The Nature of Sonship (continued)
The Law of Faith and Dependence
Adam was created with sonship in view, sonship after this king, but he was placed upon the basis of dependence upon God, faith and dependence. That was the law of his life, and that was to be the law by which he would come to the realization of sonship in its full sense. satan came and suggested to Adam that he could have it in himself if he liked. He need not have it of God and have to look to God all the time. If Adam did but follow his advice, there need be none of this servitude to God, but he could be as God and have it in himself, and be delivered from the bondage of this life of dependence and faith, and obedience. Adam accepted that suggestion and sought to take it, to have it in himself without reference or deference to God. Sonship was lost for Adam and his race. The last Adam comes and accepts a life of absolute dependence upon the Father, and obedience to the Father in an utter self-emptying. "He emptied himself ... and became obedient"; He took "the form" of a bond-servant" (Phil. 2:6-8). He had it not in Himself, by His own choice: He had it in the Father; and sonship was established, realized and expressed in fullness in Him.
We, beloved, are called on to that basis. Oh, there is nothing which will work against the spirit of sonship, God's purpose of fullness in us, like pride, the pride which wants to have it in ourselves. Pride hates a life of dependence. Pride cannot bear to have to look outside of itself for everything. Pride must have the root of things in itself. "He not wise in your own conceits" is a phrase the Apostle used (Romans 12:16). What is conceit? The very word itself means "having the seat of things in yourself"; wise by having the seat of things in yourself. The Lord Jesus, Who had the highest place in heavenly glory, the highest and greatest title and name - all rights were in His power - accepted the position of girding Himself with a towel and putting water into a basin and kneeling down to wash the feet of His disciples. That is the mind which was in Christ Jesus. That is sonship. It is not nice for the flesh, nor for our reputation, it is not pleasant to our education; we look for something better than that. But that is sonship. That is a life in the Spirit. That spirit will be the mark, the hall-mark, of spiritual growth, of spiritual maturity. The person who is really growing spiritually is not the person who is becoming something important spiritually. The one who is growing in the servant dependent spirit more and more. The one who can get down lowest is the one who is really getting up highest.
That is the nature of sonship. It is something which is wholly of God, exclusively of God, not of ourselves. We cannot produce it.
Sonship - A Spiritual Thing
It is, therefore, in the next place, a spiritual thing. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). Sonship, therefore, is essentially a spiritual thing and is always connected, in the Word, with the Spirit. The new birth is connected with the Spirit - "born of the Spirit". As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:14). Born; led. You come to Galatians: Galatians is just full of these things, full of sonship and the Spirit. "Because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Then you know Paul's argument about Hagar and Ishmael, and Sarah and Isaac; the one born after the flesh, the other born after the Spirit; and the one born after the flesh is to be cast out, that the one born after the Spirit may be established (Galatians 4:21-31). It is sonship and the Spirit again. Sonship, therefore, is a spiritual thing. It is obvious that this kind of sonship is not a natural thing.
Sonship - Indestructible in Itself The Work of satan to Nullify its Power
But the point that I want to get at and emphasize is this, that because it is a spiritual thing, it is something which interests satan in a particular way. Being exclusively of God and being wholly spiritual, it is something which, shall I say, tantalizes satan; it is a cause of tremendous annoyance and grievance to him. He cannot get at this thing directly, it is beyond him. You notice that in the Word of God there is no denial from any realm that there is such a being as the Son of God or as the Christ. There is no denial; that is recognized, acknowledged and accepted everywhere. There is a denial that Jesus is the Son of God, but the fact of sonship as a reality in God's universe is never questioned. antichrist is not the denial of the existence of Christ, but the counterfeiting of Christ: and that is a tremendous admission, a tremendous acknowledgment. If you counterfeit something, it is your way of admitting that there is something real. You do not counterfeit if there is not the genuine thing. You see my point. There is something in God's universe which is never questioned or denied, but which is an established thing, which cannot be touched as a reality, and that is sonship. To get at that - well, anything can be done to nullify it in its effect - but the fact is there, and it is that fact which is satan's aggravation and annoyance, the fact of the existence of this sonship, in God's universe, and that that sonship has invaded and come into his domain. There is sonship right in the very domain of satan, in the kingdom of this world, this world which "lieth in the wicked one". Sonship has invaded and come into it; and there is a fact which cannot be destroyed, it is inviolate in itself.
(continued with # 9)