Sunday, September 26, 2010

No Condemnation

What does it really mean, what does it really look like, to be dead to sin and alive to God, to walk free from all condemnation? 

I’ve been swimming around in the book of Romans lately, mostly in chapters 5-8.  Looking at Romans 8:1, I think the way I’ve usually I’ve usually heard this verse is with the connotation that “no condemnation” essentially equals freedom from guilt, sorrow, or remorse.  In my experience, the phrase “no condemnation” seems to be practically substitutable for “don’t worry about it” in Christian vernacular.  As in, “Oh, don’t feel bad, there’s no condemnation.”  I think that’s a shallow understanding, so I’m digging here until the Lord moves me on. 

   There is so much for me to learn in terms of living not only free from the consequences of sin, but actually living free from sin.  Like Jesus said to the adulterous woman after saving her from condemnation at the hands of the Pharisees “Neither do I condemn you, now go and sin no more.”

But how to walk this out…ah!  There is the rub.
 “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that ones’ slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness.” 
I so often find myself essentially gritting my teeth and saying to sin “You’re not the boss of me!”  That’s better than intentionally embracing sin, but it is not the same as presenting myself to the Lord. 

I want to walk in the Spirit.

I want to, by the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the body

I am so with Paul on this one – “O wretched {wo}man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
C’mon, world, I know you feel it too“For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God…because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

     “No condemnation” does not only mean freedom from guilt, sorrow, or remorse.  But it does mean that if we are in Christ, we are not defined by our sin, its consequences, or the guilt, sorrow, or remorse that we feel when we do sin.
     I am in a place of pain at not walking in the reality of the freedom that I know is available to me.  BUT, this ache does not mean that I am defined by falling short of the mark.  It means that I have been given the gift of longing for God and His ways.

v. 11, 15 “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.  …  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

 Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you,
         And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you
         For the LORD is a God of justice;
         How blessed are all those who long for Him.
 O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer 

He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.
 Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher.
 Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it,"

-Is 30:18-21

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On Wisdom

I jumped into a conversation about wisdom, prompted by Kat's questions "How do you pursue Wisdom?" and "How do you learn best?"

I do glean a lot from books, blogs, conversation, audiobooks, etc. But I think most of what I glean is not truly wisdom as much as it is encouragement, neat ideas, or just interesting. Some of those resources do share wisdom, or inspire me to pursue wisdom. But for the most part I think the questions “How do you pursue wisdom?” and “How do you learn best?” may be related, but they are really not the same question.

        So if wisdom comes from God, how do we pursue it? And what is wisdom anyway? Is it some special brand of smart?

My favorite passage about wisdom is Proverbs 2:
1 My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,
2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
3 For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
4 If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will discern the fear of the LORD
And discover the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

I love this passage, and I love that this post and discussion have prompted me to revisit it. I guess the key things here that impact how I set my heart to gain wisdom are
        v.1 the essential centrality of the Word as beloved instructor,
        v.2 the required devotion of my attention and affection,
        v.3 the necessity of a response of sincere spoken prayer,
        v.4 the high value placed upon wisdom that produces diligent perseverance
        And the final key – the possession of wisdom is inseparable from the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God.

        So, I pursue wisdom by setting my heart and my mind continually upon the Lord, devoting myself to long and loving meditation on the word and the person of Christ, speaking prayers to the God of the universe (believing that He hears every one), and valuing my communion with God as priceless above all else. For me, “long and loving meditation” in this season usually does not look like spending even an hour-long block of time giving my exclusive attention to a passage of scripture. It’s simply the grace-empowered setting of my heart on a pilgrimage into the heart of God. I want to fill my mind with thoughts of the Lord and His Word. I will seek you today Lord, and when Your Spirit woos me back from distraction I will start again, and again tomorrow, and still the next day, and still the next, and again, and again. And though 10 years from now I will have barely grasped a cupful of the infinite ocean that is called “the knowledge of God”, I will, by Your Grace, possess Living Water more than I have today. And therein, I find Wisdom.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Journey of My Heart

I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. (Romans 7:18)

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-22)

So, I set my heart on a pilgrimage (psalm 84:5)

Day by day, minute by minute, choice by choice, yes by yes.

In all these things I am more than a conqueror through him who loves me. I am convinced that nothing in all creation will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord. (Rom 8:37-39)

Day by day, minute by minute, choice by choice, yes by yes,

I set my mind on the Spirit (Rom 8:5)

As I behold the glory of the Lord; I am being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18)