12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 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.
Who is your Father?
I suppose there are a lot of different ways to answer that.
Some have been blessed to have wonderful biological fathers. Others have had step dads or adopted father. Still others of us have fathers that we barely even knew. In fact, we may feel more comfortable referring to grandpa or an uncle as Father.
When we say "Our Father" in the Lord's Prayer which one are we addressing? There are lots of different people in our congregation. Lots of different fathers. Even more if you consider the 'father figures' of those who will read this online.
But the truth is that in the Lord's Prayer, we are talking about none of these.
I. Know Your Real Father.
Think about the words again: It isn't “our Father, who art in upstate New York.” It isn't “Our Father, who I get to see every other weekend." It isn't even, "Our Father, whom I hope isn't so busy watching NC State that he might have some time to play a game of Uno with me.” But we pray to our Father, who art in heaven!
Who lives in heaven?
That would be God. The Almighty. The one who commands the waves and keeps the thunderstorms in line. The one who gave each and every one of us life. Our Creator not the created.
This is vitally important to remember. Because if we forget it, the results are disastrous.
1. You make sin into your Father.
Consider what a Father is supposed to be. He's a leader. He's your head. He's the one who cares for you and the one whom you are supposed to listen to.
But when we sin, aren't we really making our sinful desires into God?
"God, I know you've given me lots: life, breath, and everything else, but I'm really thinking that today's problems can best be solved by greed. I'm going to listen to him.”
"God, I know that you have wonderful gifts that you have given me for my pleasure, but I'm feeling stressed. I think that I'm going to listen to lust in this situation because I really want to feel good."
"God, I know that you love me and want me to treat others with love, but that just isn't' getting me anywhere. I think I'm going to start doing what hate tells me to do."
Look at what Paul wrote, “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation," and that obligation is to listening to our real dad—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.” There's a reason Paul wrote that! The sinful nature shouldn't have any pull on us. It isn't our dad.
2. You Give your Real Father a bad name.
Maybe, you've met some kids that aren't very well behaved. Then, you find yourself doing, what you know you probably shouldn't. You judge. You think, "That dad must not be a good disciplinarian or at the very least, he must never be home." Then, you see some kids with clothes that are kind of raggedy and you think, "their parents must not have that much money." You see a kid in a UNC shirt and you think, "That poor kid! His dad has terrible taste in football teams."
What do you think unbelievers say when they see you – their 'believing' friend – talking with glee about that sexy scene in that “R” rated movie? Are they to assume that God, your Father, loves objectifying women?
What are your coworkers going to say when they hear you – the lady with the 'inspirational Bible verse' as my computer background– speaking in whispers about how coworker A is in trouble with the boss, because she's lazy and incompetent? Are they to assume that God, your Father, loves to grab a glass of sweet tea and talk about the latest gossip?
What is your family supposed to say, when they see you – a child of God – openly sinning, without any regard for what your Father in heaven says? Do they get the impression that sin isn't that big of a deal to God?
My dad was the baseball coach at my high school. He was very good. He coached teams to the state tournament. One team, to the state championship.
You could say, “Baseball was in my blood.”
You'd be surprised to find out that I'm not all that good at baseball. Namely, I throw like a girl. I won't demonstrate. Just know that it's so bad that when others have seen me throw; they are shocked. “Isn't your dad the baseball coach?”
QUESTION: Would people be shocked to learn that you are God's child? If so, we are to be ashamed! We have made sin into our Father!
3. You receive a Very Bad Gift from a False Dad.
Sometimes dads aren't that great at giving gifts. They get confused about the right colored blouse to buy their daughter. They aren't sure if they need to get the iPhone 4 or 5s for Junior. They haven't the slightest idea which cooking item their wife wants. (Hint: It's in the jewelry section.)
With sin as our father, look at all sin has to offer us: “If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die.”
I suppose you could make the argument that we receive some kind of temporary 'pleasure', when we listen to our sinful desires, but these desires don't last. The gift of death? That will last forever. Its' eternal. Fiery. Awful.
Suddenly, sin doesn't seem like so loving a Father anymore. It seems more abusive, drunken, and absent.
Contrast what sin has to offer us to our loving God.
In talking about our Heavenly Father had this thought, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?" Maybe, you'll give him a bowl of oatmeal instead of some Frosted Flakes, but certainly you wouldn't pour a bunch of gravel into his Bob the Builder bowl. Not even if you were awful! Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
God's good gifts to us start the moment he connects us to his family!
There you sat. Pathetic. Messed up. Cracked. Broken. Sinful.
In walks God. He's holy, perfect, and righteous. The members of his family are holy, perfect, and righteous. In our sinful, pathetic state, how would he ever take a chance on us? Surely, he'll move on. To someone stronger. Someone bigger. Someone more like to shape up.
You expect God to walk right past us. Find the kids in better shape. Choose the perfect child and leave you in the dark corner of that orphanage.
He walks forward. You close your eyes. A tear runs down your cheek.
You hear footsteps. They stop right over the top of you.
Then, you hear a booming voice of love and confidence, "I'll adopt this one."
Look at what it says in Romans 8:15, “The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.”
Think about that! You were adopted by God. God chose you as his child!
And adoptions are expensive! There are costs for an initial interview. Costs to be evaluated both psychologically and physically. There are cost for the child, for the agent, for the child's biological mother.
It's so expensive that you might expect to set up a payment plan.
Your adoption in God's family? It's already paid for! God paid for you and me with his most priceless posession. His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ who is a complete payment for our adoption.
There is no balance left to be paid. There isn't a payment plan in place. You are completely his own!'
Paul writes in verse 16, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.” How does he do that?
Well, to prove an adoption, you need adoption papers. Something written down that says your adopted child is in fact your child.
Isn't that what this is? (the Bible) Doesn't it clearly tell us that we are God's children through faith in Jesus?
But the Spirit doesn't stop there! He works through Baptism, the holy waters of baptism, to clothe us in the righteousness of Christ, clothing perfect for those in God's family! And in the Lord's Supper, he gives us the very real promise of forgiveness through the very real body and blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. These testify to us: “It has been paid for. You are God's child.”
II. Act Like His Child.
If we God's child, then today Paul encourages us to act like God's child. In this section of Romans, there are three ways to do this.
1. Stop acting like a child of sin.
Paul says this, “If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if you live according to the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body!”
It's like a child who had an extremely abusive and awful Father. When that person grows up, a therapist might recommend that the adult completely forget the man. The goal is to completely divorce the person from the awful influence so that depression and despair don't sit in.
Do the same thing with your former father. Get rid of every semblance of sin! Get rid of every reminder of him! Stop living according to the lusts and desires of your flesh. Stop doing the things you know are wrong. Stop listening to Sin, who is no Father at all, but listen to your Heavenly Father, who loves you and made you his child through Jesus!
Remember: Sin can only offer eternal death to its family. God offers eternal life.
Need there be anymore reason to get rid of sin?
2. Cry out to your dad with confidence.
Paul writes in verses 14-15, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Abba means “dad” or “father.” It's a term that offers some kind of familiar connection to the ethereal ruler of the universe.
Think about that. We get to call the Almighty, All holy, All powerful, sin hating, God of the universe, our dad!
He is not some impersonal far off force, but a very near, a very loving God. One who holds us. One who protects us. One who whispers : “I am near. I love you.”
3. Look forward to your inheritance.
One of the special things that I own is a tie clip. It's not even real gold. It's got a picture of a tractor on it. It's chipped on the edges. To you it might not seem all that special. I don't even know how much it would sell for at a rummage sale.
But it's a tie clip that my grandpa had and gave to my Father. My dad gave it to me. It's an inheritance.
Maybe, you have an inheritance too. Some money. An heirloom. Something that's really valuable.
The inheritance God promises us?
A space in his house. An eternal spot in heaven.
Paul wrote, "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."
Share in His glory!?! There is no inheritance greater.
Think back to that phrase. “Our Father, who art in heaven.” What an appropriate way to start our prayer to God. It reminds us who we're praying to. It causes us to confess our sinful disobedience. It turns us to God's promise of adoption paid for in Christ's blood. It leads us to deny sin, pray confidently, and hold dearly to our precious inheritance.
To God, our wise heavenly Father, be all glory! Amen.