June 9, 2023 – Romans 7:14-8:17
In our reading for today, Paul continues to differentiate between living under the law and living in the Spirit. In Romans 6, he clarified that the law isn’t bad, but our inability to completely keep the law prevents us from living in freedom. Therefore, God made a way to deliver us from the bondage of the law by giving us new life in Christ.
When reading Paul’s tension within his own flesh in chapter 7, we must not forget the freedom he writes about in the chapter before. This tension exists; this back-and-forth in our own minds and hearts about our intentions, thoughts, and actions, and the ways we seem to sometimes let ourselves and others down. The freedom offered in Christ frees us from the guilt and shame that often comes with not living up to the expectations of the law. This freedom is not to say that our sin has consequences that can affect us and those whom we love, but it breaks away the perpetual grip that sin once had on us.
God does not want us to feel shame. God does not want anyone to be shamed. Who are we to shame others? In fact, Romans 8:1-2 states, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” There is no condemnation found in Jesus. The mercy of Christ reminds us that we should not be recipients of guilt, but in the same way, should not appoint guilt to others. Guilt and shame are destructive. They tell people that that is their identity and strips their dignity away from them.
Paul is clear to say we are children, even heirs, of God. We have been saved from a life dominated by sin and death through Jesus and the life-giving Spirit of God.
As I hear this, I am relieved that I am not labeled by the wrong decisions I have made or have yet to make. I am thankful I am not identified by the ways I think differently from others. I am so glad we have been given an identity in Christ that is unwavering. This place in God’s Kingdom cannot be taken away from me.
As I hear this, I am also convicted of the ways I label others for the decisions they have made. I am sorry for the assumptions and judgments I place on others for their beliefs and thoughts that differ from my own. I am made new in Christ as I continue to see others as heirs of God made new by the blood of Jesus.
May you be relieved, thankful, and convicted in similar ways. We are made new in Christ, but there are many ways we continue to strive to advance the Kingdom of God for the sake of the Gospel. Amen.
Questions for reflection:
- Think about this past week— the sermons you have heard, the Scripture you’ve interacted with, and the conversations you have had. How have you been blessed, relieved, and convicted through these?
- How have Paul’s words impacted your interactions with others? What questions are in your heart as you read Romans?