"There is NOW therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)
Last night I went "Black Friday" shopping on "Thanksgiving Thursday" and I bought a few gifts at a great price. One gift was for my wife and I didn't want to wait until Christmas to give it to her. I was excited. I wanted her to enjoy it NOW, not later. So, I gave her the gift.
We are approaching the season of Advent - a time of waiting for the long expected Deliverer to come and ransom our captive hearts. I do not wish to downplay waiting - especially when we live in a society fueled by instant gratification, but the truth is that the first Christmas already happened. Christians are no longer held captive. Our Deliverer has come and set us free and when I fail to see this I get "stuck."
Paul got "stuck" too and he describes it in great detail in Romans 7. He attempts to please God in his own strength and it becomes one exhausting failure after another. Paul comes face to face with condemnation and apart from Christ we are rightly condemned, but Christian - in Christ you are no longer condemned. Jesus lived a perfect life, took your condemnation by dying a death you deserved and rose again to give you the gift of the Spirit. This gift of living by the Spirit is not something that God makes you wait for. He intends for us to "open the gift" and use it.
So to finish the story, I bought Daria a pair of headphones. Full disclosure - I also bought myself a pair. What sold me on these headphones was this saying, "change the way you hear sound." And I couldn't wait. We put on the headphones and instantly smiled filled with joy and amazement. We were hearing music in a whole new way! Full disclosure - I danced. I don't think I looked "smooth." I didn't care. I new this "music" wouldn't condemn me and I was free to stop condemning myself.
And that's what I believe Romans 8 is all about. It's about living life in a whole new way. And this whole new way is not something God intends for us to wait for! God enthusiastically sends Jesus who enthusiastically sends the Spirit and condemns sin in us so we will no longer be condemned. This chapter begins with no condemnation and it ends with no separation! And, quite frankly...I don't want to wait to "open it up" with all of you and listen to the "music" of living by the Spirit in a whole new way!
May we be those who hear the Gospel in a whole new way!
See you Sunday!