Although I’ve never experienced this, I love to watch citizens from other countries gain a new status as American citizens. I just find it fascinating the hours and time they must put into their studies to become American citizens.
Sometimes I feel ashamed that I do not know some things you have to know to become an American. I should know those things. But there’s nothing like welcoming new American citizens into the fray of our country and culture.
Did you know that God has already done this for you if you are a believer in Jesus? It’s astounding to think of ourselves in this new status as children of God, saints instead of sinners, and to understand our new inheritance that he has given to us.
The thing about being a Christian is that you don’t have to do nearly as much work as foreigners do to become American citizens. Jesus just gives us the status when we come to Christ. But at the same time, as God’s children and having this new status, we’ll listen to the Holy Spirit and do whatever he says.
In this post, we’re going to look at some of the implications of a new status and identity in Christ. A new status changes everything about us. It gives us access to things that were locked to us before. Let’s take a look at these new statuses of our identity in Christ and how they change our identity forever.
From Sinners to Saints
I hear it all the time as a minister. Christians say to one another, “I am a sinner saved by grace.” The problem is that this often quoted statement is not entirely true of Christians. It sets an attitude, a mindset, that I don’t like to see in God’s people.
Here’s why. This phrase is slightly inaccurate. If we made it a past tense statement, it would be more accurate to what the Bible says about us. “I was a sinner, now saved by grace.” This is a stickler for me because it gives us the wrong idea of who we are.
If I always thought about myself that I am still a sinner, Christ’s sacrificial death has little power to change my life today. The transformative work of the Holy Spirit in me as a Christian is a weak process.
If I keep being the sinner in the present, it also sets the mindset that I can keep on sinning, or that when I sin, I just ask forgiveness all the time. It doesn’t set the idea of overcoming sin or being victorious through Christ over sin.
We keep relying on the grace of God instead of listening to and obeying the Holy Spirit. When he tells us that we don’t sin any more, we don’t take these things seriously. When Paul tells us in Romans 6:1 that we are dead to sin, we don’t obligate ourselves to actually be dead to sin.
We rationalize our place in Christ. We don’t truly accept his grace through our faith. We just keep on being the same sinner we used to be and throw God’s grace out there as something we keep relying on. We don’t really ever change.
The New Testament speaks of Christians as “saints.” The original language word behind it is the word for holy. So the Bible calls us “holy ones.” Holy people do not keep on sinning or use God’s grace as a cover up for every time they fall short.
I’m not trying to be hard on Christians. But I think this phrase should be revised so that we see ourselves as victorious over sin. God’s grace is surely greater than our sin. But it isn’t if we keep talking about the moment of salvation instead of the moments we take to grow in holiness.
We must see ourselves as the holy ones many of the writers of the New Testament referred to when they wrote these letters. After all, as we read the letters, we are the secondary audience as Christians.
Our new status of saint instead of sinner shows our victory over sin and our desire to please the Lord and all we do. It’s a status that reminds us of our privileged place in God’s plan for our lives to make us more like him.
Children of God
Another change in our status with Christ is that we are called children of God. But we aren’t only called children of God. We are not like orphans that have been adopted into a foster family. God has adopted us as his children in a full-fledged status.
First of all, I realize I have talked about this before, but it bears remembering as we consider our status as God’s children. John 1:13-14 tells us that we are children of God because God chose to make us his children. We are not children in the same way that children are begotten by their parents.
It’s an important distinction to make between Christians and non-Christians that Christians alone are children of God. Politicians say it all the time, “We are all God’s children.” But this is not what the Bible teaches us about our privileged status as God’s children.
It’s more accurate to say that we all bear the image of God. But as far as being God’s children, only those who believe in Jesus are called children of God. We’re not all God’s children. All Christians are God’s children. And all people bear God’s image.
Ephesians 5:1 calls Christians to imitate God as his beloved children. This change in status doesn’t only tell us that we are no longer sinners, strangers, and foreigners to God, but those who imitate him as children imitate their parents.
Everyone has seen a little boy with toy tools doing exactly what his carpenter father does. We are not surprised to see little girls trying to do the same things that their mothers do. Just as children imitate their parents, we imitate our Father.
Everything that he does we want to do. When he does righteous acts, we want to please him by doing righteous acts as well. When he declares that he is holy and calls us to be holy, we listen to the Holy Spirit as he teaches us how to be like Jesus.
A New Home
Being God’s children carries with it an even greater status. As I said before, we are not merely legalized children. When he adopts us, we are part of the family. Did you know that Caesar Augustus was an adopted son of Julius Caesar?
Julius Caesar did not just say, “Augustus, you’re a nice kid in all, but just sit back and relax. There’s no way you will inherit anything of value.” In fact, this adopted son of Julius Caesar became the first Roman Emperor!
In the same way, we’re not just backseat children that must stay quiet, seen and not heard. When God adopts us into his family, we are full-fledged children of God. Everything that one of his own children receives, we receive.
So many children of God have no idea of the blessings in him. We read about it and maybe mention it, mentally ascend to what God has for us. But we rarely allow it to grip our hearts and change our minds about being his children.
For example, one of my favorite parts of the inheritance God gives us is a home in heaven. As his children, we become citizens of heaven (Philippians 1:27; 3:20). This isn’t something we have to earn as his children. He just gives it to us.
We will be with God in heaven forever because of our inheritance as his children. As a child of God, you inherit all of his promises and their fulfillment. You have a new home. Jesus tells us that he is making a place for us while he is away from us right now (John 14:1-4).
Not only are we God’s children who receive this great inheritance, but we have a new status as his royal ones (1 Peter 2:9-10). Peter tells us that we are a royal priesthood because our Father is the King of the universe.
We have a royal inheritance and he makes us a new nation. He chose us to be his children. And being one of God’s children means that we are royalty. Now we must be careful not to take this too far. This doesn’t mean that we get whatever we want.
Some people take this statement by Peter so far that they think that we should be so privileged in society that we look down on everyone else. This is not the case. Peter is only explaining to us the inheritance we receive in God.
Being royalty doesn’t mean that we can demand others around. It means that we become God’s princes and princesses. As far as we can understand, this may have implications after the end times in the new heavens and new earth.
While on earth, we must not push this royal status to the point that we turn people away from their interest in Christ. We must maintain the same humility that Jesus showed us throughout his life.
We have seen ourselves now as God’s saints, his children, and inheriting his promises, a new status, and receiving a new home in glory. All of these images of our identity in Christ seal the deal of how we should act and think of ourselves.
We must not think of ourselves more highly than others. But at the same time, we receive such a wonderful inheritance from our Father. We imitate God as his children. And we live to serve him and please him in all things.
While we do have a privileged status in God, we should be sharing with others that they too can become God’s children, a royal priesthood for him, and all of the other things that God says we are. We don’t have to try to become his children or work hard to be who we already are.
Leave a comment and tell me how you apply these new statuses to your life. How do you deal with being one of God’s children? Have you realized you are inheritance in him?