There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
No condemnation? Now that is Good News to any of us who have ever been condemned. That is empowerment, these are powerful words that set us free. To those of us carrying burdens it gives us permission to lay those burdens down. The condemnation being taken away from us prompts us not to condemn others; it calls us to make things right with those we have differences with.
We are part of both confession and absolution; when our confession is honest the absolution is absolute! It isn’t that sin has no consequence, but that it has been dealt with once and for all at the Cross. Christ has offered, and continues to offer, to take that burden from us. We are transformed, free to set our mind on the Spirit of God. It is at once both simple and complicated. We aren’t separated from Christ, there is a bond and a union that holds us together.
Into this comes our desire to do what is right to please God, but Jesus turns this idea around. We please God simply by being God’s children, the family of God. We don’t earn any extra favour by doing the right thing or good works. Instead we are blessed by being without condemnation and because of this we blossom and flourish – to borrow a line from the hymn “Immortal invisible”. In other words, we love because Christ first loved us. The kindness, forgiveness and patience we show to others comes from those things being shown to us.
So are our hearts and minds set on the world of the flesh or of the spirit? Can we accept fully that there is no condemnation? Knowing and trusting this does this free us to see others and truly not judge or condemn?
Loving God Help us to know, accept and share your forgiveness And the freedom from condemnation that you offer May we know the reassurance of this so that peace can be ours
Sam Goodman, Elder, Derby Central United Reformed Church