We Christians need to know that Jesus brings life, not condemnation (John 3:17). We already know that we are sinners. Many of us live in condemnation much of the time. Deep inside we know our private addictions and secret compulsions, whether to pride, self-centeredness, sexual lust, alcohol or other drugs, rage, power, money, possessions, or whatever.
We know by experience that we cannot break these bonds in our own strength. By ourselves, we can only grit our teeth, make new resolutions, maintain public appearances and respect, calculate that we are not as bad as we might be, rationalize that God knows our “weakness” and pray that he will mercifully forgive. And, thank God, he does!
But God wants to do even more. He also wants to deliver us from our bondage. He wants to replace slavery with liberty, guilt with peace, condemnation with assurance of his overwhelming love. Jesus still has power over all demons — personal and impersonal — and he waits patiently to liberate us all. He will guide us, empower us, supply every true need, and fill us so full of himself that we continually spill over with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness and faithfulness. But Jesus will not force himself into our hearts.
How do we enjoy God’s liberation? Ironically, by giving up all our own claim of self-rule. By acknowledging that he is God and we are not. By admitting — to ourselves, to God, and to some other safe person — the absolute unvarnished truth about whatever power has us in its grip. By truly making God our Lord as well as our Savior. By surrendering every segment of every part of our lives (thoughts, words and deeds) to his sovereignty without reservation. By asking him to fill us with his Spirit and make us like Jesus. By abandoning our will to God repeatedly throughout every new day he gives us on this earth. As we do this, we immediately experience God’s loving, healing, liberating touch. And we can be sure he will be faithful to perfect what he has begun, as we look to him in submissive trust.