Several things came together to determine the topic for this week’s post. While I was writing last week’s post, I decided that being made children of God by the Spirit of adoption was too big a topic to tack on to the end of that post. Then another phrase that drew my attention was “walk in newness of life” and I wondered if perhaps both subjects went together. Around the same time, the quote in the image over there on your right showed up via the daily C.S. Lewis quote e-mail I subscribe to. And so we come in a round-about-way to three interconnected topics for today’s post.
There’s more than one passage where the redemptive work of Jesus Christ is connected with adopting us into God’s family. Our redemption is both a pre-requisite for being adopted by God and a consequence of the plan to make us children.
having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Eph. 1:5-7)
Before we could have a relationship with the Father, before we could be “accepted in the Beloved,” before we could be Christ’s brethren, He had to give His life to ransom us from captivity to sin (Matt. 20:28; Is. 53:10-11).
looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Tit. 2:13-14)
This plan to redeem us from iniquity involves a very definite purpose and a plan for our future. I’m tempted to go off on a tangent about how our purification and redemption is tied to the church’s future as the Bride of Christ (which, as you may know, is one of my favorite Bible subjects), but instead I’ll point you to chapter 4 of my “God’s Love Story” e-book. Getting back to the topic at hand, Galatians 4 tells us we were redeemed so that we can be adopted.
Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 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. (Gal. 4:3-5)
This word “adoption” that we keep reading is translated from the Greek huiothesis (G5206). It means to place as a son, or receive “another into the relationship of a child of someone.” It makes “a stranger, such as a sinner, into a real son” (Zodhiates, WordStudy Dictionary: New Testament). It is the process by which someone outside of a family is given the rights and privileges of being part of that family.
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. (Rom. 8:14-17)
We can see in these verses how important the presence of the Holy spirit in us is to the process of bringing us into God’s family. Going back to Galatians 4, the next verses tell us we’re talking specifically of Christ’s Spirit making us His brethren and fellow heirs of God. It’s really incredible to think of — that Jesus loves us so much that he died for the opportunity to share His inheritance with us!
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. (Gal. 4:6-7)
As with many things in our spiritual walk, there is a process to becoming children of God. Reading past the verses we quoted in Romans 8, Paul talks about “the sufferings of this present time” while we wait “for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:18, 23). Galatians describes us as little children undergoing a birthing process “until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). As mentioned in the meaning of the word “adoption,” we were something not part of God’s family and we need to go through a process that makes us part of His family.
Right after contrasting the “the works of the flesh” (Gal. 5:19-21) with the “fruits of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-23), Paul writes about how those who have the Spirit of Christ ought to conduct themselves. (See also Gal. 5:16-18)
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:24-25)
We’ve spent quite some time over the past few weeks’ Bible study posts in the first verses of Romans 8, which talk about walking in the Spirit and a spiritual change in the focus of our minds. This time, I want to back-up a couple chapters to Romans 6.
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Rom. 6:3-4)
Though the Spirit isn’t mentioned here, this is the same thing we’ve been studying in these weeks leading up to Pentecost — the change wrought inside us by the personal, active involvement in our lives by Jesus Christ and God the Father.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin….
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. (Rom. 6:5-6, 11-12)
Once Jesus begins working in us, it is impossible for us to remain unchanged. And if we go along with this process, the change is dramatic indeed. We are to be completely remade. As C.S. Lewis said in the quote I used for the image at the beginning of this post, “You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
This change might not always be pleasant for us, but They are not doing it for selfish reasons. “The wages of sin is death” — that’s what we earn for practicing sin and there’s no getting around it. But God offers us a way to change, to have our sins wiped away and our character altered so we can be given “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).