“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
Last night I told my daughter that she needed to stop thinking about her day and just go to bed. It’s something that I have to tell myself often because there is a natural self-examination that happens at the end of the day; an examination that tries my faith and leaves me with a scorecard in hand.
For some reason, I find it necessary to look over the events of the day, tally up my sins vs. my successes, and place myself in one of two categories: “good enough” or “not good enough.”
It’s my law bent heart that drives me to always check to see if I’m making the mark or not. And do you know what happens when I do this? I’m either left feeling like I can’t go on or feeling proud and self-righteous, all of it depending on my performance that day.
You see, we all having a longing to justify and prove ourselves. When we forget the gospel our lives become all about our personal performance. The law tells us that we must perform to meet its demands. But the gospel reminds us that the demands of the Law are met and we can now rest. Jesus said it Himself, “It is finished!” Our hearts can rest because of Christ.
If we don’t have Christ to still the pendulum in our hearts, swinging between pride and despair, we will go on trying to justify ourselves by what kind of day, hour, or moment we’ve had.
Without the gospel we will live for what other people think of us and what we think of ourselves. We will judge ourselves by whether or not we make people happy, whether we had all the right responses, and if our hearts really wanted to be serving our neighbor.
Jesus Christ came and perfectly loved, perfectly obeyed, and was perfectly humble on my behalf because He knew that I would snap at my husband, join in the chaos of my fighting kids, or throw the towel in and quit.
As I come to the end of my day I don’t have to weigh the good against the bad and hope that I’m still in God’s favor. Christ came and threw away the scale of the law to set me free.
Because of His finished work for us, we don’t have to go to bed and scheme about all the ways we need to try harder and do better the next day. We don’t have to beat ourselves into obedience with judgment and condemnation. We can rest knowing that Christ is the keeper of our souls and the purifier of our hearts. We don’t have to live wondering if we’re accepted. We don’t have to convince ourselves that we’re good enough.
It’s true that our actions certainly deserve the condemnation that our hearts want to live in. We can even agree with the accusations of the enemy that we’re not good enough because his accusation is surpassed by the proclamation of the gospel. According to the law we will never do enough, be enough, or even care enough. But, according to the gospel, Christ IS enough on our behalf.
So we can be free to lay our heads down at the end of the day. We can be free of condemnation, shame, and pride because God’s love for us is not based on how hard we’ve tried today but rather on the every day reality that His Son lived perfectly on our behalf. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8.1), not today, not tonight or tomorrow morning. Now that’s freedom!