You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15).
Paul is intent on telling Christians something the Spirit of God does do, and something the Spirit emphatically does not do.
Paul insists the Spirit of God does not bring a slavish fear but rather an affectionate crying out to God as our Father. Why is Paul intent on telling us what inclinations are not from the Holy Spirit? Surely it is because we are constantly tempted to act out of fearful bondage—bondage to guilt, or laziness, or doubt. This slavish fear keeps us at a distance from God. But this is not the prompting or leading that comes from God. The Spirit of God does not lead us away from God, but to God.
The Holy Spirit is always beckoning, always drawing us into God’s presence, urging us to cry out to God: “Daddy, Father! I need your unconditional love and acceptance, I need your security and provision, I need your superior parental wisdom… and most of all, I need you.”
The Spirit of God does not lead us away from God, but to God.
What is Paul’s point? The impulse in your soul to be fearful of and run away from God, or to dread God’s presence, is not from God. But the internal urge to run to God and trust in his strength and power is from the Holy Spirit.
That fear in you that keeps you from coming to God in prayer is not God speaking to you! Do not listen to that internal inclination. But that compulsion which draws us to God in prayer—no matter what mistakes we have made, or what hard repentance it will require, or what our emotions may be at the moment—this is God speaking through his Spirit.
Which spirit will you listen to this today? The false inhibitions which keep you away from God, or the truth-speaking Spirit of God by whom we cry out to God, “Abba, Father!”?