Who Are The Children Of God?
By Kim Butts
We have all heard it said that all people on earth are children of God. It is true that everyone is created by God, and loved by God; however, His word is very clear about who His children are: "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God" (John 1:12-13). Paul says, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him" (1 John 3:1). It is undeniably clear by the confirmation of God’s own word that every born-again believer is a child of God. Therefore, every believer in your home is a child of God, no matter what age. Those who are living outside of a personal relationship with Christ are still lost in their sin, without a Savior. They are His creation, and greatly loved, but not yet His children. God has placed parents in a position of authority over their children so that children can become more than just offspring of earthly parents – they can become children of God. Do not neglect the spiritual training of your children! Bringing them into the kingdom of God is the most important assignment our Father has given to parents!
Parents, you should expect your children to behave in a way that reflects their obedience and respect for you; thereby obeying and respecting God. The Lord has given us very clear instructions for how children of God should behave. It is important that what we do and say as individuals and within our families should reflect Christ-like behavior to the world. As children of God, we are known by the way we reflect our Father. We can only impact those who live outside of a personal relationship with Christ if unbelievers can clearly see that we look like Him. God expects His children to be His reflection. The Scriptural evidence for this is clear:
• Children of God do everything without complaining or arguing. "Do everything without complaining or arguing." Why? "So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…" (Philippians 2:14-16a). Have you taught your children to obey and serve joyfully, even if they do not necessarily agree with what they are asked to do? If you complain about your working conditions, or argue with others rather than patiently work out your differences, your children are watching. They will see that when things don’t go the way they want, they should whine, complain, or demand their rights. In our culture today, we see many who would blame others for their mistakes before taking responsibility for them.
Unfortunately, such behavior is not exclusive to unbelievers. What should our response as parents be? The obvious answer is to be an example of one who does everything without complaining or arguing. Secondly, we must teach our children why this is important. Our families will be unable to "hold out the word of life to a crooked and depraved generation" if we do not "shine like stars in the universe." We cannot look like the world and expect to affect change in the lives of the unsaved. Take some time to work on being thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18) rather than complaining. Determine how to avoid arguing over small things that really don’t matter. Learn to master the art of humility together.
• Children of God purify themselves . "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure" (1 John 3:2-3). As children of God, how should we go about the process of purifying ourselves? Here are some suggestions:
1. We need to purify our hearts – "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God" (Matthew 5:8). If our hearts (mind, will and emotions) are in tune with God, we will know what He desires of us. As we look to His character for our example, our hearts will begin to desire what He desires. It is then that our hearts will be more easily cleansed of the evil that is part of our human nature. As our hearts beat with the Father’s heart, we will desire to be pure as He is pure. Show your children what God wants in the pages of His word. Teach them to pray things that are on God’s heart, which is perfectly pure and holy! What kinds of things are on God’s heart? He wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4)…and He wants us to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).
2. We need to purify our thoughts – "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things" (Philippians 4:8). Our senses easily deceive us, and this is an area where the devil can quickly cause us to stumble. If we expose ourselves to things through our eyes and ears that give us sinful thoughts, we fall prey to his plans. Teach your children to avoid or remove themselves from situations in which they could be harmed by what they see or hear. Give them strategies that will enable them to do this in such a way that they can earn respect instead of scorn from unbelievers. One way is to help them to defend their godly choices. For example, if a child is invited to watch a movie that you feel could affect his godly character in a negative way, help him learn to say "no thanks" in a way that his friends will know he is serious about what he believes. Teach your children to quickly recognize thoughts that are not honoring to the Lord by memorizing Philippians 4:8 and putting it into practice.
3. We need to purify our mouths – "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). If we teach our children to purify their hearts by our teaching and example, they will learn how to speak the truth in love. They will speak words that comfort, encourage and build others up. Point out the hurt that unkind words can cause. Even when apologies are made and forgiveness is asked for, hurtful words have done their damage, and can never be taken back. The enemy has great power to destroy others through overflow that is not pure; however, God has great power to use for His glory the words that come from an overflow of pure hearts. Teach your children to be humble listeners, and to resist speaking what will not glorify God. If you practice as a family to only say those things that the Lord gives you permission to say, your words will be pure.
4. We need to purify our physical bodies – "…offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God…" (Romans 12:1). Teach your children to honor their bodies, which God created to be treated as temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). In our hedonistic society, it is very difficult for children to keep from defiling what the Lord has set apart for His purposes. Help them to have good strategies for protecting themselves by having such a firm grasp of God’s plan for them that they will never want to compromise it. Make certain that they know how fearfully and wonderfully made they are (Psalm 139).
• Children of God will not continue to sin. "Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God" (1 John 3:7-9). Every child is born with a sinful nature, and that sinful nature is inherently a part of who we are as humans. However, when we are born again, our sinful natures can be brought under the Lord’s control. It is important for our families to so desire to be holy that we will turn our backs on our sinful natures forever. That doesn’t mean we won’t sin – it just means that when we are tempted to sin, the Holy Spirit gives us a way out. We then have a choice: do what God wants or what our flesh wants. The very person of Christ, interceding on our behalf, can keep us safe from sin. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true – even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life" (1 John 5:19-20).
• Children of God love God and obey His commands. "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands" (1 John 5:1-2). Because we love our Father, we desire to do as He commands. We need to be constantly aware of the commands our Lord makes in His word and diligently impress them upon our children. When the Lord of the Universe tells us to do something, He is not making a suggestion! He expects obedience from His children. "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother" (1 John 3:10). If we are truly children of the Father, we must demonstrate love for the Father and love for others as Jesus commands in Matthew 22:37-39: "Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’" Loving others is not always easy to do, but it is a commandment that we must keep without wavering, and one we must teach our children to be diligent about obeying. Consistently demonstrate unconditional love to neighbors, family, and whoever God places in your path so that your children will see that children of God are to love everyone – because God loves them and wants them in His kingdom forever. The greatest commandment of all is to love Him. The second is to love one another. By loving one another, we show that we love Him! Here are some practical ways to do that:
1. Become a Lighthouse of Prayer for your neighbors – You can pray a BLESSing prayer for them: B (body – pray for their physical needs); L (labor – pray for their work, or school); E (emotions – pray for their emotional needs); S (social – pray for their relationships with family members, friends, coworkers or classmates); S (spiritual – pray for their relationship with Jesus Christ). If they are unsaved, pray diligently that they will recognize their sinfulness and their need for the Savior so that they might also become children of God.
2. Love your neighbors as yourselves – be kind and considerate to others. As a family, look for things you can do to serve them. Can you rake leaves for a single mom or go to the store for an elderly neighbor? There are needs all around you.
3. Prayerwalk your neighborhood, area schools, etc. asking the Lord to draw them to Himself and to meet their needs.
• Children of God overcome the world – "...for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God" (1 John 5:4-5). No matter what the world would have us think or do…no matter what the world throws at us, or the enemy tempts us with – we are overcomers because of Jesus’ victory over death!
As we seek to draw our families into the fellowship of intimacy with Christ as His dear children, always remember to "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:12). He is our hope, He will comfort us in our affliction, and He is faithful to answer our prayers! Children of God – it’s time for all of us to shine like stars as we hold out the word of life!