How Do I Put The Past Behind Me?
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
Under Roman law a person who had been condemned had no life of his own, no plans for the future, no personal agenda, He was the living dead. It was only a matter of time as life was measured out by the hours until gruel was shoved under the prison door. With that understanding, something the apostle Paul wrote years ago has powerful implications. To the Romans, he penned these words: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The living dead suddenly become the dead living! “No condemnation?” cries the prisoner. “Do you mean, ‘I’m free’?” Can you not imagine the joy as a Roman jailer would respond, “Yes, you’re free to leave”?
Suddenly the past is gone; there is a future. That’s what Paul says happens to those who are in Christ Jesus, in other words, those who have a relationship with God through His son, Jesus Christ. As the ink began to dry on the parchment Paul was writing on, he developed the logic behind what the statement meant.
First, he says that the law (not Roman law, but the Law of Moses) no longer condemned a person. He told the Romans that the law was like a mirror that showed you your terrible failure, but could do nothing to erase that failure. He contends that Christ’s treatment at Calvary was payment of the debt that put you under condemnation so there is freedom, complete and certain, from the demands of the law.
Then he says that there is no condemnation from the flesh, your old nature. When someone comes to understand that freedom in Christ, psychiatrists and pharmacists are often put out of business. Take, Sherman Williams, for example—a strapping, large man who approached me with a roll of money in his hand. With a warm smile and a cheery voice, he said, “Here, this is the money that I would have paid for shock treatment, but I no longer need it since I became a Christian.”
The law produced a conscience that constantly said, “You aren’t good enough. You are guilty before God. You are worthless,” and we carry that terrific cross in life. But Paul says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” and that’s where you have to tell your old nature, your old enemy of inferiority to get off your back. Your heart can shout, “I’m free. I’m free.”
One more thought–no condemnation means that you are also free from the downward pull of the past. Label it whatever it is. Paul says that there is new life through the Sprit that lives within. Here’s how he put it: “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” (Romans 8:11).
Eugene Peterson explained it in these words: “It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life” (Romans 8:11, Message).
If you’ve been living like a condemned prisoner, struggling with your past, your old nature, your failures, it’s time to understand that if God has set you free, there’s no need to stay in your prison. You’ve got a new life, one that produces love, joy, peace and spiritual blessing. Live it. Rejoice in it, and let your heart cry out, “I’m free! I’m free!” It’s the Good News of the Gospel that sets our hearts free. It’s time to come alive. Be free in Christ Jesus!
Resource reading: Romans 8:1-39