One of my favourite blogs is ‘Getting Back to My Future‘, by Mike Douglas. Mike’s writing is always upbeat and encouraging, and I have quoted his work on my blog before.
So, here’s another great piece from Mike, entitled ‘No condemnation’, and concentrating on Paul’s three ‘Therefore’ statements in his letter to the Romans. It’s brilliant:
Becoming a Christ follower is simple. Why do we make it so hard for people! While people try to make it hard, God doesn’t want to keep anybody out of Heaven. It’s not an exclusive club. He loves all of us and wants to be a part of our lives.
He made it so simple that you can find everything necessary in three verses in Romans. Each verse is the first verse in three different chapters. And each start with the word, ‘therefore’. Let’s look.
The First THEREFORE
Romans starts out bleak. It draws a picture of people who have messed up. See Romans 3:10-18. It describes a hopeless situation until chapter four when the solution is given. We can be made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Imagine! All forgiven, a fresh start by believing in Jesus. That’s it! No hoops! No rituals! No not being good enough. Nothing other than faith in Christ.
Our first ‘therefore’ is verse one in chapter 5:
‘THEREFORE, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith,
we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us’.
We have been made right in God’s eyes because we believe what Jesus did for us. Do you see any other hoops, rituals, corrections or exclusions? Me neither. You see, He made it simple because He wants you to come home. He is much more interested in finding ways to include you than He is in trying to exclude you.
The Second THEREFORE
So far, it’s all good. The writer is excited that he can receive a second chance through simple faith in Jesus. He revels in this and describes it like dying, being buried and then rising again to a new life, second chance. It’s so awesome. He praises God and is so thankful.
But there’s a problem. The writer soon discovers that he wants to please God for all He has done for him. But he falls flat on his face. He cries out saying the things he does not want to do he keeps doing and the things he wants to do he finds it impossible to do.
His joy is replaced with despair. He realizes that despite wanting to please God there is another force at work preventing him from doing so. In despair, he cries out for someone to help him. He then realizes, or remembers, it’s not about him, his strength, his determination. He remembers he was ‘made right’ through faith in Jesus. It wasn’t his effort that got him there and it won’t be through his effort he will make himself acceptable. He already is acceptable to God through Jesus.
Did you hear, see, read that? Let me say it again. You DO NOT have to make yourself acceptable to God. YOU ALREADY ARE, thanks to Jesus!
And because of that he can proclaim in chapter 8, verse one:
‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’.
Fully accepted! Past forgiven and forgotten! Present sins forgiven! Future sins forgiven! No condemnation!
‘No condemnation’ has many sides.
First vertically: There will never be any condemnation from God! You are already accepted. You are back home. A fresh start. All is right between you and God no matter how well or how poorly you do today.
There is also a horizontal side. Because there is no condemnation vertically, there is no room for condemnation from others. We are all in the same boat. None of us are in any position to be pointing fingers at anyone else. No one. Don’t accept the condemnation of others.
There is also an internal side and this often is the most difficult. Because there is no condemnation coming from Heaven we should not be directing any condemnation towards ourselves. See the trouble that caused for the writer earlier – nothing but despair. God has forgiven you. Forgive yourself. Move on.
The Third THEREFORE
Then what is our response to this wonderful news of being right with God through Jesus and our past having no bearing on that relationship? We have already found that clenching our fists and gritting our teeth trying to do better on our own only leads to despair.
Enter chapter 12, verse one:
‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of Godʼs mercy,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—
this is your true and proper worship’.
In biblical times, when sacrificing an animal to God, a priest would kill the animal and place it on the altar. Sacrifice was important, but God makes it clear that love from the heart is much more important.
God wants us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices — setting aside our own desires to follow Him, putting ourselves at His disposal and trusting him to guide us. We do this out of gratitude.
God has a good plan for you. He wants to change you with a renewed way of thinking, living to honor Him. He wants only what is best for You.
Simply believe in your heart that Jesus is God and He died and rose again to reunite you with God the Father.
Because Jesus paid for it all, you can start a new life free from the past and all the condemnation that went with it.
All He asks in return is that give your life to Him so He can turn you into someone more than you ever thought possible.
Don’t let anyone tell you there is more you must do or be. Jesus stands before you with a wonderful gift. All you must do is receive it and open it. I hope you will.
Mike, Is It Really That Simple?
The link to the original piece is here.