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Learning to Live: Romans 8.1

God wants us to know how to live.  We don’t always know how.  Would you say you know how to live?  We forget how difficult it was in our younger days.  Once upon a time we all ate dirt!  We’ve all done it.  Someone had to teach us at one point in time, “This is dirt!  It’s not food!  It’s dirt!” 

When we learn to follow Christ we have to learn how to live.  Paul is describing what it looks like to live in Christ in Romans 8.  We learn what it means to really be free, to live.

Now is the time to live.

            “There is therefore now” Romans 8.1 (ESV)

God wants us to have abundant life.  “Now” is alerting us to a time change.  We are talking about the present.  We talk about a future change where we have eternal life, but there’s a present change too.  The first seven chapters of Romans are about salvation and how God restores us in the power of the cross and the grace of God.  Since Jesus has stepped into our lives we are ready to live.  Listen to what the Spirit of God is saying to us.  We need to develop a habit of hearing from God.  This is a skill we are still developing.  We don’t ask God about much, we just do things.  Have you learned to ask God?  When’s the last time you asked God about something?  We have a habit of talking to God but we haven’t developed this this continual listening habit.

Jesus spoke into a woman’s life who had committed adultery.  In that time religious leaders were instructed to stone her.  Jesus has been portrayed as a loving person but the scripture says to stone her.  Will Jesus carry out this persecution?  What does God do in these situations?  The reality of our lives are in Romans 8:10-11 here:

           10Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”  John 8.10-11 (ESV)

Jesus confronts this woman and gives her a final word of what happens when we come to God by faith.  Jesus raises this woman up.  Jesus came to her in her humiliation.  She is bracing for the end of her life.  Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dirt on the ground.  Jesus stooped to her level.  Jesus then says now, sin no more.  That’s her future.  God meets us right where we are.  This is the power of the Gospel. Why does God give us new life?  So we can live in the present. 

Let go of guilt.

God calls us to let go of guilt.  There’s a big obstacle!  We like to hold onto our guilt!  God calls us to deal with our guilt and says there’s “no condemnation” in Romans 8.1 (ESV).  No condemnation means no sentence or punishment.  It’s removed.  God declares us not guilty.  We will have eternal life.  

The other word I’ve quoted here is the word, “no.”  This word “no” is at the beginning of the chapter in the original language.  He wants us to embrace the word “no.”  Embrace the word, “no” like you’re two years old.  They all love saying the word, “no.”  Have you embraced God’s “no” over your life?  You’re no longer guilty!  Do you struggle with this?  Do you struggle with guilt that determines what you do in the future?  God says there’s no condemnation, none!  Why do we hold on to our guilt?  Maybe it makes us feel better?  Grace is a difficult concept for us to understand.  We feel better beating ourselves up a little bit.  Jesus did everything for us on the cross. 

It’s like when a child has a toy lawn mower and is outside mowing the lawn with their parent.  Are they making any difference?  No.  We hold onto guilt because we think we are doing something.  John  3:16 says God sent His son for us.  Let’s read the verses that come after John 3:16:

                        17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned,”  John 3.17-18 (ESV)
Verse seventeen tells us why.  Church, we get confused sometimes because we really like condemning the world.  Guess what?  The world is already condemned!  We do not have to condemn it any further.  Jesus came to restore the world.  We have the hope of nations!  Jesus came to save us!  We need to know this in the depth of our being.  We can let go of guilt and hold onto grace.  This is where our hope is.  This is how we live in the Spirit.

Hold on to grace.

            “for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8.1 (ESV)
We are positioned in Christ.  There’s no condemnation because of what Jesus has done on the cross.  He paid for our sin.  This is why holding onto guilt makes no sense.  Jesus paid for it all.  Our response to the grace given to us is worship.  It means for us to be His and to be a part of a church family.  Here’s how we experience grace.  We’re all carrying around baggage but when we gather together we see the Gospel demonstrated. 

In Thailand we went out of our district to a remote village about the size of Asheboro, about 25,000 people.  There was no Christian church there.  We did know there were a few believers there.  As we met with these believers they began to weep because there’s no church where they live.  We sat with them and sang with them.  We live in a consumer Christianity.  We choose our church based on whether or not they play my favorite song.  We need church family just like those believers in Thailand need it.  This is a safe place, a place of healing.  We all come to the cross and experience healing.  Now we can live in the present and have the hope of the future.

                        If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8.31 (ESV)

Think about what God can do in your life when you let guilt go and let God work in your life.  Let people see your wounds and the power of the Gospel in you. 

Sermon notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.


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