Reading: Romans 8:12-17; Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9
The Holy Spirit does not just give us faith, but He continues to work in us, to teach us how to live as God’s children: how to live in the real and glorious freedom of the children of God!
That means that we know what is good and that we do what is good. Not because we must, not in a spirit of slavery. But the Spirit works in us that we want to do what is good. That it is our desire to keep all God’s commandments. As the Heidelberg Catechism says in Lord’s Day 33 about the coming to life of the new nature: that is ‘a heartfelt joy in God through Christ, and a love and delight to live according to the will of God in all good works.’
We don’t live a Christian lifestyle because the church or the elders or the minister tell us that we must. We don’t obey the commandments because otherwise we would not be saved. But our Christian lifestyle is a lifestyle in which we find joy in doing everything that is according to God’s will. We find delight in it. We don’t want to do anything else, because we are thankful for what God gives to us, and we understand and know that that is real life, that that is the freedom, in which we live as God’s children.
Every two or three months, in our churches, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. When we prepare for the Lord’s Supper, then often the words in 1 Corinthians 11:29 may sound discouraging: ‘For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.’
Often just before the Lord’s Supper, we feel that we must prepare and be holy in order to be able to attend the Lord’s Supper, or else if we are not ready we will receive judgment. But when we celebrated the Lord’s Supper and it is Monday again, then it is as if we forget that we still have to be holy. And then a few months later, a week before the next celebration of the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded again, that we must prepare so that we can attend. But that is not how it should be. We don’t have to prepare for the Lord’s Supper out of fear that we would drink judgment to ourselves. Our whole life must be a preparation for the wedding feast of the Lamb. And that means that we look forward to that with great longing and with joy because we are deemed worthy to attend the wedding feast of the Lamb.
That is living in the glorious freedom of the children of God. That is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, the Spirit of sonship. And we show it to others, that it is a joy and a delight to live in all good works. Then our life is really different from those who don’t live in that freedom. Who still live in the slavery of sin and death.
Consider: what is it that determines the life of the children of God? What is typical for those who live in the freedom?
Is it that we do as many good works as possible, although we do know that they don’t save us? Or is it that we live a good life and that we do not participate in a lot of bad things, like many others in this world? Is the difference that we are against abortion and against a lot of other terrible sins?
NO! That is not the main difference!
What is it then, in which the believer is different from those who don’t believe? What do we have, that the unbelievers don’t have?
That is, that we, through the Spirit, cry ‘Abba, Father’. That is what our text says about the Spirit of sonship. We can and we must know and address God as FATHER. Our Father in heaven. That we know that God is our Father, Who will provide us with all things necessary for body and soul, as it is said in Lord’s Day 9. God, Whom we must address as ‘Our Father in heaven’, as our Lord Jesus taught us. And it is this dependence on God, our prayer to God, our Father, what is the difference between believers and unbelievers.
Christ taught us to go to God, our Father, and to expect everything from Him, and to trust in Him, as our Father. We must trust in Him so completely as to have no doubt that He will provide us with all things necessary for body and soul.’ And that is what we show in our prayer. The catechism says that prayer is the most important part in the thankfulness which God requires of us, Lord’s Day 45. A true Christian prays to God, his whole life long, constantly and with heartfelt longing.
Whatever the circumstances are. In prosperity and in adversity. Even in times that it looks like the whole world is against us and everything seems to prove that God doesn’t exist. Then still we trust in Him, in God, our Father. Because we know that He IS our Father. God, our Father, Who saved us, through His own Son, Jesus Christ. It is His grace, that Jesus Christ died for us. That He came to deliver us from slavery to sin and death. Our Father, Who loved us so much that He did it all for us. So that He could accept us as His children. He will certainly do what is good for us, now that we are His children. And we as children, will completely depend on Him and expect everything from Him. Completely! And that complete dependence on God, that childlike trust, that is it what makes us different from all those who don’t believe in God.
We know that we can’t do anything ourselves. Not our own good works, not our own words. Nothing from ourselves. God does not use a measuring rod, which He lays along our deeds, to see if they are good enough. No, God demands us to acknowledge Him as our Father and address Him as our Father and trust in Him as our Father in Heaven. That we live in a relationship with Him of children with their Father. Our Heavenly Father Who is perfect. Also perfect in His love for His children.
That is it what the Holy Spirit is working in us in this life. The Spirit of sonship, Who makes us live like children of our heavenly Father. That means: He constantly directs our attention to the endless love of our heavenly Father, Who gave His only Son, to die for us. Our Father on Whom we depend completely and from Whom we expect everything in our lives. Our Father, Who also gives us the full certainty about our eternal life. We don’t have to fear death or any other enemy, because God is our Father. And Him we love all the days of our lives. And our love for Him, and our dependence on Him is what we will show in our entire lives. Every day again.