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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Birthmarks Of The Believer

Robert Jeffress - Birthmarks Of The Believer

Robert Jeffress - Birthmarks Of The Believer

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In Romans 8, the apostle Paul assures us that no true Christian will experience condemnation or separation from God. But how do you know whether or not you're a genuine child of God? Today, I'm going to show you three telltale signs of every true Christian and explain what it means to receive the spirit of adoption. My message is titled Birthmarks Of a Believer on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

Most sociologists agree that the actual or emotional absence of fathers for many families today is responsible for much of society's ills, including poverty, drug addiction, lack of purpose and the general disintegration of the family. In his book, the "Fatherless America", David Blankenhorn writes, the United States is becoming an increasingly fatherless society. A generation ago, an American child could reasonably expect to grow up with his or her father. Today, an American child can reasonably expect not to. Fatherlessness is now approaching a rough parody with fatherhood as the defining feature of American childhood. The astonishing fact is reflected in many statistics, but here are two of the most important. Tonight, 40% of American children will go to sleep in homes in which their fathers do not live. Before they reach the age of 18, more than half of our nation's children are likely to spend at least a significant portion of their childhood living apart from their fathers.

Never before in this country have so many children been voluntarily abandoned by their fathers. Never before have so many children grown up without knowing what it means to have a father. Some of you here today or listening to this message you know what I'm talking about when I talk about being abandoned by your father. But regardless of your relationship with your biological father, you can have a Heavenly Father who will never abandon you. If you are truly a child of God, even your disobedience, your disinterest in him will never keep him from longing for and working for a relationship with you. And it is that security that you have as a child of the one true God that is the theme of Romans 8, the passage that we are looking at in our study of the book of Romans.

If you have your Bibles, I want you to turn to Romans 8. This is a chapter about our assurance of our salvation, our relationship with our Heavenly Father, God is not going to abandon you. That's the theme of Romans 8. Now, this idea of our eternal security as a Christian, that is a wonderful truth for those who are truly saved, but it is a deadly presumption for those who are not saved. Romans 8 begins by reminding us that if we are truly a child of God, we have been delivered forever from the penalty of sin. Romans 8:1 one says, "There is therefore now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus". If you're truly a child of God, you never have to fear that one day God is going to pour out his wrath upon you. Not only that, you have also been saved from the power of sin.

Look at Romans 8:11. "But if the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his spirit who indwells you". Remember we saw last time that when the Holy Spirit comes into your life, he comes like a powerful CEO of a thriving company. When he comes into your life, if he's really there, he's gonna begin making changes in your life. He's going to begin conforming you into the image of his son in your actions, your attitudes, your affections. And that's why Paul closes in verses 12 and 13 with this conclusion, he says, "So then, brethren, we are no longer under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die, but if by the spirit, you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live".

Once you become a Christian, the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is present in your life, giving you the power to say no to sin. Sin has no more power over your life as a child of God than you choose to allow it to have. Before you're a Christian, you're under the management of Satan, he is your master. He threatens you, he makes your life miserable, but when you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit comes and resides in your life. You are a new person, you are under new management. Your old slave master, Satan, has no more authority over your life than you choose to allow him to have. And that's what Paul is saying in Romans 8:12, you are under no obligation to the old nature, that part of you opposed to the plan and purpose of God if you are truly a child of God and that leads to the next section of Romans 8. How do you know if you're truly under new management? How do you know if you are a child of God?

Remember there are not three or four roads in life, there are only two roads in life. There is the road that is leading to Jesus Christ, to Godliness, to heaven and there is a path that is leading away from God to eternal death. You're on one of those two roads: you're either headed toward heaven or you're headed toward hell, it is one or the other. How do you know if you're on the right road? Well, in these few verses, Romans 8:14-17, Paul shares with us three characteristics, three birthmarks if you will of every true child of God, write them down. If you're truly a child of God, first of all you possess an inward power, Paul says. An inward power. Before we become a Christian, there is one law operational in our life. It's called the law of sin. Think of it as spiritual gravity. It's what drags you down before you come to Christ and it's the only law that is at work in your life, the law of sin.

Remember that phrase we looked at a few weeks ago? You are not able not to sin if you're not a Christian. If you're an unbeliever, there's only one work in your life, the law of spiritual gravity. But when you become a Christian, there begins a powerful work in your life. You possess a new power and that power is not an it, it's not the force from "Star wars", it is a person, the Holy Spirit of God. And he is an inward power that guess what? Begins leading you down the runway, if you will, down the path of righteousness. It doesn't mean you're not going to sin and stumble along the way, but that struggle is going on between the law of sin and the law of righteousness and if you are a believer, the law of righteousness wins out. Now, that's what he's talking about when he says in Romans 8:14 "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God".

Man, we use that verse in the wrong way all the time. What does it mean being led by the Spirit of God? It's not talking about spiritual direction, God leading me to make this decision or that decision. The context of Romans 8 is the pathway of righteousness. Paul is saying everybody who is truly a Christian is being led down the runway, down the pathway of righteousness becoming more and more like Christ. Now, that doesn't mean we're not going to stumble along the way, it doesn't mean we're not going to struggle with sin. In fact, do you realize that the non-Christian don't struggle with sin at all? It just comes naturally. That's all he wants to do, he's not able not to sin. But if you are are struggling with sin, that's an evidence that you're a child of God. You've got those two laws at work in your life: the law of spiritual gravity that drags you down, the law of spiritual aerodynamics that wants to lift you up. That battle, that struggle is proof that you're a Christian.

But listen to me, there is a difference between struggling with sin and surrendering to sin. The person who is constantly surrendering to sin simply proves there's only one law at work in his life, the law of spiritual gravity, the law of sin, which means he's not a believer. That's what Paul is saying here in Romans 8. One birthmark sign that you're truly a Christian is that there is that struggle between righteousness and sin in your life. But the success is the rule most of the time rather than the exception. A true Christian is being led down the path of righteousness and is becoming more and more like Christ, not less and less like Christ.

And that leads to a second birthmark of the believer we find in verses 15 and 16 and that is an intimate relationship with God. One way you know if you're a child of God is that intimate relationship you have with your Heavenly Father. Look at verse 15. "For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, Abba, Father"! Now, Paul uses two words in verse 15 to denote the intimate relationship with God every true believer has. The first word is the word adoption, adoption. The word adoption literally means to place or to install as a son. Now, let me explain. In the Bible, 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. 1 Peter 1:3 says, "We have been born to a living hope in Christ Jesus," born again to a living hope in Christ Jesus. John 3, Jesus said to Nicodemus, "You must be born again".

Sometimes birth is used of the image of how we come into God's family, we are born again into God's family when we trust in Christ and that image of birth denotes something new that didn't exist beforehand. When you become a Christian, the Bible says you are a new creation in Christ, old things have passed away. But there's a second image that is used in the Bible to describe our inference into God's family and it's the one that's used here, that of adoption, adoption. Adoption is... And you know how it works, it occurs when a child is taken from one family and placed into another family. And the Bible says we are adopted into God's family. That describes the process by which we were taken out of Satan's family and placed into God's family. Do you realize that every person who is born is born into Satan's family? Because of sin, we are born separated from God. Jesus talked about you are a child of the devil.

Now, moms, when you give birth to that cuddly, new baby, you never probably think of your baby as a child of Satan, maybe sometimes you think of it, but not often. Man, they're cuddly and they're warm and they're pink and you just think nothing could be sweeter or more innocent, but the Bible says, every one of us born into this world, we are born in sin and we are born under Satan's rule, but when we become a Christian, God takes us out of Satan's family and he places us into his own family. And that's what adoption is all about. Now, we come into God's family not as little children who have to beg and earn our rights before God, we come in as adults with all of the status as a full son or daughter of God. That's what he's talking about in verse 15. "We have received not the spirit of slavery, we have received the spirit of adoption". The Bible says when you are a child of God, you have all of the rights that belong to his own son, Jesus Christ.

Paul Faulkner tells a story of a man who decided to adopt a troubled, teenage girl to be his daughter. That teenage girl was filled with problems, she was disobedient and disloyal and one day while the father was at work, she ransacked the house looking for money and when he got home she was gone and the house was in shambles. Finally, his friends said to him, "This is enough of this, you need to give up this daughter. She really isn't yours anyway, just let her go. She don't belong to you, she's not yours". The father said, "I know, but I told her she was". And that's what God says to us, "I've adopted you and no matter even if you have temporary disobedience or disinterest in me, you are always my child. I have adopted you into my family and nothing is going to change that". And that leads to a second word that describes our intimacy with God and that's the word Abba. It don't refer to the singing group here, this is a different kind of word here. Look at verse 15. "For 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"!

When Jesus Christ came and when he died on the cross, remember what happened at his death? The veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom, signifying that no longer did man have to approach God through a priest or through the blood of animals, but through the blood of Jesus Christ, God's own son, we are able to enter into the presence of God individually, we can come before God. And when we come before God, we come before him in a very intimate way and that's what the word Abba means. You know what that word Abba means? Literally it means daddy or papa. That's what he says in Romans 8:16. "The spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God". What Paul is saying, we're truly a child of God. When we go into his presence, the presence of our Abba, our papa, our daddy, we can hear him whispering in our ear, "I'm glad you're my son, I'm glad you're my daughter. I love you so much". That's the mark of a true child of God, there is that intimate relationship with God.

Third, a true believer in Christ has an inherited wealth, an inherited wealth. Look at verse 17. "And if we are his children, we are heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ if indeed we suffer with him in order that we might also be glorified with him". We are heirs of God if we're truly children of God, our inheritance is absolutely certain, but notice it is also future and that's what most Christians miss. The inheritance that is planned for us is mainly future and yet we're like greedy children who want their inheritance now. "We want it now, we want it now, if we're a child of God, we want it now"!

Now, listen to me. There's a part of our inheritance we can enjoy right now as children of God. You don't have to wait till you die to experience all the benefits of being a Christian. Right now you can have contentment in your financial situation. You can have peace no matter what's happening around you. You can have victory over sin, all of those things are part of your inheritance right now as a child of God, but most of our inheritance is still yet to come. That's why in 1 Peter 1:4, Peter talks about that God's inheritance is what? Reserved in heaven for you. He goes on to say, "And in this you greatly rejoice, even though for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials". And that's what Paul is saying in verse 17. "Yes, you're an heir to the wealth of God, but don't forget before the inheritance comes suffering".

See, the fact is trials precede the pleasure, weeping precedes the wealth, the cross always comes before the crown and that's why Paul is saying if you're going through a difficult time right now, don't be perplexed by that. Suffering is a part of God's plan for your life. We're gonna talk about more next time the reasons God allows suffering in our life. Some suffering is for our strengthening, some suffering is the result of living for Christ in this sin-filled world and some suffering is just the result of living in a fallen world like we do right now. But the big point in this verse is God is aware of your suffering and it's part of his plan for your life.

Did you know... I read a statistic this week that said 70% of Christians believe that God plays no role in the suffering that they're experiencing, that he has absolutely nothing to do with it. I don't know about you, but that would be a depressing thought to me if it were true, that God has absolutely no hand in what I'm going through, that when God looks at what's going on in my life, he's sitting up there in heaven and slaps his forehead and say "Oh, I wish that weren't happening to Robert, oh, that's too bad. I hate to see that. I wish there was something I could do to help him, but I just can't". Who wants to serve a God like that? Now, the Bible says suffering for whatever reason is a part of the plan.

Listen to 1 Peter 2:21, Peter said, "For this reason, you have been called since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example to follow in his steps". A little later in chapter four verses 12 and 13, Peter said, "Beloved, don't be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing as though some strange thing were happening to you, but to the degree that you have shared the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing so that also at the revelation of his glory, you may rejoice with exultation". There's some of you here today, some listening to this message, you're a Christian, but you're suffering right now. It may be health concerns you're facing, financial pressure, a broken relationship, a prodigal child or grandchild, you're thinking to yourself, "No, wait a minute, if I'm a child of God, why is this happening? I thought when I signed up for this Christian stuff things were supposed to get better not worse".

Listen to me this morning. Don't be perplexed at what's happening in your life, it's part of God's plan. It was part of God's plan for his own son, his beloved son, if God's plan for his own son, Jesus, included unfair and unbearable suffering, why are we surprised when suffering comes into our life? F.B. Meyer, the great writer of yesteryear said, "If I'm in an unknown country and I'm informed that I must pass through a valley or the sun is hidden or over a stony bit of road to reach my destination, then when I come to it, each moment of shadow or jolt on my carriage tells me I'm on the right road". The road to heaven, the road to righteousness, the road that leads into the presence of God is gonna be marked by an occasional shadow. There are gonna be times when God's face seems hidden to you. That road to heaven, to God's presence is gonna have some jolts, and bumps along the way as well, but every shadow, every jolt is simply a reminder that you're headed in the right direction. Yes, suffering is a part of every Christian's journey, but it's only a prelude to the incomparable and eternal wealth that God has planned for us.
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