I think that most people who know me would understand that authority is something I struggle with as a general rule . Today in one of the sermon messages there was an interesting verse quoted with an interesting implication that I would like to talk about today. The verse cited was Romans 8:14, and I would like to cite it in context as today’s text, Romans 8:12-17:
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 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. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 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.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 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.”
There are a few elements of importance in this passage, including the importance of living by the Spirit and being led by the Spirit, with the reality that it is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that makes us the children of God. It is the aspect of being led by the Spirit that I would like to talk about today. In talking about this verse, our local church pastor commented that he was looking at a group of people who had allowed themselves to be led by the Spirit of God. I must admit that I have seldom thought of myself as being someone who was particularly prone to be led by anyone, at least given the rather ironic and skeptical attitude I tend to have towards authority, although I do not consider myself to be particularly rebellious anyway, even if I have some definite boundary issues that tend to continually lead to complicated situations in life.
When we are led by the Holy Spirit, the whole point is God leading us to be more like Him and more like our elder brother Jesus Christ. In the passage cited above, we see a couple of elements that are involved in this process. For one, it involves the disciplining of the flesh in order to live in a godly fashion, discipline that does not extend from our own efforts, but discipline that springs from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Second, it includes the acceptance of suffering like Christ in the expectation (or hope) of future glory like His own. Neither of these things are pleasurable on a human level, but the goal is something beyond human, but a new creation of adopted children of God to share in the immortality and glory of God. In order to reach that end, we have to be willing to be led.
The willingness to be led is not something that can be taken for granted. Whenever God is molding us into His image, we face the fact that this is going to require change as well as require us to develop restraint in occasions where we are dealing with injustice, restraint that does not come naturally for any of us, restraint that does not cause us to act unjustly in response to the injustice we receive from others. To the extent that we resist this change, not merely questioning (which does not appear to be problematic to God) but in a rebellious refusal to follow the truths expressed through scripture and being brought to one’s attention, to that extent a believer will be led into a relationship with God that is less close, and if continued strongly enough, they will lose all that they once had, as a way of saving them from making them permanently hostile to God’s ways, as an act of mercy leading to forgetfulness that keeps them from being hostile to God with knowledge.
Let us note, in closing, an aspect in which being led by the Spirit relates to authority. Although the Bible does have commands that very clearly require respect for authority, even corrupt authorities , let us note that the leading is being done by God. Those who are led by God will be led to provide respect and honor to offices even when those who hold such offices are unworthy of them. They will do this not out of craven fear or any particular desire to flatter others, but out of a recognition that authority is designed for our benefit and not for our harm, and also that those who lead and fail will be held accountable by God to a vastly more serious judgment than we could possibly inflict on such rulers ourselves. Because God leads us in ways and places that we may not readily trust or understand, our ability to be led cannot require a perfect congruence between our own desires and understanding with the behavior of leaders, but must include a willingness to let people prove themselves, and a giving of the benefit of the doubt without which no genuine fellowship is possible.
 See, for example
 See, for example: