Scripture: Romans 8:12-17
Upon our adoption into the Christian church by the action of our faith, we become a new creature. In Paul's words in our text today, he describes the laws for an adoption by Roman culture at that time. In that adoption, a person’s life changes completely.
We need to refresh ourselves on that process of Roman adoption. The birth father would symbolically sell his son three times. He would then buy him back twice, but the third time he would not buy him back. The new father would go to the magistrate who had the power to accept or reject the action of the birth father. All the rights of the boy being adopted, his birthrights, were transferred to his new father, and the lad gained a complete new identity.
If another male child was born in his new family, that child did not become heir to his father’s wealth. Adoption at that time in history was a serious and long process.
There were four major steps in an adoption.
- The adopted person lost all rights with his birth family.
- He gained all birthrights with his new family.
- In the eyes of the law, the adoption wiped out all of his records and previous life before he was adopted. It was a clean slate.
- A father had total control over his children, including the power of life or death, at his fingertips.
This is what the Apostle Paul was thinking about when he was talking about Roman adoption. What Paul says is that God’s Spirit witnessed with our spirit and that we are all children of God. Paul is saying that it is the Holy Spirit who witnesses the adoption into the family of God.
Once we were an absolutely powerless over sin, but God in His mercy has bought us back into His possession through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. All of our past is canceled. Our sin debts are paid in full. The slate is wiped clean and we begin a new life with our God. We become heirs of all of God’s possessions. If Christ had to suffer, then we too inherit that suffering. But if Christ was raised to life and glory, we also will inherit that life and glory.
This is the picture Paul is painting of a man or woman who becomes a Christian. They enter into a new life and family with God. We have done nothing to deserve it, and it cannot be earned.
It is a gift from our Lord and Savior. God the great Father, in His loving mercy and amazing love, has taken away our lost and helpless lives in poverty and strife. God had adopted each and every one of us into His holy family.
We are debt-free and our sins are canceled. They have removed as far as the east is from the west, never to be recorded by God again. We enter the glory of God through the shadow of Jesus. Amen!