not guilty

Today’s reading was Romans 7:21-8:4

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 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. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?


This is an eloquent description of the struggle all Christians encounter. Even the great apostle Paul was on the brink of despair about this inner struggle, and he had an encounter with Christ that was pretty direct. If even he, the anointed and appointed apostle could still experience this struggle, what hope is there for me? Even those of us who feel that we live in a way that pleases God 90% of the time, may still be devastated about the 10% of the time that we fail him. What are we do do? How do we escape the condemnation and self-loathing that this creates in us. I’m glad that Paul did not end here, but continued like this:

25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

And then in Romans 8:1-2:

8 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. 

Two great facts:

  1. We have a deliverer in Christ Jesus our Lord. We are not left to flail helplessly like a drowning man, but rescue is there.
  2. There is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. God does not condemn us. He has nothing against us because the totality of his wrath against sin was poured out on his Son, who willingly took it for us.

I think this second one is harder for us to grasp. We might accept that we have a savior, but find it harder to deal with the condemnation issue. We might think, “Well, God has forgiven me, but I can’t forgive myself.”

What we need to realize is that Jesus saves us not only from sin and death, but also from condemnation. And to continue to condemn ourselves, when God chooses not to, is tantamount to elevating our assessment of our guilt above that of God’s. If God says, “Not Guilty,” who am I to say, “No. Still Guilty.” Surely I should accept the verdict of the arbiter of the universe, the source of truth and goodness.

We may accuse ourselves. The Devil may accuse us (the Greek word “satanos” means “accuser”), but God pronounces us innocent, forgiven, clean. Which voice will you choose to believe today?

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