Tuesday, August 31, 2010

No Condemnation In Christ!

I grew up in rural suburban town, in an old colonial house that had 3 acres plus (a vast woods to explore beyond our own yard). At that time, our house also had a 3 stall horse barn with an attic. In the winter, we used to jump out of the attic into the deep snow below. One winter when I was 12, a friend of mine and I grew tired of jumping 10 feet into the snow drifts. So my friend decided to use his snowglove-covered fist to punch out one of the small 6"x6" windows in our barn. Well I thought this looked like loads of fun and was yet another chance to display a toughness and acquire even more acceptance from my friend. In that yearning for approval, I completely ignored any potential consequences of my actions. Within an hour, every single window in that old barn was left without any panes of glass.

Winter became Spring and upon my parent's first visit back to the barn, they were shocked to see shards of glass everywhere but in the window frames. Being the oldest boy in our family, they came to me first. I remember pretty clearly trying to lie my way out of it when they questioned me. But the truth did finally come out and I was grounded for two weeks (probably should have been two months). In spite of my actions (ultimately against them), my mom and dad unfailingly and unconditionally loved me. I have no doubt that their love of me has served to further my understanding of how God so deeply and perfectly loves us.

As believers in Christ we all will have moments where we stumble and fail. Our natural inclination in these moments is to run away, hide and cover up our actions. Who wants to be exposed right? Yet these are the moments which ultimately reveal the maturity of our walk with Christ. I was listening to Matt Chandler last night and he said it very well:

"A mature believer stumbles and yet runs back to God which results in more worship. A immature believer stumbles, runs away from God and tries to clean up his/her actions. Hoping to earn what has already been freely given to them in Christ."

So often we focus our attention on our behavior rather than Christ. Ultimately we either fail again or manage to suppress (often temporarily) our behavior in our own strength. For those times where I am able to manage my behavior, I just serve to glory in me and convince myself that I don't need Christ. However, when I fail and run straight back to Christ, I prove that I understand the following:

1. I am completely unworthy in every regard.
2. I have a desperate and dire need of a Savior every second of my life.
3. I require Jesus to be my strength and my life constantly.
4. I am accepted and stand in grace with God because of Jesus alone.
5. I never lose God's approval of, or love for, me, even when I stumble or fail.

Five verses cement all of this:

    We have all become like one who is unclean,
        and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
    We all fade like a leaf,
        and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 

(Isaiah 64:6 ESV)

   But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 
(Ephesians 2:13 ESV)
    I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
(Galatians 2:20-21 ESV)

   There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit   of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  
(Romans 8:1-2 ESV)

   Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 
(Romans 5:1-2 ESV)

So as believers, remember your identity in Christ and no matter what, run to Him. His arms are always open and ready to embrace you with His perfect love.

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