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Big Jesus wins award for the 'best community entry' in the parade.
We had a unique perspective on Jesus, His fame and renown. If the crowds were silenced even the stones would have cried out to Him. This must be what it was like for Jesus to enter Jerusalem, re-enacted for the benefit of his LGBT people... What does this say for us and for Him?
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Extracts from ‘No Condemnation’
From Romans 7:14 – 8:2 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my human nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I can’t carry it out.
For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, but the wrong I do not want to do—this I keep on doing….So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, badness is right there with me.
For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; But there is another law working in me at war with the law of my mind and making me a prisoner to the religion at work within my humanity. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from the state I find myself in?
Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind I am a slave to God’s law, but in my humanity a slave to the law of sin.
Now therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after their humanity, but are lead by the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin & death.
This reading is Paul’s admission of his failings. I’ll tell you about mine.
My church told me it was a sin to smoke cigarettes. They tried to pressure me through fear, but the addiction was too strong. I tried hard to give up, I prayed about it asking God for strength to do it. I got the pastor to pray for me and I still could not do it.
I felt so guilty and felt condemned. I was ashamed of my inadequate will power.
I got up one Sunday morning absolutely determined to stop smoking. I’d smoked my last ciggy the night before. I set off to church gasping for a smoke, again asked for prayer but no change. 10 minutes after leaving church I pulled in to the petrol station and bought my next packet.
I pulled into a lay-by just past the garage, I couldn’t wait to get the cellophane off. Cigarette in mouth I struck a match. At that very moment a loud voice within the car said ‘OBEY ME!’ I jumped in fright and quick as a flash I ditched the ciggies and matches. I was shocked.
But after lunch it was agony going without a cigarette and by 2 o’clock, against everything I really wanted to do I was back in the shop buying more cigarettes. I tried my utmost to block everything out as I stood outside the shop and drew on my first of many more cigarettes. Oh the relief!
Years later I gave up smoking. I couldn’t stop through prayers or even because God told me audibly to obey. It was repeated chest infections, nicotine gum and patches.
Years later I had peace with God by simply being myself with him. I was relying on his grace to keep me right with Him and I was no longer living my Christian life by trying to follow bible rules. I then asked Him a question. ‘Why did you tell me in such a clear audible voice to obey when I now know you never wanted my obedience?’
I felt He answered me: ‘I wanted to prove to you that you could not obey Me through your will power even when I aroused fear in you through speaking to you in the manner I did. It’s not obedience that puts you in the right place with Me. It’s your faith in Me that does that. I haven’t given any Christian the ability to obey me but I have given the gift of faith in me.’
At one time I was under the delusion that most of the time I did obey God. I was deluded with my own achievements and my self righteousness. An example is my temper. I don’t easily loose my temper and I reckoned my patience pleased God. I then secretly looked down on Christians who often lost their temper and I felt I was better than they were. I burdened others with the expectation that to please God they too should be able to do something that I could do.
I didn’t realise that personality and life experiences may make something that’s possible for me extremely hard, if not impossible, for others. At the time my self righteousness made me look down on as not ‘good Christians’ people who could not do what I could do.
The apostle Paul and I had this in common: we had both lived according to religious rules. We had both looked down on people who didn’t keep the rules as well as we did. But in reality neither Paul nor I kept the rules perfectly. Paul admitted that he had failed and I too failed miserably. Like Paul I often couldn’t do what I wanted to do and did what I didn’t want to.
But Paul and I found the answer and the way off that swinging between feeling a success and a failure before God. And the way off the swing is in Romans 8 ‘there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’.
There is no condemnation because there are no rules to condemn us. According to Rom 3:20 ‘no-one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law’. Rom 3:23/4 tells us that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ but we are ALL ‘justified freely by his grace’.
Jesus said in John 3:17 that He had not come to condemn anyone. Paul wrote in Romans 8 there is no condemnation. If you fail to do something you think the bible tells you to then refuse any thought of self condemnation. Jesus never condemns His child, don’t do it to yourself.
Jesus said plainly ‘By myself I can do nothing’. He could do nothing of spiritual value outside the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. You and I can do nothing of spiritual value outside the power and leading of God. By trusting in Jesus you are doing everything that God requires of you.
And when the Lord asks you to do anything He will give you His power to do it. You will realise then that you can’t boast about your goodness or your achievements and tell others they should do the same as you.
But you can boast about Jesus about His love for you and his commitment to you and to all who love him. And you will recognise more that He is working in your brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus in ways that are individual to them. In ways that flow from His unconditional love and limitless grace.
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