Posts Tagged “1 Timothy”

Living God's HeartLiving Gods HeartDeveloping a generous heart brings you face to face with a needy world. At some point, you will see and feel the immensity and desperateness of the need and your heart will be broken. You will see people who have no hope and long to be able to give more than you have to give.

A broken heart is painful. A broken heart is a good thing.

Christ died of a broken heart. Hear his grieving over his unrequited love for His people:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”
Matthew 23:37 (NIV)

It wasn’t just a New Testament/Israelites thing. Paul wrote to Timothy:

1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time.
1 Timothy 2:1-6 (NIV)

Just as Jesus longed to gather the Israelites under His wings, the One who gave His life as a ransom for all men desires that all men be saved.

He died so that men and women could live forever, yet His heart breaks because they reject Him.

Even those of us who know Him contribute to His broken heart. He longs to bless us yet we live lives of compromise that hinder Him from doing what brings Him joy.

When you love as much as Christ loves, your heart will be broken. When you give as much as Christ gave, your heart will be broken.

Yes, when we live from God’s heart, we live in His joy. Yet in the paradox that is living in Christ, we also live broken hearted. Grieved for those who don’t know Him. Painfully aware of the needs of those around us. Sorry for our own sin.

We don’t live in condemnation, but we live in humility.

A broken heart is a good thing. It is a very tangible way that we know we are becoming more like Christ. It also carries the promise that God will be near us:

The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
Psalm 34:18 (NKJV)

Don’t despise your broken heart. Don’t run away from it because it’s not happy or fun. Embrace it, knowing that it is a foreshadowing of joy. It will prompt you to give, which brings joy. It will prompt you to repent or change, which brings blessing. It makes you more like Christ.

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

We’re down to the final days of summer. Take a bit of time to sit in the sun (or shade) and enjoy God’s Word over the next few weeks. Use our Resting at the River’s Edge schedules to stay on track with us, reading four or five chapters each weekday. If you fall behind – don’t worry about it! Use the weekend to catch up or don’t worry about keeping up. Just keep reading. God will reveal Himself to you – He promises to! Ask Him to and He will.

Click on one of the following buttons to open a PDF file of the July/August bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the July/August 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

The August Reading Schedule also appears at the end of this blog.

I love the way God’s Word seems to speak to my specific situations as I read through His Word. I know He’ll do that for you, too. I’d love to hear about it. Email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for August is below.

Resting at the River's Edge Reading Schedule for August 2013

Here’s how the Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules are organized:

  • The first two columns of the schedule allow you to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice over a two-year period. You will typically read about three chapters a day if you follow this reading plan.
  • The “Additional Readings” column put you on a plan to read through the entire Bible in one year. You will read between four and five chapters a day if you follow this plan.

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By guest blogger Pastor Dan Caudill

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.
(Philippians 4:12)

We live in a world of “more.” Pick any topic you want and the general consensus is bigger, faster, higher, just….more.” From TV shows to sports to our looks to our jobs to how much money we make to our possessions, we have this sense that somehow we have to out-do what we did yesterday, last month, last year – that if we have more, get more do more, see more , say more, are more, life would be better somehow. As a whole, we are in a state of discontent, dangling the proverbial carrot in front of ourselves with the thought, “I would be happier if… (Fill in the blank).” And because we often try to fill the voids in our lives with the wrong “filler” (that’s where the godliness needs to come in), when the newness of what we acquired or accomplished wears off we find ourselves wanting….well, “more.”

The Bible says “contentment with Godliness is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6). The Apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” (Philippians 4:12)

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we shouldn’t want to be happy. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t want to have a better world or a better life, or that we shouldn’t work toward improving ourselves and the situations around us. And I’m not saying that it is wrong to have possessions. As I once heard someone say, “It’s not wrong to have things as long as things don’t have us.” I also read somewhere “if you aren’t happy with what you have, you won’t be happy with what you get.”

What I am saying is that I believe it is possible in God’s economy to be seeking, hoping, wanting and working toward that “better tomorrow” and yet be perfectly content with today. In other words, we can be content with where we are and where we are headed at the same time. Each day is a gift. The Psalmist writes, “This is the day the Lord has made and we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)  Also, as the saying goes, sometimes “The joy is in the journey.” I am sure we have all set out for a specific destination (both literally and figuratively), only to find upon arrival that it wasn’t nearly as spectacular as we had imagined. But oh the things that happened along the way, the lives we touched and the ones that touched ours. The “getting there” far outweighed the importance and impact of the arrival.

I guess if we insist on wanting “more”, why not go for more contentment and go for it today (kind of defeats the idea if we put it off until tomorrow or next week). I would like to offer some “helps” that aid us in our quest for contentment.

  1. Take God at His Word. Scripture says He knows our needs even before we ask. (Matthew 6:8)
  2. God promises that He has “given us everything we need for life and for godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3)
  3. Scripture says that the blameless will “lack no good thing.” (Psalm  84:11)
  4. If God is for us, who or what can be against us.
  5. With God, all things are possible (Mark 10:27)
  6. We, like Paul, can do all things through Christ who gives us Strength. (Philippians 4:13)
  7. A man plans his course, but God orders his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
  8. God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. (Joshua 1:5)
  9. Jesus himself said the Father holds his children in the palm of His hand and nothing can snatch us out. (John 10:28)

Well, if you are like me, you have tasted slices of contentment here and there, but haven’t enjoyed that sweet taste on a regular basis. I think I’m ready to go for the whole “pie.” Holy Spirit teach me as I head back to school to “learn the secret of being content in any and every situation.” Let it come to pass Lord.

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

Track your reading along with us using the table below, the downloadable half-page PDF or the July/August bookmark.

Share with others what God is teaching you. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Enjoy God as you begin to enjoy summer!
Sandy

Download All 2012 Bookmarks Here

Download only the July/August 2012 Bookmark Here

Download a Half-Page PDF of the August Reading Plan Here

Here’s the August reading plan:

Aug 2012 Resting at the River's Edge Reading Plan JPG

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Resting at the River’s Edge in September – Let’s Pursue Wisdom

The theme for this month seems to be wisdom. We’ll spend a significant amount of time in the book of Proverbs. The book was called Sophia by early Christian writers, a Greek word that means “wisdom.”

Solomon is the writer of most of the Proverbs and he establishes his purpose in the very first verses:

1The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; 3for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; 4for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—5let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—6for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.

Proverbs 1:1-6

Then, of course, Solomon establishes the place to start:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:7

God has used the Proverbs to correct or warn me very specifically on a number of occasions. I remember being pressured by a boss to lie to his boss and struggling about how to handle the situation. The morning I was to meet with my boss’s boss I read Proverbs 12:22 during my devotions:

The LORD detests lying lips,
but he delights in men who are truthful.
Proverbs 12:22

The situation became incredibly clear to me – did I want to please my boss and have the Lord detest my actions or bring delight to the Lord and displease my boss? Hands down, I wanted to please the Lord. I did and He honored those actions. Very soon thereafter I quit that position and stepped into a much better job.

We’ll also spend a considerable amount of time in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. They seem an appropriate paring with Proverbs because they provide guidance about caring for and protecting the Church. The three letters focus on leadership qualifications and responsibilities as well as church life. 1 Timothy focuses on sound doctrine while 2 Timothy focuses on encouraging steadfast Christian living despite the circumstances we find ourselves in. The book of Titus carries a little of both topics.

Here’s to being much wiser by the end of the month!

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for September is below.

To download a PDF of the September 2011 recommended reading plan, click here.

Watching the Church Grow & Develop and Reading some Poetry

As we Rest at the River’s Edge in May, we’ll spend most of our time doing two things:

Watching the church grow and develop as we read through the book of Acts

Enjoying poetry as we read some Psalms and the Song of Songs (often called Song of Solomon)

As spring develops, don’t lose focus on what’s important, but feel free to take your Bible and notebook outside and enjoy some spring weather!

Blessings,
Sandy

 

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A few weeks ago our church sang Robin Mark’s song “Fortress” during worship. Referring to heaven, verse 2 includes these lines:

Where with men and angels
Where with slaves and kings
I will sing my praise to You alone

As I sang, I was arrested by the image these lines brought to my mind. As sinful people, we are prone to focus on class differences. We are often awed by the “kings” of this world and put off by the “slaves.” In the United States, we might think of the “kings” as leaders in industry and culture. Michael Jackson is the “King of Pop,” Elvis Presley the “King of Rock ’n’ Roll” and “Benny Goodman the “King of Swing.” Were I to be introduced to any o f them, I’d undoubtedly feel intimidated. Heck, I’d even be a bit intimidated just to meet Clifton Chenier, the “King of Zydeco.”

Yet the song brings home the point that in the presence of God, those prejudices will fall away. We wouldn’t have praise for the kings; all our praise would be for God. Position and status in this world will be so meaningless.

As I thought about this, it further occurred to me that all earthly prejudices would fall away – including those of created by touchy relationships. If you’ve lived very many years on this earth, there are some people who have hurt you deeply. Perhaps you’ve done your best to forgive them but there is still hesitancy in your heart that causes some level of discomfort when you are around them. As we sang those lines in the song, I began to realize that in heaven, even these prejudices will fall away. I will stand next to those who have hurt me singing praises to God with full and complete joy in my heart and not a trace of discomfort!

How foolish we are to hold on to these things in our heart! God is so much bigger! In heaven, He will hold our full attention and we will sing our praises to Him alone…and the things we thought important in this world will fall away. Yet Scripture teaches us that we are to take hold of our eternal life while on this earth (1 Timothy 6:12). Perhaps one of the ways we do that is by allowing God to hold our full attention so that the petty class differences and relationship difficulties can fall away. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1) and being released from these things is tremendous freedom.

Here’s lyrics to the whole song:

Fortress, by Robin Mark
By Robin Mark & Paul Baloche
copyright 2007 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music

Verse 1
I have found a Fortress in the Living God
I have made the Sov’reign Lord my refuge
And my voice will tell of all His saving grace
Though the depths of which
No man could measure
In the days of plenty in the days of want
I will put my trust in You alone
For there’s no heart greater than the Father’s heart
And there’s no love sweeter than the Son’s

Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah to my King
Hallelujah hallelujah Jesus Christ my ev’rything
(repeat)

Verse 2
That this love pursued us is a mystery
For the heart is base and You are holy
Yet the streams of mercy that flow over me
Will afford me grace to stand in glory
Where with men and angels
Where with slaves and kings
I will sing my praise to You alone
For there’s no heart greater than the Father’s heart
And there’s no love sweeter than the Son’s

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The History of a Nation and
Guidance for the Newly Formed Churches

Kings, Kings and More Kings
We will spend the bulk of our Old Testament reading First and Second Kings. Don’t lose sight of the message in the succession of kings and their exploits. The two overriding messages in the books of Kings are:

  • God is faithful and His people (i.e., us and our forefathers) continually turn away from Him. In the book of Kings, we see his judgement ultimately play out in the exile of the Israelites to Babylon.
  • Nations follow their leaders. We will see again and again that the spiritual climate of the Israelites very much followed that of their leader.

We’ll follow up our reading in First and Second Kings with the book of Ruth – a book that is all about courage, faithfulness and redemption. Many see it as a love story, but it is so much more than romance. It is the courage of a young woman, the faithfulness of God and the redemption of God’s people. That makes it a great book to cleanse our palates after reading Kings.

Forming a New Nation of Believers
As we read the books of Kings, we’ll also read what is commonly referred to as the “Pastoral Epistles” – the last writings of Paul, which are letters to Timothy and Titus. These letters provide instruction and guidance about caring for and protecting the newly born churches. The letters focus on church life, as well as leadership qualifications and responsibilities. The recurring themes in these books is keeping true to sound doctrine and living a life of godliness.

While it may seem that we are reading these books out of order (we’ll read 1 Timothy, then Titus, then 2 Timothy), this is the order in which they were written. 2 Timothy is widely believed to have been written shortly before Paul’s execution in AD 66-67. As you read this last letter of Paul’s keep in mind what he penned in chapter 4:

6As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return.

There was a time when I didn’t much like the Apostle Paul. Now, I want to be like him when I grow up. How about you?

Blessings as you read this month. May God speak to your heart and spirit.

The recommended reading schedule is below.

To download a PDF of September’s recommended reading plan, click here.

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28We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Romans 8:28-30 (New Revised Standard Version)

We’ve already learned a bit more about being predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ and being called. Today’s blog will look at the last two actions God has taken on our behalf – He has justified us and He has glorified us.

Justified
“Those He called, He also justified.” Justified – He has made us righteous. He did what we could never do – make ourselves holy enough to stand before a holy God. At the moment we trusted in Christ, we were justified. We dare not take this for granted, although it becomes so easy to do so. God has made us righteous. He has set us apart as holy. The separation between sinful man and a holy God is broken and we can have fellowship with Him.

In the passage we’re studying, God has predestined us, He has called us, He has justified us and He has glorified us. Of those four things, justification is the most important because without it, we would have no relationship with Him and He would not have done the other things.

Glorified
Finally, He has not only predestined us to be conformed to the image of Jesus, He has not only called us, He has not only justified us, He has also glorified us. The word translated “glorified” is doxazo – the same word from which we get “Doxology.” It means:

  • To praise, extol, magnify or celebrate
  • To honor or to hold in honor
  • To adorn with splendor
  • To impart glory to, render excellent, or to make renowned
  • To cause the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and acknowledged*

Wow! Scripture says point blank that God has glorified me. He has praised me. He has celebrated me. He holds me in honor. He adorns me with splendor. He imparts His glory to me. He renders me excellent. He makes me renowned. He causes my dignity and worth to become manifest and acknowledged.

And what I love about this is that He’s ALREADY done it! God’s Word says that that I have already been glorified. My dignity and my worth has already become manifest and acknowledged. Are there times when you feel worthless? Are there times when you feel like there is nothing about you that could or should be celebrated? Your feelings are too late, my friend, because you have already been celebrated. Your worth has already been acknowledged. Your feelings are inconsistent with God’s Word because His word says that you have been programmed to be conformed to be like Christ and God has already made you righteous and has glorified you. Hallelujah!

Taking Hold of the Me God Says I Am
Earlier in the year I did a series of blogs based on 1 Timothy 6:12:

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.

I talked about how we tend to think of eternal life as that thing which waits for us when we pass from this life to the next one, but that Paul’s writing to Timothy makes it clear that the eternal life to which we have been called is something we’re to take hold of in this life as well. I wrote several blogs about what it means to take hold of eternal life while we’re living for Christ on earth.

As I complete this series of blogs on “The Me I Don’t Even Recognize,” it seems a continuation of the same theme as 1 Timothy. If we were to take hold of the “me” that God says I am – predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, called, justified and glorified – how differently would we live? I think the difference would be dramatic.

I’d like to shed any old self-image and put on the Me that God says I am. Will you join me? Let’s begin to act as if we are conformed to the image of Christ. Let’s begin to act as one whose name God has spoken in heaven and who has given the title “Christ-follower” in this life. Let’s begin to walk in the forgiveness that enables God to say we are fully justified. Finally, let’s begin to act with the confidence that comes from knowing that God has already celebrated us and made our worth to become manifest – seen and known.

Lord, open my eyes to attitudes and behaviors that belie all You’ve done for me and help me to walk in the identity you’ve given me – predestined to become like Christ, called, justified and glorified.

*All definitions come from Thayer’s Greek Definitions.

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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 (NIV)

Clearly, taking hold of our eternal life means more than accepting Christ and looking forward to an eternity with Him. Paul exhorted Timothy, the pastor in Ephesus at the time the letter was written, to “take hold” of his eternal life. This series looks at the fuller application of that exhortation.

Last week’s blog addressed the complete forgiveness of sins that comes with our eternal life. If the Creator of the Universe has fully forgiven our sins, and he has, we ought to walk in complete freedom from condemnation. To accept condemnation from the enemy is to be deceived. To accept it from ourselves is to call Jesus a liar. Scripture is clear that

But if we confess our sins to him, he [Jesus] is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.
1 John 1:9 (NLT)

When we fully grasp that Christ has forgiven our sins, we can walk in the liberating freedom of being without condemnation. Such freedom is a wonderful thing, and it leads to a walk that carries with it a lightness of heart and spirit. Conversely, walking under condemnation is truly walking under condemnation. It’s like there is always a heavy weight on our heads and hearts.

Two analogies:

  • You’ve seen the pictures of men and women in third world countries carrying their wares to market or purchases from the market in baskets on their heads. What a difference they must immediately feel when the heavy basket is put down and they can walk without the weight and without fear of causing the basket to become unbalanced and fall to the ground. That’s what it is like when we are set free from condemnation. We no longer walk under the heavy weight of accusations and we no longer fear that every misstep will lead to more guilt being piled in our baskets.
  • My mom had a pacemaker put in last night. After surgery, they had a heavy, cold compress on her chest to stop any bleeding, reduce swelling and limit her movement. The cold, heavy compress reminds me of the weight of condemnation always pressing down on our hearts and spirits. Its coldness saps us of our passion for God and our strength. Its weight limits on our movement in ways that Christ has not limited us.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

Christ has set us free from condemnation by forgiving our sins and declaring us righteous. The Galatians had forgotten this and Paul calls them “foolish.” The Galatians had forgotten the powerful grace that led them to repentance and faith in Christ. They had fallen back to relying on their own works for eternal life. Read what Paul wrote to them:

1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

6Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.
Galatians 3:1-7 (NIV)

When we carry a spirit of condemnation on our heads and on our hearts, we are truly not believing that we are forgiven. We fall back, as the Galatians had, to believing we must do better, look better, or be better for Christ to truly accept us and forgive us. Foolishness! God gives you His Spirit because you believed that Christ died for your sins. “Believed” in the biblical sense means you accept it as truth and you rely on it – you trust it even more than you trust the chair you are sitting in to hold you without breaking. God gives you His spirit because you believed that Christ died for your sins.

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 [Old Testament] 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 [Old Testament] law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:1-4 (NIV)

The conditions for your righteousness have been met if you believe in Christ. “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1, NLT) And because there is no condemnation, there is no need to accept any heavy baskets on your head or cold compresses on your heart.

Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17 (NLT)

The Spirit of the Lord gives freedom. Friends, receive God’s gift of freedom and walk in it. Or skip and jump in it! Or dance in it! Or shout “hallelujah” in it! But most of all, receive it and do not receive any condemnation that comes from external or internal sources. Condemnation be GONE in the Name of Jesus. And daughter or son of God, be encouraged and set free in the Name of Jesus.

Well, I thought this blog was going to be about being willing to take risks for Christ because He has set us free. I guess we needed to hear the message of freedom again. I’m certain a message about risk taking is coming, but I think God may have even another blog on freedom from condemnation first! Thank You, Lord, for directing my pen (computer keyboard) in Your direction, not in mine.

http://apprehendinggrace.com/2010/01/09/taking-hold-of-our-eternal-life-living-free-from-condemnation/

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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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