How to Know We Are God’s Child

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Mat 5:43-45). Jesus taught that we must love our enemies “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” Of course the converse is also true—those that don’t love their enemies, aren’t children of God.

Paul spoke of his former life before Christ, “for what I would, that do I not” (Rom 7:15) “how to perform that which is good I find not” (v. 18), “For the good that I would I do not” (v. 19). God’s commandment “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Lev 19:18), isn’t the friends and family plan! It includes our enemies. Paul decried his hopeless state of being unable to perform the good of loving his enemies. It’s not that it was just hard for him to do, but that he couldn’t do it.

He went on to teach in the next chapter, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject [hypotasso 5239] to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (8:7). The Greek hypotasso means “to subject one’s self” or “to submit” as he used it later, “have not submitted themselves [hypotasso 5239] unto the righteousness of God” (10:3), “Let every soul be subject [hypotasso 5239] unto the higher powers” (13:1). It doesn’t subject itself to God’s law of loving its enemies and “neither indeed can be,” “nor is it able to do so” (NET), “nor can it do so” (NIV). Paul said the same to the Galatians, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Gal 5:14), “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit [breath], and the Spirit [breath] against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (5:17). Without God’s breath in our hearts, we cannot sincerely love our enemies as ourselves. We can put on a fake smile around them but we can’t pray earnestly for them as we would our own family, “pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

Again, Paul went on to say in Romans, “The Spirit [breath] itself beareth witness with our spirit [breath], that we are the children of God” (8:16). Being able to wholeheartedly love our enemies bears witness that we have God’s breath and that we are His children. The love Paul was unable to show without God’s breath, he showed profoundly with, “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost [breath], That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (9:1-3). He loved his antagonistic Jewish brethren to such an extent that if he could somehow trade places with them so that they would be saved and he would perish, he would!

He went on to say, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (12:20-21), “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (13:9). The good we couldn’t do before, we now overcome evil with.

Without argument, David was the greatest example of love in the Old Testament. He wasn’t impressive looking as his older brothers, “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1Sa 16:7), “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart” (Act 13:22). His father-in-law Saul tried repeatedly to kill him, but David never recompensed anything in return even when he had opportunity. And his own son Absalom tried to usurp his throne yet David loved him so much that he would have died in his place if he could have, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2Sa 18:33). He loved his enemies to such a degree that he was accused of loving them more than his friends, “Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines; In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends” (2Sa 19:5-6).

Of course our greatest example of love is Christ Himself. He didn’t just wash the feet of 11 but all 12, “After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet” (Jhn 13:5). And they had no idea who it was that would betray Him, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me … He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?” (Jhn 13:21,25), indicating He had never treated Judas any differently the entire time they walked with Him. Finally, on the cross He prayed for His enemies, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luk 23:34). The Son of God sincerely loved His enemies. To be God’s sons and daughters, we must also love our enemies.

Walk not after the Flesh, but after the Breath

In Romans chapter 8, Paul used “flesh” and “breath” for the two contrary ways of living, “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit [Breath]” (8:1), “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit [Breath]” (8:4). These are simply expressions he defined earlier in his letter, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly [kryptos 2927]; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit [breath], and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (2:28-29).

Paul began Romans with “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth [trusts]; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (1:16). The gospel of Christ by which both Jews and Gentiles are saved is the message that Christ Himself preached: “that they may have glory of men … thine alms may be in secret [kryptos 2927]: and thy Father which seeth in secret [kryptos 2927] himself shall reward thee openly” (Mat 6:2,4); “that they may be seen of men … pray to thy Father which is in secret [kryptos 2927]; and thy Father which seeth in secret [kryptos 2927] shall reward thee openly” (6:5,6); “that they may appear unto men to fast … appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret [kryptos 2927]: and thy Father, which seeth in secret [kryptos 2927], shall reward thee openly” (6:18). Salvation consists of walking with conscience toward God in all we do, and never with any motives of receiving praise from people, “whose praise is not of men, but of God.” This is what Paul meant by “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit [Breath].”

“For the law of the Spirit [Breath] of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:2). This law of the Breath of life in Christ Jesus is the righteous requirements of the law He taught for the Breath of God to raise us to eternal life. The Breath of life comes by the law of Christ—the righteous standard of the law and the prophets as He defined it, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Mat 5:17), “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Mat 7:12). We must live by the righteous moral standard of the law that Jesus Christ taught in His sermon, “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20).

Christ said that we must hear and do the moral righteousness of the law that He taught, “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24,26). And Paul said the same: “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Rom 2:13); “the things contained in the law” (2:14); “the work of the law” (2:15); “keep the righteousness of the law” (2:26); “fulfil the law (2:27); “the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us” (8:4); “he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (13:8); “love is the fulfilling of the law” (13:10).

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (8:3). The law couldn’t atone for our sins because of the weaknesses of its priests and sacrifices, “the weakness and unprofitableness thereof … were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death … offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins … high priests which have infirmity” (Heb 7:18,23,27,28). But God’s own Son “condemned sin” by His sacrifice so that “the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit [Breath]” (8:4). We’re now dead to our sins so that we should live righteously after the breath, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (1Pe 2:24).

“For they that are after the flesh do mind [phroneo 5426] the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit [Breath] the things of the Spirit [Breath]” (Rom 8:5). To “mind” the flesh is to “mind [phroneo 5426] earthly things” (Phl 3:19), the things of this world and the praise of men, “whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom 2:29). But to “mind” the breath, “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection [phroneo 5426] on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col 3:1-2). It’s to live with good conscience toward God: “I have lived in all good conscience before God” (Act 23:1); “to have always a conscience void of offence toward God” (Act 24:16); “their conscience also bearing witness” (Rom 2:15); “my conscience also bearing me witness” (Rom 9:1); “the testimony of our conscience” (2Co 1:12); “a good conscience” (1Ti 1:5,19); “a pure conscience” (1Ti 3:9); “for conscience toward God” (1Pe 2:19); “Having a good conscience” (1Pe 3:16); “a good conscience toward God” (1Pe 3:21). Walking after the breath is living morally righteous with good conscience toward God.