Now No Condemnation
April 26, 2009 / No. 3460
Dear Radio Friends,
The greatest danger that we face today as Christians is that we begin to
view our faith the way the world does. There is a great temptation to
do that. It arises both from outside and from inside the church of
The world views Christianity (and, for that matter, all religions)
in terms of: “Is it useful?” “What social, physical, psychological
benefits does this religion bring?” “Does Christianity improve man’s
earthly condition?” The world does not assess Christianity in terms of
“Is it true?” For the world has forsaken any hope of ever knowing
absolute truth. The world assesses Christianity only in terms of “Is it
useful?” They do not look at it in terms of divine revelation from God
Himself, of truth. But they look at it terms of human opinion.
This, of course, is to set up the criterion by which everything
must be judged, namely, man’s earthly good. All things must be judged
in terms of its usefulness to man. The world does not believe that God
must reveal our deepest need and provide a remedy. But the world
believes that it knows its deepest need and that religions are
respectable if they are able to meet that need.
So a reporter will interview a pastor in the Christian church.
And the reporter’s questions will reveal the criteria he uses to judge
the importance of Christianity. “What are you doing about affordable
housing?” “How are you helping people get jobs?” “Which ways will you
improve health care?” These are, of course, important questions. But
if you let the world set the starting point and present the gospel of
Jesus Christ first of all as an activity of people that is useful, then
you will have denied Christianity.
Romans 8:1 is the essence of the Christian faith. “There is
therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who
walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” In the light of the
inspired Scriptures, that verse is saying, “God is the supreme value in
the universe—not man. No one in the whole world, of himself, lives the
way that God requires. Man is a rebel. He is a sinner, and therefore
under condemnation, that is, guilty of sin. He is under the holy,
omnipotent, just wrath of the living God. And God alone can rescue from
condemnation through His Son, by grace, in a cross, washing and renewing
If we do not see what Christ has done in the removing of the
condemnation of our sin, if we do not see that as the essence of the
Christian faith, we lose the Christian faith. And if we fail to bring
that message to the world, but rather merely promote activity from the
church (health care, jobs, and social interests), then we are cruel.
Then those who hold the Christian faith have become cruel. For that is
the same as combing a man’s hair as he sits in the electric chair and
hide from him the only way of eternal freedom.
The essence of the Christian faith is not to be understood in
terms of man’s notion of its usefulness, but the essence of Christian
faith addresses what God says man’s great need is—the removal of his
“There is therefore,” cries the apostle Paul in Romans 8:1, “No
condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” The word “therefore”
indicates that the apostle Paul is bringing a conclusion, he is tying
things together. Really it is the conclusion of everything he said in
chapters 1-7 of the book of Romans. There he laid down the building
blocks of the Christian faith. He taught us about a holy God and about
a sinful man, unable to save himself and guilty before God. He shows us
a perfect Savior (Jesus Christ), and a perfect work through Christ,
whereby Christ and Christ alone justifies sinners, that is, makes them
right in the presence of God through His work upon a cross, a salvation
received by the gift of faith alone. He went on to show that the result
of this glorious work of pardon and righteousness will be a new and holy
life, produced within believers by the Spirit of Christ. And then he
went on to tell us that the Christian life now will consist of a battle—
a battle against his sins—but not a hopeless battle, a battle, rather,
that is finished, with the victory that is ours already in Christ.
And now he will sum it all up: Therefore, in view of everything
that I’ve said, there is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ
Jesus. That is the essence of the Christian faith. That is the
message, the only message, worthy to hear that we carry into all the
world. That is life. And around that message we arrange all of our
life. We keep our life as Christians from becoming cluttered with the
things of this world, and we live out of this precious gospel. There is
no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!
That is the gift of God’s grace.
To be condemned is to be sentenced to punishment for one’s guilt.
It is to be found guilty before the judge. The apostle speaks of God’s
condemnation. To hear God’s condemnation would be to have the iron door
slammed shut and to be sentenced, justly, to an eternity of hell,
banished from God because of my sin.
It is to have the responsibility of my sin upon my back, upon my
conscience, and to have no peace as I stand before the living God. It
is the truth of the courtroom, the real courtroom, to which all (you and
- I)are God is the Judge. And all my sins and deeds and all
the thoughts of my heart and words of my mouth and all the awful vile
things deep within me are brought forth.
To be condemned is to appear before God with all of this, my sin
and guilt, upon my back, upon me. And it is to live today with that
guilt upon me now.
In a sense, men and women (apart from Jesus Christ) know this
condemnation as well. The apostle Paul, in Romans 2:14, tells us that
by nature, apart from the grace of God, we excuse or we accuse
ourselves. That is, we use the devices of a guilty conscience. We
either dodge the reality of our sin and guilt by excusing, or we
blame-shift by accusing. But it is the Holy Spirit who awakens within
our hearts the reality of our sinful condition and we cry out that we
are guilty before God.
And then, we hear the gospel: “There is now no condemnation to
them who are in Christ Jesus.” That means that the guilt of my sin, the
responsibility of my sin, and the punishment that my sin would deserve
are lifted from me. I bear it no more. It is abolished. It is gone.
It is a divine and glorious verdict that has been declared concerning
me: “There is no condemnation!” It is the bliss, the indescribable joy
of the sinner, that the punishment of his sins is gone! And that God
has proclaimed him to be righteous before Him. It is as we read in John
8 concerning the woman who was taken in adultery and placed before
Jesus. Jesus spoke these words to her: “Woman, hath no man condemned
thee? Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.” Instead of
fear, anguish, hopelessness, and despair, God says, “No condemnation. I
have forgiven you. You may go in peace.”
There is no condemnation for them that are in Christ Jesus. How
important! This condemnation does not come to us of ourselves. It is
not on the basis of any merit, credit, or work that we have or could do.
But it is the work of the Holy Spirit, who applies the benefits and the
merits and the work of Jesus Christ to my account.
There is no condemnation in Christ. That means that the
punishment that our sins deserved was not overlooked. But it was heaped
upon the back of God’s own beloved Son Jesus Christ. My punishment was
placed upon Him. Apart from Jesus Christ, one glance of the holy God
and I would be burned forever in the judgment of God for my sin. But
now there is no condemnation in Christ, who was given of God freely, to
take the place of every sinner whom God chose merely of His grace.
Christ delivers them from condemnation.
There is no condemnation now says the apostle. And that is so
It means that Christ has accomplished our pardon right now. It is
a present reality. It is not a possibility, it is not a perhaps or
someday might be. It is not that the court of heaven is recessed and
the verdict is still out. There has not been a delay of the verdict.
It is not, “Well, we’ll wait and see. We have good hope, but we’re not
sure.” No, the apostle says, Right now there is no condemnation for all
those who are in Christ Jesus. There is forgiveness now for the child
of God. I need to know that now, or I cannot live.
Certainly, in this beautiful chapter of Romans 8, the apostle
looks into the future, and as perhaps you know, in the last part of the
chapter (very important!), he says, “I’m not afraid of the verdict in
the last day. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Who
is he that condemneth?” The verdict shall be declared, in that
courtroom on the last day, that we are not guilty. But that verdict
will not be declared then for the first time. It has been handed down
already, because of the work of Jesus Christ upon the cross in A.D. 33.
There is no condemnation for all those who are in Christ Jesus. In the
last judgment, when all will stand before God (and you will stand
there!), and all of our lifelong failures will be made plain before all,
what will you say before the flaming Judge? This is what you will say,
“My judgment took place already long ago—A.D. 33—when my condemnation
fell upon my Lord, the just for the unjust, that He might bring me to
And now today, for I am a vile sinner (and so are you), it is
different. Praise God, it is different! Now, through this verdict, I
see and confess and hate my sin. My sin is there. But now there is no
condemnation for me. It vanished because Jesus Christ bore it merely of
grace and took it away.
This message is Christianity. Christianity is that message and
nothing less. Do you know that?
There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk
not after the flesh but after the Spirit.
This is not for all. Not everyone can say “there is no
condemnation over my life.” The apostle Paul is no universalist. He
says, “Only for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That is a phrase that
the apostle uses often. “In Christ Jesus” means to be joined to Christ
inseparably. It is to be reckoned by God to be in Him. It is to be
entrusted into Christ.
According to the Word of God, there are those who by grace are in
Christ. And there are those in the obstinacy of their sin outside of
Christ and without faith. The most terrible phrase to be pronounced
over you is not “Homeless,” “Poor,” “Abused,” “Terminal cancer,” “Near
death.” But the most horrible phrase to be pronounced over a person is:
“Apart from Christ.” It is eternal ruin. It is crushing condemnation.
It is a barren an empty soul. Where are you?
Yes, it is by grace, through eternal election, in irresistible
love, that we come to be in Christ. But God works that grace today
through the call of the gospel. In His name, I say, forsake your sin.
Stop your attempts to cover your sin. Cease from your rebellion.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ by the wondrous grace of God. For to
them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the
Spirit, there is no condemnation.
The apostle is saying here that where this gracious pardon has
been given, there will also, by the same power of grace, be a change, a
renewal of life. I can put it this way: Those who are justified, made
right with God, merely of grace through faith, are also sanctified, that
is, made new and holy by the Holy Spirit within them.
Am I one for whom there is no condemnation? How would I know
that? Well, do you, by the grace of God, walk not after the flesh but
after the Spirit of Jesus Christ? You say to me, “What does that mean?”
Your walk, in the Bible, is not simply your external life, the life that
is seen of men. That is not your walk. But, according to the Bible,
your walk is your life as you live it from your heart. The Christian
walk of life is not simply, “Well, here I am—externally. I’m in the
Christian community. Look, I’m a Christian. Of course I’m a Christian!
I’m in the church.” That is not what it means to walk with Christ.
To “walk with Christ” is your life, your life as it proceeds from
your heart, and as your heart is directed to please God. There are only
two walks from the heart. It could be a walk, says the apostle,
according to the flesh, that is, according to yourself, according to
your own pride, your own way, your own rules. You set the direction,
the approach. You live for yourself. It is all about you. Or, you
live by the Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, that is, to follow the
impulses of the Holy Spirit. That is a walk that is contrary to the
flesh, it is contrary to the world; but it is a wonderful walk. The
Holy Spirit whispers and sings to us of Jesus Christ and creates within
us affections and desires to be like Him.
Do you know your need? Do you know it because God has shown it to
you? You are a sinner. There is over you condemnation and guilt. It
must be addressed or your soul cannot find rest. You can find no place
to stand. Do you seek the assurance of that pardon and grace?
This is the message of God to you: There is no condemnation for
those who are in Christ Jesus, who by the grace of God, from their
heart, walk not after their own sinful flesh but now desire to live with
all their impulses according to the Spirit of the Lord Jesus.
This is the most useful, this is the most practical, this is the
most blessed thing that your soul could ever hear. This is the most
sweet and the most precious message known throughout the world.
Maybe, today, as you are in the world with all of its earthly
pleasures and needs, you are not convinced that the gospel of Jesus
Christ and Romans 8:1 are the most blessed thing that a soul could hear.
Perhaps you say to me: “Well, yes, but would it not be better for
Christians and for the church that our leading message today is what
Christ can do for you in terms of your hunger, in terms of jobs, in
terms of health care, in terms of clothing? Then, after we address
those issues, then, perhaps, later in the evening, bring in the message
of the gospel of Jesus Christ?”
Or, perhaps, someone would say to me, “Well, what difference does
it really make if there is no condemnation now. How does that help me
now with my practical problems, with these problems that are just too
much—I can’t take them anymore? I need answers now,” you say.
Well, I will answer in behalf of my Master Jesus Christ. To hear
from God the words “No condemnation for you,” is ten-thousand times, a
million times, more valuable than any other need. If you live for
eighty-five years, ninety years, in troubles and in hardships; if your
little girl is taken away from you in death; if your father or your
brother is taken from you in death; if nothing goes right and your
business fails and your past haunts you; nevertheless, if you hear these
words in your soul: “There is no condemnation for you in Christ Jesus”—
then all is well. You will have an eternity in the presence of God, who
satisfies and fills all your wants and needs. And now, with His
blessing upon you, He calls you even in that difficult way that you
live, that difficult trial before you, He calls you and tells you that
you may go through those trials not thinking that everything is against
you, but that those very trials are for your good, and that they do not
contain condemnation from God.
We, as the Christian church, do not apologize for the message that
Christ has given us. We are not intimidated by the world when it says,
“What good is it? If you can’t tell us something about earthly ease,
how can you be relevant?” We are not intimidated by that. We proclaim
the good news.
And then we sacrifice our lives in thankful service of our God.
You who suffer pain that seems only to get worse; you who have cancer
and sickness and trials of the body and the devil comes and your own
thoughts in the night arise within you and you say, “It’s punishment. I
deserve this”—child of God, the message of the gospel is, “There is no
condemnation.” This is what you must hear. “There is therefore now no
condemnation for me. Christ is my righteousness and pardon. I have
passed from death to life.”
You who suffer problems in marriage and, perhaps, with your
children and family, and you say, “How can I possibly keep going? How
will I not return evil for evil to those who have done evil to me? How
can I go on forgiving, hoping, and loving?” The answer is Romans 8:1.
Sink your soul into the ocean of God’s forgiveness. Draw up buckets of
mercy for your spouse, for your child, for your parents. Deal with
others as God has dealt with you. This is the gospel: Christ took my
condemnation on Himself when He was nailed to the tree. Now, alive in
Christ, by the Spirit, there is one holy impulse that would control our
living, thinking, willing, acting, and speaking. A testimony of thanks
and praise to God is upon our hearts.
May God Himself bind His Word to your heart. And may you hear Him
say to you, “Son, daughter, neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for the gospel, for the truth. Now, by the
living Holy Spirit, apply it unto the hearts of Thy children. In Jesus’