Summary: Most of us live in fear, either of God, man, or life itself. The verdict on our life is that God is not mad at us...we can live "thumbs up".
May 5, 2002
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8.1 (KJV)
I read a really wonderful statement by J. Vernon McGee about this chapter of the Bible:
We enter this chapter with no condemnation, we close with no separation and in between all things work together for good to those that love God.(1)
This is a chapter about the grace of God. In fact, grace is all over the pages of the Bible; just a few examples:
Grace gives us power to witness
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:33
Grace gives us power to believe
And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: Acts 18:27
Grace builds us up
And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.Acts 20:32
Grace releases us from the power of sin
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Ro 3:24
Grace overcomes great sin
Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: Romans 5:20
Grace keeps God’s family secure
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. Ro 11:5
Grace gives us gifts to serve
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Romans 12:6
Grace gives us power build the kingdom
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 1 Corinthians 3:10
Grace gives us power to give
Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. 2 Corinthians 8:7
Grace helps us overcome suffering
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Grace gives us our salvation
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) Ephesians 2:5
John 1.14 tells us that Jesus’ very coming to earth was the grace of God – Jesus was full of grace and truth. Diana Turro lives in Florida. She wrote about when her son… Evan, was three, we started a bedtime ritual of singing Christian songs. He particularly liked Amazing Grace. One day as I was driving, he asked me to sing him a song. When I asked Evan which one he’d like to hear, he responded, You know, that song about those amazing grapes.(2)
Perhaps the most amazing part of the grace of God is that it really makes the statement so many of us are unwilling to believe;
GOD IS NOT MAD AT US!
That’s really what grace tells us about God. I know so many people for whom life is one long fret over how they’re going to be good enough for God. Paul says, There IS no condemnation…it’s over…the cross did it all…God’s not mad at us!
That word condemnation is made up of two Greek words, down and judge. In my sanctified imagination, I envision Nero at the Coliseum, condemning the Christians to death – thumbs down. Paul says, That’s not God’s way – no more thumbs down! We can live thumbs UP!
So that’s what I want to talk with you about today – How to live thumbs-up in a thumbs-down world.
1. WALKING THUMBS-UP MEANS FREEDOM
God’s grace is always most evident in the act of salvation. A man once told me that he knew he ought to trust God, but he didn’t think God could forgive someone like him. I’ve done every wrong thing a man can do. If you wrote a list of my sins on that wall, there wouldn’t be an inch of space left. I wish I’d been wise enough then to tell him to do it....To write ’em all. Cover the wall with all your sins. Make sure you list everything...don’t leave a one out. And when you’re done, I could do what Martin Luther did the night he sensed Satan was accusing him of long-forgiven sins…write one sentence in flaming letters over all of if from God’s Word to you - The blood of Jesus Christ...cleanses us from all sin.