Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
1 Timothy 6:12

As I said in the first blog in this series, I want to take hold of the eternal life to which I was called. I have accepted Christ and seek to give Him full authority in my life. Yet I know that I often limp through this life not taking hold of all that He has for me here and now.

One of those things is living my life free from condemnation. When thinking about this, your mind probably goes to the same verse you’ve heard so many times:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
Romans 8:1

We all say “Hallelujah” when we hear this verse, and we should – there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus – none – nada – zip – zilch – zero. There is none.

But I doubt that we live like that. I know that there are many times when I don’t.

It’s interesting to note that the writer of the book of Romans is the Apostle Paul. If ever there was someone who would be tempted to feel condemnation it would be Paul. We first see him in the book of Acts. As Stephen was being stoned to death for proclaiming Christ, Acts 8:1 says Saul, who would later become Paul, “was there, giving approval to his death.” Acts 8 continues:

2Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.
Acts 8:2-3

Paul had a history and his name was Saul. As Saul, he persecuted the church. It’s not a history I would want to have. I think I’d be tempted to feel lingering (or strong) condemnation as I sought to live out my new life in Christ. Yet Paul wrote “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Hallelujah! If Paul can be forgiven so fully that there is no longer any condemnation associated with his former life, surely I can be forgiven, too.

What’s even more interesting is the context in which Paul wrote the verse. Let’s look at the verse in context:

21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Romans 7:21 – 8:4

In making his declaration that there is no condemnation, Paul wasn’t even referring to his persecution of the church before he came to know Christ. He was referring to his life after Christ – that even after coming to know and serve Christ he found himself continually tempted to sin. He is so remorseful about this that he writes “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” But you have to  love his proclamation in response to his own question –“Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

It seems to me that Paul’s focus of being set free from condemnation related to his sin nature and his current proclivity to sin speaks loudly in what it leaves out – it’s as if he’s so free from condemnation from sins related to his former life that they’re not even on his radar any more! That is, if he is free from condemnation of his sinful nature even after coming to Christ, if he is free from condemnation of the sins he does to this very day, how much more so is he free from condemnation for sins committed before coming to Christ?

Paul embraced his new-found freedom in Christ and found himself released from the Law, which required regular blood sacrifice for the atonement of sins. Released from the Law of sin and death, he lived according to the law of the Spirit of life. Living under such a law means living free from condemnation.

Potential Sources of Our Condemnation

It seems to me that condemnation can come from one of four sources:

  • Ourselves
  • Others around us
  • Satan
  • God

We’ve already shown that God does not condemn us, so we can rule Him out, but just in case you are still in doubt, let’s look at one more passage. You probably know the first verse, but do you know the two that follow it?

16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 3:16-18

If you believe in Christ, you are not condemned by God. Period. He accepts and forgives you. Unconditionally.

Satan doesn’t want you to believe that, of course, and he will hound you with accusations for past, present, real and imagined sins. Follow the advice of Peter:

8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith.
1 Peter 5:8-9a

Stand before Satan’s onslaughts saying, “I am a forgiven child of God. Christ died so that I might be saved, not so that I would be condemned.” Repeat as necessary!

Perhaps it is the condemnation of others that hurts the most. It does for me, anyway. Especially when it comes from people I respect and/or have had a close relationship with. Earlier today God brought me face to face with an old insecurity of mine. As I wrestled to determine the source of the insecurity, God reminded me of an incidence from my long ago past. Being reminded of the incident, I asked God, “Lord, do you have anything to say to me about that situation?” What I sensed was that the accusation – the condemnation – that was brought against me was brought out of the other person’s insecurity. I also sensed that the entire situation brought pain to both of us, causing us both to walk with a limp for a period of time. These were not limps that God desired us to have.

In Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation! Accusations that have been waged against us, accusations that we have taken into our hearts and spirits, accusations that we have allowed to grow into cancerous tumors with fingers that choke out our life – Be gone in Jesus Name!

Ask God for healing of past wounds where healing is needed. What He said to me about that long-ago situation brought healing to my heart and spirit. A sadness in understanding the long-lasting affect it has had on both of us, but healing nonetheless.

Don’t let others throw condemnation onto you. Take the condemnations immediately to God and ask Him to remove even the smallest speck of the accusation that might take hold in you.

Finally, we are often our own worst enemy, aren’t we? I have worked diligently over the past several years to change the way I speak and think. There was a time when I would quickly condemn myself for even the most minor failing. When I catch myself in such a thought or word, I immediately speak the opposite. “I am an intelligent, thoughtful, capable woman of God. Even if I wasn’t, God would be passionately in love with me. Who am I to think so wrongly about someone (me) of whom the Lord thinks so highly? Am I calling Him a liar? Am I dissing the forgiveness that He has given me so freely and at such a great cost? I surely hope not! Lord, forgive me, and I will know that once forgiven, I am not condemned.

Scripture is clear: We are not condemned by the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Creator of the Universe. “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) That’s a rhetorical question – the short answer is that many people may be against us, but none will prevail unless we give up the ground we’ve been given. Friends, take hold of the eternal life to which you’ve been called – a life that is free from condemnation by God. With that freedom, release condemnation that might be thrown your way by Satan, other people, and yourself. Let your shield against these fiery darts be your knowledge that you stand forgiven by the One who has all power and authority to forgive and that you do not stand condemned. Walk in freedom!

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