A cold hug. Unresolved anger over a commitment I kept while my mom was in town led to a disappointing goodbye. It’s the last time I saw her, nine years ago. Three months later, I sat beside her bed reading the journal entry she penned after this December visit:
“Lord, with Shauna, it used to be what can Jesus do for you. Now, it’s what can Mary Kay do for you.”
The slap stung. Pursuing achievement and recognition in Mary Kay consumed me and affected those around me. The truth hurt. Not because her words were hurtful, but because they confronted me with truth I didn’t want to see.
Wracked with sobs, God gently whispered to my spirit: “Take the truth; leave the guilt and shame.” The heaviness lifted. The burden of sin vanished. Conviction remained, with forgiveness. A life lesson. A God lesson. I think it’s what Romans 8:1 means:
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.
When God reveals sin in our lives, we take the conviction; we leave the condemnation.
How is that, especially when we continue to sin?
Through the body of Christ, we are delivered from the law – judgment, punishment, condemnation, and death – so that we can be productive for God, serving Him “in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:6). Yet, Paul explains in Romans 7:15-25, we all face the life-long dilemma of having the intellectual capacity to understand and yield in obedience to what is morally acceptable to God and to recognize and hate what is not, but our skin and bones – the earthly nature that resists God – is drawn off the path of righteousness to violate the very things He desires. We know and want to do what is good, but don’t, while doing the very evil we hope to avoid!
“Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Paul exclaims in verse twenty-four. Answering his own question, he says, “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh that law of sin” (verse twenty-five).
Then he immediately assures us of no condemnation. Looking back on our trail of blood from Leviticus to the Cross, let’s put it all together:
We are born with a sin condition; we are unable to not sin.
Our sin separates us from God, exacting a penalty.
Blood must be shed.
Animal sacrifices offered by a high priest once satisfied the wrath of God, then Jesus, the final sacrifice, became the propitiation or satisfaction for our sin, becoming our eternal High Priest.
He died for our condition, the rebellious heart it creates, and the sins that result from that rebellion.
When He saves us, we are able to recognize what is righteous and good and hate what is evil, but because of our human flesh, we are still drawn away from righteousness to sin.
Because Jesus died for the condition into which we are born by no fault of our own, in Christ Jesus, when we sin, there is THEREFORE now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
We cannot, however, walk according to the flesh any longer, but must walk by the Spirit. A change in behavior is necessary.
Conviction should lead to alteration.
When I returned home from the funeral, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I changed. Mary Kay was no longer the priority in my life. God was. And family. I still worked my business, but it was no longer an idol.
When viewing inappropriate content on television, at the theater, or on the internet leaves us sullied with guilt and shame, take the conviction – the truth that what we’ve seen is wrong in the eyes of God – but leave the condemnation – the damnation we expect and want to put on ourselves.
When someone we love dies unsaved and we are crushed by the weight of feeling we should have done or said more, take the conviction – the truth that we must be bold in sharing the good news of what Jesus Christ has done for us – but leave the condemnation.
When we mess up for the umpteenth time and can’t see how it’s ever going to get better, take the conviction – the truth that what we’re doing is wrong and we must yield in obedience to what God desires for that area of our lives – but leave the condemnation.
Leave the hopelessness. The shame. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, yield in obedience to what God desires.
No condemnation. No penance. Just freedom.
Is there something the Lord is convicting you to change? See your guilt and shame nailed to the cross as you bow down and worship Him there. Take responsibility for making the changes He undoubtedly is urging you to make. By the power of the Holy Spirit, move forward, in obedience, lighter and freer for His work on the cross.
Thank you, Father, that in Christ Jesus we receive conviction and correction but still enjoy the easy yoke and light burden available to us in Him. Forgive our sins and help us yield ourselves in obedience to You as we become more wholly Yours today.