The Life Exchange

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, June 20, 2015 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

As I sat looking into the eyes of two people I had hurt tremendously, when I was a teen/twenty something, I was full of turmoil.

I knew I would see them at this wedding ceremony of a mutual friend. They were now married to each other, and my wife and I were just starting a new congregation in another state. For months I had languished over what this moment would be like. I knew God had changed me and forgiven me, but I still felt chained to the grief and offenses I had caused them. This was the first I had seen them in almost 7 years. There came a moment before the reception for the three of us to sit and chat. I had just started to pour out my apology, when they both stopped me.

Still staring in their eyes, trying to get a read on what they were thinking and feeling, that awkward moment seemed to last an eternity. Then I heard words of grace and forgiveness expressed to me that rocked me to the core. The most important part was when the husband said, “Nate, we forgive you. We release you from any guilt or shame you have carried about what happened before. We bless you. We want you to walk in freedom. We know you are not that man anymore.”

This was now the second time someone had released me from the weight of who I had been, to freely walk in who I had become. (The first was my wife.)

I have to be honest, that weekend I wept almost the entire 5-hour drive home. I wasn't sad. I was free. And that tremendous sense of freedom made me feel alive again where there used to be fear and pain. I was not only alive, but I was stoked to passionately walk in this newfound freedom. A new friendship blossomed between their family and mine, and for a season we all became partners in ministry. It was a very GOOD season. We remain treasured friends and a new story has been written among us and our children.

I mentioned last week that there is a “key” to unlocking the chains of our struggle with doing what is right vs. what is selfish or wrong. In Romans 8:1-4, Paul passionately writes, “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 me free from the law of sin and death.” When I read this passage, I am reminded of moments like what I just shared. And yet it is also an ongoing reality that we can trust.

The law and commands of God that reveal to us what is broken and wrong can only show us the “no” - what should NOT be. It is limited to the moral judgment of our existence - as we are, and have been. And when those teachings and commands penetrate our hearts, we can be overwhelmed but just how rebellious or broken we really are (or have been). The knowledge of what is wrong cannot forgive or release us. It can only make us aware of our guilt. It cannot quench our shame. It cannot remove our expectation of being found guilty, judged, and condemned.

Something completely different must occur - some further action or perspective outside ourselves must be revealed to our hearts - in order for us to be free, healed, and restored. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is very simply the satisfaction of law and commands that reveal wrongdoing. Who Jesus is, and what He did to unwind the shattered state of our separation from God, was like the moment I heard my friends say, “Nate, you are no longer that man anymore, you are free.” By giving His life, and overcoming death, Jesus nullified the penalty of the laws of the flesh, in His own life. And by following Him and having His Holy Spirit within us, we are able to live according to the law/teachings of His life. When we do that, we are no longer able to be condemned for who we were. Our life is exchanged for who He is, and who He has created us to be.

From the moment we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His forgiveness can penetrate our hearts and bring life to all the dead places inside us. It is that life that wells up a passionate desire to walk in what is right, and we are finally able to overcome the desires of our flesh. It may take some time and maturity in our relationship with Jesus to overcome our deepest vices. But if we know they are already defeated by Jesus, we can trust Him to overcome them in us. We will talk more about that next week.

What about you... how did you do this week in your daily battle with right vs. wrong? Are there places that still need to be given over to Jesus? Are you ready to stop living under the consequences and condemnation of a self centered way of living?

Consider walking with Jesus and giving your life to Him, so He can give His life to you.

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