This is a busy time of year for many families. Ours is no exception. In May, alone, we have five
birthdays. Added to these types of celebrations, there are also lots of graduation open houses to attend and vacations to plan in the weeks to come. With all the activity, tempers can flare and words can be spoken that ought not pass our lips. We have all experienced this to one extent or another at times when we are overloaded, not feeling well, or stressed. Unfortunately, our tongues can sting others as mightily as a whip. When we realize what we have said or done, we know the guilt feeling that rises within as the Holy Spirit reminds us that we have transgressed not only towards another but also against our Lord. Upon that recognition, we would do well to practice 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Following sincere repentance, we should put to rest all the guilt we felt and accept God's forgiveness. But what if we still feel estranged from God?
In Paul's letter to the Romans 8:1-2, he writes: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." I think this needs to be before our eyes and seared into our memory banks so we never forget this. When we are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are clothed in His righteousness. God looks upon us and no longer sees our sinful heart. Instead, He, Himself, has given to us a new heart.
Christ has made us free; however, when we do fall and walk in the flesh, there is no condemnation. We are not utterly cast off! This is the Good News of the Gospel. I wish I could stop writing at this point with this said. Nevertheless, there is a lot of false guilt being laid upon the children of God by the enemy of our souls. This is not guilt resulting from sin, but instead, it comes as a result of a works mentality that has slipped into the Body of Christ. We may impose this guilt upon ourselves as we tell ourselves we are not doing enough...in church...in the home....at work. Or we may fall under the spell of an errant teaching that is out there which requires Jesus + something else in order to please God. That is why it is so critical to know the Word. Read Romans 8:1-2 again. Paul could not be any clearer. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus..." We must not allow ourselves, like the Galatians, to fall under the sway of false teachers who told them they had to be circumcised in order to please God. Likewise, we need to address those vain imaginations we sometimes raise up in our own minds that tell us we are not worthy of God's love. Our Lord's Word is true and if our heart does not condemn us of a sin then we need to dismiss Satan's lies.
Paul tells the Galatians in 5:1: "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Good words for us to live by and remember. We must not allow anyone to place us into bondage again when we know that in and through our Savior there is no condemnation. False guilt used by others to manipulate us into believing our salvation is Jesus + something has no place in our thinking.
If we do sin against our Lord, we know that our forgiveness is assured when we repent. Therefore, when we do fall into short tempers over busy schedules, let us stop and turn it over to the Lord. Let me close with a portion of a Puritan prayer that serves as a good model for our own:
"Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find thy mind in thy Word, of neglect to seek thee in my daily life. My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless thee that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ; Go on to subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but do thou rule over me in liberty and power" (The Valley of Vision, pg. 138).
Once we have laid all things at the foot of the cross, we must live in the freedom of knowing that "there is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." Selah!