SONS, NOT SLAVES!
By: Paul Anderson
Home is meant to be the closest thing on earth to heaven. For many, it is closer to hell. Even with good families and decent parents we can be left with love deficits and the feeling that we don’t really belong, that we are not truly valued. The pain of insecurity makes us wonder how much we are appreciated, if we are worth the time, if people really do care. Many carry these thoughts throughout their adult life.
Paul writes to show us how the Father love of God heals us from this fear and brings us the confidence of knowing that we are sons. (Ladies, if we men can be a bride of Christ, then you can be sons of the Father)! If we want to understand the Father love of God, we need to understand sonship. God has brought us into an eternal relationship with Himself in which we are secure in His family for time and eternity.
Paul writes to the Romans, showing the difference between living by the law and living by faith through the work of the Spirit. He uses the word “law” twenty-three times in Romans 7, showing the futility of a “we try harder” mentality, the frustration of wanting to do right but not being able to pull it off, the holiness of the law but the weakness of moral resolve. Sin and failure bring a strong inward tension: “How can this conflict cease? How can I win this battle? Is it possible? I have tried countless times. My sinful heart puts up constant pressure. I feel so defeated.”
He ends the chapter feeling enslaved to the law of sin.
Chapter 8 brings a different reality. He pronounces, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” How? “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). The Spirit is mentioned twenty-two times in this chapter, demonstrating God’s answer to futile human effort.
Paul writes later, “f 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, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship (“adoption”). And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 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” (13-17).
Four truths about sonship surface in this passage, bringing us confidence of love:
1. Sons win over sin by the Spirit, not by self-righteousness. Paul discovered that righteousness was received, not achieved. He had done well by human standards, but it came purely by his own effort rather than trusting in the favor of a gracious God. He then traded the merit system for the mercy system and discovered that he had actually died to a performance mentality and received status as a son by faith in Jesus Christ. Many struggle with the relentless demands of a sinful nature, creating both guilt and shame. Sons experience freedom from both, not by earning or effort but by the power of the indwelling Spirit. Jesus said, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36). And those who try it consistently find that it works!
2. Sons are led by the Spirit. God the Holy Spirit takes responsibility to lead them step by step into their appointed destiny and into the perfect will of God. They don’t have to make it up as they go. It has been determined already for them to walk in. Sons prove their relationship to the Father by the guidance of His Holy Spirit. This is not the experience of people in the world system. They do not know the Spirit even exists, let alone that He lives inside us to guide us into all truth. We are given as a free gift the GPS of the Spirit to assure a God-honoring daily walk and joyful confidence in our journey through life.
3. Sons experience freedom from fear. Sins that we commit and that are committed against us leave us feeling piles of guilt, shame, and condemnation. We wonder if the cycle of fear and failure will ever change. And some of us are so conditioned to negative things happening that we wonder when the rug is going to be pulled out from under us again. Then we are given to understand that God has made provision for this crushing spirit of defeat by bringing us into His favor and His family. We can hardly believe it could be true until we experience it.
Consider just one of the benefits of such a relationship—confidence in prayer. We are urged not to come timidly to God as a servant might come to a master, not knowing for sure how he would be received, but to come boldly as a child would come to a beloved father, fully convinced of his love and acceptance. The word “Abba,” though Aramaic, is used to this day by Jewish children in Israel in addressing their father. We come to learn that “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
4. Sons have a Father and a family. They discover that they belong. They are on the inside, not the outside—forever. Slaves do not have a father; they have a boss. They are unsure of their future. No guarantees keep them from wondering if they will be cared for. Sons, on the other hand, have an inheritance because the firstborn Son shares His with them. They are co-heirs with Christ, assuring them of an absolutely glorious future. And the suffering of the present only reminds them of what is to come in eternity. God’s Spirit and the inner spirit bring a double guarantee of our adoption into God’s family. John Wesley described his conversion as exchanging “the faith of a servant for the faith of a son” (quoted in F. F. Bruce’s Commentary on Romans, p. 167). We will never be lost, abandoned, neglected, overlooked, or discarded. Whatever we have experienced by human fathers and families is trumped by our eternal family and eternal Father. The Spirit teaches us to say “Abba” and to know that we belong. The affliction of living in a world broken by sin and deceived by Satan only serves to remind us of our eternal hope. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).
Paul’s letter to the Galatians reinforces these truths. They had come to experience the liberating truth of sonship and had reverted back to the merit system,, putting them back under the demands of the law and human performance. Paul comes strongly against this fallacy and foolishness, saying that “when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir” (4:4-7).
We come out from under the guilt and condemnation of the law to the freedom of living by faith in Christ through the indwelling Spirit. And that Spirit reminds us that we have been chosen, accepted, adopted, and brought into God’s forever family. Fear dissipates under the overwhelming grace of the Father who “has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5). Nothing could be more wonderful.
SONS OR SERVANTS
Family relationship work relationship
Secure, inheritance insecure, not future plans
God has plans for you
Celebration get it done; you don’t go to the party, not invited. If you are, it is
To serve the children.
My dad’s office they had a different relationship
Servants have a boss, not a father; a working relationship
Servants don’t inherit anything.
Fathers guide sons, not servants. You should take this class.
Fathers give an inheritance to their children.
Prodigal Elder son
Tax collector Pharisee
If you are a son, you know it is not about work. Martha couldn’t relax and enjoy Jesus. Mary could. It was about love.
A guy came up to me this week and said, “So what is a son?” What would you have said?
The prodigal knew that he had a place at home even though he had really messed up. A son knows he has a home. A slave has quarters, but he doesn’t have a home. A home brings security, a promise of love and appreciation. We did something that we do at birthdays at the Anderson home. Malachi.