Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, March 28, 2016
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (John 1:12).
You have authority! For many people, this is good news, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. So many in our society are power hungry and will stop at nothing to assert themselves to be “somebody” in the eyes of everybody. They want to lord their power over unsuspecting church members, entry-level employees, entire inner-city communities, and even households. But this contrived authority is not of what I speak. The authority of which I speak is authority to become the children of God!
You may be wondering, “Are we not already children of God when we are born? Why are you making such a big deal of this?” I am so glad you asked. And that’s a great question.
Well, contrary to popular belief, the Bible says that we are born in sin and shapen in iniquity. It’s so bad that Jesus told Nicodemus that we have to start all over if we hope to be saved. Check out what He said: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:5–7). Paul said it this way: “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:8–10). In order to have biblical authority to become God’s children, we must be born again. The first birth was biological and was riddled with weaknesses, because our foreparents had weaknesses. We often struggle with temptations, predispositions, and tendencies from our ancestry. Have you heard frustrated mothers say, “You’re just like your father” before? Don’t get me wrong; we certainly do inherit good qualities too, but the point of this thought is that we are naturally and biologically wired to lose the battle against sin.
The great news is that we can be born again. The second birth is spiritual. In the same way we inherit weaknesses from our foreparents biologically, we inherit strength from our heavenly Father spiritually. When we accept the fact that we need to be reborn, and that Jesus’ spiritual life is available as an inheritance for all who believe, including us, we begin to experience the new birth and become God’s children. We begin to look like Him (reflect His character). We begin to speak like Him (speak words that edify). We begin to laugh like Him (rejoice when sinners repent). We begin to think like Him (we let our minds become like Jesus’ mind). We begin to rest like Him (rest from our works as the Creator rested from His the first Sabbath after creation). We become like Him, and this is what gives us authority. Just as children of monarchs are royalty by virtue of birth, we become royalty when we are reborn.
Let’s take this up a notch: Not only are those who keep covenant with Him, His children, but we are His children by His choice. You see, when a couple has intercourse and procreation occurs, they don’t get to choose the outcome. Hair color, gender, complexion, etc., are not up to them. They get what they get. They choose to have a baby, but that is as far as it goes. However, when we are born again to God, it is like an adoption wherein the adoptive parents actively seek out the child they want. This is how it is with God. “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:4–7). In this way, we have the authority due children of the heavenly King and therefore never need to be afraid of God rejecting us like many of our earthly parents did. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” (2 Timothy 1:7–9).
I will say it again: You have authority (if you choose faith in God), and by virtue of that authority, you are covered in Jesus’ righteousness! Use it well.