Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen


Title: Sinners, Servants, or Sons?

Text: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. “ (Romans 8:14)

Bible Reading: Romans 8:12-17


In Genesiss, Paul describes the beautiful life God had in mind for people when He created them.

Following every act of creation, God announced that it was good.  

When God created man and woman, it was also a good creation.  

He placed them in the beautiful Garden of Eden where He provided all they needed.  

But, this perfect couple fell into sin and that created a problem for them and for you and me.

In Chapter 5 Paul describes the problem and the cure.

The problem, he says, is sin.  

Sin literally means “to miss the mark” or “to fall short of reaching God’s standard.” 

Sin is often recognized as bad behavior, such as stealing, murder, adultery, or lying. 

However, a more fundamental attitude deep within the human heart lies behind all “sins” and is expressed as “I know better than God in this matter.” 

This attitude led Eve to that first, fatal, disobedient act in the Garden of Eden. 

Adam had told her that God had forbidden the eating of the fruit, but when the fruit was presented to her as good, pleasant, and desirable, she allowed her own judgment to take precedence over the Word directly from God, and she ate the forbidden fruit. 

God has not given us His Word just so we can decide whether or not to obey Him. 

He has given us His Word because that Word is truth and life, and we are to obey it without question and with unhesitating confidence. 

The problem we face today is the same.  

Romans 3:23 says that we are all sinners.  

Sin separates the child of God from the blessings of God, and it will separate the unbeliever from Him forever.  

But there is a cure for the disease of sin, and His name is Jesus Christ.  

His death on the cross paid our sin debt and made it possible for us to be reconciled to God.

In Romans 6:11-14 Paul gives us the choice we must make.

We can do one of two things; we can yield ourselves to God or allow some sin to be the king of our lives.

We will sin as long as we remain in these bodies, but by yielding ourselves to God we will never again be caught in the trap of continuing in sin. 

In Chapter 7, Paul pictures the struggles of a person with a mixed nature.

Here is where Paul describes the constant struggle that goes on within the believer between two natures.  

Each one tries to control the person.  

The old sinful nature causes you to do something, and then hate yourself because you’ve done it.  

The new nature is given by God to all who are saved by faith in God’s Son.  

This nature cannot sin, so it struggles against the old nature.

In Chapter 8 Paul gives God’s plan for His people.

Folks, our old nature is totally depraved.  

God doesn’t have a plan to redeem it.  

Instead, He gives us a new nature.  

In addition, the Holy Spirit lives within every child of God.  

Because of what God gives us, and because we are sons and daughters of our heavenly Father, we can live in this world as more than conquerors.  

His plan for His children is for them to proclaim Christ for as long as they live, and when we die our soul flies to our Savior.

Read the scripture, Romans 8:12-17.

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 

13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 

15 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.” 

16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 

17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Those were the words of the apostle.  

He has a message for you and me in these verses.  

Therefore, lets look closely at the passage, and it will become apparent that--

Every person falls into one of three categories.

Category #1 is Sinners—all sinners are rebels against God

Category #2 is Servants—they were purchased by His blood and belong to Him

Category #3 is Sons (or daughters)—they are those who truly love the Father and desire to please Him

There’s a big difference between these groups.

For one thing, sinners are limited to the temporary peace the world gives.

They are ruled by their old nature and they worship the god of money, or power, or fame, or sex, or drugs, or the things that money can buy.  

They may believe that they’ll be saved sometime before they die.  

Their hope is that being members of a mainstream church will commend them to God so they will go to heaven when they die.  

Servants are the second group; they are limited to the action they believe their Master wants.

Servants are as busy as bees.  

They do a lot of good things, because they believe good deeds commend them to God.  

But, the only thing that God is interested in is do you love His Son and is He your Savior.

The third group is sons (or daughters) who live in total freedom because of the love of the Father.

This is the group I hope you are all in.  

I know I am part of this group, since I have been saved through faith in Jesus.  

Someone may ask, “How do you know you were saved?”  

I have a great answer, “I know I am saved, because I was there.”

Folks, we determine which relationship we have with the Lord.

It’s a choice we make.  

We choose between two paths.  

One is broad and many people are on this path, but the only place this path goes is to the Judgment Seat of Christ, where they will receive the wrath of God.  

But there is another path, and it is narrow and there aren’t many on this one.  

But Jesus is the guide, and leads them to a place of joy and eternal peace.

Today’s lesson is about the nature of the life lived by sinners, servants, and sons.  

As we go through the lesson, think about what your relationship with the Lord is now, and what group that puts you in.

Let’s look first at the nature of the sinful life, which is described in John 8:19-24.

In the verses coming just before this passage, Jesus is speaking to some Pharisees who brought a woman to Him that had been caught in the act of adultery.  

What could be more crude and rude and brutal than this act of these religious leaders?  

Our Lord was setting in the temple area teaching the people, when there was a hullabaloo outside.  

Then here come these religious rulers dragging a woman with her clothes looking like a mess, and her hair all messed up; but she is defiant and resisting them.  

They fling her down on the ground and then they make this crude statement, “This woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.”  

There is no doubt about it, she is guilty.

But Jesus baffled the crowd by stopping those who wanted to stone her to death, and then declaring, “Your sins are forgiven, go in peace.”

This incident caused a sharp conflict between the religious leaders and Christ.  

He told them that he was sent by His Father and that His Father could bear witness that what He said was true, so they asked the question—

19 "Where is your father?" they asked. Jesus answered, "You don't know who I am, so you don't know who my Father is. If you knew me, then you would know him too."

20 Jesus made these statements while in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, for his time had not yet run out.

21 Later he said to them again, "I am going away; and you will search for me, and die in your sins. And you cannot come where I am going."

22 The Jews asked, "Is he planning suicide? What does he mean, 'You cannot come where I am going'?"

23 Then he said to them, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not.

24 That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am the Messiah, the Son of God, you will die in your sins."

  John 8:19-24 (Living)

The Pharisees were attacking Jesus’ credibility.

They said He can’t be the Messiah or He wouldn’t have been born to such a poor family.  

They said He was uneducated and that He was a liar.  

They were looking for the coming of the Messiah, but they were expecting a political leader who would lead them to victory over the Romans, and make their country great again.

But, Jesus set the record straight. (vv. 12-18)

He said, “I am the light of the world.” 

Christ shines as the Light in the world of darkness and sin. 

If anyone accepts and trusts the leading of that Light, he … shall have the light of life.

However, many will never receive the light of salvation, because they are bound by their sins, and by the state of affairs in the world.

Folks, sinners are bound by the conditions of this world. (v. 23)

We are all limited by what our minds and bodies can do.  

And our old sinful nature will never release us from its grip as long as we are in this body.

But those who conform themselves to the world, rather than to Christ, have three characteristics in common.

First, they are more interested in what feels good than what’s right. 

Jesus told the religious leaders they didn’t know where they were going or where He was going, because they were in the dark spiritually. 

They had the light of the Law and of conscience, but they did not have the light of life. 

Consequently, they didn’t know the Father or understand what Jesus taught them.  

Rather, they did whatever felt good and satisfied their selfish desires.

Second, they can justify their actions to themselves but not to God.  

That’s easy if you’re not a Christian and there is no Holy Spirit to say to you, “What you did is wrong.”

Third, they have a false sense of freedom.

They really weren’t free, because there were boundaries to their freedom.  

They weren’t free politically, since a Roman army occupied the country.  

And, they didn’t have freedom in their worship of God, because of the 613 laws they believed to be God’s Law.  

Then, there were the rituals, customs and traditions that had to be observed if they wanted to please God.  

No, they were not free in any since of the word.  

Folks, that’s one of the reasons Jesus came; to free us from the Law.  

And He also died for our sins, so we could be reconciled to God by faith in Him.

Jesus paid the price to purchase freedom for all of sin’s slaves.

Max Lucado tells of a young man who approached his pastor at the close of a worship service and asked, “What can I do to find peace in my life?” 

The wise minister replied, “I’m sorry, but you’re too late.” 

The distraught man was baffled. 

He said, “You mean I’m too late to find peace? You mean I’m too late to be saved?” 

The pastor answered, “No, you’re just too late to do anything about it. 

Jesus did everything that needed to be done two thousand years ago.” 

The beauty of God’s gracious atonement is that Christ did it all. 

We must simply accept it.

We have looked at the nature of the sinful life, so now--

Let’s look at the nature of the Servant’s life as described in Romans 6:16-20.

Paul says that everyone is a servant of something and it’s possible to be a servant of the Lord.

Verse 16 says, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”

When Jesus says, “Do you not know,” we can be sure He believes we do not know, and we need to know.

Then He says, “To whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey.”  

Every person who is living is a bond servant to someone or something.  

A person can even be a bond servant to Satan himself.  

Because of our very natures, we are a bond slave to somebody or something.

Look at the roll of a servant.

A servant is obedient and does what he or she is told.  

Paul said that the one who is our master is the one whom we obey.  

If you obey sin, then that is your master.  

Anyone who lives in sin cannot say that Christ is their master, because He is not.  

But if He is your Master, He brings you into a place of liberty.  

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed,” according to John 8:36.  

But, what is it we are free to do?  

We are free to live for Him and free to obey Him.  

And the Lord said again, “…Verily, verily, I say unto you.  Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.”

A servant obeys his master but he also lives in fear of displeasing his or her master.

A famous person once said, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.”

God doesn’t want us to obey Him simply because He may chastise us, from time to time for doing wrong.  

Rather, He wants us to obey Him because we love Him and want to please Him.

It’s good for us to know that a servant is rewarded for well doing and punished for wrong doing.

The type of fear Paul is talking about is a reverential type of fear that expresses love and respect for God.

Finally, a servant lives outside of the Father’s house and has limited provisions.  

The servant is saved, but hasn’t yielded himself to the will of God.  

Therefore, he hasn’t received the benefits of sonship.

We have seen the nature of the sinful life and the servants life, so now let’s

Look at the nature of the son’s life as described in 2 Corinthians 6:13-18).

Let’s begin by examining the position of the son’s. 

That’s found in Romans 8:15-17.

15 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.” 

16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 

17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

The sons have an absolute confidence because of their relationship with their Father.

There’s a contrast to be drawn here between the life of a servant and the life of a son. 

When Paul says that we have not received the spirit of bondage, he is saying that when the Spirit of God dwells in us we are not treated by God as servants, but as sons. 

We don’t fear God in the same way the slave fears his masters.

Rather, we love Him as a son loves his father. 

The slave does what his master’s command, because he knows he will be punished if he doesn’t. 

But for those in whom the Spirit of God dwells, there is no element of fear that can interfere with his service for the Lord. 

He serves the Lord like a son lovingly serves his adoring father. 

Paul tells us, “You (have) received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

The son is on entirely different footing than the servant. 

In the first century A.D., the adopted son was one who was deliberately chosen to carry on the name of his father and inherit his estate. 

He was not at all inferior to a natural born son. 

In the same way, when the Holy Spirit dwells within us, our relationship to God the Father is such that we may address Him as freely as we would our own father.  

We can be absolutely confident in our new relationship with the Father.

Verse 17, tells us that all of the resources of the Father are available to the sons.

We red, “And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” 

Since we are no longer servants but sons, we are rightfully the heirs of God. 

But more than that, we share in the inheritance of Christ, because we will inherit by grace the glory which is His by right. 

Folks, sinners and servants don’t have the confidence that sons and daughters of God have.

Therefore, they may want to know, “How can we be sure that we are the children of God?”

Because we take God at His Word and we have the ever-present Spirit of God dwelling within us to give assurance that we are indeed the sons and daughters of God. 

As His children we look at the world a bit differently when our lives are receptive to His commands.

The spirit of adoption, or sonship, enables us to enter into a relationship with God the Father that the unbeliever can never experience. 

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 6:13-18 how to be a son.

Verse 13 says, “Open your heart to what I say”.

Paul is speaking for God.  

When he says something, it’s the same as if God said it.

He wants us to listen to what follows.

Verse 14 says, “Separate yourself from the world.”

Paul here is making an appeal to the Corinthian believers to make a clean break with Idolatry.  

He wants them to make a break from the sins of the flesh.  

They are to be separated from the worldliness that’s in the world.  

Today we use the term, “separated believers.”  

There are many folk who consider themselves to be “separated believers” who are actually as worldly as can be.

The only way to be “separated believers” is to let Him fill you with Himself.

All believers have the Spirit of God, but all believers are not filled with the Holy Spirit.  

There’s a big difference.

There’s a good example from the book, “Foxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World” that shows the power of a Spirit-Filled life.

From Acts 12:2, we know that Herod beheaded the apostle James, the brother of John; but do you know the rest of this story? 

James was the first apostle to suffer death after the martyrdom of Stephen. 

Although Herod was the authority that took his head, James’s fate started when a nameless individual brought charges against him before the tribunal. 

When the case was over and James had been condemned to death, the man who had instigated the trial was deeply moved by the behavior and faith of the apostle. 

James was so filled with the Spirit of God that on the way to the place of execution the one who had initiated the charges against him made a confession of faith in Christ. 

When he asked James to forgive him, the apostle said, “Peace be to thee, brother.” 

James then kissed him and both men were beheaded for their faith in 36 A.D. 

A Spirit-filled life may lead to physical death, but more importantly, it always leads to eternal life.


It is our glorious privilege to be the sons and daughters of God.  This is not a difficult condition but a happy one.

Just like the apostle James, we may someday face persecution for our faith in Christ.

We can be sure that faith in God will eventually cost us something, but we can say as the apostle Paul did, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”

We can say it if we have allowed God to fill us with His Spirit.

Everyone chooses the life of sin, servanthood or sonship.

Which will you choose?


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