We Are Brothers and Sisters in Christ (Romans 8:12-17)
Rev. Edwin Morrow

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue with our ongoing theme: The Righteous Shall Live by Faith. As we do so, we enter Romans, Chapter 8, Verses 12-17.
These were the final words of Paul in Romans 7 last week: 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! 
In Romans 8:1 we hear: So then there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a
In Romans 8:12 we hear: So then brothers we are debtors.
Another translation reads: So then brothers we are obligated.
Any of you NOT obligated to anybody for anything?
We all have all kinds of obligations.
If you are married, you have obligations to your spouse.
If have or have had children, you know all about the obligations of raising them. 
If you are a card-carrying member of the “sandwich generation,” you know about obligations - trying to raise children while simultaneously taking care of ageing parents with health problems and all the obligations that come along with that.
We are obligated to our creditors, to the government, and to the church.
Bills and taxes and offerings have to be taken care of.
Our list of obligations can be very long, and most of them we cannot ignore.
We certainly cannot ignore our obligations to God.
Paraphrased Romans 8:12-13: Brothers and Sisters in Christ we have an obligation, but it is not to the sinful nature. We are not to live according to it. As God’s children, we are to be led by the Holy Spirit.

Our birth into God’s family begins with the seed and the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Prophet Isaiah and the Gospel writer Matthew remind us tonight of how we are born again.
There is a seed planted in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Peter names the seed. It is the imperishable, living, and abiding Word of God.
It is the power of Holy Spirit at work in the living and abiding Word of God that creates saving faith in Jesus in our hearts.

No man or woman gets any glory for a decision they make about coming to Jesus.
In the Catechism, Luther puts it this way: I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified me and kept me in the true faith.
So, let’s pause to say:
Thank you to the Holy Spirit for bringing us out of Satan’s family of darkness, sin, and death.
Thank you to the Holy Spirit for bringing us into God’s family of light, love, and life.

It’s hard to overlook the Holy Spirit in Romans 8.
The 3rd person of the Trinity is mentioned 20 times in 39 verses.
We are obligated to be led by the Holy Spirit.
It is He who provides guidance to us in and through the living and abiding Word of God.
In all of our obligations, we should want to always do what the Spirit guides us to do.
But as Paul said to us last week – we do not always do that.
Too often we do not do what the Spirit would lead us to do.
Too often we live according to the flesh. And Paul said last week that we should hate that.

When we live according to the flesh, Satan stands ready to rob us of our peace in Christ, accusing us of not being worthy of God’s love.
When Satan comes trying to do that, maybe this modern parable might be of help. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
So here goes the earthly story:
A young boy was walking to elementary school for the first time. A bully stepped in front of him.
The bully demanded that the boy give him his lunch money or else. “Or else, what?” the boy asked.
The bully declared, “I’ll beat you up and take your money anyway.” The boy said, “I really wouldn’t try that if I were you.”
“And why not?” the bully asked menacingly. Looking over his shoulder the boy said, “Here comes my big brother, and he is going to make sure I get to school safely each and every day.”
The bully saw the big brother and backed away.
That is what Satan and his minions do in the presence of Jesus – they back away.
When Satan comes calling in any way, shape, or form, just tell him, “Go take your accusations up with my big brother Jesus.”

As we think in that way, let’s remember what God the Father said about Jesus.
At His Baptism, God the Father proclaimed this about our brother Jesus: This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.
On the Mount of Transfiguration, God the Father said the same thing about Jesus and added three words: Listen to Him.
It is the will of God the Father that we believe in God the Son and to listen to Him.
Jesus said these words in Matthew 12:50: Whoever does the will of my Father is my brother my sister.
Romans 8:17 reminds that as the brothers and sisters of Christ we are co-heirs with Christ to a glorious inheritance.
Some siblings fight over inheritances, especially when they are huge.
The current value of the highest inheritance is 174 billion dollars, and that to a sole heir.
Even if you could inherit that much money, you can’t take it with you into the next life.
No amount of money can compare to your heavenly inheritance, which you are already starting to receive.
And we don’t have to fight over it. 
We all share equally in forgiveness of sins and salvation.
We all share equally in having peace and hope and joy in Christ.
We all share equally in having heaven as the final resting place of our soul. 
And on the day of the resurrection of all flesh, we will be raised with glorified bodies.
That and many other heavenly blessings are ours together.

So together listen to Paul’s words in Galatians 6:10: let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Our brothers and sisters in Christ are to have a special place in our hearts.
When Jesus tells us to love one another, we especially do so to our Spirit-filled siblings.
The same for:
•    Living in harmony with one another
•    Forgiving one another 
•    Serving one another
•    Praying for one another
•    Carrying one another’s burdens 
•    Encouraging one another
•    Comforting one another
•    Bearing with one another  
•    Rejoicing with one another
In the midst of fulfilling all of these obligations and more, especially to those in the family of God, may we know the Holy Spirit is right there with us seeking to guide everything we think, everything we say, and everything we do. 
It is God’s love for us in Christ and our love him that creates our desire to be led by the Spirit of life.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.