“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. What the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” —Romans 8:1-4

The Word of God is always the best solution to any problem — the best medicine for our heartache, strength for our weakness, grace for our shame, truth for our doubt, and hope for our sinful existence. It’s living and active. It drives out guilt. In it we find freedom, forgiveness, and life.

Dakota Carter, member of Brook Hills, shares how just a few verses changed his perspective and reversed the course of his life.

“I have legalism ingrained in my bones,” he begins. “I was battling an addiction to pornography, and was dealing with the guilt and shame that comes with that. I felt worthless and rejected. Now, all of these feelings were totally self imposed. I was surrounded by loving and caring people in my life, but that legalism kept whispering to me, ‘you’re not worthy.’”

But God. In His wisdom, God brought Dakota to the truth he needed to hear most. “My eyes were first opened to these verses the first time we sang the song “No Condemnation” by Anthony Evans in a worship gathering.”

He heard the lyrics:

“Because of His forgiveness, I don’t have to live with shame anymore. Because of His redemption, no more condemnation, there’s no more. Christ who died, raised to life, made a way for me. There’s no depth, there’s no height, that can separate me.”

Dakota describes the scene: “It was a 6:00pm service, and I remember just standing there and weeping, basically uncontrollably. The words spoke to the overwhelming sense of shame I was feeling.

“I actually went to [Romans 8] during the sermon (sorry, Matt) and highlighted verses 1-4. Then, when I was home the next day, I looked at them more closely. Those lyrics lead me to the truth within these verses. And in that truth, I see my true worth in Christ.”

In the same way God used words set to music and rooted in Scripture to bring Dakota to His Word, He continues to use music to remind Dakota of His promises found there.

“Music has always played a special part in my life,” Dakota explains. “It’s given me a way to communicate my thoughts and feelings when I can’t do it myself. So a big way God has encouraged me is just by listening to worship music. You can ask my wife. When we were dating, if I was having a specifically bad night, I would quite often just start driving with no end in mind and just blare worship music — sometimes for an hour at a time. So the simple action of singing (or more accurately, screaming) the truths of God through song helped get me through.”

Dakota says the Lord also uses a special person in his life to remind him that because of Christ, he is no longer a slave to sin.

“My wife is really my biggest encouragement. Though she wasn’t directly involved with showing me the verses, she is constantly reminding me of the truths in this passage. Satan uses the legalism in me to whisper those lies of being unworthy. So because of that, even with the most common of sins, I have moments where I battle guilt and shame, and Shayla is amazing about encouraging me in who I am as a child of God.”

God’s Word changed Dakota’s heart in a way nothing else could, transforming the way he now lives.

“The Lord took those verses and used them to reach in and begin to sift out that legalism that’s so ingrained within me,” he says. “Because of this, I see that I don’t have to live in fear of being judged guilty. Ultimately, when the Father looks upon me now, He doesn’t see my sin-ridden flesh, but the perfect image of His Son, Jesus.”


Dakota Carter is from Birmingham and has been married to his wife, Shayla, for just over a year. He’s been a member of Brook Hills for almost two years and currently leads an eighth-grade guys small group.