But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
It is very popular (and psychologically soothing) to refer to all of humanity as "children of God". But scripture reserves that designation for a unique class of people. I think it is fine to know that all people are loved by God as unique creations of His hand, but the concept of being one of God's "sons" is reserved for those who by faith have trusted Christ for eternal salvation.
Paul makes this argument in a unique setting. The Jews had prided themselves on a unique relationship with God as His chosen nation. And they saw themselves as the "sons of God". But Paul makes it clear that things have changed. God sent His only Son into the world. And the unique covenant with Israel was meant to bring people (Jews and Gentiles alike) into faith in Christ. That is what makes one a "son" of God by faith.
What a privilege then it is to live as one of God's children in the world! It comes through the work of Christ on the behalf of God's sons. It leads to a new relationship with God in the work of Jesus Christ. It makes us God's own children in a full and a legal sense. We are no longer under a "guardians" care. We have all the full and legal responsibilities of an heir to the family fortune. That is what Paul is driving at in this statement.
It is a lot to think about. God has entered into a new relationship with me because I have trusted Christ. In that new relationship, I am trusted by him as His "son", given all the rights and privileges and responsibilities of an adult heir along with Jesus. That is what it means to be a child of God. It is to live a responsible Christian life for the glory of the Father.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13