Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. John 8:35 NIV
A bondservant doesn't live in the house forever. A son remains forever. John 8:35 WEB
Does the slave or servant have a guarantee of a permanent place in the family? No, he is not actually part of the family. He lives in the house while he is working there for the master. When would he be required to go or be put out? When his performance doesn't meet the master's standards or approval, or when the master has no more use for him. Does he have any job security? No. His security in the house is tied to his performance. Is he truly part of the family? The family may treat him very well, but he is always a servant and never a blood relative, so thus he is never truly a part of the family circle. Does he belong? He has a role to play and fills a niche through what he does; his work defines his place in the house, so he belongs only as long as he fills that role. There is no real security for a slave or bond-servant; even a contract made with his master can be broken or annulled by his own poor performance. He is judged by his own effort, and it's all up to him to continue proving himself in order to be able to stay in the home. Since he cannot be sure he will stay in the home in the future, he has no security.
But what about the son? The son belongs to the family forever, for he is a flesh and blood relative, born into the family. While performance changes, birth does not! It's irreversible! The son will always be a member of the family and always have the family blood flowing through his veins, always have the father's DNA in every one of his cells. The son 'remain forever' or abides forever in the house. That is security! He is always part of the family, always has a place in the home, is always welcome there, belongs with the family! He always has a home and a place of belonging, no matter how far he roams afield, whether in mind or in deed.
I think of the prodigal son and his older brother. The prodigal wandered from home in his deeds, going far away and rebelling against the father's plans and desires for him. Yet even when he was lost, he still belonged to the father, to the household, to the family! He still had a home, he just wasn't enjoying it! And the older brother wandered from home in his mind. He saw himself more as a servant and did not live as a son, enjoying the loving and unconditionally secure relationship with the father that was his birthright. This servant mentality bred feelings of competition and resentment, yet the father's heart remained unchanged toward his son, and the son's privileges remained unchanged! The father told him, "you are always with me, and all that I have is yours." The older son was working for something he already had, while the younger son seemingly squandered what he had been given, only to find all that and more waiting for him back at home, safe and secure and his all along. So both boys were secure in the family forever, even though they didn't realize it!
We are not servants who have to wonder if we are going to be kicked out of the house tomorrow based on poor performance! We don't have to think it is all up to us to prove ourselves, do enough good things, be spiritual enough, or even be strong enough in faith to keep getting to live in the house. No! We were birthed into this household of God! We were born again into this family of God! We will remain, live and abide in the house forever. 'Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Ps. 23:6 We are part of this family for keeps, for God's DNA is in every part of us, Christ is our very life, His Spirit is our very breath - we are the God-kind! We bear the family likeness and that won't ever change - it can't, it's in our spiritual DNA and part of our being. We are who we are - God's dear children - by birth, not our performance. Therefore, this place we have in the family, this belonging, can't be lost through performance. It is secure, and we are secure!
It is so important to know how secure we are in God's family because we can't really relax and enjoy our relationship with God until we know we're secure in that relationship. If we are always wondering if He might change His mind and kick us out of the family, if we are always wondering if there is something we could think, do, say or believe that would cause us to lose our place in the house of God, then we can't relax. But the truth is, we are secure! There is no way God is ever going to kick us out of the family. "For consider what he has done—before
the foundation of the world he chose us to become, in Christ, his holy
and blameless children living within his constant care." (Eph. 1:4 PHP) He's planned on and has seen us being His blameless, holy, beloved children since before time began! God's not going to disown His kids! He's never going to let go of us or reject us! For we are His flesh and blood, and that's forever. Once a son, always a son. That is what our verse assures us: a son remains (abides, stays, lives, belongs) in the house/family forever!
So we are safe. We are secure. We are in God's family by birth, and that's irreversible. We are His forever, part of the family forever. We belong with Him and always will. We have a home and are eternally part of that home, eternally welcomed there. We are never going to be 'not a part of the family' - it just isn't possible, for His DNA is in our spirit and we're from above, from God, born of the Spirit! Our citizenship or place of belonging is heaven! We are safe in heaven already, seated with Christ in heavenly places. God has put us in Christ, and Christ is forever in the house, abiding forever with God the Father. Thus, since we are in Christ, so are we forever in the house, abiding forever with God the Father!
What reassurance this gives! This means there is nothing we can say, think, believe or do that will change the fact of our sonship! There is nothing that can make us 'not a son of God!' There is nothing that can make us rejected, forsaken, separated, or forgotten. There is nothing that can make us 'not in the family/house of God!' There is nothing you can do to mess this up! Nothing!
What does that do for us? It causes us to relax. To be able to let go of our strivings, take off our masks, let go of our struggles, and just BE! Nothing is asked of us, nothing is required of us, nothing is demanded of us. We don't have to work to become sons or work to stay sons. We don't have to work to get in God's favor or work to stay there. We don't have to prove our worth or maintain our worth. We don't have to try to become something we already are - safe, secure, beloved, taken in, welcome, accepted, treasured, loved!
We are truly loved without any conditions. Without any conditions! We cannot fall out of this love, out of this home in God's heart, out of these Hands that hold us. NOTHING can snatch us out of these arms of love! NOTHING can separate or remove us from this Love that holds sway over us! His Love is holding onto us, His Love is keeping us, and His Love never fails! We are hidden with Christ in God. We are in Christ, and Christ is always and forever in the bosom of the Father. Therefore, we are always and forever in the bosom of the Father! That is a place of soothing warmth, reassuring care, loving embrace, and total acceptance. That is where we are forever!
Grace shows us we are safe! We could never do enough to feel secure with God based on our works. That is a servant mentality, and the focus is always on ourselves and our performance. That is a law-based mentality, and the focus is constantly on 'how am I doing' and 'am I measuring up' - and we know the law has a standard of perfection, so it will always call us out. We will never measure up! So living by performance, by trying to keep rules and requirements, trying to change and get better, trying to improve our performance and make ourselves more successful, just plain trying and self-effort of all kinds, all this will never ever bring security and reassurance to our hearts. We will never be able to feel okay in God's presence and sure that we'll stay there if we think our staying there is based on our performance or how well we keep certain requirements.
But what a relief to find out we are under grace, not law! We are not under requirements and rules! We do not have to measure up, improve, change, get better, or be good enough. We do not have to try! There is no pressure on us to perform, to be better, to get something done, to prove ourselves, to maintain a certain level of performance, to meet a certain standard. There are no requirements, demands, 'musts' or 'shoulds' put on us! God isn't grading us, checking our work behind us, pointing out where we've fallen behind, or keeping score on us in any way. God isn't looking at our performance, He is looking at His children and loving us for who we are, not for what we do. He's not focusing on what we can bring to Him but on how He can lavish His love on us! He isn't demanding from us, He is pouring love on us. He isn't judging us, He is accepting us. He isn't thinking of us with a critical mind but with a tender heart! His thoughts aren't about what we do right or what we do wrong, His thoughts are about how much He loves and adores us and how delightful we are just as we are, right now, without needing to change or improve in any way. In fact, He sees us as perfect to Him, His pride and joy, completely beautiful, and is delighted in who we are - His beloved children! He doesn't see us as workers needing improvement but as children needing love! We are truly not servants at all but beloved sons. We are truly not under rules, law and performance pressures but under love, grace and His freeing acceptance!
Thus, we can relax, because we are under grace. We have been birthed into the family of God as a free gift through Jesus' death and resurrection. We permanently belong to God. We are safe and secure in His house forever! This belonging is safe not just by birth, which is irreversible, but also because it is based on Christ' work and not our own, and Christ's work is perfect, unchanging, unalterable, and everlasting! It is a God-work that brought you into this family! Since it wasn't your work but Christ's that brought you here, you are secure, because His work is so perfect and lasting. And since it was based on His doing, not yours, even on His faith (which simply ignited your faith, for He responded to God in faith on our behalf!), then your doing can't mess it up or ruin it! Your security int he family of God is set in spiritual concrete through the blood of Christ and the irreversibility of His resurrection. You are safe! You are secure! You are home forever! You are a son forever!
So what does that make you want to do? Do you want to go run out and sin? It won't change a thing if you do. However, I feel that knowing this makes a person want to snuggle up to the Father, don't you? It makes us fall more in love with Him and sin seems so unattractive, so unnecessary, so boring. We have found Someone who wants us no matter what, Someone who says we always belong with Him no matter what, Someone who will accept us no matter what! We have found Home, the place where we always belong, and we will remain there forever - that's a promise that is in our verse today! What a relief. This wonderful fact gives true security and makes us only want to know Him more and enjoy Him and His love! And in this atmosphere of safety and love and acceptance, we can finally be who we truly are, can just be ourselves without fear of rejection. We find the freedom to enjoy life, to enjoy new experiences. We find the freedom to be creative and daring, to seek out new things and even to fail. We find the freedom to risk sharing our hearts and lives with others, to risk loving others. We find the freedom to be with God without fear, shame, or embarrassment. We find the freedom to be totally open, honest and transparent before God. We find the freedom to let ourselves be loved by Him and to live out of that love! We find the freedom to live, and to live abundantly! What a wonderful Father and what wonderful grace!