“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” Romans 8:14
That verse is clear: if the spirit of God isn’t leading you, you are not God’s child, just as you do not belong to God (see 8:9).
The image of “adoption” tells us that no one is born into a true relationship with God. The fact that we receive our adoption status proves that there was a time when we were lost; we were not naturally God’s children. Originally, we were spiritual orphans and slaves.
Second, the image of adoption tells us that our relationship with God is based completely on a legal act by the Father. You don’t “win” or “earn” or negotiate a parent. It is simply received.
This teaching is clear and important because it is common to hear people assert that “All humans are God’s children.” The biblical evidence for this assertion is Acts 17:29 where Paul does call all humans God’s “offspring” (genos=descendant), which is like calling Henry Ford the “father” of the Model T. The Bible reserves all the richness of the term “children of God” only for those who have received Christ as Savior and Lord.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
The status of God’s child is given to those who receive Him. No one has it naturally except Jesus Christ.
Historical Christianity has taught that Jesus was the Son of God, God incarnate (made flesh). If that’s true then it’s fair to expect some evidence to back it up. It’s fair to ask, “Did Jesus act like God? Did he do the things God alone is able to do?” The answer to these questions is a resounding: “YES!”
- He was prophesied (Isaiah 9:6-7 and many others).
- He performed miracles (John 10:25 and many others).
- He taught with authority (Matthew 7:28-29 and many others).
- He had supernatural knowledge (Matthew 21:1-3; 24:1-2; 26:17-35 and many others).
- He was sinless (John 8:46; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22).
- He was one with the Father (John 1:1-5, 18; 3:35-36; 10:25-30; 14:1-11).
- He accepted worship (Luke 5:8-9; 7:36-50; 19:35-40 and many others).
How can God forgive me if I can’t forgive myself? Why am I struggling to forgive myself if I know God has already forgiven me?
Let me make a distinction that can help us all. Guilty feelings occur when the Holy Spirit convicts us of unrepentant sin. So if I am living out sin in my life, I shouldn’t be surprised if I have guilty thoughts and feelings. That’s from God. And that’s good because it helps us continue to follow and obey him.
Now, once we have repented, guilt should no longer be our status. We should be overjoyed in the forgiveness of Christ. But rather than be overjoyed in Christ, we often feel SHAME. Shame is not a thought or feeling from God.
Now, if you know Christ, you need to know that Satan invests a lot of energy trying to get you to live apart from who you really are. He wants you to remember your failures and feel shame. He wants you to live in discouragement and defeat. He wants to tuck those things in your pocket so he can throw them up in your face every time you try to take a step forward with God. He says, “You’re a loser. You flunked out big time. God’s not very fired up about you.” Everything Satan says to you is bent on your defeat and your ineffectiveness as a representative of Christ. He hates you because he hates Jesus Christ. So when you allow those thoughts to permeate your living, you become useless to God, and Satan wins. It doesn’t mean that you’re not a Christian. It just means you’ll be ineffective until you rid yourself of that shame.
How many of you want Satan to win the battle for your effectiveness? Instead of letting those cancers grow, go back to what God says about you.
What does God say about you?
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and repented of your sins, you are a child of God, a branch of the true vine and a conduit of Christ’s life. You are a friend of Jesus who has been justified and redeemed. You were crucified with Christ and you are no longer a slave to sin, guilt or shame. You will not be condemned by God. You have been accepted by Christ and called to be a saint. In Christ Jesus you have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you. You are joined to the Lord and are one spirit with him. God leads you in the triumph and knowledge of Christ. You are a new creature in Christ who has become the righteousness of God in Christ. You have been made one with all who are in Christ Jesus. You have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. You are chosen, holy and blameless before God. You are God’s workmanship created to do good works. You have boldness and confident access of God through faith in Christ. You are a citizen of heaven who has been made complete in Christ. God loves you and has chosen you so don’t you dare let Satan take any of that away from you.
The truth is: God is fired up about you.
I don’t know how anyone attempting to follow Jesus could ever be bored. As author Anne Dillard says, if we truly knew who we were worshiping, we’d all be wearing hard hats in church.
Jesus came not to reinforce your comfort zone, but to set your old small-minded ways on fire.
According to Doug Hall, author of Meaningful Marketing, most people automatically reject new ideas when first presented to them. It is only after hearing the ideas repeatedly do the concepts begin to seem possible. And after a little bit more exposure to the ideas they begin to seem not only possible, but necessary. God indeed has outrageous ideas for you that may, in fact, be vitally necessary for you.
It is one thing to ask God for what you want. Real change happens when you ask God what He wants from you.
That’s when transformation occurs.
What outrageous requests is Jesus making of you?
A lot of people wanted to hear an answer to this question and unfortunately it’s a short one because the question has an incorrect assumption. A lot of people think that God won’t give us more than we can handle, but the Bible never says that. The Bible says that God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. He will always give us a way out from temptation. But, God actually often will allow us to have more than we can handle so we can learn to depend on Him. That’s why we need God. If I never felt overwhelmed or stressed, I wouldn’t feel like I had much need to depend on God for daily living. So feeling overwhelmed isn’t good. But let it drive you to full reliance on Jesus.
John 1:10-13 reads like this, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
That has a lot to tell us about who we are and who we can be.
- We have the extraordinary right, through Jesus, to become children of God. Again, we can become children of God. We are not born “children of God.” Everyone is not God’s child but everyone is born in God’s image which means that everyone is worthy of our respect and ultimately, love.
- By nature we must be adopted into his family; we are not natural children (Romans 8:14-17).
- The transaction is made when we respond to Jesus and by faith (not by good works, deeds, obedience or adherence to the law) receive his name (Galatians 3:26) and we are led by his Spirit (Romans 8:14).
- Jesus himself promised this to the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).
The Church doesn’t exist in order to provide a place where people can pursue their private individual spiritual agendas and develop their own spiritual potential. Nor does it exist to provide a safe haven for people to hide from the wicked world and ensure that they themselves arrive safely to a heavenly destination.
The New Testament seems pretty clear that through the Church God will announce to the wider world that He is indeed its wise, loving, and just Creator. And that through Jesus He has defeated the powers that enslave it. And that by His Spirit He is at work to heal it.
The Church exists, in other words, for what we sometimes call “mission:” to announce to the world that Jesus is Lord. This is the “good news,” and when it’s announced it transforms people and cultures.