When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God … (NRSV Rom. 8:16)
JB Philips translates this same verse from Romans in a helpful way: “The Spirit himself endorses our inward conviction that we really are children of God.” My experience is that this “inward conviction” is each person’s individuality of consciousness, something that emerges early and stays with us throughout our lives. And this living soul of individuality that God breathes into human beings is what continues on when the body and brain are dead.
Because we are His children, created in His image, we know in our hearts when we are justifying some natural selfishness, when our motives are suspiciously greedy. God knows it too. And He has perhaps always known that we aren’t ever going to be able to free ourselves permanently from these natural instincts of selfishness and greed without help. That’s why “when the right time came, God sent his Son.” Jesus was “born of a woman and lived under the law” (NCV Gal. 4:4). Because of that, the Lord fully knows our need and our longing. He understands our vulnerability.
As our living Saviour, the Lord is always awake, waiting for our least moment of yielding, waiting to comfort us and sustain us. The Spirit of Jesus, joining with our spirit, is continually nudging us to empathy and compassion and forgiveness. He lifts us up, bringing hope to the hopeless and strength to the weak. It is the Lord’s presence at our side and in our heart that continues to power conversion experiences. Through His Son, God is, indeed, thought by thought and moment by moment, “bearing witness with our spirit” making us “joint-heirs with Christ” (8:17). (Living Strong, chapter 58 at www.yieldingtochristianity.com)