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.
Have you ever found yourself deep in guilt and shame over a sin you have committed? Perhaps your internal sense of condemnation screams you, “Shame on you! You shouldn’t be at church! Clean up your act before you approach God!”
In part, our feeling of shame is the right response of our conscience to sin. Just like how pain alerts us to bodily harm, our conscience is God’s good gift that helps us recognise and recoil from sin. But Satan can also weave a lie into our shame by telling us we must clean up our act before we can approach God. The Bible says Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) and this is one particular lie that will keep people from God. Paul writes, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” (Romans 3:20) If obeying God’s commandments in the Old Testament law is required, then it’s impossible for anyone to approach God. This verse tells us that the law was not given so we can work our way towards God, but to lead us to become conscious of our sin.
The true way we can approach God is this: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Notice that we aren’t asked to first clean up our act; while we are still sinners, Christ dies for us. It is Christ who removes our condemnation and makes us fit to draw near to God. This is why Paul writes, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Don’t run from God when you feel overwhelmed by guilt, place yourself in Christ Jesus and draw near to God by whose mercy you will be saved from condemnation.
Once we have come to God, then we will gradually see our sin transformed. “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2) All people in their unredeemed state are enslaved to the law of sin and death, our perverted enjoyment of sin always overpowering our knowledge of what is right. In Christ Jesus, we can be set free by a new law of the Spirit of life to choose and desire what is right in God’s eyes. Christians still stumble into sin, but we are under new management, day by day our desires are being supernaturally transformed. Jesus said to the woman who was condemned to be stoned for adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11) Jesus has authority to remove condemnation, but he also gives us the Spirit that leads us towards sinning no more. And with the apostle Paul, we can be confident that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
Will you pray with me against the lie that we must clean up our act before we can approach God? Will you pray with me that God will keep leading you to the cross when you face guilt and shame? Will you pray with me repentance from your sin, seeking the Spirit’s power to transform your desires and give you new life?