Chapter OneI Am Accepted
"Accept one another, then, just as Christ
accepted you, in order to bring praise to God."
Rejection is one of the most painful experiences known
to humanity. Years ago, I was having a devotional time
with my children when I raised the question, "What is
rejection?" My daughter, Heidi, gave a nice answer, but my son,
Karl, followed by nailing the issue right on the heart. He said, "I
know, rejection is when Johnny won't play with me anymore and
I have to play with Heidi." Unconditional love and acceptance is
one of the most basic needs of all humanity.
Striving for Acceptance
Notice the children around you. From earliest childhood,
you can see them striving for acceptance and the approval of
"significant others" in their lives. "Do you like my picture,
Mommy?" "Did I play well, Daddy?" The social system in which
most of us were raised gave us the impression that if we appeared
good, performed well or had a certain amount of social status,
we would finally be somebody. But try as we might to gain
approval, we always come up short. Whatever pinnacle of self-identity
we are able to achieve eventually crumbles under the
pressure of rejection or the criticism of self-condemnation.
We cannot do anything to qualify for unconditional and voluntary
love. We labor under the false assumption that if we live
perfectly everybody will accept us, while there was One who
lived His life perfectly, and everybody rejected Him.
I regularly meet mature adults who still struggle for the
approval of their parents or others. Ultimately, they compromise
their spiritual integrity to avoid the rejection of man, as
the following letter illustrates:
I came from a Christian family, and though there was a lot
of bickering and hostility between my parents, I think I had
an average childhood.
Everyone always said I looked like my dad, but unfortunately, my mother was often angry at my dad and resented
his family. Many times, when I displeased my mother, she
would say I was just like my father's sister, the one she often
My parents provided for our needs well and intellectually
I knew I was loved, but the feeling and assurance of
being totally accepted and okay always seemed to escape
me. Even after 35 years of marriage and several grandchildren
of my own, I was still subconsciously trying to earn
my mother's approval and prove my love to her, resulting
in many arguments between my husband and myself.
I first realized unconditional love at the age of 14 when
I understood Christ's invitation in Revelation 3:20 and began
a personal walk with Him. I was overwhelmed by His love, devoured Scripture and witnessed to all of my friends. I have
never consciously chosen to leave that precious relationship, but as I look back on my life I see how Satan has
attacked me in my most vulnerable area, the need to know
total love and acceptance.
During our years of marriage and a lifetime of ministry, I have been on some rabbit trails because I did not realize
who I am in Christ. I have listened to negative thoughts
against myself, thinking they were my own. I did not realize
that Satan can use our past experiences and put thoughts
in our minds to condemn and defeat us.
Neil, what blessed news to hear your teaching on our
identity in Christ. I am no longer a product of my past, I
am a product of the work of Christ on the cross. I know who
I am now. I'm a child of God, and the basis for my acceptance
is in Him, not in man. I got the chills when we sang the
words of the theme song of your conference, "Resolving
Personal and Spiritual Conflicts":
"In the Beloved" accepted am I,
Risen, ascended, and seated on high;
Saved from all sin thro' His infinite grace,
With the redeemed ones accorded a place.
"In the Beloved," God's marvelous grace
Calls me to dwell in this wonderful place;
God sees my Savior and then He sees me
"In the Beloved" accepted and free.
Relating to Others
Understanding and receiving God's unconditional love is
foundational for all future growth. We don't have to do things so
God will someday accept us. We are accepted by God completely
as we are. Our actions and works should be in response
to God's love for us, not an attempt to earn His favor.
Finding our acceptance in Christ serves as a basis for our relationship
with other people as well. Paul writes in Romans 15,7,
"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order
to bring praise to God."
Our need for acceptance and belonging are legitimate needs;
they are God-given. But if we attempt to meet them independent
of God, we are doomed to reap the dissatisfaction the self-life
Peter admonishes us to lay aside the relentless pursuit of the
approval of man. "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all
deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn
babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow
up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is
good. As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by men
but chosen by God and precious to him-you also, like living
stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood"
(1 Pet. 215). Malice is wicked behavior that is often born
out of our own sense of inadequacy when we look to others who
have something we desperately need in order to be fulfilled.
Peer pressure is so powerful and the pursuit of man's approval
so prevalent that people will compromise even their most basic
moral principles to gain the acceptance of others. Lacking this,
they begin to scheme and manipulate people or present a false
image to gain approval. When this fails, they envy those who
seem to have what they don't have, and then the natural consequence
is to slander them to bring them down to their own level.
So strong and devious is man's inner craving for significance
apart from Christ!
No Need to Compete
But when you know who you are in Christ, you no longer
need to be threatened by people or compete with them, because
you are already secure and loved.
The Christian is to be like a newborn baby who knows nothing
about guile, hypocrisy and envy. In reality we are like babies;
we are newborn in Christ, and we are to long for the pure milk
of the Word, because it is there we discover our true identity.
Sure, we will sometimes experience the rejection of man, but
we will never be cast away by our heavenly Father. He has
promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
Let me encourage you as a newborn babe in Christ to long
for the pure milk of the Word, that by it you may grow in respect
to salvation, tasting the kindness, love and acceptance of the
Lord. Take a moment to express your gratefulness to the Lord
* * *
Dear heavenly Father, I pray that You would open my eyes
so I may know and personally receive Your unconditional love
and acceptance. I renounce the lies of Satan that question
Your love and insist I must earn Your love and approval. I
choose to believe that I am accepted in Christ. I ask for Your
grace to sustain me as I face the rejection of mankind, and may
You enable me to stand against the peer pressure that tempts
me to compromise. In Jesus' precious name I pray. Amen.
Chapter TwoI Am God's Child
"Yet to all who received him, to those who
believed in his name, he gave the right to
become children of God-children born not of
natural descent, nor of human decision or
a husband's will, but born of God."
The most important belief about ourselves is that we are
children of God and that being His child is a right given
to us by God Himself.
Let me use my family heritage as an illustration of some
important truths about our spiritual heritage. If my father had
never been born, would I have been born? If my grandfather
had never existed, would my father have existed? Obviously,
the answer is no. That my father and grandfather did exist is the
basis for my being here. If you continue with this logic, you can
see that we are all related, or "in Adam." Between descendants,
there exists a blood relationship, born of the flesh and the will
Would I Still Be a Son?
Once I was born, was there anything I could have done to
undo my relationship with my dad? What if he kicked me out
of the home? Would I still be his son? If he attempted to disown
me, would I still be his child? Yes, I would, because we are blood
But was there something I could have done that would cause
me to no longer live in harmony with my father? Sure, and I
probably discovered almost every way by the time I was five.
But that had nothing to do with the blood relationship. Living
in harmony with my father hinged on one issue: my obedience.
If I obeyed my father, we got along fine; if I didn't, we had problems.
My father was a taskmaster, and I learned from my earliest
days that if he told me to run and get a wrench, he meant "run."
I suppose that I, like Christ, learned obedience from the things
I suffered (see Heb. 5:8). Today, I am eternally grateful God gave
me a father who taught me to obey.
My relationship with my dad was born out of natural descent,
based on the human decision of my parents. Years later, I was
privileged to enter a new relationship, to be born of God. The
decision to enter into that relationship was not of my mother,
nor of my father. The only one who had a volitional choice was
me. I alone could choose to believe and receive Christ. Now
that I am God's child, is there anything I could do that would
cause me to lose that relatedness? Personally, I don't think so.
Why? Because I am blood related. "For you know that it was not
with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were
redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from
your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb
without blemish or defect" (1 Pet. 1:18,19).
Will God Leave Me?
The issue isn't really whether or not I choose to, or am able
to, hang on to this relationship with God. The issue is whether
or not God will ever leave me or forsake me, which He promised
He would never do. By choice, I could disobey and no longer
live in harmony with my heavenly Father, but that would not
affect the blood relationship, and as long as I obey God, I will live
in harmony with Him.
Making these distinctions is critical. If I thought it was my
obedience that determined whether or not I would stay related
to God, I would be subjecting myself again to legalism. And if I
did, I would logically conclude that I was related to God by my
obedience, so if I disobeyed I would lose my relationship with
Him. But that's not true; we are saved by grace, through faith,
not by works.
On the other hand, there are those who glibly say, "I know
God will never leave me," but they fail to live a happy, victorious
life because they don't obey Him. But Jesus says, "`If anyone
loves me, he will obey my teaching'" (John 14:23). And that
is not only for His sake but for ours. I like the simple truth of
the classic old song:
Trust and obey,
For there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.
We are not saved by how we behave; we are saved by how we
believe. When we enter into a relationship with God by faith, we
can exclaim with John, "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! . 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).
This important passage drives home again how critical it is
to know who we are as children of God, because that serves as
the basis for how we live our lives. No person can consistently
behave in a way that is inconsistent with how he perceives himself.
The Child of a Heavenly Father
When Jesus instructed the disciples to pray, how did He start?
He started with "Our Father." Through the Freedom in Christ
seminars and ministry, we lead people through seven "Steps to
Freedom," which are a central part of the bondage-breaking
process. (Steps to Freedom are available separately.)
The prayers in the Steps to Freedom begin with "Dear heavenly
Father." One lady was unable to pray those words during
the first two prayers, but at the third step, the step on forgiveness,
she chose to forgive her father for sexually abusing her as
a small child. Then she renounced the lie Satan had been telling
her-that God, her heavenly Father, is like her earthly father.
At the next prayer, a joyous smile broke out on her face as she
prayed, "Dear heavenly Father."
That is the most important inward, personal thing we can
say as we address God. And if He is our Father, then we must
be His children. Do you have this assurance? If not, why not
settle it right now? The devil may come along and say, "What
right do you have to call yourself God's child?" Renounce that as
a lie, because the truth is, God has given to you that right. It's
not a right you have earned; John 1:12 says He gave it to you.
If you have never made certain of your relationship with God,
let me encourage you to pray this way:
* * *
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for dying on the cross,
taking my place and taking my sin upon Yourself. I realize
that I could not have any relationship with You on the basis of
my works. But I thank You that in Christ I am forgiven, and
right now, if I have never done so before, I receive You into my
life. I believe that Jesus died for my sin, was raised on the third
day and I confess now with my mouth that Jesus is Lord.
I come to You as Your child. I thank You for giving me eternal
life. I renounce any lie of Satan that I have no right to be
called Your child, and I thank You that you have given me that
right. I no longer put any confidence in myself; my confidence
is in You and the fact that I am saved, not by what I have
done, but by what You have done through Christ on the cross.
I now accept myself as a child of God because of the free gift
You have given to me. I gladly receive it and accept it for all of
eternity. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Excerpted from Who I Am in Christ
by Neil T. Anderson
Copyright © 2001 by Neil T. Anderson
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.