There are different instances in scripture where we see us being referred to as children of God or sons of God.
There is a difference between a child and a son. Whenever we see children, there is a connotation of “not being spiritually mature“. But when we see ‘sons‘ it’s often referring to a mature believer who is able to articulate who they are in God and can represent the Father correctly.
So in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith, Galatians 3:26
We can see here that by faith we automatically become children of God.
How do we become sons?
Through the Holy Spirit
For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading again to fear [of God’s judgment], but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons [ the Spirit producing sonship} by which we [ joyfully] cry, “ Abba! Father!” Romans 8:14-15 AMP
We become sons through the Holy Spirit. We are told God has sent the Spirit of His Son, and through this Spirit, we are able to call God our father. Through the Holy Spirit, we receive the adoption which is able to produce sonship in us.
Sons have to be led by the Spirit. This is the distinction that makes us sons of God- we are submitted to the guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit. We cannot be sons without following the leading of His Spirit.
Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Galatians 5:25NLT
This is what it means to be led by the Spirit, every part of our lives reveals His character and empowerment. We don’t know someone is a son because they claim to be, we know he/she is a son because their whole life is submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
We become peacemakers
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9
Peace is the mark that shows that we are sons of God. Notice it doesn’t say, peacekeepers but peacemakers. Peacekeepers maintain peace at all costs, the end goal being peace. However, peacemakers have a different approach because they don’t just want to bring peace but bring the peace of God into situations.
The peace of God is different because it doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of conflict, it means reconciliation without negating righteousness and truth. This, therefore, means that sometimes we have to face conflict for the sake of truth and righteousness. We can have peace at the price of truth and righteousness, but we cannot have the peace of God without truth and righteousness.
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18
When we sow justice, goodness, mercy, truth, and love in peace, the end result will be righteousness.
Peacemakers have a goal not just to bring peace but- to reveal the righteousness of God- in every circumstance. And this is what makes them sons of God.
Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what He suffered. Hebrews 5:8
We see sonship revealed in Jesus. Even though He was God’s Son, He wasn’t exempted from learning how to obey the father in all things- even in things that brought him suffering.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42
This is the answer of a son …Father, nevertheless not my will but yours be done.
We are not exempt from obeying the father in difficult things because this is what qualifies us as sons. When His will becomes our will even when it’s hard, we have entered into sonship.
Sons don’t negotiate obedience.
They have come to a place of understanding the importance of obedience where the father is concerned.
Jesus gave them this answer: “ Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself he can only do what he sees his father doing, because whatever the Father does the son also does. John 5: 19
There is nothing that Jesus did that was outside the father. Whatever the father said to do, that is what he did. Wherever the father led, that’s where he went. We become sons when we choose to only do what the Father says we do and go only where the father says we go.
We submit to discipline
You must submit to [correction for the purpose of] discipline; God is dealing with you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? Hebrews 12:7 AMP
Submitting to discipline qualifies us as sons. We endure trials and hardship because we understand that God is disciplining us through them and as we do we enter into sonship.
The psalmist lauds this in psalm 94:12 Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, and teach your law.
He calls it a blessing to be disciplined by the Lord. You are blessed when you go through trials. You are blessed when God corrects you. You are blessed when God teaches you His law. You are blessed because God considers you a son.
But God disciplines us for our good that we may share in His holiness. Hebrews 12:10
This right here is the mark of sonship where discipline is concerned. God’s discipline has the purpose of making us partakers of His holiness. When we submit to God’s discipline, we begin to share in His holiness and look like Him. We can be identified as sons of God because we have His holiness in us.
Sons are heirs
Children don’t inherit anything, only mature sons can be heirs. Our maturity into sonship is important because God can now entrust us with His kingdom.
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. Galatians 4:1
A child cannot access his inheritance until he matures, even though he owns everything he can only be entrusted with that inheritance upon maturity.
God waits for us to become sons to entrust us with our inheritance. There is a clause for the children to grow up in order to receive their inheritance.
And if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him I order that we may be glorified with him. Romans 8:17
Some translations say…And if we are sons then we are also heirs.
Everything that Christ has is ours through God. We are heirs of God… and as sons receive what belongs to Christ in Him.
The revelation of the sons of God
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. Romans 8:19
There is a waiting- with eager longing, with great expectation, with anxious desire… from the whole creation to see who the sons of God are.
How are we revealed?
We are revealed by becoming a correct representation of the father here on earth. It’s not just for ourselves, it’s for the whole creation ( everything God has made). There is an awaiting for the mature sons to stand up and reveal who God really is. When children become sons they can now be revealed.
We reveal God through our sonship by displaying the liberty we have in Christ. We reveal Him in and through our worship and devotion. We reveal Him by the way we love others. We reveal Him in our relationships and families. We reveal Him through our good works. We reveal Him by bearing good fruit in His name.
When children become sons God is revealed to the whole creation through their sonship.