Chapter 3

Can we be sure God won’t give up on us?

Yes, because God loves us as his children. Deeply aware of our own failures, we may ask, “How can God keep accepting me?” Paul answered this by reminding us that in Christ we are God’s children—daughters and sons. This father/child relationship, Paul assured the Roman believers, means they didn’t have to live in fear of a God angered by their mistakes and bad behavior. In Romans 8:12–17, Paul spoke of a new intimacy with God, a new source of assurance, and a new attitude toward suffering.

God encourages us to call him “Daddy.” After repeating a strong warning that anyone who lives dominated by their sinful nature will die that way, Paul added:

For if you live by [the sinful nature’s] dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father” (vv. 13–15).

Yes, the bar is high: putting to death the misdeeds of the body. This is not a command to belittle ourselves or hate our bodies and their normal desires. It means rejecting behaviors improper for a child of God. And because we are God’s children, anxious fear is out of place. Parents would be devasted if our children lived in fear of us. God is no different. He wants us to see him as Abba, the term Jewish children use for “Daddy.”

God proved his love for us by giving his Son to become our Savior through the humiliation and pain of his humble birth, sinless life, agonizing crucifixion, and triumphant resurrection. God knows we are weak and frail. He understands when we fail (psalm 103:13–14). As a loving Father, he doesn’t want us to fail, but is always there when we do, ready to forgive help if we turn back to him. For that reason, we can dismiss all our anxious fears of running out of his good favor.

God assures us that we are his children. As members of God’s family the constant witness of the Spirit inside us gives us assurance that we belong to God: “His spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children” (romans 8:16). This isn’t some voice we hear out loud. The words of the Spirit are an inner affirmation, a feeling given by the Spirit of God to our own spirit.

John Wesley described it this way: “An inward impression on the soul, whereby the Spirit of God directly witnesses to my spirit that I am a child of God; that Jesus has loved me and given Himself for me; and that all my sins are blotted out, and I, even I, am reconciled ”to God.

Reflecting on the wonder of everything God has done for us and as we yield ourselves to obey Him, our spirit responds to God in awe, worship, and adoration. This is the beautiful harmony of what Jesus said the night before he was crucified: “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them” (John 14:21).