Much of this post is taken from a message I heard several months ago by Kevin Farr at First Baptist Church (my mom’s church) here in Steelville. It was so meaningful to me I asked for the notes at that time and had planned to include them in a post long before now. I still find the words both challenging and encouraging and worth sharing here.
Whether it’s spiritual family or earthly family, the bonds are made from rich and inexpungible meaning. According to the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary “inexpungible” is incabaple of being obliterated. That definition is especially meaningful to me since there have been relatives who have endeavored to rewrite our family history and in a sense “expunge” what we did by creating new relational terminology not historically accurate. Thank God, it is not possible to rewrite history in truth. Similarly, since Gal. 6:10 tells us to do good especially to those in the household of faith, we can be certain that God wants us to look kindly on our brothers and sisters in the faith and view them as if they were our own flesh and blood family, not thinking of them lastly with our kindness, but thinking especially of them.
In his first point, he outlined some guidelines to living as family. They included not putting our family members under condemnation (while fully supposing those who are truly in Christ would be cooperating with the Spirit’s work within). Thankfully, the Christian is no longer a slave to sin. We are no longer powerless against the sinful tendencies and desires that rise up within our own hearts. “(thus the person dealing with an attraction for porn has the privilege and power to turn from it; the person with a sexual sin has the privilege and power to turn from it, the kleptomaniac has the privilege and power to turn from stealing, and on and on it goes.) Greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 Note well Paul’s warning to those who do live obligated to the flesh – ‘ you are about to die’ – if you live according to the flesh – i.e. as an ongoing practice…Paul is warning against the eternal ‘death’ which all who are without Christ will suffer…Notice that Paul didn’t say we are obligated to the spirit or to God; rather, we are to live ‘by the Spirit’ – it is a desire of the will…How you live matters, and is a display of what you truly believe….Our sanctification is not a once-and-done activity, nor is it a matter of ‘cleaning up our lives by our own willpower. It is the Spirit of God leading, empowering, and transforming. For those truly saved, the spirit of the person loves what the Spirit is doing and wants more of it. The Christian (man) says…I don’t want to be lusting after female images or gawking and lusting after other women, I want to love my wife; The Christian doesn’t want to be dependent on the drugs of the world to try and supply peace, happiness, joy, and contentment, but wants to be dependent on and trust in God, etc.”
The second portion of the message was on how to know we’re in the family. We have an assurance and a confidence when we are in Christ. We are given this spirit upon adoption as His very own children, and this spirit of adoption leads and guides. Our new Father is jealous over us and our adoption so that He may present us, the church, as a pure bride to Christ. How important to tap into the privilege and power we have been given to turn from that which would draw us away from our adoption.
“Adoption (much more common in Roman culture than Jewish, Paul was surely referring to the Roman practice, writing to the church at Rome) – ‘natural-born’ children in Paul’s day could be disinherited, but an adopted child could not! According to Roman law – once the child had been released by his biological father, it took 7 witnesses to confirm the adoption’s legality before a Roman magistrate. When adopted, the child severed all ties with the old family. The new father had full authority over the new son. The son became an heir to the new father’s estate. Any old debts the son may have had were wiped out. The son now had all the privileges and responsibilities of his new family’s natural children.”
In the case of the adoption by myself and my husband in our early marriage of a child relative whom we had only known for a couple years prior to taking in, we were compelled by circumstantial necessity to offer the conditions of a parent/child relationship. Though we had already been involved in this relative’s life for a couple years, we were honored that she accepted our offer of becoming a “real” family. We experienced all the ups and downs that real families do, but we were shared the bonds of commitment, love, and family camaraderie. Later, when we made our practical actions of several years legal, our lawyer required not “7 witnesses”, but in a sense, many more, by the publication of our intent into the local paper of where this child relative, now our dear daughter, had lived. The purpose of this public notice was to bring forth any objections from the only biological family who had the authority to object, i.e. her parent(s); and if none, then to lay all objections to rest. Though we did and continue to embrace all of her relatives that she could connect with, we will never embrace the ideology of anyone who wants to tear at the fiber of our family bonds, and this has caused distance with a few people unable or unwilling to support us in our roles. This has been our experience with modern day adoption of an older child who was biologically related, and it has been worth every bump.
But back to the message, so many rich parallels lie within the Roman adoption laws to our relationship with God. God seeks us and we turn away from our “old” life. Our sin “debts” are covered by Christ’s sacrifice. We are joint heirs with Christ to all that is God’s, particularly eternal life and a sweet relationship with God. We embrace all that goes with our new “family” and God.
In the third and last portion of the message, he reiterated and expounded on the benefits of being in the family. We are heirs to all God has and have Christ as our brother. We share in the burdens and sufferings of others and of the lost.
We are family with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and just like in the picture of Roman adoption, it is not by the blood in our veins but by that of a spirit of adoption; i.e. the one to our inexpungible bond with our Heavenly Father and the other to the inexpungible bonds of earthly families.