Romans 8:1-2

Sermon preached on October 5, 2014 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

As Christians one of the things that we should be sure of as Christians is our status in Christ. Philippians 3:20 tells us that our citizenship is in heaven. But can that be taken away from us. Sometimes we have doubts. This is sometimes caused by our struggle with sin. The apostle Paul spoke about his struggle in Romans 7. He wrote, (verses 14–15, 18-19)

"We know that the law is spiritual;
but I am unspiritual,
sold as a slave to sin.
I do not understand what I do.
For what I want to do I do not do,
but what I hate I do…
I know that nothing good lives in me,
that is, in my sinful nature.
For I have the desire to do what
is good, but I cannot carry it out.
For what I do is not the good
I want to do;
no, the evil I do not want to do—
this I keep on doing."

A Christian who struggles with sin may sometimes and wonder,

"Am I really a Christian? Maybe I've been fooling myself all these years. Does this sin in my life mean that I'm not a Christian."

Such doubts are often very counterproductive. They can lead to discouragement and depression.

The antidote to such doubts is a clear knowledge of the standing that even imperfect Christians have in Christ. Even though the apostle Paul struggled with sin, right after he penned those words in Romans 7 he gave one of the greatest pronouncements on the status of Christians in the entire Bible. These are words that should give us great joy and peace. They should cause us to praise our Savior and glory in His work on our behalf. These are such words, words that should instill in us confidence and hope. At the beginning of Romans 8 Paul wrote,

"Therefore, there is now
no condemnation for those
who are in Christ Jesus,
because through Christ Jesus
the law of the Spirit of life set me free
from the law of sin and death."

These verses describe the believer's standing before God and give the reason for his standing.

This morning we're going to look at the first part of this—the believer's standing in Christ.

First, Paul tells us that there is there now, no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus. But

what 'no condemnation' mean?

To understand this we need first to look at what the word 'condemnation' means. A Greek lexicon says, (BDAG, 518)

"the term 'condemnation' does not denote merely a pronouncement of guilt… but the adjudication of punishment… judicial pronouncement upon a guilty person, condemnation, punishment, penalty… death-sentence"

Leon Morris explains, (Romans (PNTC; Eerdmans, 1987, p. 300)

"Condemnation is a forensic term which here includes both the sentence and the execution of the sentence."

In our court system there's a trial where sometimes someone is found guilty. Then there's a second phase, the sentencing hearing where the guilty person is sentenced for his crime. The term condemnation includes both aspects. A condemned man is found guilty and sentenced.

In our natural state, because of sin, we are under a curse. Galatians 3:10 says,

"All who rely on observing the law
are under a curse,
for it is written:
'Cursed is everyone who does
not continue to do everything written
in the Book of the Law."

Or as Paul said to the Ephesian Christians about their state before God made them alive in Christ, (Ephesians 2:3)

"Like the rest, we were
by nature objects of wrath."

We were under the sentence of death. As Romans 6:23 says,

"For the wages of sin is death,"

Thus 'no condemnation' means that we are freed from the judgment and punishment of sin.

It's very important that we understand this. We have this status of 'no condemnation' even while we are in this body of death. (Romans 7:24) No condemnation now means is that we are free from the guilt and power of our sin. A parallel passage to our text is 2 Corinthians 5:19. It says,

"God was reconciling
the world to himself in Christ,
not counting men's sins against them."

To have 'no condemnation' means that God does not count our sins against us. Our sins are still here. But because of Christ's work God does not count our sins against us. We are free from the condemnation of sin. The curse of sin has been paid by Jesus. BDAG, (518)

"there is no death-sentence for those who are in Christ Jesus…"

This is incredible. We are declared not guilty. The guilt for our sins is gone. We are free from the penalty of sin, the punishment for sin. We are free from the curse. We are free from the wrath of God. There is a complete absence of condemnation.

This does not mean that there is nothing in us worthy of condemnation. No. There is lots in us that is worthy of condemnation. Most of us know that. While we're on this old earth, we still sin. Our sins are still with us to a much greater degree that we would like. But in spite of that, we are in a state of 'no condemnation'.

Secondly, our text tells us that

there is no condemnation to those who are 'in Christ Jesus'.

It is because of our union with Christ that there is no condemnation. We saw this in 2 Corinthians 5:19 which I quoted a few moments ago, God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. One of the things we note there is that the reconciliation is 'in Christ'.

Our text is the same. There is no condemnation to those 'in Christ Jesus'. Our freedom from condemnation is because of Christ's work. Leon Morris writes, (Romans, PNTC; 1987, p. 300)

"There is no condemnation because of what Christ has done in freeing people from the law that condemns."

This is important. Our justification is based on what Jesus did. In justification God declares us righteous, not because of our sanctification, our growth in holiness, our obedience, our efforts—but because we are in Christ Jesus.

When we have doubts about our salvation it's almost always because of our failures. Because of that we have doubts about whether we are saved. We look at ourselves, our worthiness and we doubt.

But we must understand that salvation is about mercy. It's because of Jesus and His work that we are saved. As far as justification goes, here's what the Westminster Larger Catechism says, (Question 70)

"Q. 70. What is justification?A. Justification is an act of God's free grace unto sinners, in which he pardons all their sins, accepts and accounts their persons righteous in his sight; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone."

Justification is something that God has done for us.

The idea of our being 'in Christ' harks back to Romans 6:3-11. It tells us that our old self was crucified with Him, that we died with Christ, that we were buried with Him through baptism. Thomas R. Schreiner writes, (Romans, BECNT; 1998, p. 399)

"Believers are not under condemnation, because they have died with Christ, and thus the condemnation that they deserved as children of Adam… has been removed by the second Adam, Jesus Christ. The word [condemnation]… denotes the removal of the curse (cf. Gal. 3:10) from those who are descendants of Adam…"

Because Jesus died in our place, because He became a curse for us, (Galatians 3:13) the curse that was against us is taken away.

God has done this for us. He is the One that has justified us.

I've been doing jail and prison ministries for a long time and I've met a lot of guys who have told me that they were innocent, that they shouldn't have been sent to prison. And they may have been telling me the truth. But the thing is—them saying that doesn't mean a thing as far as getting them out of jail. They say it, they declare it—but it doesn't mean anything. If a judge said it, then it would be something. If the Governor gave them a pardon, that declaration would be significant.

With our justification—it's God who declares it. As Romans 8:33–34

"Who will bring any charge
against those whom God has chosen?
It is God who justifies.
Who is he that condemns?
Christ Jesus, who died—
more than that,
who was raised to life—
is at the right hand of God
and is also interceding for us."

God justifies us. It is He who does not condemn. His justice has been satisfied by the work of Jesus. God has pardoned all our sins and removed them from us. He has given us the righteousness of the Son He loves. We are 'in Christ' and this means that there is no condemnation to u.

Thirdly, our text tells us that

there is 'now' no condemnation for those in Christ.

Note well the word, 'now'. Our text says,

"Therefore, there is now
no condemnation for those
who are in Christ Jesus,"

How are we to understand the 'now', as far it's duration is concerned? Does it refer to this moment, in the sense that you can have no condemnation right now, but tomorrow you can be condemned?

There are some people who believe that you can lose your salvation. They somehow believe that one can have 'eternal life' today and not have it tomorrow.

But that's not how justification works. The 'now' is not referring to a moment in time, but an age. C. E. B. Cranfield writes, (Romans, Vol. 1, p. 373)

"The reference of the [now] is… to the gospel events themselves: 'now'—that is, since Christ has died and been raised from the dead."

Thomas R. Schreiner adds, (Romans, BECNT; 1998, p. 397)

"The… (now) in verse 1 signals a new era of salvation history, one in which God's covenantal promises are being fulfilled, when his people are enjoying the freedom from condemnation God promised. This blessing belongs to God's people because Christ took upon himself the punishment that his people deserved, and the Spirit has been given to enable God's people to keep the Torah."

Cranfield adds, (Romans, Vol. 1, p. 373)

"For those who are in Christ Jesus there is no divine condemnation, since the condemnation which they deserve has already been fully borne for them by Him."

Thus Chapter 11:5 of the Westminster Confession of Faith says,

"God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and, although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God's fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance."

Paul's writing to the Christians at Rome, and he's telling them that then, probably in the year 65 A.D., that there is no condemnation to all of those in Christ Jesus. Why is he able to say that? He's able to say it because Jesus Christ had died for their sins and He has saved them. That is true forever. So this truth can be declared as emphatically today as it was in Paul's day. 'There is therefore, now, no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus.' He is describing the permanent state of Christians. When we believe we are freed from the guilt of past, present and future sins. When we believe in Jesus Christ you are placed beyond the reach of condemnation—forever. You shall never be condemned. It is impossible.

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus,"

If you're not a Christian this means that

you should believe in Jesus.

Christians have it so good. They're in a state of 'no condemnation'. They're 'in Christ Jesus'. They have the Spirit who guarantees their perseverance. They are headed for glory.

You have none of those things. Why do they have them and you don't? It's because they have faith in Jesus.

You need to go to Jesus. You need to believe. You need ask Him to give you faith. Go to Him today and receive eternal life.