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Category Archives: Sonship

Who Do You Serve?

Who Do You Serve?

In my last post, I started talking about the fact that even though Christ has set us free from slavery to sin, we can voluntarily submit to it.

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey — whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Romans 6:16

Here is another “Don’t you know” in the Scripture. We need to pay attention when we see them. We must make sure we understand what’s being said.

The key word in this verse is offer. It was also used twice in verse 13. It literally means to stand beside and present.

In regards to sin, it means that submission is voluntary. It’s not sin as your king, but you as a volunteer. You’ve presented yourself as a servant.

In the Greek language, there are two main words for servant – deakonos and doulos. Deakonos denotes a slave to the work. You’re told what to do by a master and you have no choice but to obey.

The word doulos is different. In this case you’re a willing servant of a person. You’ve chosen to submit to their lordship. In some places it’s translated as a bond-slave.

The word for servant in the above verse is doulos. You’re offering yourself as a servant into the place of obedience. This applies to a choice in either direction – either serving Christ or sin.

If you choose to serve sin, you need to be aware that it leads you to death. No, you haven’t died yet, it’s just leading you in that direction. You might even still be on the right path, but your aim a little off.

There’s also the potential choice to serve obedience. In that case you’re being lead to righteousness. That’s what this decision is all about. You’re either walking toward righteousness or death.

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Romans 6:17-18

Notice that this obedience is a choice from the heart. That’s why getting the Word into our heart is so important. When you change your heart, you change the entire direction of your life.

It’s also important to see what they obeyed in this verse. It says that they obeyed the form of teaching they were given.

That word means a die or stamp used as a pattern. They obeyed the pattern of teaching that was committed to them. We need to learn the patterns in the Word. That’s the way things happen and progress.

The pattern that they understood from Paul’s teaching was that if you chase after evil things, you head towards death. The key to all of this is our liberation from the reign of sin as we remain in Christ.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:34-36

The Good News is that we’ve been liberated into the family of God. We should, therefore, show the traits of that family – the pattern. In order to have our best life, we must desire to be slaves of righteousness.

Question: What does it take to choose obedience to God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2021 in Faith, Sonship, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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A Promise to the Nations

A Promise to the Nations

In my last post we saw that Abraham is our father in the faith.  His blessing is passed down to us because of the work of Christ on the cross.  We receive this promise by the same faith that brings our righteousness.

Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring — not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham.  He is the father of us all.  As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”  He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed — the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

Romans 4:16-17

This is a beautiful portion of Scripture.  Because of his faith, God sees Abraham as the father of all those who walked this path after him.  If I walk in that same faith towards the Lord, I become a part of Abraham’s family.

God said that He would make Abraham the father of many nations.  I believe that God was not only talking about his life in the physical.

As it was, three different Middle Eastern nations came from his line.  They were the Israelites, Ishmaelites, and the Edomites.  In my way of thinking, if God promises many nations, than it would mean more than just three.

On the contrary, there are many nations that have become his children.  He is now the father of the faithful Americans, Italians, Jamaicans, Koreans, Navahos, Russians, and any other national group you can think of.

I personally praise God for this.  I wasn’t born into the physical family of Abraham.  But, by trusting Christ to save me, I have been adopted into his lineage with all the promises and blessings that accompany it.

The last line of this passage gives two descriptions of the God we serve.  The first is that this is the God who gives life to the dead.  This literally means that He can take a corpse and make it alive.

You may think that everything around you is dead.  Your dreams, desires, and hopes may have slowly died off because of circumstances beyond your control.  But the God we serve is well able to bring them to life again.

This verse also says that the Lord is the God who calls things that are not as though they were.  This is a calling out of creative power.

Unfortunately, many times we get it backwards.  It does not say that He calls things that are as though they were not.  That’s denial.  Scripture never tells us to deny that our problems exist.

It’s absolutely proper for me to admit that I’m sick.  In the same breath I can also declare that Christ is my Healer.

We don’t deny what’s happening.  If I was never sick, how could Jesus Christ get the glory for my healing?

Because of faith, we’re the children of Abraham.  We inherit the same blessing that was given to him.  We need to start living up to it and walking in it.

It’s this promise and blessing that will cause the world to look at us differently.  They’ll want what we have.  Then, they’ll be attracted to Jesus Christ by our testimony.

Question: How would walking in this blessing change the way others view us?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2020 in Faith, Healing, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Promise

The Promise

In our journey through the book of Romans, we’ve been seeing that we can’t work for righteousness.  It can only come as we put our faith in Christ.

Paul uses the life of Abraham as an example to us.  He is aptly called the father of our faith.  Now Paul brings us another step further along this path.

It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

Romans 4:13

The apostle now uses a new word.  This is the first time, in the book of Romans, that Paul mentions the promise.

This is an important word.  It literally means an announcement.  However, a promise from God is not like a promise we’re used to receiving.

For us, a promise is based upon mistrust.  You don’t believe me so I try to gain your trust by saying, “I promise.”

God, on the other hand, makes an announcement of His intentions (We call it a “promise”).  It is absolute truth.  It’s now up to you whether you believe His Word or not.

The good news is that now, all of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:29

Because of His work on the cross, Christ has fulfilled the requirements for the promises.  This teaching is carried on throughout the New Testament.  It’s not just a verse pulled out of context, but a scriptural theme that has been all but ignored by the church.

Paul continues with this thought.

For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath.  And where there is no law there is no transgression.

Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham.  He is the father of us all.

Romans 4:14-16

This is a foundational passage in our knowledge of how the promises are obtained in Christ.  The blessing is received, not by my working to do the requirements, but by faith in the One who has already fulfilled them.

This truth is not only given to us by Paul, but also by Peter as well.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

2 Peter 1:3-4

The phrase, through these, obviously refers to the glory and goodness of God, not our works of righteousness.  According to this verse, the reason God blesses us is so that we might actually be participants, sharers, in His divine nature.  You will not find the call for us to fulfill the requirements of the promises anywhere in the New Covenant.

If that’s true, then what are the promises for?  We can look at it this way; each promise has two halves.  There are the requirements and the blessing.

According to the New Testament, Jesus came to fulfill the requirements of the promises.  Because of His finished work on the cross, we receive the blessing of the promise because we’re in Him.

Question: Why is it so hard for us to accept that Christ has finished this work on the cross?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2020 in Faith, God's Provision, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Prayer and Boasting

Prayer and Boasting

In the book of Romans, Paul talks at length about the righteousness that only comes by faith in Christ.  He takes us now to the next truth that we must understand.

Where, then, is boasting?  It is excluded.  On what principle?  On that of observing the law?  No, but on that of faith.  For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

Romans 3:27-28

Paul asks us some important questions here.  They need to be answered correctly if you’re going to progress in your walk with God.  Fortunately, he gives us the answers so we don’t have to guess.

In this whole discussion of righteousness, he now asks where boasting fits in.  It’s obvious why he does this.  Paul was a Pharisee.  The entire lifestyle of that sect revolved around boasting.

Many of the Pharisees made sure that they were very conspicuous during their times of prayer (Mark 12:40).  On days that they fasted, they looked like they could barely survive (Matthew 6:16).  They always kept the boxes of Scriptures they memorized (phylacteries) on their person to show how much they knew (Matthew 23:5).

Religion is a great supporter of boasting.  We want to compare ourselves with others.  We want to prove to ourselves that we’re doing better than most.  As if that gives us any points with God. (It doesn’t!)

But, the most interesting thing that I found was in the word, boasting itself.  It turns out that the Greek word used actually comes from a word that contains the word, prayer.  This is exactly where many of us get into trouble.

A good example of this is the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector found in Luke 18:9-14.  This Pharisee came before God and started out by listing all the “spiritual” things he had done.

This idea brings frustration into our Christian walk.  We sometimes get the wrong impression that when we’re living right (i.e. – reading our Bible, praying, attending church) there’s a better chance that God’s going to hear and answer our prayers.

That’s actually a form of boasting.  Thinking that my good works will somehow impress God enough to make Him answer my prayer.  That’s absolutely not the case.

In actuality it doesn’t matter how religious I am.  None of my good works will improve my standing with the Father.  The key is that by faith, God sees me in Christ.  That’s what truly matters.

Paul goes on to confirm that whether you’re religious or not, it’s that same faith that makes us all acceptable to God.

Is God the God of Jews only?  Is he not the God of Gentiles too?  Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.  Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith?  Not at all!  Rather, we uphold the law.

Romans 3:29-31

That’s something the think about.  It may not sound logical, but it’s the truth of our righteousness in Christ.  If I try and put myself under the law, I’ll never be justified before God.  If, on the other hand, I put my faith totally in Christ, I’m upholding the law of God in His eyes.

Praise God for His wonderful work!

Question: How have you seen the law of faith at work in your life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2020 in Legalism, Prayer, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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God’s Heart

Continuing in our look at Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we can understand Paul’s motives.  The church had some challenges.  Paul wrote to them with instructions.  Titus went to check on their progress and reported back to Paul.

So even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did the wrong or of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are.  By all this we are encouraged.  In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you.
2 Corinthians 7:12-13

Paul’s letter to them (1 Corinthians) was a test.  God was challenging them to step up to a new level.

Paul was following God’s heart when he wrote to this church.  You can see it in his comments.

He didn’t write the letter because someone was sinning.  He didn’t even write it because someone was hurt or offended.  He sent it because he wanted the church to see how they had grown and matured in the Lord.

We have to understand that this is why the Lord allows tests and trials into our lives.  God isn’t wondering how we’ll respond, or if we’ve grown or not.  He already knows what’s in our hearts.  He knows how we’ll react.

God allows these challenges so that we’ll see just how far we’ve come.  Many times I’ve gone through a problem only to say something like, “Five years ago I would have never made it through that.  I must be maturing.”

God wants us to see how far we’ve progressed in Him.  But it’s not just for our sakes.

I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me.  But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well.  And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling.  I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.
2 Corinthians 7:14-16

That is an example of God’s heart as well.  He wants to “show us off” to the world and to the enemy’s kingdom.

The Holy Spirit is working in us.  He’s changing and maturing us into the image of Christ.  More than that, the Lord wants everyone to know it.

This is the wisdom of God.  He’s doing this so that we can walk in His glory (1 Corinthians 2:7).

We need to stop looking at our challenges as a bad thing.  God allows them into our lives for our benefit.  They’re producing His goals in our lives.  They’re paving the way to our destiny in Him.

Question: What is a past trial that you can see how a positive result came from it?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2020 in Encouragement, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Are You Like Moses?

The Apostle Paul explained to the early church about the fallacy that obeying the Law of Moses will give you access to the power of God.  In my last post, we looked at this verse…

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.  But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.  It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:13-14

Paul says that their minds, or literally their perceptions, were made dull, hardened, and callous.  Then he makes a statement that we miss the implications of altogether.  He says that to this day the veil remains when the Old Covenant is read.  IT HAS NOT BEEN REMOVED.

I’ve heard preachers talk about this and explain that it’s about the Jews who don’t understand that Jesus is the Messiah.  The truth goes so much deeper than this.  Remember, Paul is writing to believers in this passage.  He makes no qualifications as to who the veil is covering.

He says, without any adjusting of the statement, that whenever the Old Covenant is read, the veil remains.  Even if a Christian reads it there remains a veil that only Christ can remove.

The reason is that the law veils the truth about righteousness.  The law sounds logical.

“If I will do this, then God will do that.”

“If I will bring the whole tithe to the church, then God will rebuke the devourer and pour out a blessing.”

“If I will walk in righteousness, then God will manifest His power in me.”

This veils the truth that under the New Covenant this is not the case.  Paul goes on in more detail.

Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.  But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:15-16

EVEN TODAY!!!  It’s so clear.  Right now if I read the Old Testament, a veil covers my heart.  There’s a cure, however.  The word, turns, in this verse is actually a Greek word that means turn again.

What this says to us, is that when anyone reads the Old Covenant a veil blocks their view of New Covenant righteousness.  But when you turn again to Christ, the veil is cast off.  How can you turn again to Christ if you were never looking at Him in the first place?

Paul is warning us that as New Testament believers, we cannot read the Old Testament without constantly looking back to what Christ did on the cross.  He fulfilled it all.  Everything I need to walk righteously before God has been supplied to me by the Savior.

Question: Why do many believers still live as though they’re under the Old Covenant?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Rules and Power

In this post, I’m continuing to talk about Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s addressing the issue of trying to live for Christ by turning the Gospel into a set of rules.

In the church, we’ve come up with all kinds of excuses as to why we lack the power of God.  The one that I’ve been posting about is the notion that until we walk in righteousness, we’ll never experience the move of the Spirit.

This is exactly how the Pharisees viewed the world.  Unfortunately, many of us are walking in the same amount of power they walked in – NONE.

There was a group of former Pharisees who were trying to lead Christians to follow the Law of Moses “if they were truly saved”.  Paul was vehement in his opposition to this movement.  Let’s continue in Second Corinthians, chapter 3, and look at the revelation that he received concerning this teaching.

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.  But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.  It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:13-14

Here Paul is referring to when Moses came down from the mountain where God delivered the law to him.  The Bible says that Moses’ face shown so brightly with the glory of God that it looked like the sun.  People had to shield their eyes from it.

So that he could be among the people, Moses put a veil, or a cloth, over his face to shield them from the light.  But something else happened.  As Moses was with the people, the glory of God started to fade and grow dim.

At one point, even though the glory was dim enough for people to see without hurting their eyes, Moses left the veil on.  Paul said it was so the people would not see the glory of God fading.  In other words, Moses put on a veil so that the Israelites would not see his spiritual batteries draining.

Moses was a man who walked in great power.  He called down plagues upon Egypt.  He commanded the Red Sea to part.  He obtained water from the rock.  The list of miracles God performed through his hand goes on and on.  Yet, all of Moses’ power was derived through the law.

On more than one occasion he blew it.  He even missed out on entering the Promised Land because of one of his failings.  As great as his power was, it was only a battery pack compared to what the Holy Spirit offers us today.  What surprises me is that many of us try to use the same lesser power that Moses used.

We have a better covenant than Moses had.  In my next post, I’ll show how trying to live like Moses will actually rob us of spiritual strength.

Question: Why is it popular to think that we can adequately serve God in our own strength?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Spiritual Battles – The Price of Victory

In my last post, I talked about what it means to bring our petitions to God in prayer. It’s all about being moved in our spirits by the same passion that stirs the Lord.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18

We must be passionate as we live in this spiritual battle zone. We need to be passionate about our duty. This is what we’re called – under orders – to carry out.

In Scripture, we’re told what’s important to our Commander. God’s people should be petitioning for workers in the field, healing, deliverance, protection, baptism in the spirit, and for God’s will to be accomplished.

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer.
2 Timothy 2:3-4

It’s clear from Scripture that there are two different mentalities. You could think like a soldier or as a civilian. Which are you?

In my last post, I used the illustration of a company of soldiers who were ordered to take a hill. They’re making a passionate call for reinforcements, air support, and medical evacuation of the wounded so that they could fulfill their orders.

At the same time, back home, there are people safe in their houses watching TV. They don’t know or care that this company of soldiers is pinned down. They don’t know or care about the objective to take that hill. They don’t know or care if these soldiers succeed or die trying.

Maybe the next day they’ll hear a news report about soldiers who were killed in the line of duty and say, “That’s too bad.”

The key mentality of battle is that each soldier knows the importance of the objective. They know just how precious every foot of ground is. They also know what the cost of advancement is.

There are people in the body of Christ right now, who go to church on Sunday. They sing, clap, and hear a message that uplifts them. Then they go off happily to their homes. Or maybe they go off to work or play. They don’t know or care that there’s a lost soul about to enter eternity that needs to hear the message of the cross NOW.

“God, send reinforcements.”

They don’t care that the enemy has trapped someone in a prison of drug addiction.

“God, send air support. Break the stronghold so we can set them free.”

That’s what this word, petition means. Knowing the objective and passionately begging for the support from on high. Not because we need to beg, but because we know the cost of failure. We know how precious a soul is to the Lord.

We know the price of victory. We have a warrior’s mentality.

Question: How do you fulfill the call to bring petitions to the Lord on behalf of others?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Adolescent Church

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church sounds like he’s writing to a group of adolescents.  As far as I’m concerned, this is the worse stage of growth whether you’re talking about the spiritual or the physical.  If there was one point in my life I wouldn’t want to go back to, it would be my pre-teen and teenage years.

The problem with life as an adolescent is that you’re coming into the height of your adult strength and intelligence.  Yet, you lack the experience and permission to do things on your own.  You see the freedom and resources that adults enjoy, yet you’re locked into a world where you have to wait for your turn to experience it.

In many ways, this is the place that most of the modern church finds itself in.  We understand what should be ours in Christ, but walking in it seems to elude us.  We need to learn how to overcome and make it successfully through this stage of our Christian development.

I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children.  Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.  Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
1 Corinthians 4:14-16

In this passage, Paul urges his people to follow his example as a mature believer. That’s the toughest assignment for a growing Christian. It’s a very hard thing to move from a childish mindset to that of an adult.

There are behaviors that will work for children that adults will never get away with.  The problem in most of the church is that we want the irresponsibility of childhood with the freedom and resources of adulthood.  This will never happen.

There has to be a giving up of childish ways.  We have to move into our role as mature followers of the risen Lord.  Until this happens, we’ll never attain our true potential in Christ.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…
Galatians 4:19

This verse should wake us up.  Paul is writing to believers who are in the adolescent stage of their spiritual growth.  They’re saved and on their way to Heaven, but he tells them something that should get our attention.  His burning desire is that Christ would be formed in them.

This is the Greek word morphoo.  It’s where we get our English word morph.  We hear this word a lot in dealing with computer graphics.  When we see special effects in a movie, where one thing turns into something else, we say that it morphed.  That’s the spiritual change that we’re looking for.

I want to let the world see a change in me.  I want to “morph” into the same life that Christ lived.  This is the point where the change happens that brings me from being a child to living as an adult.

In life, it happens almost unnoticed.  Then one day you see what you’re doing and realize you’re not a child anymore.  As Christians, we need to go through this change on a spiritual level.  The church as a whole needs to walk in adulthood.  This is what Christ is looking for in us.

Question: What would a spiritually adult church look like?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2019 in Leadership, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Authority and Sonship (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

One of the most important truths in Scripture is the principle of Sonship. We’ve been given this position by adoption into the family of God.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Luke 11:9-10

I’ve heard many people preach on this verse. For the most part, we take it out of context and miss what it’s really saying. Indeed, we’re told that we have the power to receive answered prayers, to find that which is hidden, and to open doors that seem impenetrable.

But we must ask; what is this authority based upon? If we would just read the next few verses, we’d see that Jesus gives us the guidelines for this type of power.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:11-13

It’s obvious that Jesus is talking about the authority of Sonship in this passage. He tells us that we’re asking for the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit that then confers upon us the Spirit of Sonship. Once that’s in place, and I’m walking as a mature son, then I’m free to ask, seek, and knock as led by the Spirit of God.

In many cases, our trouble is that we don’t ask for the Spirit. We want to do it our way. We want what our earthly desires are prompting us to seek for. Then we end up begging God for a snake or a scorpion. It’s no wonder why we don’t get most of what we pray for.

The simple fact is that true authority resides in the correct use of mature sonship. There was another time in Jesus’ ministry when He was talking about being a disciple. He said that if you were truly His disciple, then the truth would set you free.

The religious community – those who continued to rely upon the power of the law – were outraged. “We are sons of Abraham, and have never been a slave to anyone,” they replied.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
John 8:34-36

I’m sure that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law had no clue what the Lord was talking about when He said this. To us, however, it should be rich in meaning. The words of Christ tell me that Sonship is a position of freedom.

We’ve been set free because of the authority of Christ. We are no longer under the bondage of sin, the world or the devil. What we need is the maturity to walk in it.

Question: What does it mean to be free in Christ?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2018 in Power of God, Prayer, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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