Two Spirits Beat Witness - A Slightly Different View

Johnny Stringer
Loudon, Tennessee

"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Rom. 8:16).

Most Christians recognize that the Spirit bears witness by what He has said. The Holy Spirit revealed the New Testament to man, and in that teaching He testified about the Father-Son relationship which exists between God and Christians. Men give testimony by their words, and that is how the Spirit has given His testimony.

But what about the testimony given by our spirit? The Spirit bears witness "with our spirit." Hence, there are two witnesses: the Holy Spirit and our spirit.

It is my belief that in explaining this verse, some brethren fail to consider what Paul has said about "our spirit" in the context. In the verse just before the one under consideration, Paul said:

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father (v. 15).

Note that the "spirit of bondage" is contrasted against the "spirit of adoption," which we have. The spirit of bondage is the spirit (disposition) of a slave. This is a spirit that cringes in terror before the master. This would be our spirit (disposition) if God were an unmerciful master who regarded us as nothing more than slaves. If He had no fatherly compassion and offered no mercy when we sinned, we would cringe as slaves terrified of His wrath.

Instead of such a spirit, we have the "spirit of adoption"; that is, the spirit (disposition) of one who has been taken into God's family as His child. We know we are not mere slaves to Him; we are His children, the objects of his fatherly compassion. He loves us as children and is ever ready to forgive us when we seek mercy in the way He has appointed. We have the spirit of sons, not slaves. We have the spirit (disposition) that causes us to cry to Him as our Father, thereby testifying that we are His children. This disposition is one characteristic of God's children; so the fact that we have this disposition is evidence that we are children of God.

Does the fact that we have such a spirit prove that we are His sons? No. It just proves that we have one characteristic of His children. In court trials, the testimony of one witness usually does not settle the case. The testimony of our spirit is not decisive.

So Paul proceeds to say that the Holy Spirit gives His testimony confirming that, just as our disposition indicates, we are indeed the sons of God.

As the title suggests, this view is slightly different from the one normally taught by brethren; but it's the way I see it.

Guardian of Truth XXX: 22, p. 685
November 20, 1986