A speaker at chapel the other day mentioned that his favorite two words in scripture were, “But God..”   Compelling indeed, these two words introduce hope into a situation where none is by nature.

I now offer you my favorite words in the Bible.  If you want hope plus something else, think about Paul’s startling announcement: “No condemnation!”  Paul reinforces and explains this comforting fact in his letter to the Romans. He describes the freedom belonging to those who have been transferred from the world where Death dominates to the world of Everlasting Life.

Do you remember Venn Diagrams from Geometry Class? They can provide a visual representation of these two worlds.   Everyone born to human parents is born into the Kingdom of Darkness, one of the two Venn circles.  Growing up and living in this ‘Death Camp’, one is under God’s justifiable wrath for her inherited God-hostility (thanks Father Adam!)  No hope there!

But God (okay – these 2 words ARE pretty cool!) can transfer us OUT of the Kingdom of Darkness into the other Venn diagram – the Kingdom of Light, the Kingdom of the Son.  It’s a legal transfer – a one-way, one-time, permanent judicial action.  Why judicial?  Because our guilty charge has been dealt with.  Our name has been cleared, thanks to Christ who has assumed onto himself our guilt.  There’s NO LONGER any guilty sentence tied to us.

Since we have a new status, there is no longer any condemnation.

Here are a couple glorious implications –

1)    If I do something wrong, hurtful, embarrassing, sinful, I can remember that Jesus has already paid for this. What else do I need to do?  Repent and make restitution as necessary.  But under NO circumstances should I indulge in self-condemnation.

2)    I have perfect access to God as Father since I have been freed from any condemnation.  I have Jesus as my big-brother advocate.  And I have the presence of the Holy Spirit within in me.  Besides all the ‘stuff’ the Trinity does for me as an adopted child in the Kingdom of Light, as one who is freed from condemnation, I have fellowship with the Trinity and with other believers.  Don’t you long for genuine community?

I find myself recalling multiple times throughout the day, ‘no condemnation, Maria’.  I need that truth check because the world is pretty hostile.

But since the other night, I have paired that two-word fact with another equally powerful reminder.  This thought comes courtesy of Jonathan Edwards who was quoted in a book about puritan prayers.  He described the Holy Spirit as the ‘choicest of gifts’.  What an uplifting way of looking at the 3rd member of the Trinity!!   If we are IN CHRIST, in the Camp of Christ, in the Venn Diagram of Life, in the Kingdom of Light, in the Kingdom of the Son whom God loves, then we already have the ‘choicest of gifts’.  We have the Holy Spirit who permanently lives in us, directing and encouraging and helping us with God’s resurrection power, God’s universe-creating force, wisdom and love.

What gifts!  What a God!