The Bible tells us the following: “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1: 12-13).
In these verses there are two verbs that are very important in understanding how you can become a child of God, which means you will belong to Him. These are the verbs “receive” and “believe”. We do not only need to believe in Jesus, but should also be willing to receive Him. But what does this mean exactly?
The answer to this question is simple but good to remember and is explained in the Bible in James: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe-and shudder” (James 2:19).
This verse explains that even the demons, which means the opponents of God, believe in His existence. Also, the devil knew the Bible and God’s will very well when Jesus was tempted in the desert (Matthew 4:3-10 and Luke 4:3-12). But his intentions were bad. The devil twisted His words. We can also do this with His words and have to be careful not to.
We can believe it, but not listen to it, not practice what God wants us to do. “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26). Willing to receive His Words is not only important to belong to God, but also to turn away from evil, because everyone who sins is a child of the devil (1 John 3:8).
But how can it be that Ephesians 2:8-10 said that you have not been saved by works or by your own doing, but by faith which has been given to you by God? This seems contradictory. To understand that this is not contradictory, you have to look at the difference between the Pharisee and the tax collector in the parable in Luke 18:9-14.
When the Bible was written, Pharisees were examples for the population of Israel. They showed them the “good works” you need to do to please God, at least you would expect them to do this. But the intention behind their “good works” was different from people who might be less noticeable. God will look deeper:
“But the Lord said to Samuel, Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Please God or more
God will not only look at your “good works”, but also at your attitude. That’s what He’s looking at. He looks at your heart and if it is impacted by His Word. He looks to see whether your attitude has changed. He can see everything. He can see if we are a Pharisee and just obey and do good works or whether our relationship with Him is more than that.
He wants us to change. He wants us to willingly do His will and follow Him. He doesn’t want a boss-worker relationship, He wants a father-child or husband-wife relationship. He wants that we love Him back and grow in Him, because we want to grow, because we love Him.
Grow in the right direction
So, we definitely have to do something! We have to decide to focus on God and not focus on evil things. We have to make that choice, so we can show Him our love. You can compare this with a relationship between a husband and his wife.
A husband and wife have the responsibility to show each other love. They must not focus on others, but on each other. They chose each other once, but they daily have to decide to choose the other again to go in the right direction. When they do, they will grow in their relationship and eventually understand each other better. So it is with your relationship with God. It will grow.
To start with, we are babies in faith, but if we grow in the right direction we will become adults in faith. You can be born again only once, but we have the daily decision to choose for God and follow the right direction (persevere in faith). If we truly want to follow Him and pray for Gods help, than the Holy Spirit will help us to do so and carry us through.
“For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn His face from you if you return to Him” (2 Chronicles 30:9 b).