foreign traits that do not agree with the divine nature;
b. but children of God are nevertheless free from the bonds of the flesh.
Hypocrites and nominal Christians only still regard themselves as
debtors according to the flesh, believe they still accommodate their
flesh, need to have consideration for the world. Believing Christians
know that they are not debtors according to the flesh and are exempt
from the might and right of the flesh. Thus it is their service and calling
to mortify the affairs of the flesh;
c. that is their daily work, often a difficult job - but at the same time a
willing service. The Spirit of God compels, urges, entices, specifies,
causes them to renounce the flesh;

2. their hidden dignity;
a. under the work clothes of the children of God is hidden a precious
treasure. They have the Spirit of God in their hearts. Hypocrites, half-
Christians have a servile Spirit. Their worship and obedience happens
with coercion, from fear. We have received a childlike spirit. Our heart
is devoted to God and does willing obedience to God. Yet we are not
prideful about it. The Holy Spirit points us to Christ's work and merit,
to the grace and truth of the only-begotten Son. We take our dignity
and honor from there. The grace of Christ that made us acceptable to
God is our joy;
b. This spirit of sonship is not a dead treasure in the heart. The Holy Spirit
is busy and continually testifies to us, even when the cross presses
down on us and the flesh bothers us, that we are children of God
through Christ;
c. and this witness of the Holy Spirit is echoed in our spirit. In joy and
sorrow, and even when we groan over our sins, we cry, "Abba, dear
Father";

3. their future glory;
a. Children of God are also heirs. Christ has also promised us His and His
Father's glory, has acquired the heavenly inheritance for us. There the
flesh is completely done away with and the now hidden dignity is
revealed.
b. this is the certain hope of Christians. We are now already God's
inheritance and joint heirs with Christ. No suffering, no power of earth
and hell can snatch from us the guaranteed glory from the Spirit of
God.
Georg Stckhardt