My childhood was characterized by lots of fears, most of whom age and salvation have excised from my life. From the fear of masquerades who entertained us in the village where I grew up and my home village during festivities, to magicians who performed tricks that amazed my impressionable soul, to witches and wizards who were to be dreaded according to various tales and superstitions that flew around the villages. To make matters worse, church added to it as the story of Noah’s flood revealed a no-nonsense God, and Israel’s punishments at various times compounded the problem. The summation of it was the development of a fear of eternal judgement in a burning hell fire which has become the only fear keeping many lives on the straight and narrow way.
One of most popular prayers in Nigeria today is ‘You will make heaven in Jesus’ name’. While I found nothing wrong with the prayer many years ago, the revelation of our righteousness in Christ Jesus makes me question the reason for such a prayer. My challenge with it is the doubt and unbelief at the root of it. To pray that prayer means I am not sure I will make heaven. If asked whether they are saved, many believers will answer in the affirmative. Then, what are they saved from? ‘Of course, from our sins’, someone will answer. If so, why are we afraid of eternal judgement? Truth be told, most believers still wrestle with condemnation, especially because of their imperfections and yet Romans 8:1 declares there is no condemnation to them who are IN Christ Jesus. This means there is no guilt, sentence or punishment due to those who are IN Christ Jesus. This spiritual reality and blessing is not based on actions or inactions, self performance or effort but on the redemptive work of Christ Jesus on the cross of Calvary and his subsequent burial, resurrection, ascension and positioning at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
“By living in God, love has been brought to its full expression in us so that we may fearlessly face the day of judgment, because all that Jesus now is, so are we in this world.” – 1 John 4:17 TPT
The perfection of God’s love for us is mostly demonstrated in the oneness that has resulted from our union with Christ. We are now in Him as He is in us. We are in His love as it is in us (1 Corinthians 6:17, Romans 5:5, 1 John 4:12). It is preposterous for me to imagine that with our oneness with God, we would still be thrown into the lake of fire! Our opinions are mainly formed by God’s actions under the law of Moses which was written that sin might be accounted against the sinner and that the Law might be a preparatory school for the life of liberty we have through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 3.19-24). Now the law has been removed and we have been brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Sin and judgement are no longer accounted against us in this new life but also, we have been born again not of corruptible seed (nature, DNA, genetics) according to 1 Peter 1:23. We now have God’s nature of holiness with a desire and love to please our Heavenly Father and to walk in His ways. There will remain imperfections in the humanity that clothes us on this earth, and tendencies to do wrong through the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17). However, that is not enough to condemn us to a burning hell fire meant for Satan and his demons (Matthew 25:41).
We also need to correct our theology about negative experiences in this world. Many times, people attribute their challenges to divine judgment. I remember for many years as a believer, when symptoms of sickness would come upon my body, rather than think I might have given place to the devil (Ephesians 4:23) or I was negligent of my body with poor nutrition and poor recreation, I often wondered if God was punishing me for one wrongdoing or another. We need to understand that yes, there are natural consequences for wrongdoing according to the principles of nature, but all the divine judgement due to you were unleashed upon Jesus on the cross on your behalf and you are now free from them(Isaiah 53:4-6). Satan is the source of all evil and we must not be ignorant of his devices. Where he has struck, we must confront him and overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony (Rev 12:11). It is every good gift and every perfect gift that comes from our heavenly Father (James 1:17). Let me end this article with only two verses you should meditate upon again and again till you are free from all condemnation:
“Who then would dare to accuse those whom God has chosen in love to be his? God himself is the judge who has issued his final verdict over them—“Not guilty!” Who then is left to condemn us? Certainly not Jesus, the Anointed One! For he gave his life for us, and even more than that, he has conquered death and is now risen, exalted, and enthroned by God at his right hand. So how could he possibly condemn us since he is continually praying for our triumph?” Romans 8:33-34 TPT