The Proof of Sonship
George Everard, 1885
"As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Romans 8:14
The indwelling power of God's Holy Spirit is the great mark of His true children. When by faith men receive Christ, in Him they receive His Spirit likewise. Thus they are born of God; they are adopted members of His family, and enjoy all the privileges of His household.
And wherever the Holy Spirit dwells, there will be . . .
a life of holiness, and
a genuine fear of displeasing or dishonoring a Father in Heaven.
Have you these marks of true sonship? Have you the trustful spirit that enables you . . .
to go to God as to a loving father,
to tell Him all your troubles,
to ask His forgiveness, and
to commit yourself to His merciful keeping?
You sometimes see a little boy or girl run into a room and leap onto a father's knee or into his arms. Have you something of this mind toward your Father above? Have you confidence toward Him and a delight in His presence?
Then with this, is the presence of the Spirit seen in the exhibition of the graces which He implants? Are the fruits of the Spirit manifest in your life? Is your daily walk that of one who is aiming in everything to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus? And is there a holy shrinking from anything that will grieve your Heavenly Father?
I met with an illustration of this point some time ago which presented it to me in a very striking light.
An Arab sheikh, it is said, died in the possession of great wealth. The chief had many sons, but before his death he told the tribe that only one was his real son, and he was to be his heir. But how were they to discover who this real son was? So they instituted a trial of skill in archery. They set up the dead body of the chief against a tree, and the son who could shoot nearest his father's heart was to have the property. The different sons did their best until the bow and arrows were put into the hand of the youngest. When it came to his turn he threw away the bow and arrows and exclaimed, "How can I wound you, O my father?"
"He is the real son!" they exclaimed. So the whole tribe agreed to give him the property.
The filial instinct that shrank from shooting the arrow seemed to make clear to them the true son. I know not whether the story is true or not, but at least it makes the lesson plain of which I would remind you.
Who is the true son of the Most High God? It is the one who will by no means willingly dishonor his Father or wound his Father's heart. It is the one that turns away from any word or action that will grieve a Father's love, or cause Him to withhold His favor and approbation.
Look through your daily life and ask yourself if this be your spirit. Is it a real pain and sorrow to you when you have hastily dropped a word that ought never to have been spoken? When other school-fellows are making light of sin or turning Bible texts or subjects into ridicule, do you show by your silence, or by a firm but kindly reproof, that you look at the matter very differently? When an older lad would persuade you to break school rules, or to do something which is not quite honest or kind, or to say a word that is not true in the court of conscience — are you ready to brave his displeasure, rather than break God's law? Do you prove your sonship, even in the eyes of the ungodly, by refusing to follow a multitude in doing evil?
Be sure that if you would have your Father's property — then you must show that you are a true son. There are those who are satisfied with their position, and glory in the fact that by virtue of their infant baptism they are "members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of Heaven." But baptism will prove of no value to you, unless you have the Spirit of God to guide you, and the fear and love of God ruling in your heart.
You may be a son, but not a real son. You may be a son of God by profession, and by your position in the Christian Church — but are you a real son — born of God, like God, loving God, pleasing God? On this, everything depends. From such, God withholds no good thing. His kingdom, His inheritance, His many mansions, His heavenly treasures — all these belong to His only begotten Son, and to all who are one with Him in faith and love. It was of those who had been baptized that John writes, "By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother." 1 John 3:10
Never, never be satisfied until you have the witness of the Spirit drawing your heart heavenward, and the witness of a holy, loving, Christ-like life — that you are indeed a son of the living God.