If you ‘adopt’ a new habit, you take it on as your own. Webster defines “adoption” several ways but the one referring to people says “to take by choice, into a relationship, especially to take as one’s own child.”
So when Paul says in Romans 8:15 “…but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons…” he is saying that we have actually been “adopted” by God Himself. Later when writing to the Galatians he says (3:26-27) “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” You see, to “put on Chris” means to take on His characters. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we actually ‘adopt’ the characteristics of Christ and in so doing, God actually sees His Son when He sees us. We become His sons and daughters, “…fellow heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8:17) [more to that verse that we’ll come back to].
Pause a moment to examine both of the HUGE wow moments. First of all is the fact that we supposedly “adopt” the characteristics of Christ. Nobody can be like Christ, but as Christians, we spends the rest of our lives on Earth, growing closer to Him. Because His death has washed away our sins, God now only see’s the blemish free presence of His son. Christ’s characteristics (in God’s eyes) become our characteristics. That in and of itself should blow your mind. God looks at you and no longer sees your flaws but sees your beauty, your perfections, His creation and His own child. That is what happens when we “adopt” Christ by accepting Him into our hearts and claiming Him as our Lord and Savior.
Second is just as big however. God’s ONLY son was sacrificed on the cross. Think of the love He has for His ONLY son. Yet He sacrifices Jesus on the cross to later resurrect Him, and in so doing, creates a path for us to be resurrected as well. When we accept that and “adopt” God’s only son, God turns around and adopts us, making us “fellow heirs with Christ.” Christ Himself said that we don’t earn eternal life, we “inherit” it through our adoption. When we become “fellow heirs” we are not a lower class heir, we are equal and fellow heirs.
Now lets get back to that last part of Romans 8:17 where it ends with “…provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” Our suffering is part of the admission price, part of the price we pay for adoption. While based on our sins, we are actually deserving of a punishment worse than the cross; because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we are spared that full measure of punishment. But we still must endure our measure of suffering in this world. No matter how bad it is, it’s still less than we deserve. Suffer with Him and you will “inherit the kingdom” with Him.
Accept that Jesus (God’s only son) was sacrificed for you personally.
Believe that He was resurrected, defeated death, and His blood washed away all sins.
Confess out loud that Jesus is your Lord and Savior.
Do these three things and you will be adopted. From that point on, God will look at you and see His own child, blameless and perfect. Yes we still have our flesh, we will still sin, but the blood of Christ has washed away ALL sins, past, present and future. As we grow in our faith, putting on Christ, adopting his characteristics, we will slowly sin less. Then when we die and are resurrected to Him, we will finally be as God has always seen us, perfect and sinless.