“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2 ESV)
No Condemnation Means _____________.
This word “condemnation” includes more in the Greek than its common use in the English. In English to be condemned can simply mean spoken to harshly or someone sharply disagreeing with us. Someone might say, you are a bad, bad person. You are scourge on society. You are a colossal disappointment. In English, that’s condemnation.
Condemnation here is the declaration of guilt. By whom? The only person that matters. God. God condemns sin and sinners. We are legally guilty. Personally guilty. Shamefully guilty. Eternally guilty.
But this is way more than a guilt trip. The Greek word is both the declaration of guilt AND the sentence for it. Pronouncement and punishment. This is guilt and hell. This is guilt AND separation from God. This is guilt AND eternal and unending separation from God and all love, truth, and beauty. This condemnation is an eternal condemnation. Eternal death.
Go with me in your minds to that terrible day in the future, to what the book of Revelation calls the Great White Throne Judgment where God judges all those NOT under his grace. Each one receives a just judgment and the due penalty for a lifetime of sin. While we don’t know what this will be like exactly, we can know it will be terrible beyond words. One by one, each one condemned. While I believe there are degrees of punishment in hell, hell is hell. Hell is trillions of years upon trillions of years. Forever and ever, time without end. That’s the condemnation in Romans 8.
But note the little word in front of condemnation. Two letters that dictate our entire destiny. No. No condemnation. No declaration of guilt AND no eternal punishment. Could there be a more wonderful negative in all the world? We are forever NOT guilty. Remember, it’s also the sentence. We are forever NOT punished. Essentially, this is a guarantee from God of never hell. Our status will never be retried, re-adjudicated. The case against us will never be reopened. We will never get a new judge or jury.
Can additional charges be brought in the future? Later in Romans 8, Paul will answer that and say, charges by whom? It is God who declares us righteous and Jesus who died for us. Who’s left with the moral standing to bring a charge against us? “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) So, there is no guilt ever. No punishment ever. No future accuser ever. No future charges ever. All this sounds like what Jesus promised, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) But wait, there’s a condition.
The condition for no condemnation is _________________.
“…for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
So, this clearly isn’t true for everyone, only for those who are in Christ Jesus? What does that mean? Here again is the wonderful doctrine of union with Christ. We’ve seen this already in Romans. I illustrated it with climbing ropes and carabiners. What does it mean? When we trust in Christ for salvation, in God’s eyes, what happened to Jesus happened to us. When he died for our sin, we died with him. When he was raised to life, we were raised with him. His death conquered our sin. His resurrection conquered death’s claim upon us. We are in by faith and God’s grace in union with Christ.
The shorthand in the Bible for this is in Christ Jesus or in Christ or in Jesus. It’s found 165 times in the New Testament. When you see that, think, union with Christ.
Let’s put this together, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” No guilt. No sentence. No hell. The opposite of condemnation is true. For those in Christ, it’s all righteousness before God. All freedom. All heaven and new earth forever.
Tragically, we must see what this verse also infers. For those who are not in union with Christ by personal faith in Jesus, there is now and forever condemnation by God. It’s pronouncement and punishment. They are forever guilty. It’s hell forever without the same provisions. Their case will never be retried. Their situation will never be heard on appeal. There’s no new judge or jury. If God is against you, who can be for you?
I must ask, dear friend, which is it for you? Which will it be for you forever?
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2019 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
 Rankin Wilbourne and John Ortberg, Found in Him, Kindle Location: 83
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