OH WOW

Learned something new today. I love it when Holy Spirit drops a new thought into my already made-up mind. I am pretty sure I have a concept or a scripture down pat; that I have a good understanding of what God is saying and feel secure in my knowledge. It usually comes when the Lord shines a light on one or two words in a way I had never considered. It opens up a whole new universe of thought that changes what I thought I knew, giving me deeper insight into who God is. It always, ALWAYS deepens our relationship.

This time it happened shortly before I was going to stand behind the pulpit and teach a section of Romans. A delightful event, as I truly believe that Romans is foundational to our understanding the truth of the gospel. I think it could be entitled “Church 101”. There I was, my speaking notes before me in perfect order, when Holy Spirit began whispering a word in my ear….’truth’.

The first 2 chapters of Romans explains in detail man’s fallen condition outside of grace. In them you read how God is justified in His judgment of mankind. Paul nails the ‘big sins’ in chapter 1, then goes on to tackle those religious minded folks who consider themselves worthy of God’s favor because of their exemplary lifestyle. Unlike those described in chapter 1, they didn’t do the ‘bad stuff’. Paul states that God’s judgment isn’t like ours. He bases His judgment on truth and grace.

That is where the Holy Spirit began tweaking my theology – literally between breaths as I was speaking. I had always assumed that God’s judgment was based on perfection. Perfect, law-obeying behavior. Behavior that was based in those who sincerely desired to walk in a manner that pleased God, and by so doing earned His favor. Now I understand that is an impossible task, but I thought that kind of perfection was God’s standard of judgment. My eyes were opened to a new concept. God’s standard of judgment is truth; impartial truth. Which brings me to ask the question, what is this truth?

Take a look at vs. 4. What brings me to repentance? Fear? (No, that is fire insurance.) Guilt? Shame? Condemnation? Not at all…far from it, as a matter of fact. What draws me to repent is God’s great heart of mercy, His goodness, His forbearance, His kindness, His love…..His grace. That is the truth on which I stand. John 1:17 states that the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. There it is. Truth cannot be separated from grace, because grace is the foundation that fulfilled and replaced the law. In verse 16 Paul says that God’s judgment is based on Jesus Christ.

What bring me to repentance? The truth of the gospel. Taking a quick look at the word ‘repent’, we discover that in this verse our English word comes from two Greek words; ‘meta’, meaning ‘together with’ , and ‘nous’, meaning mind; thus, together with God’s mind. This word suggests a radical mind shift – to realize God’s thoughts towards us. Aligning my thinking with God’s.

So now my question is – what is God thinking about man’s state of being in these two chapters? What is His judgment based upon? He is always, ALWAYS about redemption. Unconditional love. We read in Ephesians and in Revelation that, as far as God is concerned, redemption’s plan was finished before the foundation of the world. The cross accomplished its work even before men were created. God found us in Christ before He lost us in Adam.

That brings me back to my original question – how does God judge mankind? He doesn’t, at least not in this world. Why? Because all our sin has already been judged and punished on Calvary’s hill. That is why Paul is telling us that our sin isn’t big enough to separate us from God’s love, and our good law-keeping makes no difference either. The cross covered it all, from best to worst. And that, my friends, is the good news of the gospel.

Adequate words escape me right now. All I can do is stand in awe and wonder at the limitless love of God. I am understanding another aspect of God’s grace, and I am undone.

Blessings, Judy

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Freedom.   Jesus told us that we shall know the truth, and the truth shall set us free.  John 8:32

The very word implies that somewhere there is bondage, slavery, boundaries, walls, constraints, obstacles….any number to ways that would inhibit me from being all I was created to be.   Jesus said the way to be free from these things is to know the truth.  That is where we find freedom.

Not long ago I heard the Holy Spirit say to me “You make things way to complicated sometimes!”  It’s true.  When embarking on a new thought or truth, or when I see in the distance the place I desire to be, my usual MO is to pray, research, pray, discuss the issue with myself, pray, strive for a solution, pray, manipulate and scheme, and pray some more.   All this effort trying to be free from things that hinder my life from all I want to be.

Watching patiently, Holy Spirt whispers in my ear….”What do you believe?  What does God say about your desires?   What does He say about you?  Discover that and you discover truth.   Believe it and you are free.”  What we believe becomes our reality.    Jesus didn’t say, “go figure it out”; He said “believe.”

Is it really that simple?   I think so.  The most amazing part:  it was all secured for us by another.  His name is Jesus.  God in human form.   His Spirit, divine.  His body, human.  Why is that significant?  Jesus represents mankind to the Father.  Jesus didn’t only die for you, He died As you.  Beyond amazing.  If you want to ponder something for a while, think about that ….gives you a whole new perspective.

A covenant was made between the Godhead before the foundation of the earth had begun.  Jesus, representing humanity, paid the price to remove all sin from us.  The sin that separates us from God was eliminated.  Did I have anything to do with that?  How could I?   I wasn’t even born yet.   This was decided before God declared “Let there be light!”

So – I tried it out.  He was right.   Knowing the truth sets us free.  I used to believe that my sanctification was a life-long process which involved killing off my old sin nature so I would be more like Jesus.  My days were spent in a desperate effort to please the Lord,  missing it, followed by guilt, condemnation and shame.  My entire relationship with the God depended on my performance.    My belief was not the truth.    When I discovered the truth everything changed.  I am not a “sinner saved by grace”; as a matter of face, the success of the cross is so complete that I am not a sinner at all.  I am a new creation, designed after my Creator.  Sanctification is not a process, it is a result of the work of the cross.  You will find that in 1 Cor. 1:30, among other places.   The truth set me free to live without fear, or guilt, or any of those things that want to keep me in that pit.  Pretty cool, isn’t it?

The next time you find yourself running that old squirrel-cage of religious works, ask Holy Spirit to bring you to the truth of the issue.  God has something to say about it, and it will set you free.

Blessings,   Judy