Adoption helps us understand why Christians should care about sin

Adoption helps us understand why Christians should care about sin

Christians all love the idea of being forgiven. We love to sing of our sins being paid for and know how kind our God has been to us. That is 100% correct. If we trust in Jesus, we are secure knowing that Jesus paid our penalty for us.

This has led many to struggle to understand why Christians should keep God’s law or try to deal with sin. After all, logically, if we are forgiven by what Jesus has done, then our future is secure. It doesn’t depend on us, we are constantly told, it all depends on Jesus. So this should mean, we reason, that we can live however we want. God loves us. Why worry about sin and law at all?

The idea that we can live however we want because of God’s grace is not a new one. Paul deals with it at length in Romans, for example, way back in the first century after Jesus. And in our modern individualistic age, we are very tempted to follow the same line of reasoning. We’re saved by grace, so that means I can live how I want and I am still forgiven!

I think the logic of adoption helps us a great deal when it comes to understanding why how we live as Christians is so important. Let me explain.

Adoption is when a couple decide to accept a child into their family. That child is not theirs genetically, but usually due to some significant problems in their biological family, they are looking for a safe place to belong. When this child is adopted, it is not due to their worthiness. It is due to the gracious act of their new parents. They have a new legal status due to what their parents have done. That’s what Jesus has done for us. When we come to trust in Jesus, we then have a different status before God, and we are part of God’s family. We have that status by grace alone.

Christians are secure in the family of God. Adopted children are legally children of their new parents. They don’t need to worry that they will be kicked out of the family. That is wonderful, especially considering that many adopted children come from significantly insecure backgrounds. Whatever they do, they belong. That is similar to Christians who are secure whatever might happen, as Jesus teaches in John 17:12 and Paul explains in places like Romans 8:38-39.

So where does what we do fit into all this? When a child is adopted into a family, there will be family rules and expectations. Perhaps there will be curfews to observe or ways to behave at the dinner table that are expected. The newly adopted child could, of course, intentionally disobey all of these rules. They could reject what their new parents lay down for them and live independently and choose their own lifestyle. But the family rules are reasonable ones, and if they understand how great it is to belong to a good and safe family, they will want to follow those family rules. Living as God asks us to is not supposed to be an imposition limiting our freedom. Parents know better than children about how to live; that is especially true for the Father who made our world and knows the best way to live in it! If we love our Father, we will want to honour Him with our lives.

If an adopted child does break the family rules, intentionally or not, that will impact the relationship with their parents. It might strain the relationship. There might be consequences for this disobedience that are imposed by their parents or which naturally flow from their wrong behaviour. Yet the child doesn’t need to fear that they will be removed from the family or that they don’t belong. In the same way, Christians can strain the relationship with God through our sin. We can grieve the Holy Spirit. We can damage those around us. But if we are repentant, we don’t need to fear that we will be removed from God’s family. Sin is serious. Sin should be avoided at all costs, and repented of when we do fall. We want to honour our Father with all we have, and if we think we can live how we want after being saved by grace, we have misunderstood how good it is to have a Heavenly Father who loves us.

There is no contradiction to saying to someone “you are saved only through Jesus and nothing you do” while also encouraging them to “go and sin no more”. Our response to our Father’s love should be to honour Him with our lives.