Do you have a Bible verse that no matter how often you read it, no matter how many sermons you hear on it, no matter how many times you sing it even, you are still like, “Yeah right!”?
For me that verse is the very well known Romans 8:1:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
My head memorises it but my heart struggles. I open the Bible and feel condemned.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Blimey, my life looks nothing like this! I’m grumpy and miserable. Hours go by when I don’t give God a thought. I am horribly ungrateful in the good times, never mind the bad. I talk to Christian friends and feel condemned for my parenting choices, the way I spend my time and the lack of daily quiet times. I look in the mirror and know my sin and feel crushed by it.
The Romans verse which does totally reflect my life is:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15
This lack of truly grasping Christ’s promises so completely infiltrates my thinking that I had been listening to a Casting Crowns song for weeks thinking it was saying:
“I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just BEHAVE”
Weeks went by and every time I heard it I felt worse reflecting on all the times I had let God down that day.
BUT… Praise God for his spirit of wisdom and pray that I am ever more open to it.
Guess what happened when I really listened to the song? I realised what it actually said was:
“Just be HELD.”
It is not all about me, it is all about GOD.
This spiritual prod made me go back and reflect deeply on my attitude, you see I was half right. Here’s what I concluded:
-The Bible is a mirror which we look in and it shows us our faults.
-My Christian friends do model ways of living which I should strive towards.
-A frank look in the mirror will always show vast areas which could be improved.
So the initial assessment was right, but I had forgotten the crucial thing. I was forgetting the cross of Christ which changes all of this. As ever, reading one short verse out of context means you miss the bigger picture.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2
The lack of condemnation is not because I deserve it, it is BECAUSE of Christ.
All this means that although I am still a disaster doomed always to fail and fall short, I am also a wonky clay pot who is being shaped for God’s purposes. So the next time I hear the voice of condemnation I have to stop and reflect. I need to actively avoid the 2 different traps. Both the downward spiral of guilt and shame which leads to a pity party and the defensive angry bounce back to “At least I’m not as bad as ….” Instead I need to look on it as a poke from God to get me back on track and ready for the good works he has prepared for me.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
Even if the task of living a godly life seems overwhelming, just trust that God is with me and will hold me as I keep my eyes focused on the cross and praise God that:
There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.