Every one of us has/had a man who is our earthly father. Being a father is a huge responsibility, and one that none of us have mastered. The teachings of a father have a big impact upon the children with whom he is entrusted. Our lives are shaped to some degree by who and what kind of a man our father is/was.
However, Jesus said something startling that deserves our attention. He said, “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9). Wait a minute; we all have fathers, why can’t we acknowledge them? I don’t believe that Jesus is encouraging us to disrespect our earthly fathers by not addressing them as “dad” or “father.” Instead, He is referring to a fact that changes the way we live our lives.
You were born on this earth because you had a father, who had a father, who had a father, all the way back to Adam. This life you received from Adam is naturally bent toward sin. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). The birth that you experienced when you were born into this world is what Jesus called being “born of flesh” (John 3:6). Your father passed on to you certain characteristics, which may included: hair, eye, and skin color, but also certain character traits. These are transferred by genetics and strengthened by the way your father lived his life.
But there is another birth Jesus told us about that has the power to break the chains of our first birth. He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5, 6).
In our first birth we were born in the flesh, with natural tendencies toward sin, but the new birth allows us to be born of the Spirit so we can be free from sinful tendencies. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). This new birth gives us a new Father and all things become new. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). How much is “all things”? That means everything is new. Our earthly father and the mistakes he made does not have to dictate how we live any longer. Christ is able to make all things new. That is why we are not to call any man on earth our father, because from the standpoint of being born again, none of the old life is to rule us. By faith we can be completely new, where our only Father is in heaven.
God is Your Father
Jesus told us how to pray. He said, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9). Jesus encouraged us to recognize God as our Father. After He was raised from the dead He said to Mary, “…go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17). Jesus’ Father is our Father. That makes us brothers. “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11). When we are born again by our heavenly Father, we are part of a new family.
You do not have to let what other people have done to you, or anything that you yourself may have done, rule your life today. You are a new person with a new Father. Live your life from the place where you are now, as a beloved child of God, instead of from the experiences of the “old man” who has died. “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds” (Colossians 3:9). You are no longer the person you once were. That person is gone. You are brand new! “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin… Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:6, 11).
In the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus gave us a fantastic example of what His Father is like. “And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry” (Luke 15:11-24).
Satan has so misrepresented our heavenly Father that few are comfortable approaching Him. But notice the character of the father in this parable. As soon as he noticed his wayward child returning, he ran to meet him with a hug and a kiss. Then when the prodigal son tried to belittle himself to the status of a servant, his father would not even consider it. He viewed him as his beloved son regardless of all the mistakes he had made.
Our heavenly Father wants you to know how precious you are to Him, and to live your life as a beloved child of God. When God looks at you He does not merely put up with you; He delights in you. You are not a mistake. When you were conceived there were millions of possibilities, and you were the one who was born. God is delighted to call you His child.
There is a wonderful illustration recorded in the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel, of how God cleanses a sinner. God says, “When I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.” (Ezekiel 16:6)
Blood, in this context, is referring to sins (Isaiah 4:4). God is telling us that when He passed by us we were polluted in our own sin, and He then gave us eternal life. After we are given this eternal life (it could be none other because we already have physical life), then God offers to cleanse us from our sins.
Reading on in Ezekiel, “Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.” (Ezekiel 16:8) God considers us His, even when we are yet in our sins, and He enters into a covenant with us.
After God calls us His very own children, then He proceeds to cleanse us; and we read on: “Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood [sins] from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.” (Ezekiel 16:9)
God passes by and sees that we are polluted in our own sins, and with perfect love He accepts us, even though we are in our sins. Then God washes away the filth that pollutes us. Don’t let yourself think that you have to be good before you come to God, because if you think this way you will always be trying to get “good,” and the day will never come when you think you are good enough to come to Jesus. Christ says, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37) Christ will not turn any away who come to Him no matter what condition they are in or how sinful they appear.
The Father Loves You
Some have thought that God, the Father, is cold and distant, and merely puts up with us because His Son asks Him to. I saw a sign in front of a church once that said, “God condemns, but Jesus saves,” as if Jesus came to save us from His mean Father. I was horrified to see this terrible misrepresentation of God. Jesus said, “For the Father himself loveth you” (John 16:27). He also said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). John wrote, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). And Romans 8:32 tells us, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”
It was the Father’s plan to save you. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:3-7).
You have a Father who would give everything in the universe for you. He has made you accepted in His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. His acceptance is your acceptance because God loves you just as much as He loves His Son (John 17:23).
Your earthly father has made many mistakes that have affected your life. However, those things do not have to define who you are today. God has given you a new birth by a new Father and He has made old things pass away and all things have become new (2_Corinthians 5:17). Live your life knowing that you are a child of the Highest. Do not let what people have said or done in your past define who you are today. God has given you a brand new life, one that is fully accepted and transformed. He has “forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:13). In God’s eyes you stand before Him as though you have never sinned. If you fall, do not stay down, get up and continue living your new life in Christ.
If you keep living from the place where you were, born in the flesh, then your life will continue to manifest fleshly things. But if you accept the new life you have been given in Christ, knowing that your “old man” is dead, your life will be completely transformed.
Paul wrote, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Philippians 3:13). We must learn to let go of those things that have held us down in the past, and press forward to those things that are before us, a new life in Christ. Accept by faith that you are a new person, and your daily life will reflect that belief.
Ask God for His Spirit (Luke 11:13), with the primary manifestation being love (Galatians 5:22), and accept that you have this new life that “suffereth long, and is kind; … envieth not; …vaunteth [boasts] not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). That is your new life in Christ. Accept it as a reality by faith even though you may not see the evidence of it now. Continue to believe that you have this new life because He promised, and after a few days you will notice that there has been a change.
Your heavenly Father is smiling at you in love!