Adoption is taking someone outside the natural family into the relationship of a son and heir. Moses was the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter. We, who were strangers and aliens (Ephesians 2:12), God has taken and made sons and heirs with Christ Jesus. According to L.R. Shelton, Jr., God does three things in adoption:
(1) He gives us His name. He who is adopted bears the name of Him who adopts Him—“I will write upon him the name of my God” (Rev 3:12).
(2) He sanctifies us by His Spirit. When He adopts, He anoints; when He makes sons, He makes saints. When a man adopts another for his son and heir, he may put his name upon him, but he cannot put his disposition into him; if he be of a sullen, gloomy, sulky nature, he cannot alter it; but whom God adopts He sanctifies. He not only gives a new name, but a new nature. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4). He infuses into us His Spirit of holiness. He turns the wolf into a lamb; He makes the heart humble and gracious; He works such a change as if another soul dwelt in the same body (2 Cor 5:17).
(3) Where the Holy Spirit enters, there is a cry: “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal 4:6). It is the Spirit of God that cries. Romans 8:15 tells us that it is our cry, but a cry prompted and inspired by the Holy Spirit because He is the Spirit of adoption. He anoints us in some manner so that we are able to pray aright. He puts His divine energy into us so that we cry, Abba, Father, in an acceptable manner. There are times when we cannot cry at all, and then He cries in us. There are seasons when doubts and fears abound, and so suffocate us with their fumes that we cannot even raise a cry, and then the indwelling Spirit represents us, crying in our name, and making intercession for us according to the will of God (Rom 8:26,27). Thus does the cry, “Abba, Father,” rise up in our hearts even when we feel as if we could not pray, and dare not think ourselves children. Then we may each say: “I live, yet not I, but the Spirit of Christ that dwelleth in me.” On the other hand, at times our soul gives such a sweet assent to the Spirit’s cry that it becomes ours also, but then we more than ever own the work of the Spirit, and still ascribe to Him the blessed cry, “Abba, Father.” It is literally the cry of the Son. God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, and that Spirit cries in us exactly according to the cry of the Son. (“Adoption”)