The Truth That Changes Everything

Being a child of the 80s and 90s, I played my fair share of Super Mario Brothers on my Nintendo growing up. Who could have ever dreamed that a game featuring a couple of Italian plumbers on a quest to save a Princess named Peach from the clutches of a thug mutant turtle would reach the heights it has? But here we are.

One of the keys to success in the game is discovering and utilizing the various power-up items that aid Mario (or Luigi). Nothing changed my approach to the game, though, like the star item that morphs Mario into Starman. When a player acquires the star, they become temporarily invincible. 

The invincibility of the star changes everything about the game. While no longer having to fear or dodge enemies, the player is free to simply blow through them, moving rapidly toward the end of the current stage, at least as long as it lasts. With the threat of enemies no longer an issue, the player’s posture towards danger changes. Although there are still pitfalls that demand awareness, he or she can focus more intently on moving toward the objective of finishing the level.

The Truth That Changes Everything

I am thankful for certain passages in the Scriptures that make me feel like I gain a power-up each time I re-discover them. But like the star in Mario, no passage changes the game for me quite like the gospel reality proclaimed in Romans 8:1:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Talk about a truth that changes everything! This verse reminds me that no matter what I potentially face in this life, even the loss of all things, I am eternally safe and secure in Christ because my greatest threat has been dealt with. Before a holy God, I stood condemned in my sinful rebellion, facing an eternity of punishment beneath his just wrath. But now, by faith in Jesus as my substitute Savior, I have been reconciled to God in him. I no longer stand before him as one condemned, but as a son and heir.

As glorious a thought this is in general for believers, I have been especially comforted by it as a parent. Consider these implications for parents from Paul’s words in Romans 8:


The truth of 8:1 doesn’t stand on its own. It is intended to be understood in light of the beautiful gospel truths that Paul lays out in chapters 1-7. The gospel grounding that unfolds in those chapters makes this first verse in the eighth chapter resound like a crescendo in the theological masterpiece of the letter to the Romans.

Whenever I am comforted by 8:1, the glorious reality of the immediate context of chapter 7 rings in my heart. In 7:6, I am reminded that “[I am ] released from the law, having died to that which held [me] captive, so that [I] serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” 

Do you hear that, parents? We are freed from the law! God is not attending our every moment, keeping score with a clipboard, shaking his head in disdain at our faults. He’s not looking for opportunities to magnify our shortcomings and issue an “I told you so.” Because of Christ, our relationship with God is not marked with perpetual cowering from him every time we blow it in disciplining our children or when our well-intentioned plans fall to pieces. He is right in the midst of the struggle with us, for us, bringing this grand work of redemption he has begun in us to completion through the powerful work of the Spirit. 

Although I will surely stand before the Lord one day and give account for the sacred stewardship of parenting my children, neither my eternity nor my standing before God is dependent on it. Paul reminds me that although my struggle with sin is very real, I have a hope that is anchored in the settled reality of resurrection and one day being set free completely from this body of death.

“There Is Now No Condemnation”

Parenting is hard. It can be exhausting and defeating. It forces us to be consistently confronted by the ugliest parts of ourselves, as well as our debilitating weaknesses. It’s no wonder that our enemy seems to be actively engaged in blanketing this context of child-raising with snares. His sharpest attacks come when we are the most vulnerable, and few things can make us more vulnerable than parenting.

Often the enemy’s attacks come by way of accusation. “You are a failure.” “You are ruining your child.” “Why can’t you be like that other parent?” “If others only knew the reality of your struggle…” For those who are in Christ, these lies are neither the whole story nor the clearest version. 

Whereas when we were dead in our trespasses and sins we were children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), now we have been raised up in Christ and seated in him “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). 

This is who we are in Christ! And nothing can change that. Jesus’ triumphant exclamation of “It is finished!” secures us eternally in him. 

This verse always reminds me that although my battle with sin is not yet over, even as I continue to fail and fall short, it will not lead to condemnation. It will not have the last word. My salvation is completely bound up in Jesus and his work in my place. Having been united with him, I am clothed in his righteousness, not my own. He took my punishment upon himself on the cross, drinking every single drop of God’s wrath for my sin in my place

His resurrection is the exclamation point culminating his redemptive work, signifying the astounding truth that he has utterly satisfied the legal demands of God’s holiness for those who, in repentance, look to him by faith. My reconciliation with God and standing before him has absolutely nothing to do with me or my performance– in parenting or otherwise. So I must not look there for assurance. What comfort and grace in the midst of my own shortcomings and weaknesses!

“For Those Who Are In Christ Jesus”

The consistent exhortation of the New Testament is for believers to continue in Christ. Every time we hear this phrase we should recall the truth that we are united with Christ, and therefore we now walk in union with him. In other words, we do not walk alone. We do not walk in our own power or strength. In Christ we can be free to readily admit our total dependence and to be transparent about our frailty with others who are fellow partakers of God’s grace. We share in–and parent in–the communion of saints, and it is Christ that binds us together.

Being in Christ is also a reminder that the salvation of our children is not contingent upon us as parents. Certainly we are called to faithfulness in shepherding their hearts and raising them to know God through his Word. But we cannot save them. We must trust God. They too must be regenerated by the Spirit and united with Christ by grace through faith. With the burden of saving them removed, we will be free to love them toward Jesus, trusting that even in our shortcomings in that task, he remains faithful (2 Tim. 2:13).

Abide in the Power-Up!

The only downside to the stars in Mario is that there are so few of them. They can only be found on certain levels, and they only last for a short while. The glorious truth of Romans 8:1, however, is right there in the Scriptures, readily found by all who seek it out. 

Our job as believers is to abide in this glorious truth. We tend to forget the truth of the gospel, so we need to be continuously reminded by re-discovering it again and again. Instead of being “rooted and built up in [Christ] and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Col. 2:6-7), we begin to be tossed to and fro by our emotions, by deception, and by the folly of self-determination. We can easily become frustrated, defeated, insecure, and even bitter.

The beautiful invitation of the gospel, though, is to come and abide. Come and rest. Come and experience the glorious truth that, 

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, though the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

2 Peter 1:3-4

There is therefore now no condemnation. You are loved. You are redeemed. You are accepted. You are qualified. You are forgiven. You are secure. You are not alone.

What a game changer!

Join us for Rooted 2024 in Dallas, Texas, October 24-26!

Jason and his wife Erin live in Roxboro, NC, and have three children. Jason has served in student ministry for 20 years, and as Pastor of Students & Discipleship at Westwood Baptist Church since 2006. A graduate of North Greenville University (B.A.), Liberty University (M.A.), and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Jason earned his Doctorate of Education from Southeastern in 2021 with a focus in student ministry and discipleship. Jason serves as a Research Fellow for the Center for Parent Youth Understanding (CPYU) and teaches in the area of student ministry at Southeastern Seminary. He is passionate about leading students to know and supremely treasure Jesus, and about encouraging student ministry leaders to take seriously the sacred calling of shepherding students and parents toward spiritual maturity.

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