Today I was listening to the ‘Art of Celebration’ by Rend Collective and though I have listened to it on many occasions, a particular line jumped out at me which hasn’t before and it says this:
‘This is the art of celebration, knowing we’re free from condemnation’
And I wondered: what does it look like to actually live, knowing we’re free from condemnation? How would it change my life and the lives of others if we could do this?
I don’t know about you, but I often wrestle with condemnation, particularly from myself. I have searched the Scriptures and regularly speak them out in the hope that one day my heart would truly believe them. Romans 8 speaks of there being no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, or as the Passion Translation says:
“So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”
So for those of us who accept Christ as our Lord and Saviour and are therefore joined with Him, there is no condemnation because through Him, the Spirit who gives life, has set us free (Romans 8:2).
So this we know to be truth, but how do we truly overcome the never ending commentary of condemnation and live in freedom of it? I believe the answer lies later in the Scriptures. Paul writes:
“My old identity has been co-crucified with Christ and no longer lives. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me—we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, dispensing his life into mine! So that is why I don’t view God’s grace as something peripheral. For if keeping the law could release God’s righteousness to us, then Christ would have died for nothing.” Galatians 2:20-21 TPT
Christ came and died for me because he knew I could not keep the law and remain out of sin. If I could, He would have had no need to die! But instead, when we accept Him as our Saviour, His Spirit is entwined with our spirits. We become one with Him and His pure and spotless life becomes ours.
I am a mother to 3-month-old and 3-year-old girls and currently neither of them want to sleep. I and my husband are exhausted and my children are too. On top of that, they are not able to communicate their needs and so today, when my eldest daughter wanted her sunglasses and couldn’t have them because they are currently packed up in a box ready to move house, a full meltdown ensued. At the same time, my youngest started crying from the noise and being over tired and the dog started to howl….and all before 9 o clock in the morning! Now I would love to say that I handled this with the patience of a saint…but I confess to joining my children on the crying front and getting very frustrated with my eldest. But as I held her in my arms, desperately trying to calm her and love her through her sobs of saying sorry, I realised that this is how Christ is with us. In that moment, I had the choice of forgiving her and us all moving on, or holding on to my frustrations at her and the fact that I did not parent her in the best way that I would like.
So how do we live without condemnation? Well, each one of us must continuously die to ourself and instead, replace it with Christ, who is pure and holy and without blemish. We must move our mindset from saving up all our sins and bringing our ‘guilty’ list to Jesus once a week on a Sunday and instead, continually live a lifestyle that is directed by the Spirit, allowing Christ to grow and be established within us. By offering our sins to Jesus and asking for forgiveness, we no longer keep them inside us but allow Him to occupy that space. His purity replaces our guilt and shame.
So in time, as we decrease and Christ increases, we will know the freedom that He brings in the forgiveness of all our sins if we bring them to Him. We must choose to not carry our sins, for Christ took them to the cross on our behalf, and if we no longer carry them, we do not need to continue asking for forgiveness for them: the condemning narrative must cease!
We must also choose to believe all of Scripture and trust that Christ came so that we would have life in abundance. When condemnation whispers or shouts in our ears-we can confidently reply that Christ has dealt with it, it is forgiven and it is gone! What my human mind and heart wants to cling to and be chained down by, Christ Jesus has come and broken it all off, setting me free to live as He lives, without condemnation, sin and death. He has proclaimed freedom for the captives and released me from the darkness. He has taken the ashes I am placing on myself through condemnation, and replaced it for a crown of beauty! Instead of my despair at my own guilt and sin, He has given me a garment of praise and I can be so thankful because He has done all this for me. What an incredible exchange!
‘When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see Him there, who made an end of all my sin’.
(from ‘Before the throne of God above’ by Charitie Lees Bancroft, 1841-1923)
Cover photo by Melissa Askew on unsplash.com