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  • Writer's pictureFr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

The Spirit of Adoption (7th Pentecost, Proper 11A)

Romans 8:12-25 (NRSV)

12 So then, brothers and sisters, 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 all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing 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, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

"The Spirit of Adoption" (Outline)


  • This is the beginning of a 2-week sermon series based on Romans 8, called "Who is God the Holy Spirit?

  • In Rom 8:1-11, St. Paul talks about life according to the flesh vs. life according to the Spirit

  • When we live according to the Spirit, our lives change. This is because of the Holy Spirit's character and attributes.

  • Who is this Holy Spirit that wants to dwell in us?

Today’s theme: The Spirit of Adoption

  • Romans 8:14-17 (My Translation)

  • 14 For whomever [plural] is led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For y’all did not receive a spirit of slavery leading into fear again, but y’all received a Spirit of adoption, by which y’all scream, “Abba! Father!” 16 The same Spirit witnesses together to our spirit that we are children of God. 17 And if we are children, we are also heirs: heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Summary of salvation through lens of adoption

  • God created us and called it “good” and “very good” (Genesis 1:4, 9, 18, 20, 31).

  • The fleshly, material world is good just the way it is. We are not trying to abandon our bodies or this world. God has not and will not condemn the physical world for being physical. It was always good.

  • Slavery to sin and death

  • ​But then, people sinned. We turned away from our good Creator God and starting following after our own desires. We started to do what we wanted selfishly, even when it hurt others. This self-preservationism leads to anger, hate, and death. The whole creation is now built on death.

  • The disease of sin infects every aspect of the otherwise good creation. The power of sin is so strong over us and all creatures, that the Scriptures call it a form of slavery. We cannot help but sin. There are times when we want to do what is right and cannot because we are compelled by this servitude to sin.

  • Christ brings liberation through Cross and Resurrection

  • ​Jesus' Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension heals humanity and frees creation from its bondage to sin and death. We are no longer slaves. Even if we continue to sin in this life, Christ offers us freedom in the next life.

  • Spirit then adopts us through Christ → Draws us close to God

  • We are made “sons” by the Son of God himself - Jesus shares his status with us - “joint heirs with Christ”

  • God always wanted us to be children, but through sin we came to act as slaves. The Spirit of Adoption calls us back into fellowship/communion with God

St. Macrina (died July 19, 379) took the Spirit of Adoption as a model for her life

  • Macrina was a woman in the 4th century AD in modern-day Turkey. She was from a wealthy and pious Christian family. Her grandparents were saints and many of her siblings became saints, including Gregory of Nyssa and Basil "the Great" of Caesarea. While her brothers were off becoming bishops and priests, Macrina stayed at home to care for their mother, Emily, and their large estate after their father died.

  • Macrina convinced her mother to release all the family slaves and convert the estate into a monastery that served the wider the community. The former servants had the option to leave or to become sisters (nuns) and brothers (monks).

  • The child (Macrina) advocated to the parent (Emily) to adopt the servants (us) and treat them like natural-born children.

  • Macrina's belief in the Spirit of Adoption led her to treat her fellow human beings with greater dignity because she realized that all of us are equal before God. All of us need the grace of Jesus Christ to adopt us and bring us back into communion with God.

God’s Spirit of Adoption is the Love that calls us back home

  • Through Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit, God is healing us so that we can live as God created us to be -- good and very good!

  • God wants the whole creation to experience this reconciliation and restoration. It begins with Jesus re-making us as children of God through the Spirit of Adoption.

  • Baptism is the outward and visible sign of this sure and certain grace. Baptism is the ceremony where we celebrate God's adoption of us all, through Jesus Christ.

  • In the Episcopal Church's Baptism service, right after the person has been baptized and anointed, the whole congregation says, "We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood" (Book of Common Prayer, p. 308).

  • Thank God that all of us have been adopted and welcomed into the family of God. Nothing can separate us from so great a love (Romans 8:35-39)!

Image Credit: Gwen Meharg, "Spirit of Adoption,"

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