“For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:19, NET)
Central to our identity in Christ is that we are children of God. First, we are born again unto salvation through which we enter into eternal life (see John 1:12, 13; 3:16; 1 John 3:1). And second, we grow by the spirit of adoption through which we become mature sons and daughters of God (see Rom. 8:14-19; Gal. 4:5-7). The Greek word used in John 1:12 and 1 John 3:1 is teknon, and refers to a child or newly born believer. In contrast, the Greek work huios used in the passages in Romans 8:14-19 and Galatians 4:7 denotes a mature, adult son who is an heir to his father’s name and authority, his possessions and his responsibilities.
Simply put, as children of God we possess the right of inheritance, but as mature sons and daughters we hold the key of access. Mature sons go about the business of their Father by accomplishing the purposes of God. Jesus did not come just that we might have life, but that we might have life more abundantly (John 10:10). He did not come just that we might be born into salvation, but that we might also mature into spiritual sons and daughters fully equipped to realize His purposes in the earth.
The Significance of Childhood
An important part of the growth process to becoming abundantly secure and mature spiritual children of God involves allowing God to heal us of any ungodly mindsets or wounding that might have resulted from childhood. Generally, we project the kind of experience we had in childhood with our parents onto the relationship with our heavenly Father. Consequently, it is important to become free from any negative perspectives that might affect our ability to relate to God.
Even the best and most godly parents are imperfect, so we allow the Holy Spirit to address any issues that might be affecting our perception of who we are as God’s sons and daughters. For example, you might have felt safe and well-cared for as a child, but if not, you might need the Lord’s healing touch so you do not feel He will abandon or fail in some way to consistently provide for you.
Forgiveness is Key
A significant first step in this process is to actively forgive your parents for any mistreatment or lack you experienced in childhood. Jesus set the model for this when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). It helps immensely to realize the vast majority of parents mean well and generally do their best to protect and nurture their children. Most negative parenting is not born of evil intent, but rather, stems from our parents’ own unhealed wounds and rejection issues.
Virtually no parent would cause their children harm if they understood what, in Christ, they should do. Forgiveness neither condones nor excuses negative behaviors, but rather allows us to leave final judgment in God’s hands (1 Pet. 2:23). Regardless of whether our relationships with our parents ever become what we’d want them to be, forgiveness sets our souls free to be able to heal.
Specific Experiences Can Affect Identity
Another critical step is to ask the Holy Spirit to pinpoint any specific childhood experience that needs addressing regarding identity. It might be something obvious, but it could also be something more subtle and less dramatic than you think.
As a personal example, I am the third of three daughters in my family. My parents were genuinely good and caring people, but my dad in particular had always intensely desired a son. They had not planned to have more than two children, so when I “happened” to come along, the hope and longing for a boy was particularly strong.
Later, as an adult growing in the Lord, the Holy Spirit identified in me a persistent need to justify and defend myself. It became apparent that even as a little baby in the womb, I had absorbed the idea that I ought to have been a boy. Growing up I always felt the need to prove myself—as a perfectionist and overachiever; I was dogged by a sense of unworthiness and crippled with a fear of failure. I would not have thought this experience to be such a big deal, but little did I realize the extent to which it affected me. Supernatural healing was ministered to me as I read and absorbed Psalm 139, and my wounded soul recognized I was born exactly the way God intended me to be!
Points for Application
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14)
Feelings of unworthiness, rejection, or the need to try to prove oneself or earn favor with God are common and are often rooted in childhood wounds and experiences. Allow the Lord to show you if and how you might need to receive healing, that you may more abundantly perceive your full and complete identity as His child.
- With the Lord’s help, forgive your parents of any wrongdoing/hurts that the Holy Spirit brings to mind – remembering your parents would not have hurt you if they had understood what they were doing. (If there was physical or emotional abuse, you also might want to seek the help of a caring professional, such as your pastor or a Christian therapist.)
- Ask the Lord to minister healing as He brings root issues from childhood to mind and to deliver you from any spirits of unworthiness, inferiority, rejection or abandonment/neglect.
- Prayerfully read and meditate on Psalm 139 and Romans 8.
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