Children of God
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
There are different ways to describe the nature of relationships that we have. For instance, if we go to work for a friend who has started a business, there is the relationship that exists between employer and employee and there is the relationship that exists between friends. You could say the same thing with reference to working with family. The relationships are of a different sort, we view them differently, both are important, the family relationship is more secure, or at least it should be. We need a place to be received and loved as a first principle where people understand our weaknesses, our brokenness and who are rooting for us and are supportive as a first principle. It would seem odd to have that as the basis for a relationship at work.
In our passage today, Paul emphasizes one way to see the new relationship with have with God in Christ. We can see God as creator and judge, because He is. This is the basic thing that all people are to understand. But there is much more to a relationship with God. Today Paul will show us that we are children of God. Seeing ourselves in relation to God this way is meant to have a profound impact on our lives. In this passage we will see three big picture ideas that stem from our family identity with God.
The first comes out of the idea that you can tell about the parent from looking at the child. Dr. Inch used to mention that fairly regularly. If you want to know what the Father is like, look at the Son.
- We are Led by the Holy Spirit
Spirit means God’s spirit
- The Spirit means God’s view of life
Heavenly realities have been opened to us. (That is the realm of the Spirit)
The heavenly man has been revealed to us! Jesus is the Logos of God! (This is my pattern for being, my definition of all that is right true and good.)
Jesus is the second Adam. He is the image of the invisible God. “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” “How can you say ‘Show us the Father?’” We now have teaching and example of how to live our lives.
Galatians 5: 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want.
What this means is that we are not meant to live in a world where we do whatever we feel like doing as the foundational principle. There is a more important truth than the way that I feel. And that truth is that God has a way to life that my feelings may say is actually a way of death!
And so the solution is: 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
We have information. We study and apply it in our lives. It reveals to us that we must put off some behaviors, have our thinking renewed about what is right and good, and then invest in other behaviors. Ephesians 4 second half through Eph 6 first half.
- This is the understanding of our total need
Parable of the sower: The good soil is the understanding and acceptance of our total need of divine revelation.
Need for proper information
Need for proper application of that information
Need for power to carry out the application.
The Holy Spirit provides us with all of this!
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is at work within you both to will and to do His good pleasure.
His good pleasure: That’s the information properly applied to your life. God is at work in you to will.
Both to will: God is working to change your will to mold to His. I think He often does this through hardship.
And to do: God is giving us the power to conform our lives to the image of Christ.
- Opportunity or obligation?
Look back at verse 12. In one sense we are saying that we are obligated to have life! And that does not make sense, just like it doesn’t make sense for us to love to sin. But this is what it is. It makes no sense for people who recognize that trouble that sin causes to try and live in sin. That makes no sense at all. The wages of sin is death. We have died with Christ. We are raised with Christ. We are forgiven the debt of our sin. That debt is way beyond dangerous to us, our families and our world! How can we live in sin any longer when there is afforded to us a pathway to life that acts as a spring of water forever producing life in us? How can we live in a manner that separates us from God when we know that Emmanuel is all that we need? How can we imagine that unbelief is our problem and yet persist in unbelief?
II Cor 5:14-15 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Verse 21 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Verse 16: Who is the one who is saved? It is the one who believes and confesses. Who is the one who is justified? It is the one who is in the process of sanctification. And what is the process of sanctification? It is the process of walking by the Spirit. Hence, following the truth about life from the Spirit is the sign that we are children of God! We reflect the parent.
A second aspect of family reflected in these verses relates to closeness or tenderness of relationship. We have the position and ability to rightly call God Abba.
- We Call God Abba
- I am Abba to my children
Your kids are great. I don’t feel about your kids the way that I do about mine. I don’t lose sleep over your kids. I am not delighted to provide for your kids the way that I am for mine. I will not die for your kids the way that I am motivated to give my life for mine.
We will occasionally watch the Stiritz bird Frederick when they travel out of town. Fredrick is a lot of fun because he speaks in the voices of the Stiritz family, at least the parents and the girls.
One of my favorite things that I hear from Frederick is him calling out “Papa” in Margaret’s voice. That is Abba. You will also hear him calling “Margaret” in Han’s voice. God calls to us personally. We call to God personally. Abba is real.
- I am obedient as a child, not a slave
Obedience as a child is a more motivating place for us in life! And that is because it means more to please a parent because of the love in the relationship! Reflecting the image of God is our highest calling! That goes from a job to an honor because of Abba!
I am delighted to be a child of God and to submit to His authority in my life. How can I live like a slave to sin? How can I submit to sinful selfish attitudes toward my spouse, toward my kids, toward my job etc. How can I not demonstrate God’s creative, giving, serving sacrificial nature? How is it not the best of things to act like my Father? How is there not great pride and satisfaction in this?
- Be afraid of the flesh, not the Spirit v.15
There is no reason to be afraid of God if we are honest about our weaknesses and we hide from Him in Him. God knows our issues. The question is, “Do we?” Are we striving to work out our salvation? Those who strive to walk in the flesh and in the Spirit both sin. One is wrestling with their sinful nature and developing character, they are bearing fruit.
For example: Hebrews 4: 12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
So, Scripture is used by God to prove that I have a deep seated sin problem that is bigger than my ignorance of God’s will. I want to fight with God and displace Him. I want to be God and to shape the world according to my desires. And even though I know that were that to happen all would end in death, my reflexive actions tend in this direction. And I am not all that anxious to change. Scripture shows me this problem. What should I do?
The next verses in Hebrews 4: 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
The last aspect of family living explained here by Paul relates to the idea of inheritance. Paul says plainly that
III. We are Heirs of What God Has v.17
- We are heirs as Jesus is an heir
In terms of what and how much!
So, I have been thinking about what this means and I am going to take a stab at this this morning. When you think about inheritance, you think about money and property. You think of all that goes along with the quality of life of the loved one that has passed. So, what is it that God does best that we would want? And to me the answer is life. We have the right to receive life from God in all of its fullness!!! Possessions are only important if there is a scarcity. There is an element of competition attached to material wealth. That can fly away. We can just celebrate God’s life in the Spirit in all of us!!
God gave the creation to Adam. There will be a new heaven and earth. This will be given to us.
Children reflect the parents. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. We are heirs of the image of God.
All authority in heaven and earth are given to Jesus. There is nothing that can or will separate us from the ultimate authority in our lives being God. We can turn our back on His authority, but it cannot be yanked from us!! We are called to help people follow Jesus Christ because of this!
We are seated with Jesus in the heavenly places right now in Christ. Ephesians 2:6
I John 3: 1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (here is the motivation for sanctification!!)
- We share with Jesus’ glory
Glory follows suffering, but I wanted to cover this first because the rest of the chapter is focused on suffering. And there is a definite transition to the issue of suffering coming immediately.
What does it mean that we share in Christ’s glory?
Let’s see if we can get a picture of this from Revelations. The first line of the book: The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits[a] of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
- We share with Jesus’ suffering
The glory of Christ and the suffering of Christ are connected. We are in Christ, they will be connected in our lives too! All suffering is redeemed. 8:28. So, look forward to the glory! He endured the Cross, despising the shame because of the joy that was set before Him!
The majority of the rest of this chapter is about this.
There is suffering to be had in this life. Facing our suffering and receiving it as discipline is the pathway to life instead of avoidance and running.
There is a proper way to address it.
There are provisions made for enduring suffering.
There is fellowship to be had in suffering.
There is are profound truths to be lived in through our suffering