– Bishop Stephen Hale
We live in strange and anxious times. In days like this it is especially important to know the reassurance of God’s word. For the next five weeks we’ll be focusing on Romans 8. This passage is considered to be one of the most uplifting in the whole of the Bible. It is full of memorable verses and it will be a great encouragement for each of us.
Paul starts off with the most wonderful words, ‘now there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.’(8.1)We live in a very judgemental era where anyone who steps over a line will be condemned swiftly and harshly. Social media is a brutal beast.
As Christians we don’t pretend that we have it altogether. We acknowledge our sin and failure. We recognise we deserve God’s just judgment. What joy it is to know, that in Christ Jesus there is ‘no condemnation’. How can this be?
As Paul puts it, we have been set free from the law of sin and death (v2). God did this by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. (v3) We aren’t condemned because Christ was condemned on our behalf. He bore our sins in his body on the cross. In the temple they offered up a lamb as a sacrificial offering. Christ is our sin offering and it is for all time and available to all people.
Our response to God’s grace is as simple as ABC.
We Admit we need God’s help and forgiveness
We Believe in Jesus and his saving death on our behalf.
We invite Jesus to Come into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
Many of us may have prayed a prayer like that many years ago. That doesn’t mean it is any less special or significant. While writing this I received news that a good friend of mine had passed away over-night. In one sense it was a blessed relief after a long battle with cancer. On the other hand, it is very, very sad. Yet, there was the joy of knowing she is with her Lord and is in a better place. There was no condemnation but welcome.
Not only do we know the joy of no condemnation, but God has blessed us with the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. In verse 4 we read, ‘who do not live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.’ When we ask for God’s forgiveness and invite him into our lives, he does that through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is at work in us to enable us to live a new life, in a new way, to God’s glory. If you’re struggling, then ask the Holy Spirit for help. The Holy Spirit is there to help, encourage and comfort us.
How terrible it would have been, if we had to try and live a new life in our own strength. It would be a recipe for despair. In God’s kindness, through the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts, we are strengthened to live in a new way.
In this coming week, may we each draw on the Holy Spirit’s power to enable us to be a source of love and comfort to others. May we be guided by the Sprit and may we seek out opportunities to serve those in need.