This week’s writings will focus on various aspects of God’s view of me as His child. Yesterday, I wrote about the right we have to become children of God. As incredible as that right is, like every right that we claim, it comes with an obligation. An obligation is the backside of a right — a side we would often just as soon ignore.
There is a statement that I was told by my parents countless times during my childhood. It is, “Your rights only go as far as to the point that you are stepping on another’s toes, or infringing on their rights.” Now I understand that there are times that we all need our toes stepped on. We need them stepped on by a brother who is rebuking, correcting, or challenging us in love, not by the “rights” of someone else. If I am exercising my “rights” in a way that is harming or restricting someone else in their rights, then I have overstepped my bounds — particularly when we are talking about our rights in becoming children of God.
Paul puts it this way when he writes about the power of God’s Spirit within us:
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation — but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”
“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.'” Romans 8:12-15
Paul tells us that because of Christ dwelling in us through the presence of His Spirit, we have an obligation. This is not a natural obligation to live according to my desires and wants. That is an easy excuse. We word it in many ways — “This is just the way I am.” . . . “I can’t help it, I have desires.” . . . “I’m just not a friendly person” . . . “You don’t understand what I’ve been through.” . . . and on the list could go — justification as to why we live according to an obligation to the flesh.
Paul says we have a different obligation — an obligation that comes from, and shows, that we are indeed children of God. This is an obligation to live by the Spirit and in the power of the spirit, putting to death the “obligations” of the body. This rejecting of the misdeeds of the body brings life because it shows that we are indeed children of God, being led by His Spirit.
Who are you giving the greater power in your life today? Is it the sinful nature of the flesh or the presence of the living God whose Spirit brought about your adoption as God’s child?
I pray that as you experience the freedom of crying out to God, “Abba, Father”, you will embrace the obligation to live in the power and presence of the Spirit so that you may truly live. As a child of God, you and I have an obligation.