Thursday, September 18, 2014


“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 7:21-8:2 NIV)

In the American media, there is a well-established pattern regarding famous or powerful people caught in wrongdoing.  First and foremost, roundly condemn them.  Second, demand a public apology.  Third, demand the person resign or be punished for said wrongdoing.  We have seen this pattern play out recently with two NFL players.  Both have been condemned, have made tearful apologies, and have been suspended from playing football.  There have been people who have expressed empathy for the men, but they were quickly condemned as well for being “enablers.”

In our culture, there is little empathy for the wrongdoer, even if he changes his ways.  Several years ago, Charles Colson passed away. Colson was notorious as Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man” in the 1970’s. He was convicted and sent to prison for crimes he committed while Nixon was president.  Just prior to entering prison, Colson gave his life over to Jesus, and after being released, spent the rest of his life in prison ministry.  Yet, most obituaries and commentaries at the time of his death focused on his crimes, with scant mention of his transformation.  

It is so much easier to condemn when people fail.  So, naturally, we tend to expect condemnation from God when we mess up, because that’s what we would do if we were in His position.  Yet, Paul tells us we can expect something entirely different.  Instead of condemnation, we receive grace.  And, as a result, there is room for change and transformation. Condemnation leaves no hope, while grace allows the opportunity for change.

Paul knew he was a sinner, and despite his herculean attempts to change, he remained a sinner.  There is a sense of despair, of hopelessness as this passage begins.  But then the truth is realized and brought forth—“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!”  When one messes up, grace instead of condemnation awaits if our hope is in Jesus. Everyone else might condemn us, we might even condemn ourselves, but there will be no such response from the One who created and holds the universe together!

Think about that for a moment.  You and I, we are not condemned for our wrongdoing by the ultimate Judge.  Instead, we are shown grace and mercy.  

Today, amidst a world so quick to condemn wrongdoing, know the Lord does not condemn those who trust in them.   Instead, He forgives and allows the opportunity, over and over again, for you to move from being a wrongdoer to one who lives more and more righteously.

© Jim Musser 2014

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