The Children of God

 

Romans 8:28 28  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

Romans 8:11  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

 

5  Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6  The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7  the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8  Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. 9  You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.

 

12  Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13  For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14  because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of 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.

 

Silent Prayer

 

(Mention Regional Conference in Columbus-June 19-21)

 

This past Tuesday night in Kansas, Church of God Pastor, Paul Shepherd, preached a message from Luke 15 on the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son.  That is how those three stories are titled.  The emphasis is on that which has been lost, that which has gone missing, that which needs reclaimed.  Brother Shepherd’s approach, however, was not to focus on the “lostness” of those things, but rather, his emphasis, his focus was on how much God loves to find things.  He wanted to highlight how passionate God is about rescuing people, finding people, restoring people, righting people, reclaiming people, and rerouting people to the right place, to the right road. 

 

I was captivated again by the grace of God as Pastor Shepherd got to the third of the trilogy of parables in Luke 15 and he described the reunification of the father with the son.  The wayward prodigal who had shown the ultimate disrespect for his father by asking for his share of the inheritance before the father was even dead, this one who had taken everything his father had done for him for granted, this guy who squandered it all away on loose and reckless living, had finally come to his senses and realized what he had done.  He remembered how life was as a son in his father’s house, and it was completely different from the wild life he had lived after emancipating himself from his dad’s authority, and it was completely different from the life he was living in the moment when he woke up to all that he had done.  After spending everything he had on what felt good in the moment, he was homeless and hungry with what many would conclude was no place to go.

 

There was, however, a place where he might find shelter.  There was, however, a place he might be able to work his way toward.  There was a place that he might be able to beg his way into; or so he thought.  And so, he set out to go home.  As he walked he rehearsed his beggar’s speech.  In defeat, in despair, in desperation and wrapped in shame, this young man would approach his father’s house and just hope there was maybe a chance his dad would let him come back as a slave.  Maybe his dad would find a spare corner of the barn for him to sleep in.  Maybe over time his father would be able to forgive him.  Maybe over time his father would learn to love him.  Maybe over time the wounds would heal and they could enjoy the father/son relationship they had once known.  He knew he didn’t deserve a second chance.  He knew he was unworthy of anything he would ask for from the father, but he had to try.  Every other option had been exhausted.

 

And here is what tore me up as Paul Shepherd recounted the story again.  He didn’t say it this way, but in my mind’s eye, I saw it this way, and I heard it this way.  As the young man came over the horizon and the father saw his silhouette appear, the father took off running to greet the young man.  I can’t imagine how the young man interpreted the aggressive move by his father.  I don’t know if he was afraid that his dad was coming to attack him or rebuke him or to reject him and throw him off of his land.  But as the shameful son inched toward his rapidly advancing father, shame collided with mercy and grace, and when shame collides with perfect mercy and perfect grace, there is great celebration! There was no berating.  There was no, “How could you have treated me that way!”  There was no lecture about how disappointed the father was in the son.  There was no “How dare you come back now after throwing away everything I had worked so hard for.” He didn’t shame his son and tell him he had been an embarrassment to the family. There was only love.  There was only mercy.  There was only grace.  There was only embrace.  There was only celebration.

 

It was an instant father/son relationship.  It was instant forgiveness and joy.  There was no working his way back into his dad’s good graces.  Perfect grace simply covered all that had taken place, and the son was instantly re-established as if nothing had ever happened between the two.  The son had been focused on his shame, but the father was focused on the “sonship” of his boy.

 

Now of course this story of the Prodigal Son is a parable that represents the relationship God desires with all of us.  Whether we once knew God as Father and lived under his authority and care and have now left and gone our own way or whether we have yet to make the decision to become a Child of God, the end result can still be the same.  It can be the intense celebration, fellowship and reunification with God as our Father that the Prodigal experienced.  As I contemplated that relationship between the father and the son, I was led to explore again what it means to be a child of God, and in so doing, the Holy Spirit led me to our text for today from Romans 8.

 

The chapter is well-subtitled in my NIV Bible.  It is called “Life in the Spirit.”  John chapter 3 and other passages help us understand that it is through the Holy Spirit’s transforming power that we are made children of God.  We are born once through a natural, earthly process, and we are born-again, through a second process made possible by the Spirit of God. 

 

Becoming a child of God is as easy for us as it was for the Prodigal Son to come home.  He may have wrestled with the idea for a long time before making that trip, he may have had all kinds of preconceived notions about whether his dad could ever even look at him again, speak to him again.  He could have concluded that his father would never love him again because of where he had been and what he had done.  But once he made the journey toward the father and felt the father’s embrace, every fear, the shame of his past, the desire for the craziness of the sinful life… all of it-was put to rest and placed behind him as he was restored as a son in his father’s house. 

 

Somebody needs to hear this morning that it is easier than you have been making it.  Someone needs to understand that hiding your sin will only keep you in the pig pen and keep you spiritually homeless and spiritually bankrupt longer than you need to be.  God is waiting for his sons and daughters to not only come home, but he wants you to have the full benefits of son-ship and daughter-ship.  Look quickly at three facets of our relationship with God as our Father as they appear in Romans 8.

 

Released from Shame

 

Romans 8:11  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

 

When you become a child of God, you are emancipated from your sin and shame.  Oh, your actions and attitudes, your past are still a part of your story, but they aren’t what shapes your soul where your true identity lies.  They no longer have a say on your worth or value.  They cannot provide commentary on your status as a child of God.  They may be part of your life, but they don’t have to be part of who you are in Christ!

 

I love the word, “now.” Everybody say, “NOW!” Therefore, there is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  When you make that walk to the Father’s house, and He runs to greet you, it is an immediate NOW, an immediate wow reality.  God won’t look at you any differently because of where you have been and what you have done.  He won’t withhold His love because of your sin.  You aren’t damaged goods to Him.  You aren’t a failure to Him.  You become an instant son or daughter that He says is worth celebrating! 

 

God will never say, “Shame on you” to one of His children.  If you are hearing those words play over and over in your mind, you aren’t hearing the voice of God.  You are entertaining the voice of Satan or your own self-condemnation.  Oh, we used to be under the condemnation that came through Adam and Eve’s sinful disobedience as the sin nature was passed on to each of us, but as children of God, we don’t receive the condemnation of sinful Adam, but the justification of perfect Jesus.  Somebody shout with me this morning!

 

There is now no condemnation!  Condemnation refers to the sentence of spiritual death that sin brings to us and it also refers to the execution of that sentence.  The sentence of spiritual death will now not be executed upon us.  It will now not be carried out on us because Jesus, He who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. (II Cor. 5:21) We can become sons and daughters of the Most-High God because Jesus served our sentence.  Jesus took our punishment.  Jesus bore our shame on the cross of Calvary. 

 

Do we still wrestle with sin? I do. Do we still make wrong choices? I do.  Romans 8:1 doesn’t say, “Therefore, there is now no mistake or no sin or only perfect behavior for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Don’t children do things from time to time that they shouldn’t?  Do we still have feelings of conviction and guilt when we do things we shouldn’t?  Yes, because the Holy Spirit wants to remind us of our relationship as sons and daughters of God.  That is what conviction is for.  Conviction isn’t to remind us of how bad we are and big we have messed up, but it is to point us to a loving, gracious, merciful Father whose arms remain open, whose love remains undaunted, whose forgiveness and mercy are stretch around the earth times infinity. 

 

Conviction is very different from condemnation and shame.  Condemnation and shame tell us we are bad, broken and unlovable.  Conviction reminds us God is good, that He can fix anything, and that He will always love His children.

 

Do you understand that condemnation and shame are off the table for Children of God?  Our Heavenly Father makes it as easy as possible for us to come to Him when we have messed up because the only lecture, the only speech we will get from Him is a “Welcome Home” speech.  Don’t be afraid to come home this morning!  God wants to take off your coat of shame and put on your coat of son-ship this morning!  (As much as I would love to give the altar call right here, I have two more points to preach.)

 

Life in the Spirit, life as a Child of God, means that we live to do the will of our Father in Heaven which is addressed in verses 5-9 of Romans 8.  When we become children of God, we no longer carry our shame and we also drop our personal agendas and live to express the will of God.

 
Resigned from Self

 

5  Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6  The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7  the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8  Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. 9  You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.

 

Jesus took on our shame and gave us His righteousness so that we can become children of God.  We express that we have received that gift as we allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our minds and actions and as we allow Him to do a transforming work in our lives whereby we exchange our agenda for God’s agenda.  We live out our son-ship or our daughter-ship by seeking to do the things that please the Father.  Just as earthly children learn submission to their earthly parents (or are supposed to😉), so too, do we as the children of God, learn to submit our wills to God’s will. 

 

True children of God live not to control their own lives, but they seek to be controlled by the Spirit of God rather than by their sinful, fleshly desires.  Notice that verse 8 says that those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  Should pleasing God be important to His children?  I remember that it was very important to me to please my father.  I wanted to do what he expected and then some.  I wanted him to be proud of me.  I wanted to represent him well whether I was at school or out and about.  People knew I was Dale Senseman’s daughter, and I wanted people to know he was raising me right. 

 

There is always a testing of authority between parents and their children.  It will happen in your relationship with God as your Father.  Is anyone vulnerable enough to testify this morning?  Anyone here who didn’t always stay on the straight and narrow in the Father’s house?  How did that work for you?  Right?  God has a way of bringing us back around to His way of doing things sooner or later, and at the end of the day, true children of God will set their minds on doing the things that please God.  Here is the thing:  When we seek to exert our will and do what we desire to do or what seems best to us, we will be able to experience and accomplish what we can do.  But when we submit to God in all things and seek to do His will alone, we will be able to experience and accomplish what God can do.  

 

In researching for this message, I did what any Bible teacher and hopeful scholar does; I went to google.  I googled “self will versus God’s will.”  It was interesting that the first several articles on the topic dealt with addiction.  The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Melissa, people don’t just have a preoccupation with sin, but they are addicted to self.” 

Isn’t that how spoiled little kids are?  They are addicted to self and want what they want when they want it.  When our kids were little we used to tell them at times, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.”  😊  There were times when we were handing down a decision or requiring a chore or choosing the food they would eat because we knew what was best for them in a certain circumstance.  Because we loved them, we didn’t let them order Mountain Dew, nachos and cheese, with a side of fries and a hot fudge sundae.  We gave direction to their lives because we loved them.  Hold on to that for a second.

 

It sounds like a big trade off, a big compromise or concession to say, “Ok, God, have it your way.  I’ll forgo my plans and try to live for You and do life Your way since you have done so much for me.”  It would be a big trade off, a big compromise and a big concession except for the fact that…God’s ways are sooooo much better.  Don’t loving parents want what is best for their children?  That is what this is all about.  Listen, God’s will is driven by God’s love, and it is the perfect expression of His love.  He wants what is best for us, and on our own, we can’t know or do the will of God.  So, He has given us His Spirit to show us, empower us, protect us and guide us so that we can experience the best possible life our Heavenly Father has in mind for us.  Sons and daughters of God, we must resign from our self will and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us about the will of God.

 

Look again at Romans 8:1212  Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13  For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14  because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

 

Do you see that there is a willingness expressed here?  Those who are led by the Holy Spirit are sons of God.  You have to be humble and vulnerable and pliable and coachable to be led by the Holy Spirit.  That can only happen as you resign from self.

 

15  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of 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.

 

Finally, after we have been released from our shame and we resign from our will, I see in this passage that we are ready for Sonship and all of the benefits that come from being a Child of God which include an amazing inheritance.


Ready for Sonship

 

As sons and daughters of God we live without fear.  There is no fear in life.  There is no fear in death.  This is the power of Christ in us as children of God.  We have access to God in a special relationship.  We call him, “Abba, Father” just like Jesus did on several occasions.  The relationship He had with God the Father, is now ours.  That is a WOW, isn’t it? We don’t have to fear God.  We don’t have to fear the consequences of sin because Jesus faced them for us.    

 

Until the time of Christ, all the Jewish people had to look to was the Law.  The Law “kept them in line.”  When broken, the Law, showed them where they fell short.  The relationship Jews had with the Law was a difficult one.  The Law was unbending.  The Law was unforgiving.  The Law didn’t lack truth, but it lacked the grace necessary to transform.  What a welcoming thing it would be, what a transforming thing it would be for first century Jews to hear they no longer had to look to the Law, but that they could lean on Christ and be in a relationship with a loving Heavenly Father.  The Law inspired fear.  The perfect love of God has now removed fear from the Children of God.  I would much rather be in a relationship with a holy but loving God than be in a relationship with a set of unbending and unforgiving rules.

 

And not only is the relationship that Jesus and the Father share also available to us, but the text says we are co-heirs with Jesus.  Everything that is His, including His authority and victory and the splendor of heaven belong to us as well.  All that the Father did for Him and provided for Him, He will do for us and provide for us.  What an awesome reality!

 

Would you like to be released from shame this morning?  Are you willing to willing to resign from being the CEO of your life and allow God’s Spirit to do a work in you?  If so, you are ready to have the full experience of son-ship or daughter-ship.  You are ready to live without fear.  You are ready to walk in an intimate relationship with God, your Father.  Be released from shame.  Be willing to resign from self.  Step into the sonship and daughtership that awaits as a child of God.

 

 

Have a question?

Please contact any of our ministry leaders with any questions.

Lead Pastor
Pastor Melissa Pratt
Melissa@tvcog.org
Counseling Ministry
Pastor Thom Pratt
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Support Ministries
& Office Administration

Brenda Kraft
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Youth Student Ministries
Pastor Jed Worline
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Fellowship Ministry Director
Tami Evans
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Guest Services Ministry Director
Susan McGough
guestservices@tvcog.org
Children’s Ministries
Pastor Megan Cloninger
megan@tvcog.org
Financial Secretary
Beverly Miller
financials@tvcog.org
Outreach Ministry Director
Danielle Williams
outreach@tvcog.org
Worship Ministries
Pastor Mandy Bohm
mandy@tvcog.org
CARE Ministry Director
Cassie Escue
care@tvcog.org