Martin Luther, the sixteenth-century priest who initiated the Protestant Reformation, was initially afraid of God because he believed that the Lord was a holy but angry judge — which is what the legalism of his day taught him to believe. No matter how hard Martin tried to please this holy God, he failed, felt condemned by God, and experienced the guilt of his sin.Some of us have the same battles — we are up against a god who is some sort of harsh, austere king that delights in punishing us. But that is not who God is. He is a loving Father, full of mercy and patience. Without a proper understanding of who he is, a life of intimate fellowship is impossible.I love spending time with my grandson Levi. I enjoy just having him on my lap and being with him. He doesn’t have to do anything; I don’t need him to perform or sing to give me great joy. Similarly, the Lord is that kind of Father who delights in his family. He wants us to come into his presence because he loves us and desires to spend time with his children.In Romans 8, Paul says, “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” (8:15-16). What an important passage! Paul tells us that the Spirit will bear witness to our spirit — our innermost being — that we are God’s children and he is our Father.Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we can experientially know that God loves us. We don’t have to be afraid. He is not merely the omnipotent creator and ruler of the universe. He is also Abba, Father, the most loving dad anyone could have as a parent.
_________________SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
I love Jim Cymbala so much. If I lived in NYC I would go to his church. He is charismatic but not caught up in prosperity goofiness. He communicates the heart of God to me so clearly. And he is a man of prayer who calls upon God regularly. I love what he wrote here:
I love spending time with my grandson Levi. I enjoy just having him on my lap and being with him. He doesn’t have to do anything; I don’t need him to perform or sing to give me great joy. Similarly, the Lord is that kind of Father who delights in his family. He wants us to come into his presence because he loves us and desires to spend time with his children.
During a particular teaching series at our church, the emphasis was on the book of Romans. As I studied along in the series, I found myself having a personal revival in the eighth chapter.It was at this point that I came face to face with the toxic mindset that was plaguing my life and the lives of those all around me. Romans 8:15 laid it out clearly for me. The bondage I had been carrying all my life was right here.For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." Romans 8:15I nearly jumped out my chair and exclaimed, “This is what’s been holding me back!” The scales on my eyes fell as I began to see what had bound me for so long. I heard loudly in my heart, “this is rejection.”The basis for a spirit of bondage is rejection, which is the opposite of adoption. Some translations communicate this bondage as a spirit that makes us a slave to fear. It seeks to keep us in continual bondage by perpetuating a rejection mindset.Adoption communicates acceptance, love and identity. It’s God eternal message to empower His sons and daughters. Rejection brings a counterfeit message to block or distort God’s love and our awareness of identity in His love.In studying thousands of believers over the years, I have found that rejection has greatly interfered with their Christian foundation. They initially came to God on the basis of His love and acceptance, but then began to live out their spiritual life trying to perform and earn a sense of love, value and acceptance. I know this well because it was my experience.