The Really, Really, Really Good News

The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers, and to us, a wonderful truth in Romans 8:1-4: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (ESV)

I have had my own struggles at times to walk consistently without condemnation. I know so many believers who struggle with condemnation, and who are not walking in true peace with God. Why is this? I believe, for myself and others, that we have not fully accepted that because Christ died for all of our sins, God is not “sin conscious” like we are. Many people believe that God can and will forgive them of their smaller sins, but they do not believe that He will ever forgive them of their BIG sins. This, my friend, is not the truth.

Where does this “sin consciousness” come from? Well, we know that the Law was written down for Moses and the Israelites to reveal to them their sin. The law brought judgment and death. But how did this change when Jesus came and was crucified, died and resurrected? Jesus fulfilled the law! Therefore, believers are no longer subject to the law. Yet, to this day, Christians continue to struggle to accept this grace and freedom from the law. Instead, we want to mix parts of the old law into our relationship with God, afraid that if we don’t do certain things or behave in certain ways, He will no longer love us. Could this be why the “Church” is struggling? Is powerless? Is not witnessing the miracles and “greater works” than those Jesus performed, which He promised we would see when He sent the precious Holy Spirit? (John 14:12)

Romans 5:20-21 offers another explanation of the difference between law and grace: “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Most believers who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior grasp the “eternal life” part of this verse, but many do not grasp the significance of this promise: “…so grace might reign through righteousness…” It is a powerful and awesome thing to realize that Jesus came to fulfill the old law and to give us a new commandment. What is the new commandment? “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” (1 John 3:23) There is no higher law or commandment than this one: Believe in what Jesus Christ has done FOR YOU!

The law of the Old Testament was a standard of how mankind was required to live to be righteous before God. Jesus came to fulfill that standard of living, so that we can have His life as a free gift. If you have this in mind as you read the Bible–“I must do EVERYTHING Jesus did”–then you must do everything He did. Let me explain: you must go to the temple, you must wear the clothes that Jesus wore, if you were healed you must go to the temple and sacrifice as Moses commanded, you must keep the Sabbath laws, you must eat only “clean” foods, and the list of requirements goes on and on. Today, only the most devout Jews even attempt to live by the Law of Moses, yet there is a misguided form of law that people in the Church continue to feel bound to. This mixed form of law and grace does not bring life, peace or freedom, because we are “redeemed” from the law and are the recipients of grace through Jesus Christ. Isn’t this great news? Jesus kept all of the rules of the law while He was here on earth. Why? He had to in order to fulfill the law. In order to be the “perfect” sacrifice, He had to be without sin, and if He had not kept the whole law, He could not have been the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.

So here it is: It is not by our obedience to laws that we can stand holy before God. We can only stand holy before God through the obedience of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Hallelujah!!! This is the manifestation of the love of God toward us: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:9)

So, as a believer, what happens when you sin? Is God pleased with your sin? No, He is not pleased with your sin, but this doesn’t change His love for you. Every one of us has messed up, but here is God’s “mess–age”: He took care of our mess! Jesus gave Himself on the cross to atone for all of our sins, for all time. Our sins “died” with Christ on that cross, and because they are now covered by the atoning blood of Christ, God no longer holds our sins against us. That is His grace! So, does that mean we can go on sinning, since God has given us this grace? “By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” (Romans 6:2-3, 6-7 ESV)

God wants to know that we love Him, and one of the key ways we show our love to Him is by choosing to receive what Jesus did for us. God gives us the choice, because He wants lovers, not robots. (“We love Him because He first loved us,” 1 John 4:19)

Jesus had the unshakeable knowledge of the Father’s love for Him. We can have this knowledge too, but we must realize that we cannot love Him until we know that He loves us first. His love is placed in us when we believe. The only thing we “do” is receive the free gift of salvation. We don’t have to do good things to earn his love so that He will approve. We must simply live in the work of Christ on the cross and rest in what He has already done for us, what we could never have accomplished for ourselves.

When we first believed on Jesus as our Lord and Savior, many of us were taught Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” We began our walk of faith by receiving this great and precious promise of grace, which means “unmerited favor.” Yet, as we continued our walk with Christ, many of us fell into the bondage of believing that in order to become holy, we had to “do” holy things. We became focused on works and lost sight of His grace.

I want to reiterate the last half of 1 John 4:9, “. . .that we might live through him.” We can’t live by the law. We must live in and through Christ. God sees us through Jesus. He sees Jesus’ righteousness, Jesus’ shed blood covering us, and Jesus’ perfect, sinless life. It is not by our works of the flesh that we become righteous, not by our own hard work or power. Rather, it is God’s gift to us that Jesus’ life becomes our own, and we are judged, not according to our own failures and acts of selfishness, but according to Jesus’ perfection.

There are two ways God takes away sin: 1) He took upon Himself the punishment for our sin, and 2) For those who believe in the work of Jesus on the cross, He has removed the law. Forgiveness of sin is not just God saying, “I’m not angry with you.” Forgiveness of sin means to set free from the dominating power – the law. My friend, Christ as set you free from the curse of the law. (Galatians 3:13) Praise His name!!! It is easy for sinners to sin. It is easy for believers to do right because we now live in Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in our own willpower or belief in our own ability to do right.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way that is free from the requirement of works, from having to do things by your own power in order to achieve righteousness. This is the REALLY, REALLY, REALLY good news. . .the GOSPEL! Oh, don’t you just want to praise Him for what He has done for you by taking your sin upon Himself so that you can live a wonderful, peace-filled, satisfying life?

Let’s pray together:
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for sending Your Son Jesus to pay the penalty for all of my sins. I receive what you have done so I can walk in this newness of life. Please show me the areas in my mind where I have been caught up in “law-based thinking” and help me to allow You to replace this with a full acceptance of Your grace. Please help me to be free of “sin-consciousness” and the fear that I can never be “good enough” for You to love. I want to be ever aware of Your grace and love, and to live daily in this wonderful freedom you have given to me by Christ’s holy work on the cross.

In Jesus Mighty name I pray,
Amen

 

Except as noted, all scripture references are from the New King James Version.

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