VIDEO Now! No Condemnation!

Woman caught in adultery

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Notice the word “now” in Romans 8:1. The moment we receive Christ, we’re immediately given the righteousness of Christ. 

There’s an old story of a man unjustly sentenced to death by a Spanish court. This man had dual citizenship from both the United States and England. The ambassadors of those two countries visited the man on death row and wrapped their flags around him—both the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack. Spanish authorities could not shoot him without the bullet going through the flags and risking war with two great powers. The man was released.

When we receive Christ as Savior, God wraps us in the banner of the cross. Though we don’t become perfect or sinless the moment we receive Christ (hopefully we’ll grow in righteousness during our life, then we’ll be made totally pure and perfect in heaven), in God’s sight we’re wrapped in the flag of Jesus Christ and covered with His blood. The devil cannot have us. We belong to our Lord, and our citizenship is in heaven!

There is now no condemnation!

There is never a day in any man’s life but that he is dependent upon the grace of God for power and the blood of Jesus for cleansing. Alan Redpath


Safe and Secure – Romans 8:1-11 – Skip Heitzig

Moving Toward Maturity

Become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:13

A recent survey asked respondents to identify the age at which they believed they became adults. Those who considered themselves adults pointed to specific behaviors as evidence of their status. Having a budget and buying a house topped the list as being marks of “adulting.” Other adult activities ranged from cooking dinner every weeknight and scheduling one’s own medical appointments, to the more humorous ability to choose to eat snacks for dinner or being excited to stay at home on a Saturday evening instead of going out.

The Bible says we should press on toward spiritual maturity as well. Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, urging the people to “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). While we’re “young” in our faith, we’re vulnerable to “every wind of teaching” (v. 14), which often results in division among us. Instead, as we mature in our understanding of the truth, we function as a unified body under “him who is the head, that is, Christ” (v. 15).

God gave us His Spirit to help us grow into a full understanding of who He is (John 14:26), and He equips pastors and teachers to instruct and lead us toward maturity in our faith (Ephesians 4:11–12). Just as certain characteristics are evidence of physical maturity, our unity as His body is evidence of our spiritual growth.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

In what ways are you still vulnerable to “every wind of teaching”? How can you continue to grow spiritually?

Loving God, You’re the author of my growth and maturity. Please help me to see where my understanding of You is still immature and teach me more of Your wisdom.

To learn more about growing toward spiritual maturity, visit ChristianUniversity.org/SF212.

The Priority of Life

Matthew 6:31-33

What is the priority of your life—the one thing around which everything else revolves? Jesus tells us that God’s kingdom and righteousness should be our highest aim. This isn’t achieved through passivity; Matthew 6:33 uses the word “seek,” which implies activity and persistence. God’s kingdom must be pursued every day, moment by moment.

Life on earth takes place amidst two opposing realms that are in constant conflict—one under the control of this world and the other under God’s kingship. To seek the Father’s kingdom is to submit to His rule over every area of our life. The bottom line is obedience.

To seek God’s righteousness means cooperating with His process of transforming us into Jesus’ image. An integral part of this process is the renewing of our mind with Scripture. The Word of God keeps the Father’s viewpoint and instructions fresh in our thinking. 

Take a moment to evaluate who or what dominates your thoughts and affections: Where do you invest time and money? What desires govern your choices? Making Christ top priority requires submission to God, obedience to His Word, and trust in His ways. And He promises to supply whatever you need in pursuing that goal (Phil. 4:19).

The Joy of Reconciliation

“And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Romans 5:11)

The Greek word for “atonement” in this verse is kátallage, which everywhere else (some 10 times, either this word or its related forms) is translated “reconciliation” (or “reconciled” or “reconciling”). The connotation is that of full restoration to full fellowship after long enmity and alienation.

The Hebrew word for “atonement” (kaphar, “covering”) occurs some 80 times in the Old Testament, over half of them in Leviticus. It normally referred to the “covering” of one’s sins by the shed blood of an innocent (and blemish-free) animal sacrifice.

Although this could provide some comfort to the sinner, there was little to be joyful about, since the covering was only temporary and the sins were still there. When Christ came, however, He became “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26).

Consequently, “atonement” (in the sense of a temporary covering) is never mentioned at all in the New Testament. Instead, we have been fully “reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10). Thus, our text is really saying that we have real joy in God through Christ, “by whom we have now received the reconciliation!”

Our fellowship with our heavenly Father has been fully restored by the wonderful gift of eternal salvation through the work of Christ, “who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25). And as we rejoice in the Lord, we must remember, too, that He “hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation,” so that we are “ambassadors for Christ,” beseeching others also to “be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18, 20). HMM

Our Marching Orders

Matthew 28:16-20

THE great commission (Matt. 28:16-20) is our Lord’s marching orders to believers. It was a mountaintop experience, which is always a good thing if we carry the vision into the valley. We read that they gathered where Jesus had appointed them. We shall never meet Him nor get His instructions until we are in the place of His will, the place where He has asked us to be.

I read next that they saw Him. We shall see Him when we get into the place of His appointment. There can be no real service until first we have seen Him. “They looked unto Him and were brightened, and their faces were not ashamed.” “Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.” We see men, causes, challenges, but not the Lord. Isaiah saw the Lord and then was ready to go where God would send him. Paul saw the Lord, then asked, “What wilt Thou have me to do?”

Next, they worshiped Jesus. We will worship Him if we really see Him. Thomas cried, “My Lord and my God,” and Jesus did not reprove him for worshiping Him. Christian testimony and service are based on the worship of Christ as Lord, not upon admiration of Him as a teacher.

“But some doubted.” Yet our Lord did not send them away because they doubted. “A bruised reed He will not break.” These witnesses all grew strong and fearless, and our Lord knew they would. It is not well to send John Mark home on his first offense.

Jesus said first, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.” He shows us first His resources, the power that is back of His orders. In Matthew 11:27-28, He says in effect, “All things are Mine, come.” In John 17:2-3, He says, “All power is Mine, believe.” Here it is, “All power is Mine, go.” We often flinch before our task, but we need to remember who is back of us. He is with us, as He also says here, but first He is back of us.

“Go ye therefore.” We build churches today and wait for the people to come. Here we are bidden to go after them in the highways and hedges. Too many churches are glorified clubs that have forgotten about the shepherd seeking the sheep.

“Disciple all nations.” Soul-fishing is the Christian’s business. We are not to uplift, reform, cultivate them, but to bring them to know the Lord. We have forgotten our commission and are out proselyting, calling the righteous to repentance, instead of bringing men to Christ.

Then we are to baptize them into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Notice, discipling and baptizing go together, and we have no business separating them. In Acts, baptism immediately followed conversion. There was no thought of using one’s opinion about being baptized or not, it was the very next step. At Pentecost, in Samaria, in the case of the eunuch, Cornelius, Lydia, the jailer, they obeyed at once.

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Not just to know them but to observe them. We have neither learned nor taught a Bible truth until we have observed it, put it into practice. As preachers and teachers we should, like lawyers, strive for a verdict and seek to bring to action. Our Lord concludes with a promise to be with us always, even unto the end of the age. He who has all power will be with us all the days, the good and bad, the sunshiny and the shadowy.

The Satanic Strategy

The Devil had already put it into the heart of Judas … to betray Him.—John 13:2

The “fiery darts” of the Devil are quite different from the thoughts that are generated by our carnal nature. These “fiery darts” come at us rather than from within us. A satanic attack can usually be differentiated from something that arises within by the force with which the thought hits us. Thoughts that arise out of the carnal nature are offensive, but the thoughts that come as “fiery darts” from the Devil burn.

Many Christians have told me that they often experience these attacks when they go to read their Bibles or to pray. When they read a newspaper, nothing seems to happen. But when they turn their attention to something spiritual, they find it almost impossible to concentrate, by reason of the shameful thoughts that occupy their minds.

The other thing one notices about these attacks is that they seem to come in cycles. They are not there permanently, but they come at certain times and seasons. I once counseled a man for one hour a week over a period of a whole year and got him to write down in his diary the times and dates when he felt under satanic attack. When we looked through his diary together at the end of the year, we discovered an amazing thing—every single attack took place immediately prior to his doing something special for the Lord, like leading a Bible study, conducting a service, visiting the sick, or giving a public testimony. I shall never forget the expression on his face as he looked at me and said: “Who says that Satan isn’t a strategist?”

Prayer

My Father and my God, I realize that even though Satan is a strategist, he is no match for You. You know how to outmaneuver his every move. Help me to stay close to You, that I might experience Your strategy and not his. Amen.

Further Study

Gn 3; Mt 4:1-10

How did Satan seek to penetrate Eve’s mind?

How does this correlate with the temptation of Christ?

Don’t Be a Dead Sea

Matthew 10:8

And here we are at the Dead Sea.” Our guide pointed to the body of water on our left. From our bus window we could see what seemed like an ordinary fresh water lake. From a distance it looked inviting, especially with the blue of the sky reflected in it. The one incongruity was that the area around the water was desert, not the lush greenery one might expect.

Before we left the bus, our guide explained how the Sea is formed. Its primary water source is the snows of Mount Hermon, far to the north. The water flows down from there to the Sea of Galilee, from which the Jordan River is formed to feed the Dead Sea.

The same water that begins clear and pure becomes impure and stagnant when it settles in the Dead Sea. “The Sea of Galilee receives the water but then gives it out, making it a living body of water,” he said. “The Dead Sea receives the water, but it settles there with no outlet and becomes stagnant and of no use.”

We walked down to the water’s edge. Like everyone else, we touched our fingers to the water and then to our lips. We wanted to taste the proverbial saltiness—and we were not disappointed.

As we left, my mind returned to the guide’s words. We had seen the crystal clear waters of the Sea of Galilee. We had walked in the Jordan river. The water of the Dead Sea was unlike either of them. Water that had once been pure was pure no longer, because the Sea of Galilee disperses what it receives, while the Dead Sea hoards water for itself.

I thought of the rich man in Jesus’ parable, recorded in Luke 12:16. He gave no thought for those around him but laid up treasure for himself. In the end, he was unable to enjoy what he had.

Contrast that with the widow of Zarepheth, described in 1 Kings 17:15. She was willing to share the little she had with the prophet Elijah. Not surprisingly, the meal and the oil continued to supply her needs and bless others as well.

I thought about my life and asked some hard questions. Am I self-centered so that my life may become stagnant? Am I neglecting to give myself in love to those around me? Do I keep from getting involved because it would make me vulnerable? Am I hoarding the blessings of God for myself instead of sharing with those around me?

“O God,” I earnestly prayed, and continue to pray, “don’t let me become a Dead Sea, but keep me a clear and living Sea of Galilee.”

Joyce Winters, The War Cry