But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman,born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.‘ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:4-7)
To move from achieving to receiving, earning to inheriting, slave to child— all through Christ, the only Son of God, born as we were born to bring us into life from death, into light from darkness, into belonging from captivity.
Now, His Spirit in our hearts by faith, we live as children, calling out to our divine Father, free and fully alive, breathing deep God’s fresh air, secure and at peace in the Father’s house.
The Apostle John tells us that at His first appearing, Christ won a tremendous victory for God. This present victory has so many different aspects, but the two most important are these:
“You know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins” (1 John 3:5)
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (3:8b)
Jesus is both the atoning sacrifice for our sins and the victorious conqueror over the powers of evil. Because of this great work in Christ, and our identity as God’s children, as disciples of Christ we can live now in freedom from sin and victory over the devil and his works.
John specifically calls the believers to not be led astray in this. If God is our Father, if we are born of God and children of God, then our lives—our everyday actions and words—should reflect this new identity. If we have been set free from sin, then we should not return to enslave ourselves to it.
If Jesus has the victory over the devil, then we should not put ourselves into his service again. Our way of life—our lifestyle – should reflect who we are. And so, we should not look like the devil:
“No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (3:6)
Such a person “does what is sinful” (3:8), “does not do what is right” (3:10), and “does not love their brother or sister” (3:10)
John says that’s not the way that children of God speak, act, or carry themselves. Instead, children of God look like God is their Father. Such a person:
“Does what is righteous, just as [God] is righteous” (3:7)
“Cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God” (3:9)
As the old saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Our spiritual lives are anchored in the love of God and our identity as children of God. This identity is at the core of our being. It is not intended to be an informational reality but a transformational reality. And our lives, based in that new reality, should reflect the character of God.
How do we do that? Well, there are several examples found in the Scripture, but one of the easiest to grasp is found in Ephesians 4, where Paul is instructing the believers on how to live their lives for and with God. Paul writes:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
We must choose to take off the old self—the self controlled by sin and deceitful desires—the self that looks more like the devil. We must daily, even moment by moment, choose to take that way of living off.
We must have the attitude of our minds renewed. Actually the Greek conveys the sense of a renewing of the mind by the Spirit. We must let the truth of God become an inwardly transforming truth by the Holy Spirit’s power. We must know who we are in a deep way and be controlled by the Holy Spirit, not by whatever changing winds tries to influence our spirit.
We must then put on the new self—the self that arises from knowing who we are and is sustained by the indwelling presence of God—and live by God’s power in God’s righteousness and holiness.
All in all, this journey of spiritual formation is a daily way of living that is centered in God’s truth and empowered by God’s presence as we moment-by-moment decide against sin and decide for God. The transformational knowledge that we are children of God practically changes how we live each day—we grow to look more like God our Father.
If you did a web search for the phrase “a new you,” you would find all sorts of interesting results. You would find anti-aging treatments. You would find opportunities for cosmetic surgery, body slimming, or laser hair removal. You would find self-help gurus and inspirational speakers offering solutions to your problems. You would even find car dealers and clothing shops offering you a much-needed new look.
How many of us have not at some point wanted a new look, a new identity, or a new persona? Now, listen to these words of the Apostle John from 1 John 3:
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. 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. (1 John 3:1-2)
Who are we, according to John, here? We are children of God.
That new identity begins with the outpouring of God’s love upon us through Jesus Christ.
What is God’s love like? John tells us, first of all, that God’s love is “great,” a Greek word which conveys astonishment and wonder. God’s love is shocking—amazing—it has a greatness that surpasses our understanding.
Second, John tells us God’s love is “lavished on us.” We may not use the word “lavish” very often, but it conveys an extravagant generosity. It’s the word we use to describe an over-the-top gift someone gives us. God’s love is a great, gift-love. That shocking gift-love is at the very center of our lives through Jesus Christ. It establishes who we are. It determines our identity.
So much of our lives is spent trying to feel significant; to feel like we’re “someone.” We seek that through the love or attention of others, through our accomplishments, through standing out from the crowd in some way. But here, we are told that the limitless love of God is generously and shockingly poured into our lives. It’s not something we have to search for all our lives, it’s something that is readily available and given to us through Jesus Christ.
Settle into that for a moment. The God of the universe, who created us, loves us lavishly, shockingly, and personally.
How powerful it is to know that we are God’s children. I can’t help but think of the way Paul describes this reality in Romans 8:
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. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:15-16)
Today, take some time to rest in the truth that through faith in Jesus Christ we are God’s children, dearly loved and held in the divine embrace by our Abba Father no matter what comes.
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.” (Romans 8:15)
One pervasive problem of prayer is how our prayers relate to the sovereignty of God. If God is all-knowing and rules over all the cosmos, then why should we pray and what effect do our prayers have upon God and the universe? Over the next few days, we will explore this important challenge of prayer.
If this is true, then why should we pray? The first way to answer this question derives from our relationship with God. We pray to the Sovereign God because He wants us to enter into relationship with Him. The entire Bible testifies to this, especially the great covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. Furthermore, the very reason Jesus came as incarnate Messiah was “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10) in order to reconcile us to God (Romans 5:10).
Reconciliation is all about restoration of relationship. Our relationship with God is established through Jesus Christ and infused with vibrant interactivity by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. This is why the Apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome: “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’” (Romans 8:15).
It is in prayer that we communicate with God, both establishing and strengthening our relationship. As John Piper writes, “Prayer is the nerve center of our vital fellowship with Jesus.” Like two friends who grow in relationship by talking over a meal, or two spouses who communicate over great distances through phone calls, our prayer life with the sovereign God breathes life into the relationship we have with God the Father through Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the Sovereign, Triune God – thank You for reaching me when I was lost in the dark territory of sin. Before I ever gave a thought to You, You thought of me and rescued me. I thank You and praise You. I worship You and offer my life to You. Grant me the gift of knowing You more as I learn how to pray to You, my good God.
Why is it so important for us to be authentically known and to authentically know others? Why do relationships feel a tension expressed often in exasperation with phrases like, “You don’t even know who I am!” or “I don’t even know who you are anymore!” It is because being known and knowing others is one of the unique aspects of what it means to be human. In fact, that personal knowledge we have of others and we allow others to have of us has a lot to do with our identity.
In our current series at Eastbrook Church, “Who Am I?“, we are exploring biblical answers to questions about our identity as human beings. This past weekend I explored the ways in which knowing is so important to us grasping a sense of personal identity. Specifically, I addressed the importance of being known by God as a fundamental element of our ability to answer the question, “who am I?”
You can view the message video and an expanded sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.