14 For as many as are led [present tense—are being led] by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
This verse begins the subject of the glorification of the believer in eternity. We have an inheritance ahead. We receive an inheritance from God because we are His sons. Sons are heirs.
Romans 8:14-30 constitutes an elaboration of verses 9 to 11. Romans 8:14-17 is an exposition of verse 9, and Romans 8:18-30 is an exposition of verses 10 and 11.
The striking thought that we are the “sons of God” is at the basis of our walk with God. Our familial relation to Christ is the reason we live a life separated unto God.
The “for” here explains in different terms the idea of verse 13. Those who put to death the deeds of the flesh by the Spirit will experience the dynamics of eternal life in time. These people truly represent their title as sons of God. The reason for the dynamic living of verse 13 is because believers are the “sons of God.”
as many as [believers]
God admits no exception to those led by the Spirit of God.
are led [present tense, passive voice—are being led, allow themselves to be led] by the Spirit of God,
We overcome the flesh by the power of the Spirit. Dependence on the compelling force of the Spirit is at the heart of Christian living. True spirituality is the result of continual influence of the Holy Spirit on one’s life. There is an implied willingness on the part of those who allow themselves to be led by the Spirit.
Leading here does not indicate guidance to determine the will of God for everyday decisions. The idea is the control or governing of the Spirit in daily living. The passive idea of “being led” (passive voice) suggests that the Holy Spirit is the primary Agent in Christian living. The believer’s obedience is the result of the Spirit’s work and not the cause of it. It is the nature of a Christian who wants fellowship with God to allow himself to be led by the Holy Spirit.
The leading of the Spirit here is not about decision-making but being influenced by the Holy Spirit with our choices. The Spirit is the dominant force in the life of a believer. Because of the believer’s new identity with Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells him. This creates an entirely new influence on his life by the Holy Spirit. He becomes God’s dynamic influence for spirituality.
these are sons of God.
The particular contribution of verse 14 is to explain that those governed by the Spirit are the sons of God, with title to special privilege. It is because we are sons that God sends His Spirit to dwell in our hearts (Ga 4:6). The work of the Spirit is no option for a son.
The Greek word “sons” here indicates adult status with God. The indwelling Holy Spirit in every believer verifies the believer’s status with God. The more mature we are, the more we are led by the Spirit.
Those who are led by the Spirit are true “sons of God,” believers with legal status before God. Verse 16 will refer to “children,” a Greek term indicating our birth relationship to God. But “sons” in verse 14 is a Greek term referring to adult family privileges.
Dependence on the Spirit is decisive for Christian living.
It is patent that those governed by the Spirit are the sons of God, sons of privilege. The nature of a son of God is that the Spirit leads or influences him. Believers have a new identity in Christ.
Being led by the Spirit is the same as walking in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit (Ga 5:18-23). The Spirit-led life is a manifestation of sonship or privilege. The life as a son of God has its distinctive qualities.
Our position as sons of God comprises glorious dignity. Our divine birth places us in the status of royalty. This royalty allows for certain rights before God. We need to walk worthy of this calling (Eph 4:1; Co 1:10).
Those led by the Spirit are governed by the Spirit. They are not under the mastery of sin. It is inevitable that true Christians will be governed by the Spirit. This governance is not an absolute in every respect, but if there is no impact by the Spirit on a person whatsoever, then the person who claims to be a Christian probably is not. Christian motivation for living in the power of the Spirit comes from the dignity of being a son of God.