Beginning Prayer: Show me your way, teach me your path, guide me in your truth.
Passage for today: Romans 8
As we come today to our last week of study, I just want to say, great job for continuing in your journey of transformation. I hope you’ve been inspired by and encouraged by Paul as we’ve learned together what change can look like in our day-to-day lives. It’s pretty amazing how some letters written over 2,000 years ago can still have such a huge impact and relevance for us today!
And as we look through chapter 8 today, Paul sums up everything we’ve been learning the last few chapters with a double “no,” which I guess would make a double negative, which in grammar is a no-no, but in math, it turns into a positive, which is what Paul is doing here. Because of what Jesus did for us, Paul reminds us that we have…
NO CONDEMNATION (8:1). Zip, zero, nada. This means we are DEBT FREE. Past, present, future, we are covered. We no longer have charges against us; we no longer have to be bound by the regret of our mistakes. God sees us as completely free, forgiven and has nothing to punish us for. Like Tim Keller writes, “the phrase Paul uses is not simply that Christians are ‘not condemned.’ There is a much stronger phrase than that. He says that for Christians there is NO condemnation at all. It doesn’t exist for us. It’s not that we have moved out from under it for a while, but that it could return. No; there is no condemnation for us at all--it doesn’t exist anymore.” This has been the whole point of his letter right? Christ has paid our debt; we are free.
NO OBLIGATION (8:12). Zip, zero, nada. This means that we are no longer living by rules but by relationship. We are no longer trying to get things right so we can impress or earn or entice God’s favor; instead we are wanting to get things right because we are in a relationship with a God we love, who deeply loved us first. We are no longer motivated to make right choices because we are worried about the consequences of our sin, but we want to make right choices because we do not want to lose our connection with our Father.
Because of Christ, we get to live with NO condemnation and NO obligation, and it’s an invitation to live transformed and free.
But, in Paul’s honesty, and in ours, we can keep returning back to the question--how do I get my actual life to cooperate with this truth? How does this truth move from my head to my heart to my hands and enable me to act different, to be different, to live different? To Transform?
How do we move our love for Christ from a concept to our marriages, our parenting, our friendships, our passions, our struggles, our lives? Seems like there should be an app for that.
But, it’s not that simple. Actually, it’s simpler. It comes down to one thing: listening to the leadership of the Spirit in our mind, body and soul. Check out what Paul says in the second half of verse 6, “to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace.” Isn’t that, at the end of the day, what we’re all looking for: life and peace?
Sure, it might look like what we want is to stop fighting with our spouse all the time. But at the end of the day, what are we really hoping for? Life and Peace.
Sure, we’d love to get a handle on our addiction. Because what are we really hoping for? Life and Peace.
Sure, we’d love to drop a few pounds, but honestly, what we’d really like to do is stop eating when we’re not hungry and stop escaping our lives in our kids’ halloween candy... because what are we really hoping for? Life and Peace.
Sure, we’d love to get the job, the guy, the promotion, the achievement, the grade, the approval. But at the end of the day, what are we really hoping for? Life and Peace.
In its simplest form, what we’re really looking for in our day-to-day world is life - real life, full life, hopeful life, life that doesn’t drag and hurt and feel so hard. And peace - to not be at war with everyone, with our circumstances, with ourselves.
We want - we need - life and peace to rest in our own skin and live like we believe we’re enough already.
So, the next couple days of our study, as we look at Romans 8, we’re going to look at how we can learn to listen to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in our minds, bodies and souls as we continue this journey of becoming all we were meant to be.
God, what I so desire is to LIVE my life, and to be full of peace. Today, help me be available and attentive to all you’re doing in and through me. Help me to see that at the core, what I’m really looking for is the life and peace you offer, and teach me what it looks like to listen to your Spirit.
Let’s keep the idea of the life and peace the Spirit has for us right in front of us today. Find something to write on--maybe as simple as a post-it note, or maybe it’s a rock from a walk in the park or a seashell from the beach--but whatever you use, write down the words, “Life and Peace” on it, and put it somewhere where you can see it and be reminded that living God’s way isn’t a burden, but an abundance of what we’re all really looking for.
(See if you can commit to memory, or commit to remember, this verse this week.)
“If your sinful old self is the boss over your mind, it leads to death. But if the Holy Spirit is the boss over your mind, it leads to life and peace.” (Romans 8:6, NLV)