There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
There is therefore now no condemnation. Listen to this: no condemnation. Again, pay attention: no condemnation. Paul writes to the church at Rome – and to us – to explain simply and clearly that the rules have changed. In the Hebrew history and experience, faithful obedience, sin-free behavior, and total commitment failed time after time. But our Creator God, being the God of Love, decided to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. God, through the gift and grace of the Son, Jesus the Christ, offered a path to full pardon and redemption previously undreamed-of.
Is sin real? Of course it is. Are we all under the burden of sin and open to the judgment that comes to those who sin? According to Paul, without question. Do we need to fear? NO! Through our faith in Christ, through our common baptism, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the old rules are over and done for those who believe. A new reality emerges: “Behold, I make all things new.”
This is a message of liberation – sin is no longer the boss of us. We can cease to live under the oppressive threat of condemnation and punishment, and can begin to live in the sanctifying and purging light of God’s justifying grace. We no longer need to fear. We no longer need to judge – and be judged. We no longer live in the “shadow of the valley of death,” because God loves us so much. We no longer need to spend so much time worrying about what we – and others – are doing wrong; we have, instead, to do all the good we can. Receive this amazing grace and abundant gift – and share it with everyone you meet.
We come to you in humility, O Lord. We struggle to admit that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of you.” We hate to be included in this “all,” but we know deep down it is true. This gift of love, of redemption, of unmerited grace and unconditional acceptance is so much more than we could ever hope to deserve. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for this gospel, for this good news. Help us to spread this love across our country and around the world. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.