The word “condemned” means “to declare to be reprehensible, wrong, or evil, usually after weighing evidence and without reservation” and “to pronounce guilty” or “sentence someone,” usually to “die” (Merriam-Webster dictionary). The gospel of John gives us this solemn truth about all people’s eternal destiny: “He who believes in Him [Jesus] is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Simply put, if someone has not accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, God’s just punishment for their sins awaits them after they die. They will get the horrors of hell and that punishment will be deserved because they have rejected the grace and mercy of God and chosen sin and self instead. It is awful to think about and should burden all of us to pray hard for the salvation of our lost family, friends, neighbors, and teammates.
But for those of us who have repented of our sin and trusted in Jesus as Lord and God, we read awesomely good news today as we resume our study of Romans: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Through your faith in Jesus, God has declared you forever forgiven and “not guilty.” How is this possible, knowing all of the bad things that we have done and thought both before and after becoming Christians? How can God let us off the hook and still be a God of justice who punishes wrongdoing? Through Jesus taking our place with His death on the cross. The law of God, the commandments, could not save us; they could only show us how far we had fallen short of God’s perfect standards (Romans 8:3; Romans 8:23). In this sense, the law was “weak,” not because there was anything wrong with the commandments, but because simply telling us how we should live did not give us the power to actually live that way. In other words, the law of God called us to be holy and obey the Lord, but because of our sin nature, we not only could not obey, but before our salvation, we did not even want to obey! But praise God, He sent His own Jesus to take on flesh like one of us and to suffer our condemnation for us (Romans 8:4). He absorbed the full penalty of our sin. But even more, Jesus has given those of us who believe in Him the gift of the Holy Spirit to live inside us. The Holy Spirit has given us “life” and empowered us to be “free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). This means that as Christians, we are not only forgiven for failing to obey God’s commands, but we now also have new hearts that want to keep those commands that we once hated!
Jesus takes our sin and judgment, and we get God’s forgiveness and righteousness. It’s the deal of all deals! Can we ever stop praising God for that beautiful truth: “There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus”? May it be at the front of our thoughts all day and every day!
The Text (Romans 8:1-4)
8 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Questions to Think About
- Can you think of a time when you got in trouble at school or elsewhere and you had to wait a little while for your punishment? What happened and how did you feel?
- Can you think of a time when you knew you had done wrong and deserved to be punished, but a parent or teacher or coach let you off the hook and you got mercy instead? What happened and how did you feel?
- Why is it important for Christians to know that they are no longer condemned by God for their sins? How can knowing and believing that help you in your daily walk with Christ?