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The Heart of the Gospel

 The very heart of the Gospel can be stated in the words of the apostle Paul, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

As sinners we justly deserve condemnation in our unregenerate state. Our trespasses and sins condemn us. However, God in His grace declares, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It is a declaration of acquittal based on the substitutionary death of Christ. Our eternal security and safety is found in the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus.

“No condemnation” (katakrima) refers to the punishment following the sentence, i.e., the punishment, doom. Christ bore our punishment on our behalf on the cross. He paid it all in full for us. The verdict was guilty and the punishment was death. “The wages of sin is death.” No punishment is inflicted upon us because of what Christ did on our behalf as our substitute.

The apostle uses an intensified strong negative (ou de) at the beginning of the sentence. “No condemnation!” The believer is not in a state of condemnation now, and he can never be in that state again. It is impossible to condemn him to the wrath of God because he is justified by grace through faith in the work of Christ.

Sin must be judged and the penalty paid in full. Since Christ met the conditions of a holy God there is now no condemnation for those who are “in Christ Jesus.” “Therefore” takes us back to chapters five and six, and the foundation Paul has already laid in his presentation of the Gospel.

The apostle Paul uses a forensic term, "condemnation," which includes both the idea of the sentence and the execution of the sentence.

The believer is “in Christ” federally just as all individuals were in Adam. Moreover, we are “in Him” in a vital union such as the branch is in the vine, or the head is to the members of the body in a vital union. We came into this union with Him by grace through faith in Christ.

Paul is stressing a close intimate personal relationship with Christ. To be “in Christ Jesus” is to be one with Him.

We are reminded of Romans 6:3-11 where Paul stressed this union with Christ in virtue of His death, burial and resurrection. We died to sin and have been raised in the newness of life in Christ. Christ is exalted to the right hand of the Father and we share His life. We are seated with Him in the heavenly places.

“Those in Christ Jesus can lead the consecrated, the crucified, the baptized life,” writes A. T. Robertson. “We are pardoned, we are free from the old law of sin and death (7:7-24), we are able by the help of the Holy Spirit to live the new life in Christ.” God condemned our sin in Christ Jesus, so that His righteousness might appear in us.

We have this “no condemnation” status before God the Father because our sin was condemned and executed in Christ. God could therefore declare us just because we are clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).

God declares “no condemnation” because He condemned His Son as our sin offering, and turned the wrath of God aside. Only God in the person of His Son Jesus Christ could become a propitiation, and turn the wrath of God away from us.

As with all vital issues with salvation, a person is either saved or lost, a believer or an unbeliever, saved by grace through faith or by works, so here condemned or justified. You cannot have both. It is an act of God based on the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Those who are “in Christ” are not under condemnation. Those who are not “in Christ” are under the condemnation of the law and await the execution of the wrath of God.

The emphasis of the whole of God’s Word is God’s work, and not of man. We do not earn it by our good works, or merit it by our good virtue, or our good standing with the church, etc. We are lost, condemned sinners whom God the Father has chosen in His grace to save based upon the merits of the death of Jesus Christ alone.  We who were justly condemned have been declared just in God’s sight through faith in Jesus Christ.

The good news is that this great truth has already taken effect because there is “now no condemnation” based upon what God has done in Christ. The word “now” points to the change that took place the moment we believed on Christ for salvation. It was the moment God declared us just in His sight. Our status changed from death to life. We stood condemned by the law because we are sinners, but now by God’s grace we are no longer condemned and headed to the execution chamber

Jesus says to every sinner who comes to Him confessing their need of His saving grace, “Neither do I condemn you; go in peace.”

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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