Yesterday I talked about how the Lord changed my life, how He broke the chains of addiction that were holding me down in despair and disgrace. This morning, the Lord reminded me of a verse in His word-Romans 8:1. You see, I had been freed from the power the addiction had over me, but the guilt, fear and disgrace for what I had done still hung over me like a thick thunder cloud waiting to strike me with lightning and give me the punishment that I deserved.
I was raised in a Catholic home, and in our home, if you did anything wrong, and I mean anything you were “doomed” because God was out for your blood. Eventually, I began to believe that God was this big guy in the sky looking down on me, looking at me with disappointment and anger. That was what I was taught, so therefore, it had to be true. But instead of making me want to do good and be good, it drove me farther and farther away. Who wants to believe in a God that is angry with you if you mess up? Not me! But then, after years of trying to run from this God who was mad at me, I gave up (as you all know my testimony) and gave into the God who was chasing me! But still that guilt, fear, shame and disgrace hung over me. Then, my Lord Jesus Christ showed me a very simple verse that changed everything around and drew me closer to Him.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1. I was living in complete condemnation, utterly despairing of the punishment that was guaranteed to come because of who and what I had done in my past. Even though I had accepted Jesus Christ into my life as my Lord and Savior, this thick cloud of guilt hung over me. I knew and believed that He had died for my sins; that He had nailed them all to the cross and that God forgave me, but, something still lingered. Something still rang in my head that eventually I would have to answer for all that I had done. I was free from sin and death, I was free from the chains of addiction, but the punishment was still to come- it had to, because that is what I was taught. I was still living in an earthly freedom in Christ and not the true Spiritual freedom that I had been given.
Pastor Chuck Smith says, “Because Jesus died for our sins, freeing us from the bondage of sin and death, we can now live our lives in the realm of the Spirit. Our spirits were dead, but He made us alive in the Spirit, allowing us to be filled with the Holy Spirit, who enables us to walk in the Spirit. As a result, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Jesus told Nicodemus that He didn’t come into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world. ‘He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already’ (John 3:18) Belief in Jesus removes all condemnation, because He gives His righteousness to us. “
When we give our lives to Christ, we must also give our guilt, despair, doubt, depression, fears, and shame to Him as well. If we try to hold onto it, or if we believe that even though we are forgiven, punishment must come, then we will live in constant condemnation. I was brought up to believe that even if you are forgiven, you will still be punished for what you have done. Condemnation is defined as “a sentence pronounced, with punishment following” (Vines Expository Dictionary) But Paul tells us that there is no condemnation. But how, how can there be no punishment for what we have done? That is not the way the world works.
That is the point. The world we have been raised in will tell you that if you do wrong, you must be punished, and then forgiven. But in the world of the Spirit, in the Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins, He took the punishment we deserved and buried it in a tomb. For me, it was hard to come out of this punishment mentality that I was living in. I thought I had to do everything right, I thought I had to be “perfect” to be a Christian, which made me not want to be a Christian, by the way.
We are sinners, and when we believe that Jesus Christ came into this world to free us from that sin and to take upon Himself the punishment for our mess ups, that’s when we become hidden in Him. I had this picture in my head of God looking at me in anger, when in fact, what God the Father sees when He looks at me is a picture of His son, Jesus Christ. Jon Courson, in his New Testament Commentary on Romans 8 he said, “Romans 8 is the perfect solution…Verse 1 declares there is no condemnation concerning the past. Verse 38-39 promise there can be no separation from God’s love in the future. And verse 28 states that all things are working together for our good in the present. Now, if we believe this, there is no room for depression, and if we’ll embrace it, we’ll experience an alleviation of the depressed spirit that inflicts us so easily.”
Ladies, we have a tendency to think that we always have to be good, we have an innate desire to be pleasing, not only to our families, but to God. There is one thing that pleases the Lord God, and if we do that one thing, we will never find ourselves under that condemnation again. That one thing- believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. Saved from fear, depression, anger, hurt, shame, addiction,….whatever it is that keeps you down, you will be freed from its chains. Free to live the life that God the Father intended for you to live. No matter what we do, no matter what we say, no matter how we feel, one fact will always remain- Jesus Christ paid the price for me, and I can now live free in Him.
Father God, we come before you today and we ask that the chains of condemnation be broken. We ask that you would reveal your love, you steadfast and unfailing love to us. Help us to see how you see us, as your daughters, hidden in Christ, hidden in what He has done for us. It is not what we can do, for You have already done it. Help us to believe that You have freed us and that we can now lift our hearts and our hands in honor and praise to you. Father, draw us close to you today, as we accept the simple, precious gift that you have given us in Jesus Christ. Lord God, we thank you for the freedom that we have in you. In Jesus Name, Amen.