For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ Romans 8:15—NKJV

Observations of family life often open up views of our relationship with our heavenly Father. My children returned from college for the summer and we had a rare opportunity to visit my mother’s house and be together as a family. The thought struck me that there is really only one place on earth where it is always allowable to act like a child—home. There is no other place where this behavior is always within the realm of “the allowable.”

The shenanigans, the childlike trust, the sense that all belongs to everybody and everything, the ability to “let your hair down and be yourself”, and the opportunities of discussing topics as expansive as the universe or as intimate as is humanly imaginable are all within reach to the healthy home. There is no other arena in our life experience that quite compares.

This phenomenon sheds light on numerous passages in Scripture which speak to the childlike relationship a believer has with his heavenly Father. No other relationship should be as free. Our Lord teaches “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven (Matthew 23:9).” Jesus Christ is expressing that we are not to place infallible teaching authority in any man on the earth (in the context are found teaching titles such as rabbi, master and father), but rather preserve in your heart the recognition of the special quality of the infallible teaching of your heavenly Rabbi, Master, and Father. This is not to ignore the fact that we have earthly fathers and, if you are born again, you have an earthly, spiritual “father” who led you to Christ (1 Corinthians 4:15). Infallibility belongs to only One, so be wise and knowing as to who you call “Father.”

Our verse in Romans 8 is fascinating in that it expresses heavenly truth in easily grasped earthly concepts. We all have a general view of the “perfect home.” The perfect home would be one which is free from fear. Truly blessed is such a home where abject fear is banished and the richness of 100% trust is extended by all parties. No secrets, no belittling, perfect acceptance, good counsel and wise choices in word and deed would promote a sense of being “at home.” This sense of being “at home” is what the Holy Spirit produces in us when we are led by the Spirit to trust and obey. When we refuse Him and follow fleshly urgings we voluntarily submit to bondage to sin producing fear. The unsaved heart and mind is enslaved to sin and fear. It is from this slave market that we are bought by the blood of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit teaches to our hearts the love of freedom and liberty in Christ.

The freedom and liberty is here described as the spirit of adoption (naming as an adult son, accepted with the full privileges of the name of the Father). The confidence of authentic sonship is a product of the Holy Spirit in your life which promotes the behavior of intimate communion with the heavenly Father.

“Abba, Father” are two words. The first is Aramaic, the sound which a baby can begin to verbalize in infancy and treasured by fathers when your grown child calls you “Dad.” It stands for unreasoning trust, a personal relationship. The second is Greek, speaking of the intellectual grasp of the meaning of the relationship. Taken together the richness of the long-standing love and trusting confidence of father to child and child to father comes into full view.

There is only one place where it is acceptable for you to act like a child—in the intimate relationship with your heavenly Father. How active is your prayer closet? Do you jealously guard and diligently feed that most precious relationship which you have with your eternal Father? Trust and obey.