For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
How do you know if you are truly a child of God? In Romans 8:14-17, Paul shared with us three characteristics–three birthmarks, if you will–of every true child of God.
If you are truly a child of God, then you possess an inward power. Let me illustrate that for you. Imagine a giant 777 jetliner parked at an airport gate getting ready to take off. That airliner weighs 650,000 pounds fully loaded. What are the chances that jetliner is going to float up into the air like a helium balloon? That is not going to happen because there is a law at work called the law of gravity that keeps the jetliner on the ground. But that jetliner has a power attached to it in the form of two engines capable of generating 90,000 pounds of thrust. When those engines are turned on, they begin pulling that airliner down the runway, and another law begins to work. It is called the law of aerodynamics. As the wind begins to go over those specially curved wings, it creates a lift on that airliner, and there begins a battle between the law of gravity that wants to pull the airliner down and the law of aerodynamics that wants to lift it up. Which law is going to win? Hopefully, it will be the law of aerodynamics that takes the airplane up to the heights. That is the picture of what our life is like. Before you become a Christian, there is one law operating in your life–the law of sin. Think of it as spiritual gravity. It is what drags you down before you come to Christ. But when you become a Christian, you possess a new power–the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is an inward power that begins leading you down the path of righteousness. You will experience that struggle going on between the law of sin and the law of righteousness. If you are a believer, the law of righteousness wins out.
That is what Paul was talking about when he said in Romans 8:14, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Paul was saying that everybody who is truly a Christian is being led down the pathway of righteousness and becoming more and more like Christ. Now that does not mean we are not going to stumble along the way. It does not mean we are never going to struggle with sin. On the contrary, if you are struggling with sin, then that is evidence that you are a child of God. You now have two laws at work in your life: the law of spiritual gravity that drags you down, and the law of spiritual aerodynamics that lifts you up.
That struggle is proof that you are a Christian. But there is a difference between struggling with sin and surrendering to sin. The person who is constantly surrendering to sin simply proves there is only one law at work in his life–the law of spiritual gravity, the law of sin, which means he is not a believer. That is what Paul was saying in Romans 8. One birthmark that proves that you are truly a Christian is that there is a struggle between righteousness and sin in your life, and success is the rule most of the time rather than the exception. A true Christian is being led down the path of righteousness and is becoming more and more like Christ, not less and less like Christ.