Sexual Purity Posts

Anti-Sex Trafficking Seminar (Childproof America)

The free Parent Education Community Event will take place at CrossPoint Community Church beginning at 6:30pm on Tuesday, February 20th located at 700 Westgreen Blvd., Katy, Texas 77450.

CONSTABLE WAYNE K. THOMPSON STATE SENATOR JOAN HUFFMAN, DISTRICT 17 CHILDPROOF AMERICA, KELLY LITVAK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 16, 2018 STATE AND LOCAL LEADERS ADDRESS THE HUMAN TRAFFICKING PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS AND PROMOTE A FREE COMMUNITY-WIDE EDUCATION PRESENTATION TO PARENTS, CHURCH LEADERS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

Katy, Texas, February 16, 2018 – Human trafficking has turned into the most prolific criminal enterprise in the world, now on par, and projected to pass gunrunning and drug trade. Even today, with a rapid ascension in cases, a denial persists in suburban society that this horrific crime has infected America, leaving our children vulnerable. The United States offers the richest market for both minors to be trafficked and a paying customer base to support this activity. Organized crime has awoken to the opportunity. Border to border, it is estimated that between 244,000 and 325,000 American children are now in the active population of sex trafficked minors in the United States. Driven by low risk, high profits and insatiable demand, sex trafficking has infected our communities and will not be easy to defeat. This public health issue is threatening a growing population of children due to lack of knowledge regarding the strategies groomers and traffickers use to lure unsuspecting victims within our schools, churches, neighborhoods and social media.

The Press Conference will be take place at Fort Bend County Constable’s Office, Precinct 3, on February 16th at 10:00am. The address is 22333 Grand Corner Drive, Suite 103 (Corner of Grand Parkway and Fort Bend Westpark Tollway), Katy, Texas 77494.

The free Parent Education Community Event will take place at CrossPoint Community Church beginning at 6:30pm on Tuesday, February 20th located at 700 Westgreen Blvd., Katy, Texas 77450.

Registration requested through – www.Eventbrite.com. Search Childproof America. Presenters: John Clark and Jennifer Hohman. Contacts: Wayne K. Thompson – wayne.thompson@fortbendcountytx.gov Kelly Litvak – Kelly@ChildproofAmerica.org www.childproofamerica.org

Sexual Purity Posts

How to Resist Temptation’s Mirage Moment

Originally posted at: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-to-resist-temptation-s-mirage-moment

Article by Jon Bloom

Temptation is not sin. We know this because Eve was tempted before she fell and Jesus was tempted, “yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Temptation is a disorienting, defiling experience when evil is presented to us as good. Destruction comes dressed up to look like happiness. Sin only occurs when we believe that the destructive lie can actually grant happiness.

One key to resisting temptation is learning to recognize what I call the “mirage moment.”

The Mirage Moment

A mirage is that hallucination parched people sometimes experience in a hot desert. A real desire for water and the shimmering heat of the sand play disorienting games with the mind and emotions. A refreshing oasis seems to appear in the distance promising the happiness of a quenched desire.

A thirsty person might know that no oasis has previously existed in that location. But his desire to be happy, fueled by the hope that this time he just might find happiness there, or at least relief from misery, tempts him to believe the vision. If he yields, he discovers his hope was hopeless and his desire dashed because the oasis was a sham.

In temptation, the mirage moment occurs as we are tempted by a vision promising happiness. Some shimmering oasis of promised joy or relief from despair appears where God said it shouldn’t be.

The mirage’s appearance taps into our real desire to be happy. Our disoriented emotions begin to respond to this desire with a feeling of hope — hope that maybe this time, even if we’ve been disappointed many times before, the oasis will quench our desire. But we know that God has told us it is a false hope.

So we are faced with a choice between temptation’s compelling appearance and God’s promise. We are tempted, but have not yet succumbed to sin.

Learning from Eve’s Mirage Moment

The most notorious mirage moment in history is recorded in Genesis 3. And it illustrates a pattern consistent in all the temptations that we face.

The satanic serpent showed up in the garden and questioned Eve about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve’s explanation shows that she clearly understood God’s promise and warning (Genesis 3:1–3).

Then came Eve’s mirage moment. The serpent replied:

“You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw . . . (Genesis 3:4–6)

There it is: the mirage. Eve saw something she had not seen before:

[Eve] saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise. (Genesis 3:6)

Eve was experiencing the defilement of evil temptation. She was being told something very different about the tree from what God had told her, and so the tree suddenly looked different to her and she felt different about it.

God created Eve (and all of us) so that the meaning of her sensory impressions was shaped by what she believed to be true. Satan knew this. He knew that if he could change the meaning of the tree for Eve from the curse of death (Genesis 2:17) to the key to a happy life (Genesis 3:5), the tree would cease to look dangerous and begin to look desirable. It would tempt her to hope in something different than God’s promise and she might fall for it.

Satan manipulated Eve’s God-given desire to be happy and used it against her. He enticed her to corrupt this holy desire by pursuing it outside of God. And Eve indeed fell for it, which corrupted her desire by believing the mirage, which furthermore gave birth to sin and death (James 1:14–15):

[Eve] took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6)

Learning from Jesus’s Mirage Moment

Satan employed the same tactic when tempting Jesus (Matthew 4:1–11; Mark 1:12–13; Luke 4:1–13). Whether using food (Luke 4:3), or a cross-less path to power (Luke 4:5–7), or a public demonstration (test) of his divinity (Luke 4:9–11), Satan was trying to corrupt Jesus’s holy, God-given desires.

Satan knew (as the apostle Paul later wrote) that “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4). But he also knew that what made these things holy was “the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:5) and that “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). So Satan set before Jesus mirages to tempt him with faithless promises of divine happiness.

We who live with indwelling sin don’t know the levels to which the sinless God-man was affected. But we do know that what Jesus experienced were temptations. Jesus was given a choice between compelling deceptive appearances and God’s promises. And to each temptation, Jesus responded, “It is written. . . . ” He refused to believe Satan’s deceptive mirages or the emotions they roused. He kept food, power, the revelation of his divinity, and everything else holy by receiving them only through the word of God and prayer.

Recognize and Resist the Mirage Moment

Satan employs the same temptation tactics with us. And one key to not letting him outwit us (2 Corinthians 2:11) is to be on the alert to our mirage moments.

Identify the hope tempting mirages offer. The reason temptations are hard to resist is because hope is hard to resist. Temptations threaten us with missing out on happiness or less misery. We must ask ourselves what the mirage is really promising? Sometimes just saying it out loud breaks its spell.

Declare, like Jesus, “It is written” and take your stand on a promise God has made to make you happy. Don’t fight hope merely with denial. Fight false hope with true hope. Determine to hope in the God of hope (Psalm 42:11; Romans 15:13), not a shimmering hopeless mirage.

Expect the mirage to be tempting. God made you to want to be happy and the mirage has promised you happiness. So of course your emotions, which have responded to the initial deceptive vision, will want the happiness. They will feel demanding, but denying them won’t kill you. In this case, gratifying them just might kill you. Don’t allow your passions to be your dictators (Romans 6:12). Remember, emotions are gauges, not guides. They are indicatives not imperatives. They are to be directed, not to be directors.

To be tempted is not a sin. To yield to temptation is sin. Temptations are never truly as strong as they feel. Their power lies solely in the false hope they produce in us. Remember, it is hope that is powerful. God created us to hope in him (Psalm 43:5).

In temptation, Satan is just trying to use our God-given desire for hopeful happiness against us. If we can identify his false promise of hope, declare the true promise of hope, and expect to weather some disorienting emotional urges, the mirage will dissipate and our hope in God’s promised happiness will strengthen.


More from Desiring God

  • How to Endure Common to Man Temptations | Our most common temptations are generally the most dangerous temptations we face, because Satan knows us and aims at where we are weakest: our profound, pathological fallen selfishness.
  • Your Emotions Are a Gauge, Not a Guide | Remember, your emotions are gauges, not guides. Let them tell you where the spiritual attack is being made so you can fight it with the right promises.
  • Can Jesus Really Understand My Temptations? | John Piper responds to a listener’s question, “Can Jesus really identify with me when he doesn’t know the experience of indwelling sin raging war against the Spirit?”

Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God and has penned three books, Not by Sight (2013), Things Not Seen (2015), and Don’t Follow Your Heart (2015). He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Pam, their five children, and one naughty dog.

Sexual Purity Posts

Why Does God Allow Us To Go Through Trials And Tribulations?

Originally posted at: https://altruistico.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/why-does-god-allow-us-to-go-through-trials-and-tribulations/

by altruistico

One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is the fact that becoming a disciple of Christ does not make us immune to life’s trials and tribulations. Why would a good and loving God allow us to go through such things as the death of a child, disease and injury to ourselves and our loved ones, financial hardships, worry and fear? Surely, if He loved us, He would take all these things away from us. After all, doesn’t loving us mean He wants our lives to be easy and comfortable? Well, no, it doesn’t. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves those who are His children, and He “works all things together for good” for us (Romans 8:28). So that must mean that the trials and tribulations He allows in our lives are part of the working together of all things for good. Therefore, for the believer, all trials and tribulations must have a divine purpose.

As in all things, God’s ultimate purpose for us is to grow more and more into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). This is the goal of the Christian, and everything in life, including the trials and tribulations, is designed to enable us to reach that goal. It is part of the process of sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes and fitted to live for His glory. The way trials accomplish this is explained in 1 Peter 1:6-7: “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The true believer’s faith will be made sure by the trials we experience so that we can rest in the knowledge that it is real and will last forever.

Trials develop godly character, and that enables us to “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5). Jesus Christ set the perfect example. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). These verses reveal aspects of His divine purpose for both Jesus Christ’s trials and tribulations and ours. Persevering proves our faith. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

However, we must be careful never to make excuses for our “trials and tribulations” if they are a result of our own wrongdoing. “By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler” (1 Peter 4:15). God will forgive our sins because the eternal punishment for them has been paid by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. However, we still have to suffer the natural consequences in this life for our sins and bad choices. But God uses even those sufferings to mold and shape us for His purposes and our ultimate good.

Trials and tribulations come with both a purpose and a reward. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. . . . Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:2-4,12).

Through all of life’s trials and tribulations, we have the victory. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.” Although we are in a spiritual battle, Satan has no authority over the believer in Christ. God has given us His Word to guide us, His Holy Spirit to enable us, and the privilege of coming to Him anywhere, at any time, to pray about anything. He has also assured us that no trial will test us beyond our ability to bear it, and “he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Sexual Purity Posts

What is Grace?

by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

True grace is shocking, scandalous. Without Grace there would be no second chances. Grace shakes our conventions with its insistence on getting close to people and touching them with mercy and hope.

Grace forgives the unfaithful spouse, the racist, the child abuser. It loves today’s AIDS-ridden addict as much as the tax collector of Jesus’ day.

“Amazing Grace” is one of our most beloved hymns, written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton. Containing a message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world.

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now am found was blind but now I see.

But what is Grace?

Lets take a minute to go on a journey of Grace. Look at stories of grace, touch grace, feel grace and see grace.

Grace is given and never earned. Grace absorbs this world’s hostility and doubt yet responds with patience and forgiveness.

Max De Pree the CEO of Herman Miller Inc., tells a story from his own experience that vividly demonstrates the power of a literal, physical touch of grace.
Soon after De Pree’s married daughter became pregnant, her husband moved out and abandoned her. So she was alone when the baby was born about four months prematurely. “I went to the hospital to see my new grandchild for the first time,” De Pree recalls, “and there in that incubator was a tiny little baby, about the size of my hand, with wires running from his body to a lot of monitors and machines.”
As he was watching his grandchild silently struggle for life, the senior nurse went to him and said, “Mr .De Pree, that baby’s father is not here, so from the next several months, you will have to be the baby’s surrogate father. Here’s what I want you to do. When you visit the baby, go to the incubator, put your hand through the cuffs, and stroke the child. As you touch the child with your hands, talk to the child. It’s very important that he experiences your voice and your touch together.”
Voice and touch – together.
The story of Gods grace is not only told in words. Our voice must be clear and our touch must be real. Our touch cannot tell the story, only our voice can do that.

 The touch of grace makes the story of grace come alive.

Shortly after the Madrid train bombings of March 2004, Bono and French music journalist Michka Assayas had a series of conversations.

I would like you to read to you what transpired in this interview.

This is Bono’s view on Grace.

It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace…You see, at the centre of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics–in physical laws–every action is met by an equal or an opposite one.

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic.

Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions.

If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my sin and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that’s the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.

U2 wrote an amazing song on ‘Grace’ – here are  some of the lyrics

What once was hurt
What once was friction What left a mark
No longer stings
Because grace makes beauty

Out of ugly things

Grace
She takes the blame She covers the shame Removes the stain
It could be her name

Everybody needs Grace, Everybody hungers for Grace.

Everybody has a story to tell.    Everybody has a wound to be healed and everybody wants to believe that God is real.

Grace shakes our conventions with its insistence on getting close to people and touching them with mercy and hope.

Grace forgives the unfaithful spouse, the racist, the child abuser. It loves today’s AIDS-ridden addict as much as the tax collector of Jesus’ day.

True grace is shocking, scandalous.

Without Grace there would be no second chances.

Grace takes the blame covers the shame and removes the stain
Grace truly is still amazing.

Sexual Purity Posts

12 Things Kids Think About Divorce But Are Too Afraid To Say

Originally posted at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/20/kids-and-divorce-_n_5170182.html

By Tara Kennedy-Kline 

Divorce can really suck. Two people, at one time so in love they committed to spend the rest of their lives together, find themselves communicating through lawyers and dividing assets and possessions so they can start their lives over again — on their own. But for families with children, there’s a whole other layer of complication and planning, and too often kids don’t have a voice in what’s happening. The only measure of control kids may have (at certain ages and in some states/countries) is choosing which parent’s house they would like to live in. But that’s just geography. What about the feelings that accompany a house torn apart, and their unspoken expectations of a life lived with a whole family?

The most vivid and painful memories many kids from divorced families have of early childhood aren’t of playground scuffles, skinned knees or getting in trouble. Instead, they relive scenes from their parents’ divorce. Kids of all ages — some barely aware of their own roles in the world — are acutely aware of events, situations and actions in families divided.

After working with hundreds of families — and observing the behavior of kids as they struggled through the breakdown of their families — here are the top 12 things kids think about divorce, but don’t have the world experience to say directly. If they could find the words or the courage, this is what kids wish they could tell their divorcing parents:

1. You got divorced, not me. I know you hate everything about “your ex”, but your ex is still my other parent, and I still love both of you. Please stop talking badly about each other to me or in front of me; it just makes me disrespect you. Don’t gossip with your friends and family about them when I’m around. It makes me feel like crap and you look like a jerk.

2. I really don’t care which one of you gets the car, the timeshare, or Nana’s ashtray collection, so stop telling me about how pissed you are about it and how you feel it’s “unfair”. When you start putting all your energy into material things, you make me think that’s all you care about. Honestly, you should be more angry about losing our family than you are about losing your gym membership.

3. I trust you to protect me from bullies or people who would hurt me. I may need you to shield me right now from the stupid things other people say to me. I don’t have all the right answers, and my feelings get hurt really easily, so please stand up for me. Also, it’s not ok to let your newest “squeeze” discipline me. They don’t know me well enough to scold or even correct me. They have no idea what I am going through, and I lose trust for you when you let them push me around or hurt me — even if it’s unintentional.

4. When you’re talking to each other about visitation, please don’t talk about me like a project that needs to be “managed”. If it’s your weekend to spend time with me, consider the fact that I may really be excited to spend time with you before you let me overhear you say things like, “I have a date. Can’t you just keep her and I’ll cover your weekend?” And when it comes to big events, keep in mind that I have family that I love on both sides. So how about instead of letting a judge decide who I get to see on the holidays — ask me what I want.

5. Don’t use your failed marriage and bitterness toward the opposite sex as your reference when you lecture me about my friendships and relationships. I’m too young to bear your wounds. My friends are my escape from all the stress your divorce is creating, so you may want to not talk badly about them right now, that will just make me rebel against you more.

6. When you start dating again, don’t assume that I am going to love every person you bring home. I have my own opinions, and just because you like them doesn’t mean I’m going to automatically hit it off with someone you’re dating. Remember, you have a different set of criteria for this relationship than I do. Your new “friend” is not my friend, so maybe I don’t want to be nice to them. As a matter of fact, I might fight with them on purpose because I want you take sides — my side. If I’m getting upset please remember that I may be a kid, but I still have feelings. It might be time for us to spend some quality time together — just us.

7. Don’t insult or make fun of the gifts and things I receive from my other parent or the experiences I have with them and their family. This isn’t about you. If you’re jealous, then say that. But insulting the things I like, enjoy and am proud of just because they came from my other parent, only makes you look like a huge, petty brat. It also makes me think twice about sharing new things with you.

8. Quit telling me I’m “being dramatic” about what’s happening. Don’t dismiss my emotions. I’m allowed to be sad/angry/disappointed/depressed over the divorce of my parents. The family I knew for the whole of my life is ending, and I am scared to death. And from my perspective, you simply stopped loving someone who made you angry, so how long will it be before I do something to make you stop loving me? And on that note, now that I have realized your love has limits, be prepared for me to test those limits almost daily.

9. I would really appreciate it if the two of you could stop acting like children and come up with a plan that allows you to be in the same space at the same time without being mean to each other. For example: my birthday, sports events, recitals, concerts, and basically any time my other family, friends, coaches or teachers are around. If you could manage to put your own selfish crap aside and be civil with each other every once in a while, that would be great for everyone.

10. Please get on the same page when it comes to values, rules and discipline. When — out of spite for each other — you let me get away with stuff that even I know is wrong, you confuse and frustrate me. You teach me how to manipulate people and pit you against each other to get what I want. It is then that I stop taking either of you seriously. Just because you stopped being married, doesn’t mean you stopped being parents. I need you to teach me how to resolve conflict, not create it.

11. Please recognize that there are some things that my other parent is better at than you … and that’s OK! I won’t think less of you if you let Dad teach me how to catch a ball or Mom show me how to drive. I need to learn from both of you. When you take those experiences away, I can see right through you. I know you want to be able to do this whole parenting thing on your own, but I don’t want you to! I like making both my parents happy. I love seeing you smile when I do something you’ve taught me, and it makes me very happy when you compliment each other by saying things like, “You should ask your (other parent), they’re really good at that.” When you allow me to learn from and value both of my parents, that teaches me to appreciate the gifts in others and to ask for help when I need it.

12. When I do something to make you mad, don’t compare me to the person you divorced. “You’re a slob just like your father!” or “You whine and complain like your mother!” are statements that insult me, not the person you divorced. Remember, you left that person. You removed them from your life because of the very things you are identifying in me. Saying that you see things in me that make you think of the things you despise in them makes me feel unlovable and self-conscious — and it destroys my already damaged self esteem. If you want me to clean up after myself or speak more respectfully, then show me how, or make a rule, or talk about it. Just stop putting in my head that my actions are just as offensive to you as the person you divorced.

Divorce isn’t pretty or upbeat, but it’s also not a time to shut down. When kids are involved, it becomes necessary to open a door for conversation and realization of what your child(ren) are going through — and what they desperately need from both parents. It may be an “adult” situation, but the kids are very aware of what’s going on. Be there for them.

Sexual Purity Posts

When the Storm Doesn’t Stop

Jeremiah was depressed, as gloomy as a giraffe with a neck ache. Jerusalem was under siege, his nation under duress. His world collapsed like a sand castle in a typhoon. He faulted God for his horrible emotional distress. He also blamed God for his physical ailments. “[God] has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones” (Lam. 3:4 RSV).

His body ached. His heart was sick. His faith was puny … He realized how fast he was sinking, so he shifted his gaze. “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him'” (vv. 21–24 RSV).

“But this I call to mind …” Depressed, Jeremiah altered his thoughts, shifted his attention. He turned his eyes away from his stormy world and looked into the wonder of God. He quickly recited a quintet of promises. (I can envision him tapping these out on the five fingers of his hand.)

1. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

2. His mercies never come to an end.

3. They are new every morning.

4. Great is thy faithfulness.

5. The Lord is my portion.

The storm didn’t cease, but his discouragement did.

Today’s devotional is drawn from Max Lucado’s Second Chances.

Sexual Purity Posts

What Does It Mean for a Christian to be Free?

Romans 6:1-2 –“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”

Sometimes we may hear that “freedom in Christ” means we are free from specific ceremonial practices of the Mosaic Law; that is, we don’t have to keep the rituals to be connected to God. However, real Christian freedom is more than just freedom from laws. It is freedom to choose life; freedom from fear, guilt and condemnation when we make a wrong choice; freedom to choose love.

By nature, we are not free. We are slaves to the law of sin and death (see Romans 7:14 – 15; 8:1 – 2). As long as we are under the law, we will fail—as much as we try not to and as good as our intentions may be.

If we trust Christ as our Savior, we are out from under the law of condemnation. When God looks at us, he sees the righteousness of Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Legally, we are not guilty (see Romans 8:1). Through God’s grace, the consequence of sin for the Christian is never condemnation or punishment from God. Yet many of us have a hard time believing that grace is free and complete and we can’t do anything to add to it in any way (see Ephesians 2:8–9). We just cannot believe that God accepts us even in our failures.

Under the Law
In God’s grace, the law is intended to be a standard by which to evaluate ourselves. It helps us to see where we need to change. There are at least five major consequences when we put ourselves under the law:

    1. Wrath. God is angry at offenses against him; it is part of his legal system, the law. That is why we need Jesus, the one who takes his wrath away (see Romans 4:15). But if we put ourselves under the law, we will be angry at God and ourselves.
    2. Condemnation. We feel guilty and condemned if we do not do what we should. Yet we have been cleansed “once for all by [Christ’s] own blood” (Hebrews 9:12).

    3. Separation from love. If we feel unloved when we do not do as we should, we are still under the law. God loved us while we were his “enemies” (Romans 5:10), before we were interested in doing as we should. Nothing we do can separate us from the love of Christ (see Romans 8:35 – 39). If we feel separated from God after trusting Jesus, we have put our­ selves back under the law.
    4. Sin increases. If we feel we should do certain things because punishment awaits us if we don’t, we have not “died to the law” (Romans 7:4)—and the law will have power over us. “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase” (Romans 5:20). In other words, the very method by which we are trying to change will produce failure. The more condemning voices we have inside, the harder it is to change a problem. Ask any addict.
    5. No benefit. Whenever we do something because we feel we should or because we think we have to, it is of no benefit because our motivation is not love (see 1 Corinthians 13:1 – 3; 2 Corinthians 9:7). Only when we are free can we love freely.

A Life of Freedom If we are not condemned for what we do or who we are, why not do whatever we want to do? “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1 – 2).

The Bible’s response to total freedom is a refusal to continue to live in destructive ways (see Romans 6:1 – 4). “By dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law” and can now live “in the new way of the Spirit” (Romans 7:6). The Bible teaches that there are two paths — one that works and one that doesn’t. Both are reality: “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

In salvation, we are reconciled to God through Christ (see Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18 – 21). We are free to love and choose healthy ways of living. We do not have to love God or anyone else (see Joshua 24:15). But by looking in the mirror of God’s law, we realize that if we do not choose love, our lives will be empty. We begin to see that a life without fulfilling relationships has little meaning or fulfillment.

In relation to others, when we love them we give them total freedom as God gives us. We accept others, “just as Christ accepted [us]” (Romans 15:7). When they fail to love us or choose not to love us, we do not withdraw our love from them. We may confront them or express our sadness about their choice, but we do not condemn them.

And when we fail, we own our failure. With grace, we do not need to be defensive, for we are not condemned. Guilt says, “I should be different and if I’m not, then I’m bad,” so we get defensive. Grace says, “I see the standard and I’m not measuring up. I need help and love to change so that I can live.” We begin to seek God’s help to change. In a phrase, we “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6).

Today’s content is drawn from Beyond Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Copyright 2014 by Zondervan; all rights reserved. Visit BoundariesBooks.com for more information.