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 Gods Word is Gods 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 Gods 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 Gods 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.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
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