You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
–Romans 8:15

One way you can know that you are a child of God is the intimate relationship you have with your Heavenly Father. Paul said in Romans 8:15, “You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’”

Paul used two words in verse 15 to denote the intimate relationship every true believer has with God. The first word is “adoption.” The word “adoption” means “to place or to install as a son.” God’s Word uses two images to describe how we become a part of God’s family. One image is birth. We are born into God’s family. In John 3:3, Jesus said you must be “born again.” Sometimes birth is the image the Bible uses of how we come into God’s family when we trust in Christ. But a second image the Bible uses to describe our entrance into God’s family is adoption. Adoption occurs when a child is taken from one family and placed into another family. The Bible says when we trust Christ, we are taken out of Satan’s family and placed into God’s family.

In Paul’s day, if a wealthy Roman couple was childless, they would find an upstanding young adult male and adopt him into their family. They would give him the father’s name and a large portion of the father’s wealth. He did not come into the family as a child; he was adopted as a young adult with all the rights that belonged to a son of that wealthy Roman citizen. That is the word Paul used to describe how we come into God’s family. The Bible says that when you are a child of God, you have all the rights that belong to God’s own Son, Jesus Christ.

That leads to a second word in Romans 8:15 that describes our intimacy with God, and that is the word “abba.” “You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” The word “abba” is an Aramaic word that means “daddy” or “papa.” The Bible says that when we come into God’s presence, we are on such intimate terms with God that we call Him “Daddy.” That is exactly how Jesus taught us to pray. In Matthew 6:9, Jesus said, “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven.’” Interestingly, Jesus did not use the Greek word “pater.” Instead, He used the term “abba.” This verse could be translated, “Our Daddy who is in heaven.” The Bible says we go to God with that intimate term because we have been adopted into His family, and when we belong to God, our spirit bears witness with God’s Spirit that we really do have that relationship with Him. That is what Paul said in Romans 8:16: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” Paul was saying that when we are truly children of God, when we go into His presence–the presence of our Abba, our Papa, our Daddy–we can hear Him whispering to us, “I am glad you are My child. I love you so much.” The birthmark of a true child of God is an intimate relationship with God.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Birthmarks of the Believer” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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