This time of year brings a lot of introspection. Whenever one thing comes to an end and another begins, we have a natural tendency to evaluate and reevaluate. End of the year, end of month, end of a season.
Many people will approach these first few weeks of 2019 in a well-intentioned but misguided way … trying to find or redefine themselves.
As a Christian, your identity is not simply discovering who you are … but who you are in Christ.
As a church, we are starting 2019 in one chapter of the Bible. If you can truly understand this one chapter, it will transform your year. That chapter is Romans 8 but to understand it, you need to back-up one chapter. In Romans 7, Paul is describing a common tension that characterizes both Christians and non-Christians.
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do … For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. – Romans 7:15, 18-19
Anyone else BEEN THERE and DONE THAT? To understand that tension, you have to back-up a few more chapters where Paul compares and contrasts the actions of Adam and Jesus.
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in CONdemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. – Romans 5:18
This is talking about the Garden. It didn’t just condemn them … but every person since Adam and Eve. We each have a sinful nature that creates this moral tug-of-war within us.
This is also leads us to the opening of Romans 8.
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. – Romans 8:1-3a
Paul doesn’t say there is now “no mistakes” or “no failures” or even “no sins.” Christians do fail and make mistakes, and we do sin. While we may suffer the consequences of our sins, we do not have to suffer condemnation.
Why? Because we are “in Christ” – and he became our sin offering. The penalty of our sins was paid for on the cross. In his death, Jesus fulfilled requirements of law on our behalf.
The end goal is summed up in verse 4: “And so he [Jesus] condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4).
Our holiness is the ultimate purpose of the cross. That is accomplished when we live according to the Spirit and not our flesh.
As you begin to live without condemnation, you will experience two very profound changes.
1. When you understand that God does not condemn you in Christ, you will stop condemning yourself.
I often have people tell me “I know God has forgiven me, but I will never be able to forgive myself.” First of all … that’s not your job! That’s what God does.
Second, it’s helpful to distinguish between remorse and guilt. It is very appropriate (and healthy) to feel sorrow and remorse for wrongful actions. Paul will call this “godly sorrow” — a sincere sorrow for stepping outside the bounds of God’s will.
Carrying guilt for these actions, however, isn’t necessary. It’s also not healthy — or biblical.
When you carry around guilt, it’s like having a pebble in their shoe. You can never walk properly because it is always bothering you. It distracts you from other things around you. If you don’t stop and take it out, you will adjust your normal walk and potentially harm other parts of your body.
Sometimes the guilt we carry is not because of what we’ve done but what has been done to us. Perhaps you were abused as a child and made to feel it was your fault. Maybe you were told you were stupid and were constantly criticized by your parents.
The gospel’s message is that there is hope for you in Christ. There is freedom from condemnation.
2. When you understand that God does not condemn you in Christ, you will stop condemning others.
To test Jesus one day, a group of religious leaders brought a lady caught in adultery and asked Jesus what should be done. The Old Testament law required punishment … being stoned to death.
Instead of taking the bait, Jesus simply said “If you haven’t sinned yourself, then cast the first stone.”
Something remarkable happens. The older ones drop their stones and walk away. I believe that’s not a coincidence. When I was twenty-five, I could throw rocks with pretty good accuracy. Now that I’m approaching fifty, I much more aware of my own faults and flaws.
Then Jesus says to her, “Woman has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir.”
“Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”
The religious leaders would condemn her, but they could not. Jesus could condemn her, but he would not.
Jesus models the perfect balance between grace and truth.
As we start this new year, it is my prayer that you will live 2019 under new management!
Experience and Background
- Professor at Warner University
- masters in business administration (mba)
- presenter at the WFX National Conference
- former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
- helped start 2 for-profit tech companies
To get a better feel for my style and personality, you can watch past sermons on our YouTube channel.
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