Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture. It includes some of the deepest, most rich teaching on the life Jesus desires for us. One term you might hear for it is “the Spirit-filled life,” or even “the abundant life in Christ.” Methodist founder John Wesley called it “a life of holiness.”
This new life begins with a new order, a new position in relation to God. It is technically a reorder or a do-over tracing back to Adam and Eve. Our access to God is no longer determined by how many boxes we’ve checked on the spiritual to-do list or how well we obey. Now, under Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we relate to God on how many boxes Jesus checked. He is the only one to ever check them all. It is a reversal of fortune in the most dramatic fashion. Sin wiped out all of our ability to check boxes, but Jesus came to do it for us. We get credit with Jesus’ work! That is an amazing reality we live in now.
It is the most expensive gift we’ve ever received. It is a gift so costly we can never repay it or live up to the standard of being worthy, save without the help of God Himself. I imagine that fact must have been in the back of Paul’s mind as he laid out what it is like to live according to the Spirit.
If we live always conscious of our sin and unworthiness, we will squander this gift and His grace. We will adopt a slave mentality where we have to work to please God. Good work is a part of our faith but a “work to be worthy” identity directly opposes Jesus’ finished work. When we live from that place, we don’t make the most of the Spirit giving to us.
However, when we live under what Paul calls “the Spirit of adoption” (Rom. 8:15), we learn to respond to our identity as firstborn heirs with the same rights and privileges as the firstborn over all creation. In that place, we have liberty to explore who the Lord created us to be. In that place, we find the power to overcome our past and what holds us back in the present. We live whole and grow in wholeness. That freedom is designed to create humble, Spirit-seeking children of God.
It’s a choice we make every day, the choice of which heart and mind position to live from. It is a waste of time trying to gain what’s already been given to us and miss the miraculous hand of the Spirit on our lives. Healing for the disease of fear and feeling unworthy can be found. What’s more, it leads us to an exciting, hope-filled identity that carries the power of God’s redemption with us wherever we go.
This passage confronts me with that choice. It’s true, I will make mistakes, but I don’t have to live bound by the fear of never being worthy again. I can spread my wings and fly as the Spirit lifts me up. I will run and not grow weary as the Spirit empowers me. I will walk and not fall over exhausted as the Spirit strengthens me. The Spirit’s law is life, not fear, which leads to death. This is the life Jesus designed for us in His own life, death, and resurrection. Are you ready for it?
Come, Holy Spirit. Reveal where I feel unworthy of Your gift of righteousness. Free me from the fear that I will never measure up so I don’t desire what Jesus died to give me. Heal me and show me how to fly. In Jesus’ name, amen.
If you have ever been trapped by fear, what would it be like to live free from it?
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