This series of blogs have come from my men’s study series, Walking Worthy as Sons of God. The focus has been on who we are as sons of our fathers and in this month’s blog the spotlight is on who we are as sons of our heavenly Father. When God came to earth, He came as a son, not as a Father, in order to bring us to God. He came to reveal the heavenly Father to us so that we might realize that our lives are determined by our identity with Him as sons of His Father.
We celebrate this Christmas season because God came to be with us in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. He is Immanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:23). The Holy Spirit told Mary that Jesus “will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Did you get that? “His people.” Those who are identified with Him are the ones who will be saved from their sins and the wrath of God those sins deserve. How does a man know he is one of “His people”?
The Heavenly Father directs the identity course of His sons through a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ
To the degree that your fathers identified with the God of the universe, the Father of Jesus Christ, and honored His revelation (the Bible), your culture will be righteous. In contrast, to the degree your fathers identified with the god of this world (Satan) and honored his empty philosophies, your culture will be unrighteous. The differences between the two fathers (God and Satan) and the two cultures (righteous and unrighteous) have always produced conflict and forced an ultimate decision—you can’t be friends with both because both are masters. Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that no man can serve two masters (Matt. 6:24). The Apostle James emphasized this point in his letter, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
This spiritual conflict gives insight into Jesus’ calling to His disciples. “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). Some have wrongly concluded that Jesus was calling those in ministry to forsake their families and invest their lives 100 percent in the ministry. Since other passages clearly command husbands to love their wives (Eph. 5:25-33) and teach and discipline their children (Deut. 6:7-9; Eph. 6:4), such an interpretation must be dismissed
What was Jesus saying? In affect, Jesus called the sons and daughters of God to identify with His Father and with Him to the sacrifice of their identity with their national and ethnic culture. It is a heart issue. Jesus must be Lord of all relationships in life. This call to discipleship hasn’t changed. The radical nature of Jesus’ call is the same today as it was 2000 years ago! However, there is a difference between the call to follow Jesus that goes out to everyone in the world and the calling of God, the Father, through the powerful work of the Holy Spirit.
True believers are sons of God and are His workmanship
God, the Father, establishes a believer’s identity as He works in his or her heart by the power of His Spirit. Remember the fourth identity principle: our identity is determined by what our father does or doesn’t do. The Apostle Paul taught the Galatians that the presence and work of the Holy Spirit is proof-positive they belong to Him and He is their father. “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6). He encouraged the Corinthians about God’s work in them. “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:30). The beloved Apostle John rejoiced, “See, how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are” (1 John 3:1).
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Ephesians 2:4-10).
Notice the emphasis in the passage above, as well as the one following, is on the work of our Father. Our identity with Christ is established by God. “By God’s doing are you in Christ Jesus…” (1 Cor. 1:30a).
God, the Father, adopted us through Jesus Christ
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us” (Ephesians 1:2-8).
In Christ, we have been received into God’s family.
God seals His children
The gospel provides insight into this process of sealing a child. The heavenly Father seals His children, and we can learn from His example. If His children need sealing, then our children also need sealing. Let’s first look at some verses of Scripture.
2 Cor. 1:22 Who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
Eph. 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.
Eph. 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
The sealing of the Spirit has a purpose: to secure and protect the saints for the day of redemption—our future hope. The Holy Spirit is the influence of the Father and the Son. He was given to us so we might know both the Father and the Son and thus experience eternal life (John 14:16-21; 17:3). He guides us (John 16:13), helps us (John 14:16), comforts us (2 Cor. 1:4), teaches us (John 14:26), convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11), and fills us with the presence of Christ (John 14:17-21). From the Holy Spirit’s ministry, we can learn how to seal our own children.
The Father’s heart turned to His sons turns their hearts to Him
If God had not loved us first, the Apostle John says we would never have loved Him (1 John 4:19). Luke recorded the Holy Spirit’s application of this fourth identity principle when He spoke to Zacharias regarding his new son, John, later to be called “the Baptist.” When fathers’ hearts are turned to their sons, the sons’ hearts are prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17). When the heavenly Father’s heart turns to His children, He does something. He sends His Spirit to them and their hearts turn away from identifying with the world and turn to Him! The Holy Spirit described this work as the Spirit and power of Elijah. This work of the Spirit of the Father prepares the heart for a relationship with Jesus Christ.
- To Whom Do You Belong?
- Who is Your Power Source?
- Who Shapes Your Life?
- Who is Your Father and What Has He Done?
The answers to the above four questions describe your identity. If you have the Holy Spirit in you, then God is your father. You belong to Him. He is your power source. He shapes your life. Being sons and daughters of the father of Jesus Christ should be the defining relationship and power in your life. Believers should be “peculiar” to their neighbors, work associates, and friends, who are living to identify with their culture. Certainly there are some similarities, however, if they are in step with the mainstream of the nations surrounding them, what hope and good news do they have to share? Apart from their public profession and church attendance, what distinguishes them from everyone else? God’s children are to be a people of vision and light because our Father has revealed His vision for us in every area of life. The Father makes the difference!
Have you realized what the heavenly Father has done or offers to you? He is the power, meaning, fullness, and life your heart has been looking for! All is found in Jesus Christ. In belonging to Christ, we belong to God, the Father. His ministry—our identification with Him—should supercede our identifying with anyone and everything else in this world. He is our father, His power is our hope, and it is He who should shape our lives by filling us with His Spirit.
You will find the world’s pull on you is directly related to the spiritual reality of your identification with God as your Father and the sealing of His Spirit. When you ignore or fail to apply the truth of your connection with your heavenly Father (if indeed you have one), your power to resist temptation decreases. Temptation uses emptiness as an ally. On the contrary, when you are filled with who you are in Christ, you find inner strength to resist and stand against the onslaught from the world.
If you were to identify with Jesus and His Father, what do the Holy Spirit and God’s Word indicate would have to change?
Area of life changes I need to make to identify with my heavenly Father:
- Time management
- Financial stewardship
- Marriage relationship
- Your role in family
- Discipline of children
- Education of children
- Relationship with children
- Moral purity
Personal Prayer Invitation
If you have not begun a relationship with the heavenly Father, why wait? Go to Him now, in prayer. Confess your sin of identification with others. Receive His forgiveness on the basis of His placing your sin on His Son at the cross and ask Him for the gift of the Holy Spirit whom He promised to send after His resurrection to those who repent and believe that Jesus is God’s Son. It’s a matter of identity! Do you want to be connected to Jesus when He returns in the glory of His Father? If so, then listen to the words of the Father quoted by the Apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 6:17-18.
“I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean.”
“And I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.
The “unclean” refers to the idols of this world, the things to which people in the culture surrounding you look for happiness and power. Will you turn from those things and turn your heart fully to the Father and to His Son, Jesus Christ? You may do so, right now by humbling yourself before Him in prayer.
If you know you are a son of God, then continue to practice your identity confession this week. Ask Him for grace to make the changes needed in order to please your heavenly Father.