Who is a child of God?

See what great 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. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

1 John 3:1-3

There are moments with the Lord when His Presence comes so near, when His love is felt tangibly in quiet moments with Him, that I weep with gratitude for getting to be so close to Him. One day it hit me like a ton of bricks: it is the greatest honor of my life to have the Spirit of God dwelling in me! What an incredible and undeserved honor!

God the Father lavishes His love on us. He doesn’t hold back. If we find we can’t feel His love, we: 1) rely on the truth that we know from scripture that His love never ends, and 2) find out what wound, hurt, or sin in us is separating us from experiencing His love. The problem is never on His end.

It is common to hear people say that all people are children of God. It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not what scripture says is true. This passage, among others, makes clear that followers of Jesus alone have the unique privilege of being the children of God. Paul makes this point emphatically in his letter to the Romans:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Romans 8:14-16

When the New Testament addresses “the children of God” it is talking about those who have given their life to Jesus, have received the Holy Spirit, and have been adopted into the family of God. It’s our second birth, when we are born of the Spirit (see John 3:3-8), that makes us children of God not our first birth.

In the 1 John 3 passage above, John makes a clear distinction between children of God and those of the world. Those in the world will have a hard time with children of God just as they had a hard time with Jesus. Likewise, our adoption into the family of God causes us to want to purify our lives because Jesus Himself is pure. Being a child of God means we long to be like Jesus!

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