Saturday, February 22, 2014

Removing the Wall

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk 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, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” – Romans 8:1-6

One of the most beautiful things Jesus said in the Bible was when He spoke to the woman who was brought before him by the religious leaders to be stoned.  She had been found “in the very act” of adultery.  While everyone wanted to condemn her, even to death, Jesus did not.  His words to her in John 8:11 were “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”  Let us realize that Jesus echoes those very same words to each of us.  While He does not condemn us, He asks that we turn from sin.
Romans 8:1 says there is “no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit”.  Notice the capital “S” in Spirit, which makes this a noun representing the Holy Spirit.  To be “in” Christ Jesus is to be covered by His righteousness through faith in Him, through salvation.  Salvation is a time in which we repent (confess) our sins to God, believing in Jesus as the son of God to be our savior and redeem us from our debt of sin.  At the time of salvation God gives us the wondrous gift of His Holy Spirit, living in us as our guide and our comforter (Ephesians 1:13-14, John 16:13). 

Prior to salvation, we were on our own, trying to be good and do right based on our own merits.  Even though we are born with sinful natures, we do know doing good things is better.  When Adam and Eve at of the tree that brought sin, it was the tree of “The Knowledge of Good and Evil” (Genesis 2:16-17).  And just as they proved, our flesh is weak, and we simply cannot be good consistently.  We lust after things that aren’t right because our very nature is evil (Genesis 6:5, Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8). That’s why the gift of His Spirit is so important. He “leads us into all truth”, guiding us from what is bad into what is good (John 16:13).  You see, salvation doesn’t just give you a ticket into Heaven and write your name in the Book of Life.  It changes you from the inside out.
Your wants change, the way you view life changes, and the way you view others changes.  God is love, and His Holy Spirit gives love in a heart that may have never known real love.  The change doesn’t work itself to the surface of our lives overnight.  But it is at work, changing how we react to life’s challenges, to others, and even to our God.  We learn to love Him and others more and more by letting His Spirit guide us.  Having the Spirit of God inside you changes everything.  The Holy Spirit is a helper like no other. 

Sin creates a wall between us and God.  It’s a wall in the heart, unseen.  But it shows up in our actions.  When we live with sin in our lives we don’t want to be with people who talk about God, to read our Bibles, to watch religious TV, or even hear Christian music.  Our tastes are for things that please the flesh, not the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is not in us, and our flesh rules.  When we do those things, coming near His Spirit, we only feel burdened, which is because of our sin.  James 4:4 says that ”friendship with the world”, the world being synonymous with sin, “is enmity with God” and “whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God”.  Consider the consequences of making Almighty God our enemy.  Nothing good comes from that!  The consequences do show up in your life.
The greatest change that comes from not walking “according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”, obeying the guidance of the Holy Spirit from within, is that the wall is broken down.  We no longer have God as our enemy on the other side of the wall.  He can be our Father, we can be His children, and we can be intimately close to Him. 

Yes, salvation gives us eternal life in Heaven instead of Hell.  Heaven is a wonderful part of the gift of salvation - especially considering the alternative!  But life – even life in Heaven - would be nothing but a burden if we didn’t have peace with God.  Life and peace is the prize of living in the Spirit.  When there is no wall - there is no separation from God.

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