- There is a famous television theme song that says, “you want to go where everybody knows your name.” This is a true statement concerning how we feel. We have a need for acceptance and desire a place to belong. We want to fit in. No one ever wanted to be the last person chosen in gym class by our peers. We want to be accepted in a social sphere we are in. This is why family is so important. Family is a place that we find acceptance and is a place where we belong.
- But the power of family does not reside simply in our physical relationships, through flesh and blood. God uses this imagery to communicate to us what we have received in Him. Turn to Romans 8:14-17 and notice what the Lord tells us.
I. Accepted Into Family (8:14)
A. Sons of God
- The first thing we must point out from the text is we have a family. We are called sons of God and therefore are part of God’s family. It is important to consider that we are called “sons” and not children. We see that we are called children later in this passage. But here we are sons. Being called a son is very important, much more important in those days than what we understand in our culture. The firstborn son received the blessing from the father and the birthright, which was the double portion of the inheritance. To be a son is to be in a position of privilege. We are in a very unique position because we are sons of God. The phrase gives us VIP status, if you will.
- We will notice some of the points of privilege that we receive as sons later, but for now consider how great it is to have God as a Father. God is the perfect Father that none of us ever had. This is the Father who spends with us all the time we want. He is the Father who can give us everything that we truly need. We have a Father who can show us love, compassion, and concern that we may have not had in our lives. God the Father shows love perfectly, gives perfectly, disciplines perfectly, listens to us perfectly, and spends time with us perfectly. While our earthly family may fail us, we have a perfect family with the Lord.
B. Conditions on becoming a son
- But there are conditions that are expressed for being called a son of God. We are not born into this situation, but God has declared that we must be “led by the Spirit of God.” This is an important condition that I do not believe requires a big long book to write about what it means.
- We must transform our spirit to be like God. Verse 13 gives a perfect explanation, “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.” Paul did not intend for this statement to be some sort of great mystery. When we make decisions to follow God and His word and stop following our sinful desires, we are being led by the Spirit. Thus, Paul also said in Galatians 3:26, “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” When we belong to Jesus Christ, we are being led by His example and His teachings and are therefore led by the Spirit.
- This is a condition for becoming sons of God. Not everyone is granted this position of privilege. Only as many as are being led by the Spirit. Beloved, what is leading your life right now? What is the rule by which you make your decisions? Is it the Spirit of God through His word or is it your own spirit and what pleases our own wishes? If we have not submitted to God’s will, then we are not sons and do not have God as our perfect Father.
II. Adopted Into Family (8:15)
A. Chosen by God
- But verse 15 illustrates that there is something even more special about the relationship that we have with God. God tells us that we have been taken from the slavery of the flesh and slavery of sin and have been adopted by Him. We have been removed from the slavery of Satan and transferred into the family of God.
- Adoption is such a powerful concept that is applied to us. To be adopted means that we were chosen by God. God made a plan by which He would be able to select us. Even in our own society, there is a great amount of work and planning that must take place for us to adopt a child. A person does not simply drive down to the hospital and pick up a child like it was the animal humane society. There is work, there is planning, and there is payment that must be made to go through the process of adoption. So it also is with our Father. Before the foundations of the world we were chosen and elected by God. Before the foundations of the world, God was planning for our adoption and preparing to pay the price of His Son to ensure the adoption.
- Galatians 4:4-5 says, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Again, we read in Ephesians 1:5, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” We need to see that we have been selected by God. Paul is not trying to teach here the method by which God chose. The doctrine of unconditional election and predestination are not in view. God is trying to simply tell us that He made plans to adopt us. We were not God’s, now God has done the work and made the payment so we are His.
- But there is another great aspect to adoption. We are not unwanted. We are not an accident or “oops” child in the eyes of God. To be adopted is one of the greatest things that can happen to child. Unfortunately, our society does not seem to think so and many times will treat the adopted as second-class family members. But adoption is very positive because it means that you were selected by God. You are wanted by God and God has done all He can to make you His child. Adoption shows the love of the parent, as we see the love of the Father toward us.
B. Leaving behind the slavery
- Therefore, we cannot fall back into the spirit of slavery. Since we have been adopted by God, why would we want to fall back into the slavery of sin? Why would we want to be subject to the power of Satan? This would be tantamount to an adopted child rejecting their parents so they can live in an orphanage without a family! Who could conceive of such a situation? Yet this is exactly what we do when we reject our Father by living a life of sin and choosing to live according to the flesh and not be led by the Spirit of God.
- Perhaps a little history helps us understand the meaning of adoption. According to The IVP Bible Background Commentary, Roman adoptions were allowed at any age. To do so would cancel all previous debts and relationships, and the person was defined totally by the new relationship that was created. This is exactly what has been defined for us by God. Our previous debts have been cancelled by God and we are totally defined by our new relationship with the Lord. Previous relationships are to cancelled as well. This is the idea when Paul told us to put off the old self and put on the new self. We are in a new relationship. Let us not reject our Father who has paid a great price to adopt as a child.
III. Acknowledged As Heirs (8:16-17)
A. Heirs of God
- When we are led by the Spirit of God and walk according to the commands of our Lord, then we have the testimony of God and ourselves that we are God’s children. This is like receiving the paperwork to prove that we have been adopted. We are no longer separated from family but now have been granted full legal status as a child of God the Father. Our actions prove our legal status as children. Children act like their parents and if we act like our Father in heaven, then we are His children.
- Paul goes on to tell us that if we are His children, then we are heirs. Not only do we have full legal standing as a child, not only are given a position of privilege as a son, but we also have full access to the inheritance. It would be enough for us to imagine all the blessings that we receive as being an heir of the inheritance. Think even more about being heirs to a royal kingdom and the riches the king of heaven bestows!
- But we do not have to imagine it all, for God tells us many of the things that we are heirs to as His children. We are heirs of eternal life (Titus 3:7), heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14), heirs of the promises made to Abraham (Galatians 3:29), heirs of glory (Colossians 1:12), heirs of righteousness (Hebrews 11:7), and heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7).
- Not only this, but we are joint heirs with Christ. The idea of joint heirs communicates that what Christ has received, we will receive as well. 2 Timothy 2:12 tells us that if we endure, we will reign with Christ. The rule and authority given to Christ will also be given to us.
B. Access to God
- But one of the greatest aspects of being sons of God, children of God, and heirs of God is that we have access to God. We are have our part with Him. It is not only the blessings that God offers, but also that God Himself is part of our inheritance. The scriptures speak of this idea.
- “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25-26). Asaph speaks of God being his inheritance. Jeremiah says the same, “I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him'” (Lamentations 3:24).
- This was the nature of what God had promised to the twelve tribes of Israel. While eleven of the tribe received portions of land, the Levites did not. Joshua 13:33 reminds us, “But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he promised them.” This was a greater part for God was with the tribe, as they were servants of God, assisting tabernacle preparations and worship.
- This promise of inheriting God as our portion is much of the point of chapter 11 of Hebrews. Abel offered God a better sacrifice yet received no earthly inheritance. He was murdered for his righteousness but received a heavenly reward. Noah was “an heir of righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). God was Noah’s reward. The writer of Hebrews concludes after listing the heroes of faith, “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us” (Hebrews 11:39-40). All of these looked to God as their true inheritance and portion, and so should we. Yes, we have much to look forward to with a heavenly home and ruling with Christ, but the greatest blessing is having God Himself and unlimited access to Him.
IV. Allotted Into Glory (8:17)
A. Consider His glory
- While on the earth Jesus always spoke about His future glorification. “But Jesus answered them, saying, ‘The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified'” (John 12:23). Part of that glorification was going to be shown in raising Himself from the dead and ascending to the Father. That glorification is described in Philippians 2:9-11, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
- We are able to share in the glorification of Jesus. We share in His power, His majesty, His honor, His rule, His greatness, and all things that make the Lord Jesus who He is. We participate in all these things.
B. If we suffer with Him
- But there is one condition given for us to share in His glory. We must suffer with Him. There can be no glory without suffering. Luke 24:26 says, “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” Jesus told His disciples, “Remember the word that I said to you. A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Jesus also said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
- We must see all that Jesus suffered to enter into glory. We also must be ready to suffer with Him if we will enter into His glory. We must be ready to suffer rejection for the cause of Christ. We must be ready to receive scorn for our beliefs in Him. We must be ready for people to think that we are strange because we do not do the things that they do and practice the activities they practice. How far will we go to be with the Lord? How far will we choose to put to death the deeds of the body?
- When it comes to suffering, many of us are not willing to suffer. But Paul reminds us in verse 18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” All that we have now in Christ is worth the suffering and tribulations we may endure. Consider the glory that has yet to be revealed to us! Friends, when we get to heaven and see the Lord face to face and receive Him and His blessings as our inheritance, we will not recall any of the sufferings of this present life. We will look back at these things and wonder how we could have questioned if it was worth enduring.
- Baptism will bring us into God’s family. We can have the family and connection that we have always longed for if we will submit to the Lord. We have been called to adoption as sons before the foundation of the world. We have privilege in God’s sight. We are heirs of the promises of God and guaranteed our portion with the Lord.
- Why remain a slave to sin? Why continue living shackled by the chains of Satan? Be free from your sins, your burdens, and your guilt. Come to the Lord today and be baptized to have your sins washed away. Join God’s eternal family where God knows your name and bask in His love and blessings.