A loving and authentic Christ-centered family bringing hope, freedom, and purpose to our local and global community. That’s the preferred future for RCC. It’s our vision statement. This is who we want to be and what we want to look like kind of all rolled up in one sentence. I love that word freedom! We want our community to know that they can walk in freedom because of Christ. I don’t know that many understand it. I’ve talked with countless people over the years who begin to look at who Jesus is for the first time. Maybe they read the Bible for a while. Then they go to church for a while. Then they talk to a pastor for a while. I’m surprised at the number of people who begin a conversation by telling me that they want to have a relationship with God, they want to follow Jesus but they can’t. As I ask questions I usually find out that they feel trapped by their past. They believe they’ve done too many bad things or they’re just too bad of a person for God to ever want them, love them, and accept them. It’s not just the spiritually lost who think that way. I’ve talked with plenty of believers who believe that there is something in their past that they are destined to pay for one day. Plenty of believers feel so much guilt and shame of something in their past that it hinders them in the present and clouds their eternal future. The Bible tells me otherwise.
If you’re reading this, repeat after me: In Christ, I am not condemned.
Let’s look at the last few verses of Romans 7 and the first couple verses of Romans 8…Paul says: What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks 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. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…For 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… (Romans 7:24&25, 8:1&3, NIV) We’re getting a front row seat to Paul’s struggle. He struggles with sin…just like you and me. And he says if we are in Christ then our sin cannot condemn us! God doesn’t condemn us, He condemns our sin. We can be set free from the power and punishment of sin because Jesus came to take care of it for us.
Jesus came and took our place to pay the price our sin demands. Through his sacrifice we’re saved and set free! I used to arrest people. During my days in law enforcement I would handcuff people and transport them to the county jail. As they were booked into the jail a price would be determined for their freedom. If someone was willing to show up and pay that price then they were released. But, they eventually had to stand trial for the crime they had committed. Someone would come and bail them out for some temporary freedom. Let’s be clear: Jesus didn’t just come and bail us out! And, the freedom we have in him is not some temporary freedom. He’s taken our place, paid our price, represented us in the courtroom and he’s had the verdict changed through his blood from guilty to not guilty!
John says: This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10, NIV) Does God love us? You better believe it. Does it matter what we’ve done in the past? No, it doesn’t. He loves you and He proved it. He sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for you so you can be set free. In Christ, there is no condemnation.
If you’re reading this, repeat after me: In Christ, there is life!
Paul says: …if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:10&11, NIV) In Christ, there is life. Plenty of people throughout history have asked the simple question: “Isn’t there more to life than this?” Maybe you’ve asked that question. Many times we begin to ask that question because we’re looking at life with the wrong perspective. The Bible is clear that we can either look at the temporary or the eternal. When we begin to take our eyes off of the eternal and we focus on the temporary we begin to wonder if there’s more than the temporary we’re so focused on in that moment. And it steals our freedom.
Paul encourages us to shift our focus. He says: …we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18, NIV) What are you fixing your eyes on these days? I’ll admit it; it’s been easy for me to lose my focus these past 12 weeks. I’ve allowed my eyes focus on the temporary things. My mind has been going crazy lately. I’ve had these moments where I’ve had to refocus. How about you? Don’t spend so much time focusing on your temporary life. Focus on the life you have in Christ. I love 2 Corinthians: …if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV) When you began to live your life in Christ it was out with the old and in with the new. Your life is no longer about the temporary but about the eternal. If you need to, shift your focus! You’re a new creation, and you have life!
If you’re reading this, repeat after me: In Christ, I’m free!
Indeed you are.