NASB Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8 is one of the most meaningful chapters of the Word of God for me. It’s the ultimate message of just how loud the love of Jesus is. It all starts with verse 1: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I have joked that I was raised to be in charge of peace in the entire free world. That exaggerated sense of what I should be able to control and my inability to manage that responsibility has been the source of personal condemnation for me more than any unacceptable personal behavior. Maybe you’re there too. Let me comfort you with this truth.
Jesus would never, NEVER use condemnation to correct you. Period! The one who has placed his own Spirit inside you has invested himself completely in changing your mind about the real purpose of his life in you. “By entering into the intimacy of our innermost self he [Jesus] offers us the opportunity to enter into his own intimacy with God.ª”
That’s the assurance of the correction that will change your mind about the reality of what loving God, Jesus and, yes, even yourself looks like.
ªHenri Nouwen – Spiritual Formation.
Psalm 58:6 Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; Lord, tear out the fangs of those lions! 7 Let them vanish like water that flows away; when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short. 8 May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along, like a stillborn child that never sees the sun…10 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked. 11 Then people will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.”
This Psalm is really hard to read because of David’s frustration and anger about the injustice, violence and lies of the wicked. Me too, but… It ends with what reads like a gruesome emphasis on how good the righteous will feel when God steps in and wipes out those wicked people.
I understand the need for the assurance “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.” Those assurances are absolute and timeless truths but all I can think of is how important is is to not make the mistake of enjoying the wrong reward. God’s justice IS going to defend the righteous but just as surely it’s “still” HIS righteousness that’s our right reward to enjoy, not the judgment of others.
6. Matthew 6:9 This, then, is how you should pray:..[“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”]
I was surprised to discover the familiar last line I know of the Lord’s Prayer is only footnoted in many versions of the Bible. There’s a complicated issue of texts, dates and translations but the bottom line is many Christians have used it in worship since about 90AD when the Bible was completed. [click here for more details]
The words “familiar” and “complicated” in the same paragraph seem important to me. Familiar is comfortable and that’s what makes it complicated. I’m often quite comfortable in this complicated world. It’s easy to remember this is definitely not heaven…but forget it’s still part of God’s kingdom. He’s given familiar things to remind me His glory can be found even in such a complicated place. There’s comfort in the power of his Word and prayers to strengthen my desire to pray for the assurance he will unite our today with His forever.
cRomans 8:38 For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, 39 or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us. TLB
“Nothing can ever separate us from his [Christ’s] love.” Nothing! “That’s a big promise, isn’t it? Of course I believe it. Do I live like I believe it? This is one of those big promises it’s easier to “believe” than to integrate into the patterns of real life. An odd turn of mind happened as I pondered these two verses. What if they require my submission in order to believe and accept their assurance? I was surprised by that thought. That’s what made “nothing” something to think about.
Some time ago I discovered a one-word prayer to remind myself to face up to the reality God is organizing the fine points of my life according to his plan, not mine. There are times my greatest need is to pray that one word…”Whatever.” Praying “Whatever” is sometimes only resigned acceptance but sometimes it’s the one-word relief of accepting things that are too big to comprehend. That’s submission. Pray “Whatever” when you can’t figure out God’s plan but you’re convinced he has one.
That one word “nothing” in these verses is so all-encompassing it’s hard to comprehend too. I’m going to add another one-word prayer of submission…”Nothing.” Submission is more complicated than I know how to live but I know offering God these two unlikely words of surrender and acceptance are a good place to begin. Remember “Nothing” is really everything. That makes “Nothing” a good one-word prayer to remind you of the vast scope and permanence of God’s love for you “demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us. Pray it!
1 Peter 1:15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
“It needs no proof that it is of infinite importance to know aright what God has called us to…You may have heard that God calls you to salvation or to happiness, to receive pardon or to obtain heaven, and never noticed that all these were subordinate…It was to Holiness in the first place…” From Holy in Christ by Andrew Murray
I Peter and Andrew Murray’s quote made me wonder “why” God didn’t just go ahead and “make” us holy while he was doing all that other good stuff? “Be holy” reads like an impossible demand and basically ends with the more familiar parental response…”just because I said so.”
Then I remembered how well that response had worked for God so long ago when he first spoke all of creation into being…just because he said so. Much later it was that same “just because I said so” that spoke my own salvation into being.
It’s much more personal now that God would say “Be holy, because I am holy.” It’s not an impossible demand at all but the much needed assurance that personal holiness really will come to pass…just because he said so.