Great News for Prodigals
This means God is not going to reject you just because you struggle. Most of us know the story of the Prodigal Son. He was living in his father’s house and then decided to take off. He left and ended up giving himself over to a wild life of sin, spending all his inheritance, and eventually living in a pig pen. He hit rock bottom. The son who had it all went from the top all the way down to the bottom.
Do you remember where the father was when the son returned home? He wasn’t in the house. He was outside on the road on his way to meet him, to welcome him. This is a beautiful picture of our experience as believers when we have strayed. There is no rejection for those who are in Christ Jesus. Even those who wander, even those who stray, even those who went off living a wild life for a while and are embarrassed because they have squandered away, or wasted, so much of the spiritual inheritance they have in God’s kingdom. Sadly, some people are too terrified to turn back, to come back home, because they think God’s going to condemn them. Remember though, nothing you do is going to catch God by surprise. God already knows everything you’ve done, everything you’ve thought about doing, and everything you will do in the future. He loves you anyway. You’re still in His family. You’re still His child. And as soon as you say, “I’m going to get up out of this filth and go back home to my Father,” that very moment He will say, “Kill the fatted calf. Let’s have a party. My son (or daughter) who was lost, has been found. He was away, but now he’s come home.”
When we Fall Short
The fact of the matter is we are going to fail. The question is, what do we do when we fail? Often times we don’t just fail, we fail in the same way multiple times. We make the same mistakes we have made before. We repeat dumb mistakes over and over again. So, what do we do then? The Bible is clear, we repent! By God’s grace our eyes are opened to see what we have done, so we then change our minds, stop making excuses, we confess to God and to others (when needed), we ask God for strength, we ask others for help (accountability), and we ask God to help us get past it and to move forward.
It’s very hard for us to believe that God truly loves us in such a mighty way. Especially when we get a good, honest reflection of ourselves in the mirror. I think all of us have times when we look at ourselves and think, “Oh buddy…there is plenty of condemnation for you! You’ve messed up, continue to mess up, and will mess up again in the future.” However, that’s not what God says. We need less self talk and more God talk. God says, “NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Can you trust that? Are you willing and able to believe that? Can you believe what God has said over what you feel?
Charles Spurgeon once said, “If our debt was paid, it WAS paid, and there IS an end of it; a second payment CANNOT be demanded” (emphasis added).
So, is Jesus enough for you? Is His payment enough for you?
Discipline and Correction, but no Punishment
There may very well be some discipline, and it’s very plausible there may be some correction, both of which can be quite painful (see Hebrews 12:4-11), but there is no harsh, vindictive, accusatory, abusive punishment. There can be, and usually is, a major difference between disciplining and punishing. However, that is a topic for another time. For our purposes, just know that with no condemnation there is no harsh punishment. Discipline for our own good? Most likely. Punishment for the sake of punishing? Absolutely not.
This may sound corny but it’s so true, when we fail or fall God helps us back up. He shows us where we went wrong, and he puts us right back in the game. That’s what Paul is talking about when he says there is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ. Too may believers go through life with a heavy load of guilt weighing them down. And this is not just because they struggle, but because they feel condemned by God. They may even feel like God hates them because they’re always failing. But you know what? He doesn’t. His thoughts toward His elect are thoughts of love. Even when He needs to discipline us He does so for our own good; He does it as a loving Father. He does it for our ultimate benefit.
I can’t think of a single truth more important, more satisfying, or more freeing than the great truth that for those who know Jesus Christ, for those who are in Him, there is NO condemnation. One may be tempted to ask why? Well, because Jesus paid it all. Our sins our gone. Our Lord condemned sin by His death on the cross.
Be prepared though. Just a quick word of caution. The devil is still going to whisper, and sometimes shout, that word in your ear, “Condemned, condemned, CONDEMNED!” But who are you going to believe? God or the devil? God says, “No condemnation!” I think the choice is clear.*
*Sermon/article inspired by, and adapted from, “No Condemnation” at Keep Believing Ministries.