Speaking the Truth in Love…and Conviction (Part Deux)

As I’ve worked through Invitation to the Jesus Life by Jan Johnson, I’ve found certain parts of the process more difficult than others. Daily I found myself reduced to a puddle as I was made aware of the various forms of contempt leaking out from me (at times, more of a full-force gush than a leak). In hindsight I can see much of what was going on could be attributed to the Accuser and not my heavenly Father. While that’s a great thing to have slowly discerned, it doesn’t mean none of it is lost or for naught.

I’m brought back to simple questions at times like this. Why, God, would I need to be hyper-aware of my shortcomings? In my Bible I read “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8: 1-2, NIV). At first blush, it seems hardly right or fair that I would be brought to this place of awareness that pierces to the heart. Can’t I just tiptoe through colorful tulips with sweet aroma wafting before me, since there is no condemnation?

This is where followers of Christ get a rep’ with onlookers. It’s possibly where the phrase “cheap grace” was coined as well. Suddenly, we are forgiven (which we are), and there is not even a backward glance at the cost. Keeping our theology straight on this is admittedly tough. The truth-love balance could feel a bit like a Catch-22 without serious grounding in biblical truth. Let’s put Romans 8:1-2 back in context and compare translations at this point.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1-4, NIV).

Let’s compare to the Complete Jewish Bible for a moment:

Therefore, there is no longer any condemnation awaiting those who are in union with the Messiah Yeshua. Why? Because the Torah of the Spirit, which produces this life in union with Messiah Yeshua, has set me free from the “Torah” of sin and death. For what the Torah could not do by itself, because it lacked the power to make the old nature cooperate, God did by sending his own Son as a human being with a nature like our own sinful one [but without sin]. God did this in order to deal with sin, and in so doing he executed the punishment against sin in human nature, so that the just requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us who do not run our lives according to what our old nature wants but according to what the Spirit wants (Romans 8:1-4, CJB).

Immediately, I notice certain nuances in the translations. I love the spelling out of “in union with the Messiah” in the CJB. I see that the Torah “lacked the power to make the old nature cooperate”, and God had a beautiful response in “sending his own Son as a human being with a nature like our own sinful one [but without sin]”. He, God, “did this in order to deal with sin” for us…for me. This is where we see God continuing the work He’s begun: the Law, the prophets, and finally His Son.

When I ask myself why I need to be made aware of my shortcomings, I feel it’s rooted in the above. I read things in Scripture that point to the Law (or Torah) or the impeccable standard of Christ. I see I alone cannot succeed in keeping the letter of it. In fact, I see more failure than success on a daily basis. This is the conviction point. What happens next is critical! I have choices.

  • I can “hamster wheel” for a while. Similar to the definition of contempt in Chapter 8 on page 110, I can choose to maintain a sort of low-level, seething shame, anger, frustration, or fill in the blank.
  • I can beat myself up for poor choices again and again. (That’s always fun.)
  • I can see the situation for what it is–a reminder that I can do nothing by myself (John 15:5, NIV).

I’m sure I have more than three options, but these are the three that came to me immediately. Two of them play right into the hands of my enemy. One of them leads me into sweet relationship with my Father. While my knee-jerk response may be one of the first two, I’m hoping to make a more intentional decision for the third. Let me always remember I just need Jesus! Once I’ve made it to the third option, then there really is only one response I want to have:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:19-22, NIV).

Paul’s letter to the Romans continues, and I’m reminded again of the clear point he is making to his audience (and to me). But, that is for another entry, I believe. Until then. . .

~~~~)\o/(~~~~   *Bloop!*


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2 Responses to “Speaking the Truth in Love…and Conviction (Part Deux)”

  1. P* Says:

    Wow! I’m so glad you don’t “nutshell”!;)

  2. Laura Says:

    When I fail, which is daily, I sometimes will beat myself up over it. I know Satan has such a “good time” when I fall into that trap. I know that I am not perfect and that I will ALWAYS be a “work in progress” in every area of my life.

    ** The enemy says, “You’re filthy, vile, impure”…
    BUT GOD says, “You are forgiven, cleansed, PURE, made holy, and MINE!”

    We will continue to listen to the lies of the enemy UNTIL we begin replacing those lies with the TRUTH of GOD’S WORD!

    Choosing JOY in JESUS ONLY in 2010!


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