Thursday, March 6, 2008

“No Condemnation” (Romans 8:1)

S-1038 3/09/08 5SIL/3A. Hymns: (O) #; (S) #; (C) #

Texts: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Romans 8:1-11; John 11:17-27, 38-53

Theme: “No Condemnation” (Romans 8:1)


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! The text for our meditation is from the Epistle lesson: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)

Saints in Christ, the greatest missionary and apostle, Paul speaks to our divided hearts about sin and its consequences. But of more value and benefit, are the emphases of the beautiful message that the letter to Rome has for us. It is the message about the changes that will come upon our hearts–the hearts of the believers. Therefore, there is no condemnation to those who believe. Through the power of the Word, Paul lifts the heart of the sinner from the depths of hell to the heights of heaven.

Paul gives us encouragement in this chapter about the believer’s life of faith. He the believer is not condemned. This verse, Romans 8:1 comes on the heels of Chapter 7. There Paul paints for us, in very vivid colors, the “Civil War” of the Christian. In Chapter 7, Paul speaks frankly about the struggle to live in keeping the demands of the Law of God. We are not immune from this struggle either. Paul, (as well all as other Christians) struggled daily to live up to what the Word of God asked of us. For those who don’t keep the Word of God the consequences, of course, are death, (Romans 3:23, 6:23). Yet, Paul does not ship us to the morgue. He points us to Christ and His redeeming work. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (7:24-25).

Chapter eight is the climax, culmination and the crest of the book of Romans. In this chapter Paul concludes his careful presentation of salvation NOT by works of man, but by FAITH alone that is rooted in Christ alone. Here Paul gives us on a silver platter the glorious statement of the certainty of God’s love and salvation in Jesus Christ. With this verse Paul emphasizes the same words of John: “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the SIN of the world” (John 1:29). Paul wants the troubled soul to have hope with this truth: “There is NO CONDEMNATION ‘judgment, punishment, sentence, or penalty to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Did you notice the big important word “NOW?” Therefore, there is now no condemnation, there is no handing down the sentence of death to those who are in Christ Jesus. Why is that word important? Two reasons:

First, it is about the believer being in Christ right now, not yesterday or any time in the past. The believer could be either a Jew or a Gentile, slave or free, male or female before. What matters is that one is in Christ now. One who is not in Christ now is not in the Spirit, but in the flesh. This life is according to the desire of the flesh and is at enmity with God (Rom. 8:7). So for those who are not in Christ there is condemnation even now. But one who is confessing Christ as Lord and believes in His heart that God raised Him from the dead, right NOW, is a Child of God and has been saved. Salvation is a present reality that continues into eternity, as long as there is faith in Jesus. Even our daily sins of neither weakness, nor even our iniquities can cancel this salvation or justification as long as faith is granted by God

Second, because salvation has already started, justification has also taken place. It is both present and future. That which Christ has begun He will complete (Phil. 1:6). This is the joy and hope of the believers. It is ‘in Christ’ that we receive the blessings of being saved, and are not condemned. For Paul, then, “no condemnation” means freedom not only from sin’s guilt but also from its enslaving power.

In Christ Jesus, we are given the gift of forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is not a mere passing emotion, but rather a forgiveness that affects our entire soul and body. This forgiveness has been given to us as Paul writes in Colossians 2:13-15 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” In Christ Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we learn the meaning of no condemnation. In Christ Jesus Paul secures our joy, hope, faith, and eternal life. The more a person spends time unpacking and unwrapping this verse, the more gold appears on the heart of the believer. These words begin to take a different meaning when you know that your sins have been cast into the depth of the sea. Your sins don’t hang around your neck like a noose.

Even though we are not condemned on account of Christ, even thought we are forgiven on account of Christ and even though we know that we will spend eternity in heaven on account of Christ, yet we are so quick to condemn others, we are not so quick to forgive them. We remember the things they say against us and we hold them accountable. We act as Judge and Jury and damn them to hell. How sad it is that we who follow the Savior, His teachings and His love don’t act like Him in word or deed.

Therefore, I pray that you will see the image that the Apostle Paul develops for us in this book. Paul, that great evangelist, and Good News teller help us [Christians] to continue to walk humbly in faith that are rooted and anchored in the cross and the empty tomb. Here he asserts strongly that we are not condemned. I like to use a different word for ‘condemnation’ – ‘punishment.’ What Paul in essence is saying: There is no more punishment for me, no more sin that the righteous Judge is singling out for which to hit me. Can that be so? “Yes,” Paul declares with absolute certainty. There is no sin, no punishment, no hell, no casting out to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Paul doesn’t want us to leave here without seeing the full picture so he takes us in spirit to heaven’s courtroom. We—you and I enter with fear and trepidation, because we know what we will hear and see God the Eternal Judge, seated in all of His glory on the bench. Each of us–sinners is on trial. As we sit, we see the witnesses marching one after another to take their places at the prosecution table.

The first witness for the prosecution is the law. The law takes the stand. “Your honor, this man, is guilty. He has done what I said he shouldn’t and DIDN’T do what I said he should. Your honor, I present you with these exhibits of his life. File after file show his breaking of the law, his infractions, his disobedience, and his defiance.

Second, comes death with its ugly head and black robe. “Honorable Judge, You know what Your Word declares: “The wages for sin is DEATH” (Romans 3:23). You, Yourself have made it plain and clear there is no confusion here, Honorable Judge, You said: “The soul that sins should die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Your Honor, You must carry the sentence. You are a just Judge, and You will not back away from Your Word.

The final witness, satan, rises to his feet and with a smile on his face, looks at the accused and slowly slithers and slides towards the bench. “Judge,” he says, “This sinner, this man that has broken Your every command and disobeyed Your every Word, belongs in my hell. He is not worthy. I have kept a full record of every error and marked each slip. He’s spent much of his life following and listening to me. He has worshiped me more than You. He has honored me with his life, instead of you. I claim his soul throughout an eternity of hell. Judge I am waiting for Your sentence

The sinner sits on the bench, his hands begin to sweat, the room begin to heat up and the case appears air tight. He drops his head in shame. Hell can be seen opening its jail doors and satan opening his jaws to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

But then, something beautiful occurs. The doors of the court burst wide open, and a man who is covered by blood and has a crown of thorns on His head, pierced hands and feet approaches the bench. He doesn’t belong here. Who is this man? Why has He come? He comes as my advocate, my attorney. At first appearance, He doesn’t look like He can stand to defend me. But then, I the sinner remember the Words of St. John, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). Yes, this is the attorney that Paul wants me to see and hear. And what an attorney He is!

Paul describes Him as Christ, who died, and was raised to life on the third day, is at God’s right hand, and intercedes for ME. My attorney has already died for me. He rose to show that He has paid enough for me. Now at God’s right hand He’s busy representing me. He never loses a case. He is always successful in defending the guilty party.

The Judge stands up and speaks with a very clear voice, “Case dismissed! All penalties have been paid in full. All punishments have been carried out. All charges have been removed. You are free. You will live not in hell, but here with Me in heaven From now on, you will be My child and call me ‘Abba,’ Father” (Rom. 8:15). There are no greater and sweeter words to hear than these. YOU ARE FORGIVEN! YOU ARE NOT GUILTY! THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION. At the hearing of the sentence, satan is suddenly silent. And you, the sinner, are suddenly jubilant. You have stood before the Eternal Judge and heard Him declare you, NOT GUILTY! Amen. and Amen.

Now the peace of God…

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