Summary: When you fully realize what it means to be a child of God, your self-image (or “self-esteem”) make a radical change. You find great worth and love knowing you are a child of God.
Summary:Summary: When you fully realize what it means to be a child of God, your self-image (or “self-esteem”) make a radical change.
Part one of a three-part series on “Your Identity in Christ.”
Do you know Jesus?
This study was written to help believers in Jesus grow in their faith and personal life. You will get the most out of this online Bible study if you know Christ, since it is through his love and power that we can truly change. If you have not yet entered into a relationship with Jesus, let me invite you to accept him as your Savior and Lord. Make this your personal prayer:
Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God, and I need your help. I confess I have sinned and failed you in many ways. I invite you to be my Savior and Lord, and I ask you to help me follow you the rest of my life. Thank you for loving me, forgiving me, and accepting me as your child.
If you prayed this prayer, welcome to the family of God. God has plans for you—to transform your life. You have an exciting time ahead of you!”
Make it personal
1. Do you know Jesus as your Savior? If so, share how you became a believer.
Your identity changed when you were born again.
When you became a believer—that is, when you were born again—God gave you a new identity. As Paul wrote, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
You are God’s child
Imagine the greatest parent you have ever known or have ever heard about. It might be one of your parents. Or it might be one of your friends’ parents. If you can’t think of anyone, use your imagination. What would a wonderful parent be like?
Whether you are thinking of a specific person, or you are thinking of an imaginary parent, there’s one parent who far outshines your picture of a wonderful parent—God himself.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:15-17)
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:4-6)
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)
When you come to know God as your father, you enter into a remarkable parent-child relationship. You can be both excited and secure because God is your dad.
What do you think?
2. What does the Bible mean when it says we are God’s children?
3. Why did John write that “everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself” (1 John 3:3)? What do you think that means?
God is your real father. Don’t treat this knowledge casually.
Many Christians take their relationship with God, their father, for granted, hardly ever thinking about it. When they do think about God being their father, it’s in a casual way, acknowledging the fact, yet not beginning to grasp the wonder and majesty of having the King of Kings, the Creator of the universe, the author of life itself, as their father.
It’s an awesome thing when you think that God, the Creator of everything, is your dad!
I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:18)
Make it personal
4. Do you think about God being your father as you go through the day? How would your life change if you remembered this more often?
5. How can you remind yourself that God is your father as you go through life?
“But I have a negative image of my father”
If your human father was abusive or distant, you may not feel comfortable thinking of God as your father. That would be understandable. God understands where you are coming from. He is a very different kind of father. His love for you goes way beyond anything you could think or imagine.
Jesus told his followers a story to help them understand the type of father God is. In this story, recounted in Luke 15:11-32, a son asked his father for an early inheritance. The father gave him the money and the son left home, only to foolishly spend all his money on wild living. He ended up broke and took a job feeding pigs.
Finally, starving, he returned home. He was sure his father wouldn’t take him back as his son, but he hoped his father would give him a job.
This shows how little the son knew about his father’s love for him. When his father saw the son coming, he ran to him, threw his arms around him, kissed him, and threw a party to celebrate his homecoming.
If you start to wonder what kind of father God is, remember this picture of the father running to embrace his miserable, wayward child. If believing in God as a good father has been hard for you, train yourself to think of this picture each morning before you get out of bed.
What do you think?
6. Read Luke 15:11-32, then answer these questions:
7. Do you think the younger son made a mistake when he left home? Why or why not?
8. Did the son’s actions stop his father from treating him as his son? What can we learn from his example?
9. How can this story encourage you?
“But I feel inadequate, like a failure”
The trouble for many of us is that we feel insignificant or like a failure, even after we become a Christian. Many people try to run away from their negative feelings about themselves by using drugs or alcohol, or by doing dangerous things to try to get their mind off the pain.
How about you? Have you tried to build up your “self-esteem” by making yourself look good through sexual conquests, earning (or stealing) a lot of money, becoming popular, lifting weights, gaining power over other people, or buying stuff—clothes, a new car, jewelry, or something else?
If so, you have probably learned that trying to build up your “self-esteem” doesn’t really work. What does work is realizing that you are a child of God and that he loves you.
Related: Who do you think you are?
Make it personal
10. Have you felt like a failure or that your life doesn’t matter? If so, why have you felt this way? (For example, did this feeling come from the way your parents or other people treated you? Did it come from your failures? Did it come from your life circumstances?)
Thank you, God, for being my father. What an amazing privilege! Help me remember that you are my dad and that you love me.
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:16)
Small group discussion questions
1. What has your self-image been?
2. What have you done in the past to try to feel good about yourself?
3. How well did those “solutions” work? What were the results?
4. If your father was abusive or absent, has that affected the way you look at God? If so, in what way?
5. What is the difference between your heavenly father (God) and your earthly father?
6. Read Ephesians 1:1-8, then answer these questions:
7. Verse 2 says God is our father. What does that mean? Is he everyone’s father?
8. Verse 5 says you are adopted. What does it mean to be adopted?
9. God has adopted you as his child. How does that make you feel?
10. Since God has adopted you, what are your responsibilities as his child?
Doug Britton, MFT
Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)
Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com for practical, biblical, cross-cultural books, Bible studies, and ebooks.