Posts Tagged law

No More Condemnation

Romans 8: 1 – 2

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Isaiah 61: 1 is Jesus’ commission. It is the passage he read which marked the launch of his public ministry. Let’s see what that means to this passage from Paul to the Romans. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.” The Tree of Life version says that Jesus’ job was to free “those who are bound.” Bondage is, therefore, no more to those who are in Christ.

The prisoners are set free because Jesus set us free from the law of sin and death. This is the very essence of Jesus’ proclamation of liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners. We are no longer under the condemnation of the law because we have been set free.

This is a difficult passage in one way. Although it is great news, we can find it difficult in application because it touches on sin, judgment and forgiveness, all of which are very full and challenging topics. Here is what we all need to understand, though. Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death. Where Jesus exists there is life, light and liberty. Therefore, if you feel under condemnation, I would have you approach Jesus directly because he did not leave his blood on a cross so that you should live under condemnation.

This is not a license to sin. Who in their right mind thinks such a thing? We are to live our lives honorably to the Lord, our lives being our worship. “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me,” (Galatians 2: 20). Surely that is an intense statement of purpose. That is the only law worthy of our conversation, that we live our lives to Christ who willingly died for us. But doesn’t that statement also call us up to higher ground? I want you to live a life which honors Jesus’ sacrifice. That does not mean dead works. It means purposeful worship through your work, your daily workout, your diet, and even your driving practices. It means living with Jesus beside you every step of your day. It explicitly does not mean that you should feel condemned because you do or don’t do some of the things your church buddies think you ought. You better be able to take all you are and all you do into the very presence of the Almighty. If you cannot, then deal with that issue, but don’t let the law, or other people’s version of it put you under condemnation.

I believe this is a very freeing verse, but I also think it is saturated with personal responsibility to the Lord Jesus. I will not make his blood of no consequence nor shall I take his and the Father’s sacrifice for granted. At the same time, I will not let another use Jesus’ martyrdom as an opportunity to imprison the beloved. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery,” (Galatians 5: 1).

Law and Life

Matthew 12: 1 – 2

At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath through the grainfields, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Behold, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.”

Whoa! This is major bad news! Jesus, he whom we hold up as perfect, as having never sinned, broke the law. He and his disciples did not keep to the law regarding the Sabbath. The law says, “For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 31: 15).

How many times have we read over this without even pausing to consider the significance? For myself the answer is, many times. This passage is right here in the middle of the first book of the New Testament; in the gospels. It would seem to have calamitous results for our faith. So, what gives?

Jesus’ answer is contained in verses three through eight but the substance of it is in verse seven, “But if you had known what this means, I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE, you would not have condemned the innocent.” What does he mean by this and how does this answer the problem of the law?

The answer is found in 1 John 4: 8, “God is love.” Compassion has greater weight in the Kingdom of God than law. I am not disregarding the law, only showing that there is something superior and that is the love of God which is most clearly demonstrated in acts of grace. Jesus came to bring God’s Kingdom to earth, but what is His Kingdom? Here we see that God values grace over law. He sent Jesus so that we could be free from the curse of the law.

How many of us stand in the same shoes as the Pharisees? I know that I have in the past. When confronted with someone who was engaged in an adulterous affair, all I could see was the law. It is very, very hard not to be so hide bound that all you can see is the letter of the law applied to the situation. Where does grace fit in here? What does love have to do with it and why was Jesus not put to death for his violation of the law? How does compassion apply to this situation and who are the innocents of whom Jesus speaks?

The Pharisees had them dead to rights. Why didn’t they prosecute? Even the Pharisees were forestalled by Jesus’ response. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (v. 8) which means what Jesus brought into the earth is a higher law than the law of Moses. Jesus reminded the Pharisees, who knew the law, what was recorded in Hosea 6: 6, “For what I desire is mercy, not sacrifices.” Mercy, grace and compassion, those are the laws of the Kingdom of God. They are a higher law than anything else.

This, I believe, is what Jesus was trying to tell us in this passage. We have a tendency towards strict application of the law to all people other than ourselves. We get a revelation of grace when we are in the hot seat, but it is considerably harder when we look upon others. Why were the actions of Jesus and his disciples not sin? Because the higher law stepped in. God’s mercy and Jesus’ lordship are bigger than the law. There is a higher law in the land now, one that is rooted in the love and compassion of God. Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of the law so that we too can walk in the grace of our Lord. This explains why the fruit of the Spirit and the characteristics of God are shown in kindness, goodness, gentleness, etc. When we are able to really wrap our heads around this, we will understand a great deal about the Kingdom of God. I would say this is a great passage to meditate on and even to journal. Ask the Father to explain this to your heart, “How can Jesus be sin free when he broke the law?” The answer is as big as God Himself and will completely revolutionize the church if we can grasp it. Herein lies the Kingdom of God in its glory. Partake of His goodness in full.

Stain and Stench

John 16: 11

I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

We are staying with the same Biblical text as the last two days but today examining what Jesus meant when he said the Holy Spirit would convict the world concerning judgment. This is another topic which we have turned on its head so let’s upright it.

Many people are concerned with judgment, especially people who do not understand the goodness of God. In this passage, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning judgment because the ruler of this world has already been judged. So, we all know by now, that Jesus was referring to Satan. Satan will meet his final judgment after Jesus comes back but the truth is, he has already been judged. We already even know his sentence, so what is going on here?

Guess what, you have already been judged too. If not, then why did God send Jesus to earth? He would not have had to send Jesus to be the sacrificial lamb if there was not already sin condemning us to hell. Now, however, the judgment which is upon you is the judgement of righteousness. If you are in Christ and have been bathed with the blood of his martyrdom, then you are clean, and you are judged pure and holy in the sight of God. Hallelujah! Jesus’ blood has washed us clean from the stain and stench of sin.

Consider this simple analogy. Let’s say I literally draw a line in the sand and tell you that everyone who steps across this line shall be considered innocent of all crime. Anyone who remains on the other side of the line shall be deemed to have committed a crime. Now, in truth the judgment has already been made. I judge that anyone who steps across this line is innocent and thus free. The judgment is in the law.

Okay, here is another example. You may be watching the winter Olympics. Let’s say that in a particular event, the rule is that you may not cross a specific line without incurring a penalty. The judgment is, “Whoever crosses this line will incur the penalty.” That is the judgment. All the judge does is collect the data. The person, who will decide what judgment you receive, is you. All the judge does is recognize your actions and then sentence you according to the previously determined penalty.

It is the rule which judges; it is the law which is judgmental. Thank God that Jesus freed us from the condemnation of the law. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death,” (Romans 8: 2). I think this is a clear statement. You have been set free from the law of sin and death and the inherent judgment which accompanied it. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8: 1). You have been set free from the curse of the law and the unfavorable judgment which was upon you.

There are three crucial words, however, in the two quotes from Romans. Those three words are, “in Christ Jesus.” Everyone who chooses to cross the line and live “in Christ” has a favorable judgment on them. The have been granted the keys to the Kingdom of God and eternal life with His Majesty. Your sentence has been levied. You are free. Christ has set you free and whom the Son has set free is free indeed, or as the Names of God translation says it, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free,” (John 8: 36).

So, God has already judged you as His own righteousness in Christ Jesus (there is that crucial language again). You no longer need worry about judgment. Your only task is to step across the line and into Jesus. When you do, his blood is your judgment and his blood is perfect. You are redeemed and set free in the name and glory of Jesus.

Love Law

Romans 13: 10

Love does no wrong to a neighbor, love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.

If Paul is right and love is the fulfillment of the law, then we ought to know this verse by heart. Interestingly, I don’t really hear this verse bantered around very much. Paul derived this teaching directly from Jesus’ “One Commandment” message. Jesus gave us a new commandment, that we love one another, knowing that it would fulfill all the requirements of the law. Paul synthesizes that idea for us in today’s verse.

Love is a high hurdle. There are people we don’t like but God requires us to love them anyway. What does that really mean? How can you love someone you don’t like? Well, liking them may mean that you want to spend time with them, that you enjoy their company. Love means regardless of their personality or behaviors, you still want all God’s best for them. You pray for their salvation, blessing, etc. You are going to be tested when your prayers succeed though, so be warned. God will bless them because of you even if they don’t do anything worthy of his blessing. That is how He is. You might choke a little when they begin being blessed because you have stood in the gap for them for a long time. It’s okay. Just enjoy knowing your prayers are honored in God’s throne room.

This verse should be a lesson for every avenue of life. It applies to governments and diplomacy. It applies in businesses. It applies in every organization. Love never does any harm to another. There is a better way for you to succeed than to step on another human being or their business. We don’t succeed on the backs of other people. We succeed on eagle’s wings. That is the love principle and I tell you the truth, there is no power in the universe stronger than love.

Keep today’s verse in mind. Memorize it perhaps and let it guide all of your human interactions.