MEDITATIONS ON SPIRITUAL ADOPTION #15
RESPONSIBILITIES & OBLIGATIONS
March 10, 2010
Reading: Colossians 3:1-11
"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above" Colossians 3:1
Over the past few weeks we have been examining what it means to be an adopted child of God-how and why it happened as well as some of the benefits of it. I am sure you agree with me that to be adopted into the family of God where God is our Father and Jesus Christ our Elder Brother is a blessing far exceeding the comprehension of sinful man. God, by His Spirit has made this real to us so that as far as is possible this side of glory we have an understanding of the truth. Even so, as wonderful as it is to those who are participators of this act of grace, we sill "see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known" 1 Corinthians .
Along with the privileges and benefits of our adoption come responsibilities and obligations. When a child is adopted into a new family he is expected to abide by the rules of the family; it is not only expected but demanded of him. In the Roman courts when the child to be adopted is of a mature age, he is asked if he agrees to the terms of the adoption which include obeying the rules of his prospective family. As adopted sons and daughters of God it is required of us that we live by His rules. We are not free to live as we did in our previous family where the devil was our father: New family, new rules, new demands.
Paul addressed this letter (Colossians) to "the saints and faithful brethren in Christ," to his brother and sisters in Christ, to his fellow adoptees into the family of God. As such, he exhorts them to "seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God" (3:1).
Over the next few verses he explains what that means:
1. "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth" vs 2;
2. "Put to death your members which are on the earth" vs 5;
3. "Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering" vs 12;
4. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly" vs 16;
5. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" vs 17;
The following verses give instruction to wives, husbands, children, fathers, bond servants and masters-no matter our station in life, we are united as children of God and therefore are to abide by the same family rules-no exceptions.
He concludes by exhorting his brethren to:
6. "Continue earnestly in prayer" 4:2;
7. "Walk in wisdom" 4:5.
Space does not permit us to examine each of these exhortations individually but most of them speak for themselves. One thing that stands out is that we are responsible for our behavior. In other words, we cannot rely on God to do it for us. Yes, we have previously given thought to the fact that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to conform us to the image of our Elder Brother, but this is a joint work with each of us. He will chastise and discipline us, if we are hard headed, to achieve this goal, yet the bottom line is
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" Philippians -13.
The impetus is on us: "Set your mind," "Put to death," "Put on," "Let the word," "What ever you do," "Pray," "Walk," etc. These are indicative of our responsibilities and obligations as children of God.
"There is nothing done in secret but thy Father seeth it. There is no heart-pride, no heart-earthliness, but thy Father seeth it. There is never a time thou prayest, hearest the Word, but thy Father seeth with what form of spirit it is. Oh therefore, if thou be a son of God, thou wilt discover it in thy whole carriage: a son feareth the frowns of his Father; I dare not do this; my Father will be offended; and I, whither shall I go? Thus the Apostle Peter, "if ye call Him Father, pass your sojourning here with fear" Anthony Burgess, (c1609 - 1664).
Another obligation of those who love their adoptive Parent is to obey and imitate Him.
"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children" Ephesians 5:1.
Make every effort to be like Him, to be holy as He is holy, to be loving as He is loving. When the Spirit of God shows you something from the scriptures open your heart to embrace it. This is hard for adopted children to do because by nature we are members of a different family and we tend to follow the traits of that family. However, when God adopts us into His family we are endowed with a new nature with the power to cast aside the old traits and accept the new.
A child of God will find pleasure in communing with Him and learning more about Him. He will love His Word and have a desire to obey Him. When he falls down he has confidence that His Father will pick him up. When discouraged he will look for His encouragement and know he will give it; when saddened He knows He will be comforted and when all seems lost he will discover His Father to be there in whatever capacity He is needed. The Great "I Am" is exactly that-He is whatever is needful for His child's encouragement and growth.
Life as an adopted child of Almighty God is not a life of cup cakes and cloudless skies but one where we must "fight the good fight," "run the race that is set before us" and "to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" Ephesians 4:1-6.
"Abdicate and abandon all bad company, all your former sins and lusts, never to resume or take them into your practice again. [It is] a shame for us, who are heirs apparent of the kingdom of heaven, to be groveling among things of this life along with others" Thomas Hooker (1586 - 1647).
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing"