Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has
blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even
as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be
holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for
adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to
the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved
. Ephesians 1:3-5
I was reading a book yesterday and the author was addressing reasons for why we
sin. Sometimes we sin out of punishment, revenge, redemption, or reward. It was
pointed out to me that I function as a slave with God. I've began building my
identity on that which I do and don't do. I understand that my identity is only
in Jesus and what He has done- but I've built my acceptance with God on the
terms I've set. When I don't sin and live as I "ought" I'm doing
"well" and I deserve a reward; but when I am in a state of rebellion
I cling to a form of despair.
This thinking is overwhelmingly toxic to my heart and soul and has lead to
hours of despairing thoughts and existential binds. I start making demands, and
then when I don't hold up my end of the bargain, I punish myself. To make it
worse, I punish myself with more sin. It's a vicious cycle. You stop delighting
in doing what's right and start "working" for what is right. You
cease to enjoy God as a Father and King and see Him has a means to an end, or
some potent force you must keep pleased.
Paul tells us that God predestined us for adoption. God decided before the
creation of the universe, as He dwelled in perfect Triune harmony that He would
save some instead of letting us get the wrath we deserve. He's done this
by adopting us. We were outcasts, the foster kids. No one wanted us, we weren't
special, we weren't worthy. We were helpless. God lovingly comes to us and
saves us and He calls us His sons (and daughters).
Now the thing that's crazy about this is the significance of natural titles. I
am a male. I will always be a male. There's nothing that can happen
to change that I as a soul am male. Beyond that, I'm a son. I'm my dad's son.
Nothing in the world is able to undo this title I've been given as son.
It's a God-established relationship between me and my father. And no matter
what I do, how far I run, how much I hurt my dad, how much destruction or wrong
I do, I am always going to be my dads son.
God's adopted me as a son. Nothing can change that title. He's chosen me and
secured me for life. No matter how much I sin against God, no matter how futile
my bartering attempts are, He's my dad and I'm His son. When He sees Jesus, He
This changes everything. I don't need to function in a world of despair and
fear of doing wrong if I sin. I get to joyfully do what's right because He's my
dad and my approval is already earned and it can't be lost. I'm secure because
Christ has secured me and I'm adopted into a family that doesn't let go.
So if someone did decide to read this, I want to encourage you to examine how
you're functioning. Are you functioning in a state of despair or shame with
God? Or as an adopted son/daughter whose standing isn't affected by what you
do, because it's already paid for.
We don't need to run into penance and make ourselves feel bad about what we've
done. It brings unnecessary shame and guilt.