Tag Archives: failure

No Condemnation

Peninsula Community Church 

April 22, 2018

No Condemnation 

Romans 8:1-2 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 death.

If I polled this room I am sure that I would find that most of us have dealt with regret, failures from the past, and the condemnation resulting from sins committed and those already forgiven. If you are like me, when you look back over your life, you are keenly aware of things you wish you could have done differently. I often wish I could go back and raise my kids now with the wisdom I have obtained through the years. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. For some of us, there are jobs we wish we had taken. There are jobs we wish we had not taken. There are decisions we wish we had made and some we wish we had not made. There are words that have been spoken but there are also words which were never spoken that haunt us.

In Romans 7, Paul describes this battle by painting a picture of the struggle of human life. Paul masterfully describes a life in chaos. As you read Paul’s words in Roman 7:15-20, we are captured with the pressure he is experiencing. Listen to his own words. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. Through this turmoil he reached the conclusion that he was a wretched man as noted in Romans 7:24.

The term wretched is interesting in that it means “to bear a callus.” It can also mean “to be exhausted through intense labor.” The bottom line is this word represents an intense miserableness. It represents the condition of the heart and mind when the believer is weary of the fight to do what is right. It represents the struggle to fulfill the requirements of the law in an attempt to be pleasing to God. In fact, how intense and ineffective it is to try to live this way? How painful it is to fail to do or not do what we desire over and over again? It can be frustrating and debilitating. 

From here Paul makes a desperate plea. Who will deliver me from this body of death (Romans 7:24)? Paul reached the point that so many reach. He is saying I am tired and I am weary. There is an annoying reality that is hanging over me. No matter how hard I try, I fail at doing what is right and honorable before God. I keep blowing it. How am I going to get past this? How am I going to get to the place that who I spiritually and who I am in the flesh is in alignment with God’s will and purpose? How can I overcome the plight of my life? How will I ever be accepted by God? 

The disservice of our modern translations of the Bible is that we have chapter and verse designations, which at times can break up a discussion. You see, Romans 8 is a continuation of all of the previous chapters as well as the discussion in Romans 7. In Romans 8:1, Paul makes a powerful life changing statement. He proclaims There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This is an interesting passage. To understand it, we must dig a bit deeper. 

The first thing to consider is that in the original Greek language it was common for writers to place the most important word at the beginning of the sentence. In our English language the first word is “therefore.” In the original Greek, however, the word “no” comes first. The word used here is not the normal word for no but is the strongest word in the Greek language for “no.” The statement then is an emphatic NO to condemnation. It is like saying, “There is no condemnation, none whatsoever, for the believer in Christ Jesus.”

Secondly, we must understand why the power of condemnation is so destructive. Condemnation has been defined as a statement or expression of very strong and definite criticism or disapproval. Condemnation negatively impacts the believer’s outlook on life in many ways. It reminds us of our past failures and indiscretions. Condemnation gives the false sense that there is no hope and that is just how things will be. There is no dispute on the truth of the accusation per se, but it is how the truth is used that makes the difference. One way brings hope, the other  brings despair. Condemnation also causes us to feel rejected by people and disenfranchised from God. The result is that we walk in guilt and fear and somehow we believe that we have failed ourselves and/or God. Condemnation can also force us into a lifestyle of works rather than living in grace. We are falsely drawn into the attitude that if we just strive harder, God will love us more. 

Thirdly, this passage reminds us of a powerful truth. The idea of no condemnation does not come as a result of our actions but rather our position in Christ. It is not how we act, but where we are positionally that counts most. We are in Christ. That is our position. That is how we need to live. We are in Christ and not under the bondage of past sin. Notice that Paul states the power of living without condemnation comes only to those who are in Christ Jesus.

This truth is critical to our success as the Spirit points us to a life in Christ, because He has delivered us from the power of sin. Paul asks who can deliver him from this body of sin (Romans 7:24)? Who can satisfy this longing to live holy and righteously? It is Christ! It is His death on the cross that paves the way. It is His resurrection that brings power to overcome the sin in us. 

I love what John Piper said in relationship to being in Christ. Being “in Christ Jesus” is a stupendous reality. This stupendous reality of in Christ Jesus brings many benefits. If you are “in Christ” listen to what it means for you. In Christ, you were given grace before the world was created (2 Timothy 1:9). In Christ, you were chosen by God before creation (Ephesians 1:4). In Christ, you are loved by God with an inseparable love (Romans 8:38-19). In Christ, you were redeemed and forgiven for all your sins (Ephesians 1:7). In Christ, you are justified before God and the righteousness of God is imputed to you (2 Corinthians 5:21) . In Christ, you have become a new creation and a son of God (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 3:26). In Christ, you have been seated in the heavenly places, even while living on earth (Ephesians 2:6). In Christ, all the promises of God are Yes for you (2 Corinthians 1:20). In Christ, you are being sanctified and made holy (1 Corinthians 1:2). In Christ, everything you really need will be supplied (Philippians 4:19). In Christ, the peace of God will guard your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7). In Christ, you have eternal life (Romans 6:23). And in Christ, you will be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:22). All those united to Adam in the first humanity die. All those united to Christ in the new humanity rise to live again.

The question therefore is will you live a Romans 7 life or a Romans 8 life. Will you live with the torment of a condemned life or will you live a condemnation free life?  How does this work? It is by grace, but we must act by faith to secure our walk in Christ. By faith, we choose to live in Christ. We choose to walk in His ways. The decision for us is whether or not we will we walk according to the flesh or according to the Spirit. These expressions bring out a strikingly essential distinction between the law and the work of Christ. The former seeks to control and discipline conduct by requirements and threats which brings condemnation. The latter introduces into man’s inner being a new principle of life, where right conduct spontaneously flows from the Spirit. Coercion is the focus of the one and inspiration is the focus of the other.

As I was preparing for this study, something hit me that I had not seen before or at least I did not remember it. The chapter begins with “no condemnation” and ends with “no separation.” I love this thought. The chapter begins with the concept that there is no condemnation when we are in Christ. The chapter ends with the fact there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ. In between these two great truths we have the unfolding of truths that help us live as effective, passionate followers of Christ to maximize our purpose in the kingdom. 

In our discussion there is a secondary and equal point that needs to be made. When we speak of no condemnation and the principle that God’s love never ceases, we must also be aware that this does not mean that sin will not be dealt with or judged by God. Too often, we believe in the premise that since there is no condemnation we are allowed to do whatever we want without regard to the consequences. That is hyper grace and should not be given any room or merit in this discussion. Those who hold to hyper grace believe we can do whatever we want to because we are under grace. This is the exact issue that Paul dealt with when asked the question earlier in Romans. “Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1)? His answer was an emphatic no. You see there are consequences to our sin and that must be considered before any decision is made or action taken. Yes we live by grace, but we must not cheapen the grace given to us by thinking we can sin and get away with it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer had this to say about cheap grace. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession… Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus, living and incarnate. That is not what Paul is talking about here. He knows that God’s grace brings us to repentance and healing and does not free us to live in our sin.

We can live in freedom because there is no condemnation for past sin and failures. At the same time, if we blow it, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Remember Paul’s words. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword (Romans 8:35)? We can be assured there is no outside influence that can keep us from God’s love. God’s love is not exhaustive and it never ends no matter what. The fact is there is nothing you can do to stop God from loving you. If He already loved us at our worse, why would He start now. He loved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8), why would He not love us when we do something as a believer. 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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What is Hidden Will be Revealed!

Peninsula Community Church 

What is Hidden Will be Revealed!

March 4, 2018

Genesis 3:8-13 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

How many played hide and seek as kids? We probably all did this at some point in time. It was fun to run and hide. The one who was it had to hide their eyes and then count to fifty or whatever the predetermined number would be. Once the counting was over, the person who was it would try to find those who hid. The goal for those who hid was to make it back to base before they were found or tagged. I remember a time when we were playing hide and seek with our kids. Michelle had hidden so well we could not find her. So, the kids and I went downstairs to watch TV and one of them would run upstairs from time to time, as if they were looking for her. She was not happy with us because we did not look for her. While this is a game, hide and seek in real life has a different consequence. This is especially true when we play hide and seek with our sin and our shortcomings.

This morning we continue to look into the subject of spiritual transformation by focusing on the sin that is in our hearts. This discussion is important to transformation as sin causes us to do strange things. It causes fear and shame, it causes us to hide from the realities of our life, and it causes us to blame others for our circumstances. But, “how did we get this way?“ To understand this we must turn our attention to the Garden of Eden. It is here God in His wisdom created mankind with the ability to choose right from wrong. He created us with the ability to decide what we will choose to do. Because of the ability to choose, we must not under estimate the power of free will. Because of free will, we have the ability and freedom to make bad choices and do things that are opposed to God’s way of thinking.

The natural outcome of our wrong choices or sin is seen in this story. The natural inclination is to hide our sin and shortcomings as a result of fear and shame. The problem revealed  is that we are afraid we will be exposed for who we are rather than for what we want people to think we are. When it comes to the transformation of the heart, we cannot be truly transformed until the hidden things of the heart are revealed. We cannot stop at just knowing the truth without setting into action the inward changes that redeem our mindsets and give us a new hope.

As we review the passage before us today, we find that Adam and Eve were frightened, they covered up their shame, and they try to hide from God. What a statement! No one taught them this, but they were motivated to do so because of their sin. This was amazing because as a creation of God they had ever thing they needed. As a creation of God, they had no concerns or cares. As a creation of God, they lived in the Utopia most people only dream of today. They were  a creation of God and were created as a perfect being, but now they were filled with fear.

This action exposed a process that is so common to the work of sin. We see something we want. We covet that thing, person, or attitude. We take hold of the item and then once we have indulged in that pleasure, we try to hide the results of our actions and the sin we have committed. It is amazing how skilled we can be at hiding sin. We are so good there are times we hide our sin so deeply, we believe we have taken care of it, only to find it has festered which effects us later. Unfortunately, when sin is hidden it can be exposed at the most inopportune time. Scripture reminds us that we can be assured that our sin will find us out (Numbers 32:23).

Notice four reactions of Adam and Eve to the sin they committed. First of all, they hid. The first response to sin tends to be to hide the sin rather than expose it. The greatest way to hide is to deny. Dallas Willard suggests that denial is a form of rationalization. We rationalize our sin and try to justify its existence. We try to suggest that it is not hurting any one but ourselves. We try to suggest that everyone else is doing it, so, it is okey for us to indulge. We even try to say that no one will ever find out about it so it is okey. We regionalize our sin, but I want you to know that if you are renationalizing your sin, you probably need to expose it and deal with it.

The second response to their sin was that they were afraid. Hidden sin leads to a distorted view of God. When we refuse to confess our sin and wrong doing, we often have a view of God that is less than what God intended. We believe that God is a God that punishes us and is just waiting to wipe us off the face of the earth. Rather than accepting the forgiveness of God, Adam and Eve were guilty of walking in fear and trying to hide their sin.

The third response is they were ashamed of what was up to that point a natural way of life. Because they recognized their nakedness for the first time, they were now ashamed. The remedy they chose was to cover themselves in an effort to remove the shame. As then, shame has always had a powerful effect upon us. It demoralizes us and causes us to be ineffective in many ways. It can also cause us to overcompensate for the hidden areas of our life.

John Piper in dealing with the subject of shame had this to say. “Because sin is alive in our bodies and because we are beset with weakness, the kind of shame we often experience is a potent combination of failure and pride. We fail morally (sin), we fail due to our limitations (weakness), and we fail because the creation is subject to futility and doesn’t work right. We also fail to live up to other people’s expectations. And because we are full of sinful pride, we are ashamed of our failures and weaknesses, and will go to almost any length to hide our sin from others.This means pride-fueled shame can wield great power over us. It controls significant parts of our lives and consumes precious energy and time in avoiding exposure.”

The fourth response is they blamed others. Notice a critical factor here. Rather than take responsibility for their sin, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. They refused to take ownership of their sin and their part of the issue. Please note you might be hiding your sin, if you are blaming others. In blaming others, we try deflect our problems from ourselves. If we can make someone else be the cause of our sin, then we can put that on them and therefore we fail to take responsibility.

So what is the answer? Let me give you two things for your consideration this morning. First, we must allow the light of the Gospel to shine into the darkness. Rather than hide from God and hide the sin in our hearts, we must expose the sin and bring it into the light. Dallas Willard stated that “The only path of spiritual transformation today lies through illumination. The prophetic illumination of the human soul in its lostness is emphatic, starkly clear, and is repeated over and over again, from Moses and Samuel to Jesus, Paul, and John. This illumination must be gratefully and humbly accepted and applied to oneself above all.”

To do this, we must take ownership of our sin and not deflect or hide it. We must allow the light of the Gospel to penetrate the darkest areas of our hearts. It is not by accident that Scripture is replete with verses that speak to the power and necessity of letting the light shine into our hearts. The only path to transformation lies in the power of illumination to expose the hidden areas of our hearts.

In Psalm 119:11 we find the Psalmist proclaim I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. And then in Psalm 119:105 he states Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. John in his writings also addressed Jesus as being the light in John 1:4-5. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. In 1 John 1, John says This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 

Secondly, we must understand that sin does not make one worthless, it only causes us to be lost. The problem with hidden, unconfessed sin is that it can create a mindset that we are failures and there is no hope but that is not God’s plan. Listen to the promise of Scripture. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1). And finally, James stated, Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16). There is healing and there is power in bringing our sin into the light.

Ruth Graham, Billy’s daughter, during Billy Graham’s funeral, stated that she had failed big time in her life. Her first marriage ended in divorce. She fell in love with a second man. She married this man after being warned by her family to not marry him. She married him and within 24 hours she knew something was wrong. In less than five weeks she left him. She knew she had to go home and face her dad. She took the long two day ride home and as she wound her way up the road to the house, she found her dad standing there. Rather than condemning her, he took her in his arms and welcomed her home. There was no guilt and no shame exhibited. By Billy’s reaction she experienced a better understanding of who God was. That was her father and that was her God.

Today Jesus is standing with open arms to receive you. There is no guilt, shame, or condemnation only acceptance and forgiveness. He invites you home to receive His love and grace.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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