Lent Day 35: No Condemnation
34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
As I read our text this morning I am reminded of God’s spiritual amnesia. I don’t know about you, but sometimes my mind can be flooded with thoughts of the past. Past missteps and sins, that either I remember, or the enemy who wants to continue to make accusations against me regarding these past events.
It reminds me of Paul’s statement in Romans 7:18-19
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”
However, in Romans 8:1 the tables are turned. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
And because there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus and because He forgets, we no longer need to remember. With that thought in mind let us all pause for a moment and take a deep breath and sigh of relief. We no longer have to carry the guilt around any longer.
Sometimes this can be hard in personal relationships like marriage, family, friends and co-workers. Things said in the heat of the moment can sometimes linger for years if not dealt with properly. Unfortunately, as we look at our nation today, things said, or acts committed many years ago are still causing us to be at deep odds with one another.
Brueggemann reminds us of the cost for this freedom. “We ache for a chance to start again. But it costs so much—empty-handed, vulnerable, a vision of God’s ready suffering for our freedom.” Even as we consider how much it costs, we can take comfort in the one that makes it all possible and provides a way to the other side.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.11For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
Brueggemann shares his insights on the blessing of this invitation with a new chance for us all to start again. “Jeremiah makes us pause for a moment before the prospect of a new innocence. Things need not go on and on. The cycle can be broken. A new chance is offered. Notice well, the new chance is demanding. It takes a broken heart, an end to self-sufficiency, abandoning a pretense of being right. This invitation, however, is not just advice on acting differently. This gospel is not advice but assurance. The assurance is that what we cannot do for ourselves is given to us.”
“Forgiving God, we fall to our knees at the thought of a truly new beginning, a fresh start. Our hearts are broken, and we offer them to you in the assurance of your undeserved grace— the power that creates in us new hearts able to love. Amen.” Brueggemann
Brueggemann, Walter. A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent. Kentucky: Westminster John Know Press, 2017.