1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Jesus is calling you to come to Him in whatever state you are in with every burden you carry. He promises to help you. No one is excluded from His call:
28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
What Jesus did on the cross was so powerful that it made it possible for anyone to receive forgiveness for anything and to be able to approach our Heavenly Father freely and with confidence:
12In him (Christ) and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
But it wasn’t always this way! There was a time when God related to the people of Israel in a completely different way. He gave them His Law, which they were required to keep. The Law was glorious but it wasn’t able to bring them righteousness, rather it condemned them because they couldn’t keep it. What Jesus has brought us is a superior ministry, established on better promises (Hebrews 8:6) and it is much more glorious because it is able to bring us righteousness:
2 Corinthians 3:9
9If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!
Let’s take a closer look at how things have changed.
The Lord God was tangibly with the Israelites when He led them out of Egypt and during the 40 years that they were wandering in the wilderness:
21By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
God had sent ten plagues on the Egyptians and yet had protected the children of Israel from each of the plagues (see Exodus 7-11).
They had experienced the might and power of God when He parted the waters of the Red Sea allowing them to cross as if they were walking on dry land (Exodus 14:21-22) whilst separating them from the pursuing Egyptian army with a pillar of cloud. The cloud brought darkness to the Egyptian side and light to Israel’s side; then once Israel had crossed over, the sea went back and covered the entire Egyptian army drowning them all.
Yet despite God’s tangible presence, His mighty miracles and the way He continually protected and provided for His people, the Israelites frequently grumbled and rebelled against Him. God was taking His people to a rich and fertile land, which was already inhabited by other nations but He had promised their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob many years earlier to give it to their future descendants, the Israelites. Now in Deuteronomy 9 Moses reminded them that:
5It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 6Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.
7Remember this and never forget how you aroused the anger of the Lord your God in the wilderness. From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the Lord.
By this time God had given the Israelites the Law to live by which set them apart from all the other nations. For example they were not to engage in the detestable practices of the surrounding peoples such as idol worship and child sacrifice (Leviticus 18:21) and they were to treat foreigners living among them as if they were native-born (Leviticus 19:34). God said there would be blessings for obedience but disobedience would incur His wrath.
In Deuteronomy 9 Moses emphasized their unrighteousness and commanded them to remember their rebellious acts which had aroused the anger of the Lord in order to motivate them to be righteous. Under the Law there was an elaborate sacrificial system to atone for sin in order to maintain right relationship with the Lord. Animal sacrifices were required daily, with additional sacrifices each Sabbath, at the beginning of each month as well as at the appointed festivals and also every time unintentional sin was committed or just as freewill offerings. Even then some sins such as murder and adultery could not be atoned for.
But the Old Testament shows that over the years that followed, God’s Covenant People were not able to keep the Law and the Law with all its commandments and sacrifices was not able to make them righteous (Romans 8:3, Galatians 3:21, Hebrews 8:7). Remembering their rebellion and the consequent anger of the Lord didn’t work either. Even God’s visible, tangible presence and His mighty acts of deliverance didn’t change His people’s propensity to sin. A new nature was necessary.
And this was what God had intended all along! The only way that we could become righteous was not by remembering the consequences of our sins and trying to follow the law but by receiving a brand new nature- the nature of His Son Jesus:
29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
God’s plan was that we might be “conformed to the image of His Son”. The word “conformed” in the Greek is summorphos (σύμμορφος) which means similar, conformed to, by sharing the same inner essence-identity (form); showing similar behavior from having the same essential nature (HELPS Word-studies). God’s intention was that we would have the same essential nature as Jesus!
King David who lived approximately 1000 years before the birth of Jesus, under the Old Covenant system of the Law loved God and was known as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), but still he couldn’t keep the Law. David longed for a relationship in which his sins were covered and not counted against him. He expressed this in Psalm 32:
1Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
And he longed for a new nature - a pure heart and a renewed spirit:
10Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
David also knew that God’s heart towards us was to permanently remove our sins:
11For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
And God Himself, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah said He was going to make a new covenant with His people, one in which He would forgive their wickedness and no longer remember their sins (Jeremiah 31:34).
And that is exactly what Our Heavenly Father did for us by sending His Beloved Son to do away with sin once and for all!
Speaking of Christ’s sacrifice the writer of Hebrews said this:
But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 9:26)
The greek word translated “do away with” in the above verse is athetésis (ἀθέτησις): a setting aside, an annulment, nullification, abrogation. So by His sacrifice Jesus actually annulled sin and now that our sin has been annulled there is no longer anything that separates us from God!
The sacrifices of the Old Covenant Law needed to be repeated endlessly year after year because they could never make anyone perfect but rather were an annual reminder of sins (Hebrews 10:1-3) but now by His once-for-all sacrifice, Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (Hebrews 10:14). We have even been cleansed from a guilty conscience. So now we can:
“...draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22)
Today in complete contrast to Moses’ emphasis on the Israelite’s unrighteousness and his command to them to remember their rebelliousness, we remember that our sins are forgiven forever, our consciences cleansed and that we are a completely new creation. We have become righteous on account of Jesus’ sacrifice:
2 Corinthians 5:17, 21
17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! ...21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him (Christ) we might become the righteousness of God.
And just as David longed for a pure heart and a right spirit, God has put His very own Spirit in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:22) so that we can live by the new way of the Spirit rather than the old way of the Law (Romans 7:6).
Beloved if you are weighed down by memories of your failures and sins know that God no longer even remembers them because Jesus has annulled sin! Instead choose to remember that you have been made perfect forever by Jesus’ sacrifice and that God has conformed you to the image of His Son. Jesus has cleansed you from a guilty conscience and made you righteous. Now you can draw near to God and approach God's throne of grace with confidence, and receive the mercy and grace you need (Hebrews 4:16).
So today choose to forget your sins and remember your righteousness!
If you haven't yet made a decision about who Jesus it, it is the singular most important decision you will ever make.
To help you decide, this is what Jesus said about Himself (Jesus' words in red):
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
"Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." John 14:9
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven." Matthew 16:15-17
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” John 4:25-26
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:28-29
You can also read Who do YOU say that I am?
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