Monday, May 11, 2009


I love Romans chapter 8. Unfortunately I live too much of my life in chapter 7. Intellectually I completely affirm that my sins and failures are removed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I know that I am a new man because of him. But practically, I still struggle with these things. I still fall short, pretty much daily. And often when I fall short I go into a lengthy process of self-recrimination. I pray and ask for forgiveness. I declare my desire to repent. But then I keep doing these things as if I were uncertain that God had really accepted my prayer. I live as though my debt is not paid and that I have to pay it off by my earnest efforts to seek forgiveness and repentance. I am very good at beating myself up over my failures.

That's why I love Romans 8:1. "Therefore there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Those are such great words of freedom, freedom that I am learning to embrace and live in. I am learning that when I fail, when I sin, when I fall short of the mark, I can ask for forgiveness in humble repentance. And then I can choose to receive that forgiveness and move forward or I can dwell in the mire of self-recrimination, telling myself how worthless and sorry I am that I missed the mark yet again. I don't think that's what God wants from me. But it is a hard habit to break.

I'm loving the freedom I am beginning to experience in Christ: the freedom to be forgiven, imperfect, flawed. Freedom can be a difficult thing to live with though. Why else does religion seem to inherently go back to a system of observing rules and making payment for one's failures through some means, be it a sacrifice, an act of penance or as in my case simply going through a process of feeling bad and kicking myself for a period of time over my shortcoming. We're offered grace but instead we want a system of merits and demerits.

I don't want to trivialize sin. I don't intend to trivialize the atonement the Jesus provides through his blood. It's only because of that atoning blood that I can speak of and live in this freedom. But precisely because of that blood I can be free. I don't need to keep working for my forgiveness in any manner. It's already offered and given. I just need to choose to accept it and live in it.

How good it feels to be free!

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