Living by the Christ Identitiy
Even as we are to reckon our old Adamic identity as dead, so also are we to reckon our Christ identity as alive to God (Rom. 6:11). In practice, how does this alter our thinking?
First, in accordance with the definition of reckon (logizomai), it does not speak of an actual death of the old man, nor does it imply that our body parts are perfectly submitted to the Christ identity. It is a state of mind where we understand what we ought to do, and so we strive to be obedient to Christ (i.e., "led by the Spirit"). This time of Pentecost is focused upon obedience as a means of training and growing until we have transitioned into full agreement.
This transition is pictured by Israel's entry into the Promised Land through the Jordan River. It is thus the place of that final baptism, where the old man dies fully and the new man emerges fully into resurrection life.
Caleb and Joshua are biblical types of the overcomers. They were qualified by faith to enter the Promised Land long before the rest of "the church in the wilderness." Even so, they were not allowed to enter the Promise individually, but had to wait for the rest of the body at the appointed time.
Hence, it is my belief that no individual overcomer may inherit the FULL promise until the historical fulfillment has taken place. Likewise, the baptism of the Holy Spirit of Pentecost could not come to any individual until the historic appointed time in Acts 2. Nonetheless, there were men and women throughout the Old Testament who were led by the Spirit.
It is said of Samson that "the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily" (Judg. 14:6, 19; 15:14). He was a type of Pentecostal, as I showed in my book, The Wheat and Asses of Pentecost. King Saul, too, was a Pentecostal, and as such the Spirit came upon him as well in Pentecostal fashion. Thus, the Pentecostal experience was not uncommon in the Old Testament. Yet it is clear also that Pentecost was unable to do its full work in them. All of them fell short of full and perfect spiritual maturity and obedience.
Even so, these men were receiving on-the-job training. The Spirit of God had imputed righteousness to them so that they would not be weighed down by a sense of guilt and inadequacy. They were free to exercise the authority of Christ in the earth. They were called to be like Christ, do what He did, speak as He spoke, heal the sick as He healed, and even to raise the dead as He did.
Though we walk by imputed righteousness, it is as if we were as perfect as Jesus Christ Himself. In fact, we are His Body, so we are His hands and feet in the earth through whom the Kingdom is established. As we learn to speak authoritatively by the Spirit, it is indeed Him speaking through us. When we come into contact with disobedience, disease, and death, it cannot stand in the presence of Christ—nor in ours, because Christ is in us.
In practice, however, most people do not dare to exercise such authority in the earth. The classic answer is that they lack faith, but I find that answer to be largely unhelpful. We cannot simply chide people for their lack of faith. We must provide some positive instruction that helps them build their faith.
Faith and Confidence
The initial problem for most believers is that they lack experience. They lack a history of success in seeing disease and death flee from them. It is because they start out as children in Christ, lacking the spiritual development that can come only by experience. It takes time to develop the confidence that comes by success. Without confidence, it is difficult to exercise authority, because an authoritative command must be given with confidence, knowing that it shall be done as decreed.
Much of our lack of confidence is due to feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Ultimately, those feelings trace back to our inability to fully accept the position we are given in Christ and to appropriate the righteousness imputed to us. We focus too much on the shortcoming of the old Adamic man that seems to be alive and well in our body parts. We spend more of our time reforming the old man than in reckoning him to be dead.
We spend too much time trying not to sin, instead of being led by the Spirit. Refraining from sin is alright up to a point, but we must recognize that the old man will never be cleaned up, reformed, or saved. Being led by the Spirit matures us, and in placing our focus on this, we grow out of the childish things of the flesh. In other words, the real solution is not to strive to refrain from sin, but to mature in Christ.
Seeking self-perfection is self-centered and introspective. It is done by those who are yet unable to really accept the imputation of righteousness of Christ that comes by faith alone. Thus, they continue to bewail their sinful condition and strive for an actual perfection that is always just out of reach. Such thinking gave rise to thousands of hermits in past Church history. Such introversion isolated many good men who would have otherwise been valuable in establishing the Kingdom and witnessing of Christ to the people in the street.
But when we truly know that we have been imputed righteous, the issue is settled, and we can then focus on doing the work that God has put before us. Our focus moves from ourselves to others. We cease to strive endlessly for personal perfection and begin to establish the Kingdom in the rest of the world. Only then do we learn to use our authority as sons of God to bring order out of chaos and life out of death. Only then can all things be brought under the feet (authority) of Jesus Christ, so that God may be all in all.
This is what it means to reckon our old man dead and to reckon our Christ identity as alive to God. Accept what Christ has accomplished on the cross and in His resurrection. This is how we are "set free from the body of this death."
Living Without Self-Condemnation
Romans 8:1 and 2 says,
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Paul's use of the term "therefore" shows us that this is a conclusion from what he has said earlier. The law no longer condemns us to death. Why? On what grounds? Because the Law has already killed us—that is, the old Adam in us. We have reckoned (imputed) death to our old Adamic identity by identifying with Christ's death on the cross. Our new life in Christ has begun through our Christ Identity, which has been, as it were, raised from the dead.
This new Christ Identity does not sin, for God is his Father. In other words, this new Christ Identity does not violate the Law, for it is in perfect conformity to the mind of the Father as expressed in the Law and applied by the prophets and apostles.
3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
The Law was indeed weak. It was incapable of giving life to any man, on account of "the flesh." It is not the Law that was fleshly, for Paul says it is spiritual (7:14). It is the Adamic man that is fleshly or carnal. For this reason, the Law could not find a way to give us life, even though, Paul says, that was its intent (7:10).
Another way had to be found. God sent His Son "as an offering for sin . . . in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us." That requirement is perfection, and where there is sin, the Law's requirement is death. Hence, we have put to death that Adamic "I" that so well deserved to die.
Does this, then, give us a license to violate the Law? No, it means that inasmuch as we are identified with the Christ "I" we will NOT sin. That is what it means to walk according to the Spirit. Paul is referring to the spiritual "I" as opposed to the fleshly "I."
The Carnal Mind is Hostile Toward God
5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the Law of God, for it is not even able to do so; 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The mind of the flesh will always be "hostile toward God." This brings us back to the Law of Tribulation in Lev. 26, where God warned Israel about continuing in sin. He warned them that such fleshly action would result in captivity and even deportation to foreign lands. Their captivity would not end until they had confessed their hostility against Christ, as it says in Lev. 26:41,
41 If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me—
Hostility toward the Law was what brought about Israel's deportation to Assyria and Judah's deportation to Babylon many years earlier. Even in Jesus' day, the Jewish carnal mindset ran contrary to the Law of God, for they misinterpreted it by the mind of the flesh and turned the Law into the traditions ("precepts") of men. Hence, Jesus told them in Matt. 15:7-9,
7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. 9 But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.
Paul was well aware of the Jewish hostility against Jesus Christ and against all those who preached the gospel of Christ openly. He shows that such hostility comes from the carnal Adamic identity, the "old man," which Christians have put to death by identifying with Christ.
To be hostile toward the Law is to have a mind that is contrary to the mind of Christ and the mind of the Spirit. Hence, "those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:8). Paul says in Heb. 11:6, "without faith it is impossible to please Him."
Every religious person believes that he has faith in God, but it is only faith in the sacrifice of Christ that can please God. Only by such faith does a person fulfill the Law by putting to death the old man and being raised as a new creation in Christ.
Having the Holy Spirit
9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
Some Pentecostals have used this verse to prove that one must have a Pentecostal experience in order to be a true Christian. But a simple look at the pattern of "the church in the wilderness" proves otherwise. The Church is a body of called-out ones. When Israel was called out of Egypt at Passover, they became the Church in the wilderness. Hence, the Israelites were justified by faith through Passover, not Pentecost.
They were led by the Spirit from the day of Passover, not Pentecost (at Mount Sinai). Exodus 13:20-22 says,
20 Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
The Israelites were thus "led by the Spirit" day and night from Day One—Abib 15, Passover. Our justification, which comes through Passover-Faith, begins our journey as we are led by the Spirit. Our sanctification, which comes through Pentecost, is an enhanced level of Faith and a second experience with God. However, we should be careful to distinguish the two experiences and to understand the importance of each.
Christ in You is Alive (Immortal)
10 And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of [with respect to] righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.
When Paul distinguishes between the old man and the new man, the old man is sentenced to death, while the new man is alive with immortality. Verse 11 continues this concept of the internal resurrection, where the new man is raised immediately upon the death of the old Adamic flesh-man. He says that God "will also give life to your mortal bodies."
Some believe this means that if we are truly led by the Spirit, then we will never die in our current bodies. They point to the example of Enoch, and perhaps Elijah as well. I have met many who believed they would never die, but given enough time, they continue to age and many of those mortal bodies are now decomposing in the ground. I have no doubt that their spirit is alive unto God, for He is not the God of the dead but of the living.
Paul's use of the phrase "your mortal bodies" seems to suggest that he was not referring just to an immortal spirit, or the Christ "I." Our Christ Identity is not our mortal body, even if it is located within it. Certainly, not all shall "sleep," but all will be changed (1 Cor. 15:51). So whether this change is subject to an appointed time in history or is subject only to one's spiritual growth is a matter for debate.
Romans 8:12-14 says,
12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.
Paul says that as believers, we are "under obligation" to live by the Spirit and to put to death "the deeds of the body." Many like to think that being a Christian means the freedom of having no obligations at all, for any obligation is, to them, a form of slavery. But as we have already seen from the Law of Redemption, being redeemed means only that we change masters (slave owners). We are still bondslaves of Jesus Christ.
Further, to live "according to the flesh" is to live a lawless life, for the flesh "does not subject itself to the law of God" (8:7).
Paul goes further by saying in verse 13 that "if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." That appears to tell us that Sanctification is a requirement for immortal Life. If that is what it appears to be, then Pentecost has taken the place of Passover, and justification is no more by faith alone, but by works also—that is, obedience to the Spirit of God.
That view clearly would contradict Paul's earlier foundation in Romans 4, where he showed clearly that justification was by faith alone and not by works. After such careful foundations in Romans 4, shall we now interpret Paul's statement in Romans 8 in a contradictory manner? How can we reconcile these statements?
There are two main possibilities, as I see it. First, Paul may be telling us that if we become sufficiently sanctified by putting to death the flesh and by the leading of the Spirit we may walk right into immortality and cease to age and die. The other possibility is that Paul may be referring to sanctification as a pre-requisite to achieving life in the first resurrection.
A third possibility—which I believe—is that there may be some truth in BOTH of the above viewpoints, since the two are not mutually exclusive.
So let us consider the first option. Is it possible to achieve perfect sanctification if given enough time under Pentecost? Is it necessary to be fully sanctified in order to achieve immortality, or can immortality be attained by just 90-99% sanctification?
Passover and the Feast of Booths
The simple answer is that God has already imputed righteousness to us by faith. Having our sins covered has already given us a positional justification and sanctification as far as the Law is concerned. This is the provision of God for the church between Egypt and the Promised Land. Israel started their journey on Passover, Abib 15, from a place called Succoth (Ex. 13:20). Succoth means "booths," and it represents the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles.
Likewise, Israel was supposed to dwell in booths (tents) during their entire time in the wilderness, as a lesson to the NT church that they were not to build denominational houses in the wilderness. They were to understand that they were in a time of movement and temporary dwellings, because they were to continue to learn and grow spiritually throughout their wilderness experience. A denomination tends to establish a fixed doctrinal house, where people settle permanently and are never able to learn the lessons of the next oasis in the desert where the pillar of fire may lead.
So the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) was designed to teach Israel this. We read this in Lev. 23:42-44,
42 You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, 43 so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. 44 So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times of the Lord.
I believe that this was why Israel started their journey from Succoth, which was their first encampment (after leaving Rameses). It teaches us that we ought to have the goal in mind, even as we leave the house of bondage and begin our journey to the Promised Land. It teaches us also that we may enjoy an imputed righteousness throughout our journey, and, in that sense, we may live the Kingdom Life even while we are still in the wilderness.
It is plain, however, that the Israelites did not reckon themselves to be living in the Kingdom. They grumbled and complained much of the time, showing that they did not have the ability to see beyond their circumstances. When they ran out of food, they saw only the empty bread basket. When they ran out of water, they saw only the empty canteen. They had a difficult time seeing the presence of God in times of shortage and adversity. They did not understand that they had the authority—even as Moses did—to command water out of the rock.
Moses came the closest to living the Kingdom Life as it was supposed to be lived. But even he fell short in the end, though Caleb and Joshua inherited the promise.
Caleb and Joshua are types of the overcomers who manifested that third level of Faith that comes by "living in booths" in the wilderness. Even so, they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land apart from the body (nation) itself. They had to wait for the appointed times, because this is not only an individual matter, but also a body work.
Likewise, there have been many overcomers throughout the past ages, including those listed in Hebrews 11. But they all died not having received the promises, though they gained God's approval (Heb. 11:39). Why?
40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us, they should not be made perfect.
Caleb and Joshua discovered this as well. The overcomers from all past ages could not be perfected in their own life time apart from us. We have to enter the Promised Land together at an appointed time known as the Feast of Tabernacles.
Though we are subject to time ("the appointed times of the Lord"), we are also individuals who are learning to put to death the old man and to follow the Spirit. Can we obtain perfection? I cannot say for sure, for going beyond an imputed righteousness and sanctification is still beyond my experience. But yet I know that I dwell in booths even in the wilderness, and I have at my disposal the authority of the Kingdom as if I were already perfected. (I am still learning to utilize it by faith.)
It is difficult to teach that which is beyond my own experience. Unfortunately, my experience is yet limited, so I do not know the full extent to which our authority can be exercised. I continually learn to master new areas, but there is much more yet to come.
At this point, I do not think that immortality can be achieved by progressing into perfection. I think it is more beneficial for us to accept by faith the imputed righteousness and sanctification that we now possess and to live accordingly. Whether or not this will result in an individual transformation of the mortal body into immortality is a question that I cannot answer by personal experience.
Beyond that, I do believe that God has established "appointed times" that apply to historic fulfillments to us as a collectively many-membered body. This New Creation Man is a body of people, and it cannot be complete until each has had his or her opportunity to live and mature as individuals. So we are to live the resurrected life here and now by the power of imputed righteousness, but there is also an appointed time in history for a group resurrection.
Paul wrote in Rom. 8:11 that "He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you." I believe he fully intended that we appropriate this life-giving Spirit here and now. We are to live by that Spirit, and even though we recognize that we are in a time of growth and development, yet this is done largely through on-the-job training. In other words, we are to exercise the spiritual authority that is available to us.
As we mature, of course, we will be capable of utilizing greater spiritual authority. We must recognize that God does not want power to go to our heads, nor will He entrust the keys of the Kingdom to a spiritual three-year-old, lest such authority be misused.
In my view, the "life" given to our mortal bodies by His Spirit goes beyond immortality. It is really more akin to a way of life. We are being trained to rule with Christ and to judge the world in righteousness. To do so, we must learn to think like Christ, act like Him, speak only His words, and do only what He would do. We must know His will and also His plan for the universe as a whole. The more we understand Him and His intention for creation, the better equipped we will be to exercise authority in His name as a blessing, and not as a curse to others.
Pentecost is both an experience and a time of learning. In Acts 2 we see the experience, but in the Pentecostal Age we see the time-based training period. Many have understood the experience, but have not really understood the purpose of TIME.
The Time Factor
As far as our intellect is concerned, understanding Time is what makes us different from animals. An animal's understanding of time is limited to their own life time. They have no concept of previous generations, and so they write no history books. They have no concept of an afterlife, so they make no preparations beyond their own life time. Squirrels store nuts for the winter, and bears will bury food for a future meal, but they care nothing beyond their life span.
On the other hand, we learn history and work for the good of our children and grandchildren. We even prepare according to our understanding of the afterlife. This is civilization, and it is all based upon our ability to understand Time. It is a divine gift to mankind that allows us to go beyond our own little world of experience and to think non-selfishly of others that we may never meet personally.
We are dumbed down when our sense of Time is eroded. Atheists, who have a sense of history but reject the idea of an afterlife, are partially reduced to the level of animals—as even Darwin taught. Christians who do not understand the doctrine of the Ages are likewise at a disadvantage, not being able to comprehend the divine plan fully. Those who are enclosed within themselves and remain within their own separate world of personal feeling and experience are (to that extent) mentally ill and unable to enjoy the human experience.
To have a sound mind and balanced outlook on life, we must recognize both the inward experience and the outward-looking concept of Time. In Romans 8:11, the "life" that we are given by the indwelling Spirit is a way of life that is both personal and outward looking. One does not abolish the other, but each enhances and completes the other.
For this reason, Paul also speaks of aionian life (Rom. 5:21; 6:23). The Emphatic Diaglott says it is "age-lasting life." It is not merely immortality, but life in a particular period of Time (between the two resurrections). Those who receive life (immortality) as overcomers in the first resurrection will enjoy a better quality of life for that thousand-year Age. They will not die, and they will reign with Christ (Rev. 20:6) over the others who are not so blessed.
But in Rom. 8:11 Paul went beyond this to say that even today in our mortal bodies, we have the potential to experience that future way of life to the extent that we grow to maturity and are able to exercise the authority that we have even today as we reign with Christ NOW.
Spiritual Growth is Time-Dependent
Such authority is potentially immediate, but experientially dependent upon "putting to death the deeds of the body" (Rom. 8:13). We can appropriate this quality of life even today. We need not wait for the future. In fact, growth brings us nearer to that future time of maturity, but growth is (by definition) time-dependent. Growth is largely a matter of on-the-job training, which means that we are to learn and practice skills that will be perfected by usage over time.
This is why I do more than sit around waiting for the future. Whenever the Father sends me to some location to decree a change in the earth, He intends that I put into practice that which I have already learned. It is Applied Scripture. It is an exercise of spiritual authority that is relevant here and now. Many today have little concept of this, because it is out of the realm of their own experience. Even though they see the biblical prophets doing such things, they do not comprehend the idea that the prophets are our examples—not saintly exceptions.
It really starts with some biblical understanding and learning to hear His voice and to be led by the Spirit. As we grow and develop, God finds odd jobs for us to do around the house, and then He sends us outside. I recall in 1989 the first time the Father sent me 1000 miles to decree against a hurricane that had not yet formed in the Gulf of Mexico. It was there when I arrived at Corpus Christi, and after the decree it died within 24 hours without hitting land.
It takes more faith to drive 1000 miles than it does to make a decree on our door step, especially when you do not have the money to make such a trip and must trust His provision.
My revelation of Time has often been criticized by those who are limited by personal experience. I have been accused of "doing nothing" on account of my understanding of The Age to come—as if I am only preparing for the future but neglecting the present. I assure you that this is not true. I prepare for the future by practicing the Art of Life in the present time.
Our time of Pentecost is our growth period. Without growth, we will not qualify for Tabernacles, as Israel discovered in Numbers 14. The sanctification of Pentecost is not a prerequisite for justification, but it is certainly a prerequisite for Tabernacles. Israel did not need the sanctification of Pentecost to leave Egypt, but they were disqualified from entering the Promised Land because they had rejected hearing His voice at Pentecost (Ex. 20:18-21).
Israel was justified by faith in the blood of the Lamb when they came out of Egypt at Passover. Hebrews 4:6 says that the "good news" [gospel] was preached to them, but yet "they failed to enter because of disobedience." They experienced Passover, but they failed to experience Pentecost—to hear His voice, to be led by the Spirit, and to learn obedience, growing into spiritual maturity.
I do not believe that to qualify for Tabernacles one must achieve perfection and immortality in this present life. But one must show signs of life and growth. This goes beyond learning the Bible. Learning the Bible is very helpful, but only if it is applied and translated into practical experience. Romans 8:14 says,
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
God called His "son" out of Egypt (Hos. 11:1) and led them by His Spirit (pillar of fire). So also is it with us. If we are led by the Spirit of God—instead of by the flesh—we too are the sons of God. That is our primary evidence of Sonship.
Living as Sons of God
Up until Romans 8:13, Paul laid the foundations for one of his most important topics—Sonship. He showed how faith is the basis of justification, and how sanctification is a process of learning obedience. Obedience involves putting to death the flesh and being led by the Spirit. The flesh does not subject itself to the Law of God (8:7), while the mind of the Spirit serves the Law of God (7:25). Hence, sanctification is the time of training in which we learn to be obedient to the Law of God.
This time of obedience involves some discipline (Heb. 12:7), because discipline is one of the primary marks of being a son. This training period is also the mark of a son who is not yet fully mature, for Gal. 4:1 tells us that even sons are positionally the same as a slave while growing to maturity.
The huiothesia, "adoption as sons," (Gal. 4:5; Rom. 8:15) is the point of maturity. In Paul's day it was the formal ceremony proclaiming that the son was mature and could be trusted fully as the heir. He was then given power of attorney over the entire family estate, so that his signature was as binding as that of the Father.
Our training period is more than just a time awaiting the huiothesia (feast of Tabernacles). We are given incremental authority according to our training and maturity in order that we might learn the ways of our Father by exercising His authority according to the leading of the Spirit. For this reason, we are able to make decrees, heal the sick, and raise the dead while we are yet in training. Even so, we must do so as led by the Spirit. And do not forget that the Law itself is our tutor (Gal. 3:24) to bring us to the full measure of the stature of Christ.
The Sonship message is not merely an understanding that we are heirs of all things and co-heirs with Christ. It is more than a position. It is a time of training from birth to maturity. The evidence of Sonship is being led by the Spirit.
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons [huiothesia] by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"
Paul was thinking primarily of the change from the Old Covenant to the New. The Old Covenant time period involved slavery, while the New Covenant brings us out of slavery into Sonship. However, there is another application of this, because the Age of Pentecost itself runs parallel to Israel's training in the wilderness prior to their entry into the Promised Land. Hence, the Age of Pentecost is also a time of "slavery" as we learn to be led by the Spirit.
Paul recognizes this fact, but he remains optimistic that the believers in his audience have largely come to a place of spiritual maturity, functioning in the authority of sons. So he tells the Galatian church in Gal. 4:7-9,
7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. 8 However, at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?
Paul's comparison is not between Pentecost and Tabernacles, but between idolatry and knowing the true God. In other words, men were enslaved to false gods until they came to know God by faith in Christ. Yet the Galatian problem manifests a further problem in the church itself. It shows that even believers can be enslaved once again by their belief system. And indeed, by extension we find that every believer starts out as a babe in Christ and needs to learn maturity, even as Israel had to be trained in the wilderness during their time of Pentecost.
The Galatian problem was specifically about the church returning to Judaism and its reliance upon the Old Covenant. The Galatian Christians had come out of idolatry, even as Israel had been called (birthed) out of Egypt (Hos. 11:1). But the comparison does not end there. The Galatians had followed the path of Israel to Mount Sinai as well, where they were in danger of placing themselves under the Old Covenant and its slavery.
So we can see that there are two forms of slavery. First, there is the slavery of Egypt; secondly, there is the slavery of the Old Covenant. Paul speaks of both forms of slavery in his epistle to the Galatians, so we know that Paul recognized both.
Conversely, there are also two forms of Sonship. The first is that of Hosea 11:1, where God calls His son out of Egypt, making Israel a "son" from the day they were birthed out of Egyptian slavery. The second layer of Sonship is in coming out from the slavery of the Old Covenant and into the Sonship of the New.
There is, therefore, a slavery to the world through the worship of false gods; and there is another form of slavery under God Himself, which is reserved for immature Christians and is designed to bring them to spiritual maturity.
Paul assumes in Rom. 8:15 that the Christians in Rome are mature and have abandoned the Old Covenant as a method of salvation. Hence, they "have not received a spirit of slavery," but instead "a spirit of huiothesia," the spirit of the adoption as sons.
16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
Here Paul makes a clear distinction between the Spirit of God and our own spirit. He distinguishes the spirit from the soul in 1 Thess. 5:23, where he says, "may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." As temples of God, we are in three parts, having a Most Holy Place (spirit), a Holy Place (soul), and an Outer Court (body).
Our Most Holy Place is our spirit, and this inner room also houses the Spirit of God, even as the Shekinah glory occupied the Most Holy Place of the temple. Paul says that these two Spirits have a double-witness relationship. In other words, a marriage has taken place within us, where the two are "one flesh," so to speak. Our spirit has been united with the Holy Spirit, and even though these are yet technically separate, they are also legally "one flesh." By this holy union the Spirit of God begets "Christ in you, the hope of glory," which is the fruit of this union that God has intended from the beginning.
Hence, when Paul says that "we are children of God," he is building upon the foundations of his teaching in Romans 7. Paul had identified with his spiritual "I" that is his Christ-identity. We are sons of God, not on account of our identity as the carnal fruit of Adam's seed, but as a consequence of the holy seed of the Last Adam, who has begotten us by the Spirit of God.
This is what makes us sons of God. The Last Adam has successfully done the work that the first Adam was called to do—but failed. Though the first Adam was called to be a "son of God" (Luke 3:38), he became "the man of sin" in need of a redeemer. The process of redemption, salvation, justification, and reconciliation is focused entirely upon the success of the Last Adam.
This is the basis of the Sonship message. No other religion has this truth, because coming into Sonship and the huiothesia can only be accomplished through Jesus Christ. It is what makes Christianity unique.