We were created to be sons and daughters of God.
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” I John 3:1–3.
There are people who consider it a real privilege to see a person of royalty. Some even travel across the ocean to England in the hope that they will catch a glimpse of the British royal family. The whole world looked on and mourned at the funeral of Princess Diana. However, the Christian has a much higher privilege and honor, to actually be accepted into and become part of the Most High Royal Family, as sons and daughters.
To accept this invitation means to separate from the world. The Lord invites us to, “Come out from among them, and be separate … I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters.” II Corinthians 6:17, 18. There is no need to travel to England. There is a heaven just before us and a crown of life to win, but only to those who overcome will this reward be given. “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” I John 3:3. Every human being should look to heaven with reverence and gratitude, and say with amazement, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons [children] of God!” Verse 1.
Claiming this relationship with God brings the tremendous responsibility for each one to represent His kingdom right here and now. How is this possible? The attributes of the Heavenly King’s sons and daughters never reflect the ways of the world. “You once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” Ephesians 2:2, 3. “That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Verse 12.
By faith and repentance and through the merits of Christ, we can claim the privileges of sons and daughters of God. As we become co-workers with Jesus, sharing the good news of the gospel, a righteous character is perfected. Holiness of heart and purity of life were the greatest subjects of the teachings of Christ. Perfection and holiness—nothing short of this would give success in carrying out the principles of the heavenly kingdom.
Does this mean that because we are now the sons and daughters of God there is nothing for us to do? No, there is a judgment going on right now, and we are in the time of probation. Divine son-ship is not something that can be gained by one’s self; it is a free gift to those who receive Christ as their Saviour. There is no power within a sinner to rid himself of his own sin. No, he/she must look to the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin (John 1:29). Christ alone has the power to cleanse the heart and the promise of son-ship is made to all who believe on His name (verse 12), and everyone who comes to Jesus in faith will receive pardon.
When we receive Christ, we receive power to live the life of Christ. In separating from the world, difficulties will be experienced, but our comfort is in the Word that we are the sons of God, and even if it doesn’t look like it, when Jesus appears, we will be like Him.
There is a great responsibility on all the sons and daughters of God. Because the glory of the Lord is shining down upon His children, that light should be shining through each one and be clearly seen by others in words and actions.
“ ‘Ye are the light of the world’ [Matthew 5:14]. As the sun goes forth on its errand of love, dispelling the shades of night and awakening the world to life, so the followers of Christ are to go forth on their mission, diffusing the light of heaven upon those who are in the darkness of error and sin.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 38.
This is the manner in which glory is brought to the Father and demonstrated to the world that we are connected with heaven and joint heirs with Christ Jesus. As believers, our self-worth is based on the fact that God loves us and calls us His children. We are His sons and daughters right now. This should be our encouragement to live as Jesus lived. We are the sons of God—members of God’s family. We will be like Him and be reflections of God. The rest of the chapter tells us that we will grow victorious over sin: “Whosoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” I John 3:4–9.
Those who love God will have love for one another. “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He that does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love [of God], because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” Verses 10–18.
We will have confidence before God: “And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” Verses 19–24.
God tells us, “I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” II Corinthians 6:17, 18.
Imagine the Creator of the universe as an affectionate Father addressing you. Our heavenly Father proposes to make us members of the royal family through Jesus Christ. Now, if you call God the Father your father, you are not only acknowledging yourselves to be His children, but you are agreeing to be guided by His wisdom and to be obedient in all things that He instructs. Remember that it is through his precious promises and through Jesus Christ that we are becoming partakers of the divine nature. The more we partake of the character of Christ our Redeemer, the more we will reflect that same divine character and the less we will resemble the world.
The Christian life is a process of becoming more like Christ. Paul says that, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29. This process will be complete when we see Christ face to face (I Corinthians 13:12, Philippians 3:21). Knowing our ultimate destiny, it is now time to long for purity of soul, heart and mind.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:14–17.
All who will enter into a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ become, by adoption, the children of God. They are cleansed and sanctified by the regenerating power of the Word, and angels are commissioned to minister unto them. They are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. They pledge themselves to become active members of His church on the earth. They are to be dead to the ways of the world and through their conversation and godliness, exert a living influence for God. Heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ—what an exalted, dignified position! We will be separate and distinct from the world. God’s people have pledged themselves to stand in opposition to evil.
“Of Enoch it is written that he lived sixty-five years, and begat a son. After that he walked with God three hundred years. … After the birth of his first son, Enoch reached a higher experience; he was drawn into a closer relationship with God. He realized more fully his own obligations and responsibility as a son of God.
“Enoch’s righteous life was in marked contrast with the wicked people around him. His piety, his purity, his unswerving integrity were the result of his walking with God, while the wickedness of the world was the result of their walking with the deceiver of mankind. There never has been and never will be an age when the moral darkness will be so dense as when Enoch lived a life of irreproachable righteousness.” Sons and Daughters of God, 20.
It was his constant communion with the Father that enabled Enoch to experience this close connection.
“The greater and more pressing his labors, the more constant and earnest were his prayers. … After remaining for a time among the people laboring to benefit them by instruction and example, he would withdraw, to spend a season in solitude, hungering and thirsting for that divine knowledge which God alone can impart. Communing thus with God, Enoch came more and more to reflect the divine image. His face was radiant with a holy light, even the light that shineth in the face of Jesus. As he came forth from these divine communings, even the ungodly beheld with awe the impress of heaven upon his countenance.
“We, too, are to walk with God. When we do this, our faces will be lighted up by the brightness of His presence, and when we meet one another, we shall speak of His power, saying, Praise God. Good is the Lord, and good is the word of the Lord. … And those who will be translated at the close of time, will be those who commune with God on earth.” Ibid.
The apostle Paul uses adoption or son-ship to illustrate the believer’s new relationship with God. In the Roman culture, the adopted person lost all his rights in his old family and gained all the rights of a legitimate child in his new family. He became a full heir to his new father’s estate. Likewise, when a person becomes a Christian, he or she gains all the privileges and responsibilities of a child in God’s family. One of these outstanding privileges is that of being led by the Spirit of God the Father.
We may not always feel as though we belong to God, but the Holy Spirit is our witness. His inward presence reminds us of who we are and encourages us with God’s love.
We are no longer submissive and fearful slaves; instead, we are the Master’s children. What a privilege we have because we are God’s children. We share in great treasures as co-heirs. God has already given us His best gift, His only Son Jesus, to die on the cross, taking on Himself our sins to give us the promise of eternal life. Then, as a loving and faithful Father, He encourages us to ask Him for whatever else we need on this pilgrim journey.
“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. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 4:4–7.
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Galatians 3:26, 27.
[Bible texts quoted are NKJV translation.]
Pastor Domingo Nuñez is Director of Outreach Ministry for Steps to Life. He is involved in the coordination of world mission projects and he travels extensively, encouraging the many home churches supported by Steps to Life. He can be contacted at: (316) 788-5559.