When two countries are at war, a soldier on one side cannot just decide to switch sides. You can’t just raise your hand, and say, “I’m not an enemy anymore; I’m on your team.” You can’t just realize that you really agree with the other country’s stance and declare yourself a citizen. There may be the possibility of your citizenship changing, but it won’t be up to you. You have to submit to a process and allow someone else with authority to choose to offer you a new home and identity.
When we repent, God could refuse us. He could say, “Well, you can be on my side, but you are the lowest rank.” He could declare us lower class or servants. But He chooses a more beautiful path. He not only changes what side we’re fighting on; He changes our identity. He doesn’t just allow us to immigrate; He makes us His sons and daughters. He adopts us.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)
Adoption is not a Jewish concept. Paul is pulling it either from the Romans or Greeks. The Greek definition of adoption is “being granted the full rights and privileges of sonship in a family to which one does not belong by nature.” F.F. Bruce says, “An adopted son was a son deliberately chosen by his adoptive father to perpetuate his name and inherit his estate.” I love that. The believer is admitted to the heavenly family to which he has no rights of his own. And we have been chosen for a purpose.
Karl Barth said, “God exists. God leads from death to life. God will, and a necessity is laid upon us. This is the real situation. We are not debtors to the world of time and things and men (8:12)… By the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, by the knowledge of God, we are invariably disposed and orientated from west to east, from death to life. God, in that one moment, completely changes us. He makes the impossible possible. There is no way for us to change sides, but He does it for us.
Aaron and Jamie Ivey, our worship pastor and friends, have adopted two children from Haiti, Amos and Story. Fortunately, Haiti is not at war with the United States, but that still doesn’t mean a child can just change which country he is from. A child of Haiti must grow up and then apply to immigrate. After being a permanent resident of the US for 5 years, being a continuous resident for 5 years, having 30 months of physical presence in the US, 3 months in a specific district or state, being of good moral character, having knowledge of English and Civics, and being attached to the Constitution, they may apply to become a citizen of the United States. They are not guaranteed acceptance; that is the minimum to apply. Someone else must still approve them. But when Aaron and Jamie adopted Amos and Story, at that moment they became citizens. Not because of anything they did, but because of the love of another, they became US citizens.
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons,” (8:19) We have not been given a new set of rules. We have been given a new heart. We have been redefined. Not a spirit of bondage unto fear, but recreated as a son in whom fulfillment and joy is found in pleasing his Father.
7 thoughts on “Romans 8: Changing Sides”
Very well said, it struck a cord inside of me, know that He God…is so good in all that He does. His adoption, amazing!
Amen bro! Praise the L-rd that we have been redefined, recreated, and given new identity! Believing that what I’m about add, marries and edifies with what you’ve shared, and doesn’t come in opposition against it, I would share that adoption is certainly a Jewish concept, just maybe not in the way we understand it to be, in that Jewish culture would have parents adopting their own children! Sounds crazy I know, but please follow me.
Jewish custom for children in those days all revolved around apprenticeship, or discipleship. As a young man, you were groomed toward a life profession, hopefully as rabbi, but if not, you would become apprentice under your father in his profession. This would be determined about the age of 12 or 13, something we still see the Jewish people practice today as a Bar Mitzvah, where you would begin your training in a chosen profession as an adult accountable to responsibility. You would train until the appropriate time of maturity, decided by the father, in which you would be considered an heir to his business. When that time of maturity was reached, as a symbol of trust, you were given his signet ring, and all power and authority to conduct business in His name. In this ceremony, fathers would publicly announce you as their son, worthy to do any and all business in their name. This process was adoption. From child, to son, to heir.
I think we see this adoption best displayed through Jesus in the gospel of Luke. Jesus is born, obviously as a child. The next thing we see about Him is a glimpse 12 years later in Luke 2:41-52. Mary and Joseph cannot find Him anywhere, until they turn back to Jerusalem and find He’s been in the temple, teaching. His response? ‘Did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house?’ Check out the translation of “Father’s house,” it means “affairs” or “things of my Father.” Jesus was presented as walking in His (Heavenly) Father’s profession, to be apprenticed by Him. The same as most any Jewish boy of His age. The next recount of Jesus is at His baptism in Luke 3. Look what occurs in verse 22, The Spirit descends upon Him and His Father presents: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” So no Jewish person would see the accounts of Luke, as random glimpses into Jesus’ life, rather they would see the three most important events in a Jewish man’s life, His birth as a child, His sonship, and His heirship, His adoption.
Paul explains this same concept of adoption in Galatians 4:1-7, starting with, “As long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave…” He explains that a son is held under managers ’til the appointed time of the father, just as we were held in bondage to the elementary principles of the world, so when the appointed time came we would be lifted out and receive adoption as sons. Look at the promise of Galatians 4:7, since the time has come in Jesus, “Therefore you are no longer a slave (child), but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
Todd, I’m sorry this is so long, but I was led to share it. Why? I believe it adds to the heart of the Father to adopt His children that you were communicating, and it shows the beautiful heritage of which we have been brought into. We have truly been adopted by the Father as sons and daughters. May we press on as mature heirs conducting His business as such. Again, I say Amen to your post, and pray this blesses and edifies you bro.
Thanks, Kris, for the background on adoption. Awesome!
I was adopted at birth by earthly parents who are sinful and fallible. What a blessing it is to know I have a Heavenly Father who is perfect in His love for me.
Amen. A have a few adopted family members. Bottom line when I introduce them to friends I always say this is my cousin or brother. Not adopted anything. They are my family just like my blood cousins and brothers. God has blessed our family with each and everyone of them in our lives and we are forever greatful.
You wrote, “We have not been given a new set of rules. We have been given a new heart. We have been redefined.” Thank God for no new rules! My natural tendency is to be a rebel and rule-breaker. I love the thought of being redefined. I really hate it when people try to define me, especially when they don’t really know me well. But when God redefines a person, who can argue with his definition? Awesome!
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