It's similar to the effect that the Law had on the people of God from the time of Moses onward. The Law is good, no argument there. It reflects the heart of a good and holy and perfect God, and made clear what was required of those who wanted to live in a good relationship with Him. The trouble was - is - that we can't do it. Paul says the Law was powerless to set us free because we have something called the "flesh", which is biblical jargon for our tendency to make choices contrary to God and what he wants for us. It's something that we're born with, courtesy of Adam and Eve, thank you very much. No one can keep the law perfectly. And so it became a mirror showing us every imperfection and making it crystal clear that we could never be good enough to be in relationship with God. Never is a very long time.
That is why God's promise here is so breathtaking. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). If we have placed our faith in who Jesus is and in his death on the cross as payment for our sin, then we are good. It is just as if we have met every single righteous requirement of the Law, perfectly. Because Jesus did, and so God counts us as having done it, too.
That promise gives me so much hope. I can know with all confidence that my ultimate destiny is Heaven, with Jesus. I still strive to obey and follow Him closely, but always with the knowledge that I am doing it as a thankful and loving response to His great gift, not to earn His favor.
And with my babies in Heaven - well, I believe with all my heart that they are in the Lord's presence, and so my salvation fills me with hope that I will get to meet them, someday, and that they are, right this minute, in a place and condition of perfect joy and love. It doesn't stop me from missing them, but it helps me to grieve with hope rather than without it.
This Thanksgiving, then, the "nothing" at the top of my list is that nothing stands in condemnation of me, because Jesus has shared His righteousness with me and made it possible to stand before the Father unashamed. I desperately hope that you also know this freedom. If you don't, but the idea intrigues you, please contact me! Because the next four days of Thanksgiving blessings all hinge on this one.
How does this promise give you hope this holiday season?