Sons and Heirs (part 2)

Galatians 4:6-7 ESV

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.


Because of God’s great love we have become his children when we received Jesus Christ into our hearts as our Lord and Savior (see John 1:12 and 1 John 3:1). Our having become God’s children is the work of the Trinity. God sent his Son to redeem us so that we can have the status of sons and daughters. God also sent his Spirit in order to make this sonship (which includes daughters as well as sons) an experienced reality in our lives.

Romans 5:5 ESV

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.


As already mentioned, our having become God’s children is also the work of the Holy Spirit. He makes the objective right of sonship, which was purchased for us by Christ on the cross, an experienced reality in our lives. Christ purchased the benefits of salvation by his death, but it is the Spirit who conveys or applies those benefits to us. He does that by indwelling us, by assuring us of our salvation and sonship, and by helping us to pray to God with hearts that recognize him as our loving father.

(a) The Spirit Indwells Us.

The presence of the Spirit in our lives is the proof that we indeed belong to Christ and are children of God. Tremendous benefits result from his work within us. He implants within us a delight for God and his laws, so that keeping the law is no longer a matter of external compliance but internal desire. In other words, we are not only justified, we are also sanctified. Receiving Jesus Christ into our hearts does not merely result in our being declared perfectly righteous in God’s sight, it also results in real inward change, i.e., we are made holy as well.

Romans 8:9 ESV

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Ezekiel 36:26 CSB

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:27 ESV

And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

(b) The Spirit Assures Us.

The Spirit testifies to our spirits that we indeed belong to Christ and that God truly loves us. Salvation does not merely exist as an objective truth in our heads, it becomes a felt reality in our hearts. We know with a certainty that grips both heart and mind that we are the children of God. This is the work of the Spirit in conjunction with the hearing of God’s Word.

1 John 4:13 ESV

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

Romans 8:16 ESV

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

1 John 4:13 ESV

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

(c) The Spirit Helps us to Pray

God pours out his love into our hearts by means of his Spirit even as the truths of his Word enlighten our minds and grip our hearts. We cannot help but love him who loved us first. We cry out to him, “Daddy! Father!” He is as real to us as real can be. Not only his person, but his love is real as well, and draws out from us love towards him in turn.

Romans 8:15 ESV

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Romans 8:26 ESV

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.


(a) We are no longer slaves who serve out of fear, but sons who serve out of love.

In this context, a slave serves out of fear of punishment. But a son serves out of love for his father. The one who tries to earn his or her salvation – an impossible task! – does serve, but in the end, their service can only lead to despair or pride. A son (or daughter), assured of his father’s love, serves with joy because he serves out of gratitude for his father’s gracious love and unconditional acceptance. He does not carry the burden of fear that if he fails to earn God’s love, he will be cast into the lake of fire. This freedom from fear, this joyful service, is the work of the Spirit who assures us of God’s gracious love and unconditional acceptance in Christ.

1 John 4:17-18 ESV

By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

1 John 4:19 ESV

We love because he first loved us.

(b) We are heirs of God.

The riches of eternity belong to us! And the Holy Spirit is the guarantee, the downpayment, the earnest money, that the full balance is sure to come.

Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

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