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HE WHO OVERCOMES SHALL INHERIT ALL THINGS,

and I will be his God and he shall be My son

CHILDREN OF GOD

Book of ROMANS
A Study of Chapter 8

Part 7

Romans 8:12-17
 

CHILDREN OF GOD


“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 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. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 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.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 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.”
– Rom 8:12-17 NKJV

“The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them.” – Rom 8:14 NCV

We might ask ~ Is not everyone on earth a child of God? Isn’t He the “Father of all” as we read in Ephesians 4:6? But also we find upcoming here in Romans 8, speaking to the saints, that “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” (Rom 8:23). In this context it appears that becoming a son of God is still ahead, something to be attained. (We’ll take a little deeper look at this later)

Interestingly, in an exchange with the Jews in John Chapter 8, we find that as Jesus rebukes them for seeking His death, He says that their father is not His Father. And even though He had the same lineage as they did (descendant of Abraham), His teaching was that the one whom you imitate is really your father. The proof of sonship is behavior.

“if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
- John 8:36-38 RSV

The deeds they were doing were not directed by the One who was Jesus’ example. Just because they were of the seed of Abraham, even through Isaac, they were not necessarily children of the Promise.

In this exchange between Jesus and the Jews, they insisted -
“we have one Father, even God.” (John 8:41). But, we see the Lord’s reply -

“Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of My own accord, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” – John 8:42-44 RSV

Dare I say, Jesus would say the same to the church at large today? Although we claim the Name of Christ, as the Jews claimed the name of Israel, are we doing what God has shown us? Or are we hearing from, and being directed by, a different father?

Adam & Eve knew their Father, but were willing to listen to another who appeared in the Garden shining brightly, but speaking another word. We do well to know that even now “satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” to deceive the saints. (see 2Cor 11:14) 

I pray we would always use the Word to test what we hear from any man, or being, no matter how brightly they shine, how popular they are, or how great their ministry seems to be.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” – 1John 4:1 NKJV

(More on this later perhaps. The point is that we can “hear” something we believe is from the Lord because of the circumstances in which we “heard.” But we must test all against the Word. In Jesus’ day, many of the Jewish leaders, including Paul, thought they were doing God’s will, but were actually coming against Him. They were “hearing” perhaps from another.)

In the next chapter here in Romans we’ll read - “For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham.” (Rom 9:6b-7a NKJV).

We cannot continue to walk according to the flesh, or count on our earthly lineage, once we come to the knowledge of Christ.
Paul continues - “That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” (Rom 9:8 NKJV)

And that “seed” is One.

“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.” – Gal 3:16 NKJV

Now, if Christ is in us, then we are part of that Seed, and “children of the promise.” If we are not following Him, but rather the dictates of our own hearts, then we are still “children of the flesh.”

Earlier in this same letter to the saints in Rome, the Apostle again emphasized - “he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit.” (Rom 2:28-29a NKJV)

Again, concerning us, I believe the word would come – ‘he is not a Christian who is one outwardly (in name or appearance), but he is a Christian who is one inwardly, because he has allowed Christ & His Spirit to take up residence in his heart.’

Who have we allowed to take up residence in our hearts? Who is it we are imitating? For according to what Jesus taught in John 8, that one whom we imitate in our father.
Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God was True because He emulated His Father perfectly.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” – John 5:19 NKJV

He told us that “without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Anything of Eternal value can only be done by Christ in us. Just as the Father worked His will in Jesus, His will must be done through Christ in us.

Let’s look again to the Jews response to Jesus in John chapter 8, from the Lexham translation -
39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father!” Jesus said to them, “If you are children of Abraham, do the deeds of Abraham! 40 But now you are seeking to kill Me, a man who spoke to you the truth which I heard from God. This Abraham did not do. 41 You are doing the deeds of your father!”
They said to Him, “We were not born from sexual immorality! We have one father, God!”
- John 8:39-41 LEB

Little side note here… Looks like they were accusing Jesus parents of sexual relations before marriage (fornication). Indeed, Mary had been “with child” before her official marriage to Joseph. They knew not, or believed not, that this had been the work of God through His Holy Spirit. And that God actually was His literal Father.

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your father, you would love Me, for I have come forth from God and have come. For I have not come from Myself, but that One sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My way of speaking? Because you are not able to listen to My message. 44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father! That one was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand firm in the truth, because truth is not in him. Whenever he speaks the lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.  45 But because I am telling the truth, you do not believe Me.
 46 Who among you convicts Me concerning sin? If I am telling the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 The one who is from God listens to the words of God. Because of this you do not listen—because you are not of God.”
– John 8:42-47 LEB

Being born of the patriarchs, in the line of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob, the people God chose for Himself, did not necessarily make them God’s children. When the “Word became flesh and dwelt among” the Jews 2000 years ago, some beheld the glory of God in Him, and so believed and received Him. Most did not.

As their forefathers to whom God sent Isaiah saying -
“Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 “Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.”

- Isaiah 6:9-10 NKJV

They were stubborn and stiff-necked. It is not that God didn’t want them to understand and be healed & delivered, it’s that He knew from their behavior they didn’t really want to hear what He was saying. Jesus repeated this verse often, describing the Jews of His day. As those who rejected Christ when He came they “loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:19b-20 NKJV)

But there were those who wanted to be set free. Those who, like Simeon, were “waiting for the consolation of Israel”, who yearned to see the “Lord’s Christ.” (from Luke 2:25-26)

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His Name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” – John 1:12-13 NKJV

This is the new birth. Our natural man’s ancestry, nationality, or race, no longer matters. This is birth into the family of God, with God as our Father. Born not with the natural seed, but the actual Seed of God. This we must enter into. God may have ordained us from the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4), but without faith (which pleases God), we can miss out on this reward.
The belief in Jesus and God’s Word grafts us into the one olive tree, the Israel of God, the family of God. In Romans 11 Paul goes into this in greater detail, and we are warned that through unbelief we may be removed from that tree, even as the Jews who were cut out because of unbelief, though they were its natural branches.

We must “continue in His goodness”, we must “remain in the vine.” We must “put to death the deeds of the body.” We really must be “walking according to the Spirit.”

“For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
– Rom 8:14 AMP

We owe our flesh nothing. “Brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.” Being of Jewish, Greek, Polish, Italian, or German descent means nothing. We are called to a new family. The family of God. Born of His Seed, through faith.
We must press through our human desires & passions that drive us, and seek the face of our Father and inquire of Him His will for us. And believe that He is, and will grant us the answers and direction we need.

“in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” – Gal 3:26 NRSV
(We looked quite a bit at what this in Christ” means in the first part of our Romans 8 Study)

Now we know the first pages of our Bibles tell us that “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen 1:27).

So, as we look at those around us, do we see God? When we look in the mirror, do we see God? So what does this decree from Genesis mean?
In those same first pages of our Bibles we read that - “By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work.” (Gen 2:2 NIV)

Everything from Eden to the New Jerusalem was completed by the seventh day. Evil dispelled from God’s Kingdom. The accuser & his antichrist & fallen angels cast into the Lake of Fire. God dwelling with man. Christ, Head & Body, ruling all the works of God’s hands, having dethroned the current “principalities, powers & rulers of the darkness of this age: the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” who have wreaked so much trouble upon Creation since the beginning. “The earth filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” But as Heb 2 says – we don’t yet see it. Yet.
Although all is complete, it’s still being worked out. As Jesus informed the Jewish leaders -

“My Father is still working, and I also am working.” – John 5:17 NRSV

So when God stated in Genesis that “in His image He created them.” He has. But it didn’t begin with Adam & Eve. It began with Jesus.

The Nelson Expanded Bible comments that that image is “reflecting God’s nature/character and representing Him in the world.” (EXB)

Raised to new Life, Jesus, we are told, is “the image of God” (2Cor 4:4), the “express image of His person” (Heb 1:3 NKJV). “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” (Col 1:15 NKJV)

Incredibly, later in this chapter we read the saints are “predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom 8:29)

This is what God intended. For man to actually be in His image, to be a physical revelation of Him to all creation. And what He has intended will indeed come to pass. It began with Jesus. He was the first to truly be made in the image of God. Adam began the process, but fell in his disobedience. Adam listened to a voice other than that of God’s Spirit. Adam & Eve fell into deception, and immortality was lost. Fellowship with God in the Garden was lost. And their bodies became subject to death because of their sin.

The Judgment upon them, for partaking of the fruit which God forbade them, was, “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen 2:17). Although they didn’t die physically ‘til hundreds of years later, their immortality was forfeited; and the physical and spiritual realms were divided.
Jesus was sent to reverse that judgment: to make a way for us to become made new in His immortal image, and to unite the physical and spiritual realms once again.
And Jesus has sent His Spirit to lead us into this Truth, and to help us in our journey.

“if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” – Rom 8:9b-11 NKJV

The final result of the removal of the divine Presence from Adam & Eve took many years. Adam was 930 when he died: but that death began the day he sinned in the Garden.
The final result of full Resurrection Life for us is in the future, but it begins when the Presence of Christ through His Spirit takes residence in us. It is a process. It begins with coming out from under the judgment brought upon man because of Adams fall. By receiving Jesus words, His atoning sacrifice, and the indwelling of His Spirit. We enter into new Life.

“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the person whose ears are open to My words and believes and trusts in and clings to and relies on Him Who sent Me has (possesses now) eternal life. And he does not come into judgment [does not incur sentence of judgment, will not come under condemnation], but he has already passed over out of death into life.

25 Believe Me when I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the time is coming and is here now when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear it shall live”
 
– John 5:24-25 AMPC

The following verses (28-29) here in John 5, which we looked at a few weeks ago, point to the last days. But the phrase “is here now” (absent in vs 28) tells us that those today who will hear His voice can start on the path to Eternal Life now.

Is this not the means to the promise of God earlier in this letter of Paul to the churches, where we find the Truth that “God will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality…” (Rom 2:6-7)?

God put “eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecc 3:11). The desire for immortality: to live forever in our physical bodies. And as children of God, this is our hope.

“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. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” – 1John 3:1-3 NKJV

Jesus rose from the grave as the first man truly made in the “image of God.” And He became the “firstborn of many brothers.” (Rom 8 :29). That means more sons of God will come after Jesus. He is the first of the new creation, being both fully divine and fully human, the physical and spirit realms converged first in Jesus Christ.

For those who entered into the process, throughout the ages, and endured ‘til their end, they (we), “shall be like Him” and “share His divine nature.” (1Pet 1:4)

“All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure.” – 1John 3:3 NIV

Is this our hope? To become truly a child of God, not just in name only, but in actuality?

"Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

- Matt 5:9-10 NKJV


Next… Children of God continued…

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