“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:16-17 (ESV)
Every person who by faith believes in Jesus Christ is fully justified and formally adopted by God, our Father in heaven. That is a promise given to all true Christians. At first we knew nothing of these promises and now they are ours forever. We once did not believe this but now we do believe and God’s Spirit is our witness that we are children in the Family of God. Our new birth in Christ came at a tremendous cost; but we did not have to pay it. Jesus Christ paid the cost for us by sacrificing Himself to die on the cross. Our sin caused the death of God’s only begotten Son. Now, we are adopted sons and adopted daughters and heirs with full rights in the Family. In fact we’re fellow heirs with God’s only begotten Son, Christ Jesus. It’s good news for us because by the faith given to us, we are not on the outs; we are in God’s will in more ways than we know. He included us so, we have an inheritance as heirs – that’s a forever promise. Let’s live our lives today with respect to what God has given to us.
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1 John 2:1-2 (ESV)
Yesterday our promise focused on the small word, ‘sin,’ how in truth we struggle with sin and our need for confession of sins. Today’s promise comes from a much bigger word and one which is not in our common vocabulary. It is ‘propitiation.’ It is appropriate for John to address his readers as “my little children” because when he wrote this, John was greatly advanced in years. He was the sole remaining survivor of the apostles who had enjoyed intimate, eyewitness association with Jesus throughout His earthly ministry. Yet not exiled to Patmos where He receives the Revelation of Jesus Christ, John was actively serving the church in Ephesus. He taught that Christian must continually acknowledge and confess sin (1 John 1:9), but we’re not powerless against it. Fulfilling the duty of confession does not give license to sin. When we do sin, we have a promised defense attorney, Jesus Christ our Advocate. Why is this a promise for us? Because the death of Jesus on the cross satisfied the demands of God’s holiness for the punishment of sin. That’s what ‘propitiation’ means – “satisfaction” or “appeasement.” Jesus is the satisfaction of God for us each time we sin, we’re covered.
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16 (NIV)
The popular Southern Gospel song, “Family of God” includes the lyrics “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.” Our verse selected today reminds us of this important work of the Holy Spirit. When we believe and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are brought into the family of God. God puts within us His Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. It is the Holy Spirit who makes the knowledge of our joining the family of God very real to us. Others might tell us this fact and we can read and sing about being children of God but in order for it to become really meaningful for you and I we need to hear confirmation from the Holy Spirit. How wonderful that the Spirit of God Almighty testifies with us that we are His children. Children of God by Spiritual re-birth and by God the Father’s adoption of us into his family. There need be no question about it and no doubt at all. Let’s just listen to Him and let Him convince us each day that we have been adopted and full members of God’s family of love.
“Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” – 1 John 3:7-8 (NASB)
Recalling the promise from yesterday’s verse helps us understand today’s verse and why we are instructed to submit and resist. It is a persistent goal of the devil to deceive, especially those who are in Christ. If we don’t submit to God and if we don’t resist the devil we are actually practicing the devil’s ways. There are no multiple ways to multiple gods. Only one God and only one way to Him. We are instructed to practice righteousness as Christ, who is righteous, dwells within each true believer. If we fall for the deception of Satan and give in to the temptations he presents then our way of our life is the practice of sin. Christ has chosen us⸺he has provided the gifts of faith, and grace, for salvation⸺we should believe in the purpose Christ came to earth. He came to destroy the effects of the devil’s work. In His death on the cross, Christ struck the decisive blow to destroy the works of Satan. Christ’s resurrection from the dead secured for us the victory. One day, Satan’s time of conditional limited freedom will be over – that is a promise. (Revelation 20:10)
“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.” – 1 John 2:12-13 (ESV)
It seems best to view John’s division and categories to be referring to all who would hear this letter read. Each experience attributed to them is appropriate to the category named. As one of God’s “children,” we have experienced forgiveness through grace from our heavenly Father. As “fathers,” we have had an experience that connects us to eternity past, since we have known Him who is always from eternity with no beginning. (In the light of 1 John 2:3–6, this indicates we have a true relationship with God.) As “young men,” we have engaged in spiritual warfare and have overcome the evil one, Satan. Here again in verse 2:3 the word “Him” could refer to either God the Father or God the Son; the difference does not appear to be important to John. His readers as we are, know God and therefore we know both the Father and Son. Thought of in this way, the sequence “children,” “fathers,” and “young men” is meaningful. We know what it is to have sins forgiven and to have fellowship with God the Eternal One. As a result we are like vigorous young men who have defeated satanic assaults through Christ Jesus.
“He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,” John 1:11-12 (NASB)
Our verse and promise today may be familiar to many but is also may be new to others. The Apostle John tells us what happened when Jesus Christ came to live as a human on this earth. As many as received Him⸺take notice John does not say dogma, creed, myth, but a person. This person in the previous verse is identified as the creator of everything that exists. Christ is the Son of God and He brought the world and all creatures into being, they were His own. This is not limited to Israel but it is Israel who represented the world which Christ came to. Our promise is in verse 12. The expression “as many as” amounts to “whosoever” whether Jew or Gentile. It might be rendered “as many of them,”⸺of those He came to. As many as did accept him; as many as acknowledged Him; and welcomed Him as the Light which enlightens every one of us; as many as have embraced him by a living faith in his name, to them he gave—it is ever a gift of God’s sovereign grace—the right, the authority, to become children of God.
Thanks in part to: A Living Daily Message From The Words of D. L. Moody selected by Emma Moody Fitt, Copyright, 1900, by Fleming H. Revell Company, now in public domain.
“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers,” Malachi 4:5-6a (NASB)
This prophecy of God was delivered to His people through Malachi, a prophet of God Almighty. About 430 years before the birth of Jesus, God promised to send Elijah the prophet back to Israel. While on Earth in his ministry of presenting Himself as Messiah and proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus said, “And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.” Matthew 11:14. John the Baptizer was a fulfillment of the promise in Malachi because he fulfilled the function of the last Prophet of God and the one who introduced and proclaimed Jesus as Messiah. When John’s father was told that he would be the father of John and Barren Elizabeth would be John’s mother, he did not immediately believe. He doubted through questioning how it could be due to age. Zachariah was struck mute until John was born. But the angel Gabriel who would announce to Mary the miraculous conception of Jesus within her, used the same words Malachi used about Elijah/John. “And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers back to their children,” Luke 1:17.