Summary: If you want to know if you’ve truly been born again answer the question: "Who is your spiritual daddy?"
I guess it’s a sign of the times in which we live, but a couple of years ago I saw a billboard on I-85 in Charlotte that said, “Who’s the daddy?” There was a picture of a baby and an ad for a genetic testing lab beneath the picture. It’s sad that young folks are so promiscuous they have to have a lab figure out who is the daddy of the baby. It’s estimated that in some communities up to 70% of the children are illegitimate. Most are born into homes with single moms. Paternity, they wrongly believe, doesn’t matter.
As I look across the landscape of modern American Christianity, I think we have a similar problem, a problem of paternity. There are large numbers of folks, I fear, who name the name of Christ, but they are illegitimate. They are not truly children of God no matter how earnestly they may profess belief. You can’t tell by looking at their lives who their daddy really is. There’s no spiritual legitimacy.
We’ve devised all sorts of ways to figure it out. Go to the funeral of someone whose faith was questionable and you’ll see the spiritual lab coats come out. No matter how terrible a life the person lived, the pastoral researcher finds evidence that the recently deceased was saved. Typically we refer the audience to a one-time response at an altar call or a baptismal event. Sometimes they strain out a good deed or two as proof that the person was enjoying heavenly bliss. If we held out the Bible’s criteria the mourners would be crushed with despair. If their spiritual DNA could be tested it’d be clear that the heavenly Father was not their daddy.
This morning I want us to settle this issue once and for all. If you’ve wondered about those who call themselves Christians but live a sinful or what we Baptist call a backslidden life, then you might find this helpful. If you’ve ever wondered about yourself and whether or not you have genuine salvation this message may strengthen your confidence. This could also be a wake up call. When you see the marks of spiritual legitimacy, you may find that they’re missing in your life.
The Marks of Spiritual Legitimacy
We’re going to take the marks of spiritual legitimacy straight out of the Bible. As we return to the book of Ephesians we find Paul setting for unambiguous guidelines. The first mark that lends credibility to a godly paternity is that you …
1. Act on the desire to love like Jesus
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
The true child of God doesn’t merely believe in Jesus. They want to be like Him. He is the center of their world. They desire to imitate His astounding love as demonstrated in His sacrificial death. Jesus would be your hero and you’d desire with all your heart to be more and more like Him.
“Finally, David Witthoft shunned his Brett Favre jersey for the first time in 1,581 days. The Ridgefield, Conn. boy, 12, wore the No. 4 jersey every day since receiving it as a gift for Christmas in 2003. David’s father, Chuck Witthoft, said Monday that his son’s last day wearing the jersey was April 23—his 12th birthday. Witthoft conceded his son was starting to become more concerned about his appearance after the jersey barely came down to his belt line. Witthoft first gained national attention three years ago, and attended his first Packers game in December. He’s also planning to attend the Sept. 8 game when the Packers retire Favre’s No. 4. His mother, Carolyn, had washed the jersey every other day and mended it when needed.”