Philophobia is the fear of love or being loved (philo meaning love; phobia meaning fear). At first this might seem like a silly or uncommon fear, but it affects more people than you may realize. Recall all those times you felt like you weren’t enough or that you lacked something essential. These are all instances of philophobia. What’s more, we often take these fears into our relationship with God. For the Christian, this fear is completely unfounded. All Christians are loved and accepted by God as beloved children.
The verses below are all about how the Holy Spirit works in the life of a believer. He guides you out of the spirit of slavery to sin and into a spirit of adoption.
As you read the following passage, note every instance of the Spirit. Take notice where the word is capitalized—signifying the Holy Spirit.
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For 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!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. – Romans 8:12-17
The Holy Spirit is at work in the life of every believer.
Continuing through Romans 8, Paul taught that the Holy Spirit keeps us from falling back into slavery to sin and flesh and that He allows us to cry out to God as Father. He bears witness that we are children of God, and He helps us see our inheritance in Christ.
The greatest leaders are good followers, and when the Spirit comes in, we no longer live without a leader. Before we were spiritual orphans, held captive to the desires of our flesh. The Spirit arrives at the moment of salvation and never departs. On the cross, there was a legal transaction made by Jesus Christ, signed in His blood. And once we’re joined to Christ, nothing can ever separate us from His love.
Abba is a term of endearment like “daddy.” What does this title teach us about the particular kind of Father God is to His children?
The Spirit leads us to address God as “Abba! Father!” Abba is only used three times in the New Testament—Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; and Galatians 4:6. It’s an intimate and familiar way of referring to a father. So when Jesus called God Abba, He was communicating that God is a particular kind of Father. He’s not distant and unknowable. He’s close and intimate with us. Jesus eliminated any separation between us and God. We cry “Abba! Father!” because we are God’s children.
In verse 16, the first Spirit is capitalized, but the second is not. Paul was referring to the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the internal spirit of a believer. We can call God Father because the Spirit continually affirms we are His children. This status isn’t based on what we have or haven’t done. We are fully known and unconditionally loved. When we follow the Spirit, He reminds us that we are part of God’s family and we have an inheritance in Christ.
Paul referred to believers as “sons” (verse 14). His language was intentional. In the first century, inheritance passed through the male lineage. A father’s estate transferred to his firstborn son. Because Jesus is God’s Son, everything God has belongs to Jesus. Because we belong to Christ, everything Christ has belongs to us. God has not withheld any of the blessings or privileges of sonship from us. At every moment, we can be assured of God’s love for us because of everything He’s done to prove it. We are adopted, beloved, children of God.
Praise God for loving you and adopting you into His family!
We all have moments in our Christian journeys when we feel as though our sin is too much or we’ve gone too far over a line. We have doubts and desire assurance of God’s love for us. God has adopted you into His family. You are fully known and unconditionally loved by Him. Because you have been adopted by God, He is your Abba (Father). Nothing you have ever done or ever could do has the ability to change this reality.
This article is adapted from Noe Garcia’s new Bible study, Romans 8: From Broken to Belonging.