Thursday, May 26, 2005
The Forgiven Life
"I do not condemn you either." Think about that.
"There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." Think about that.
"There is no better place for a sinner to be than at the feet of Jesus Christ." Erwin McManus said that in one of his messages. It puts what Jesus said, and what Paul wrote, in more immediate terms.
We're all sinners living in a fallen world. The whole place and everything in it is so coated by the effects of sin that we think it's all normal. We've grown up to expect the world to work in a certain way.
That way rarely includes real forgiveness. God says he has removed our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. Now, when was the last time any person forgave you of something completely? The issue always comes up again. "Remember when you did this..." God never does that. When you ask Jesus for forgiveness, he really does it! Poof! It's gone. There is no longer history. God isn't always standing over you, pointing out all the things you've done wrong and continue to do wrong.
He doesn't have to. We do it. We hear the message of forgiveness and think "That's nice, but..." Fill in your own list of objections.
The church frequently preaches the Devil's message, in actions if not in words. Not surprising, since we've all been taking lessons from the world all our lives, and the church is an outworking of those lessons.
Forgiveness, if we really believed it, would transform the world.
One night I was lying in bed thinking about how Jesus was supposed to take away all my pain. How could that be? How could he remove all of that? There was a chasm between; how was I supposed to give up something like that? It'd be like giving away a pound of air.
You have questions? The Holy Spirit has answers. In this case his answer was to quit hanging onto it. He'd already forgotten my sins. Why could I not also loose my grip on the past?
There's a problem with this. Forgiveness is transformational. Convinced of forgiveness, life will change. Just rubbing shoulders with God day after day will cause change; how do I live with that?
But who knows better than God what is good about life? I certainly don't. I'm so dead that my bones are petrified. Before God can start a fire he has to turn the stone back into wood, and forgiveness is where that starts. Am I ready to live a real God-inspired life? No way. Fortunately Jesus is the author and finisher, and he'll keep after me.
So, questions. What do you think your life would be like if you were truly and deeply convinced that you are forgiven?
What do you think gets in the way of you being convinced you're forgiven? And don't tell me it's because you feel unworthy. We're all unworthy, but Jesus says we're worthy, and he backed up that statement with his actions.
Why do I ask these questions? Because it seems that most of the Christians I meet are still hung up here. They're not convinced that Jesus' work really applies to them. There's some special circumstance that keeps his forgiveness from being fully applicable. Well, that's balderdash. One act, for all sin, forever. Get used to it. The first bricks go on the bottom and this one is the foundation.
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
And... God calls us his children.
Written for Gospel of John study 2005 May 25