Romans 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Listen, I get it, no condemnation is hard to believe. I mean this idea isn’t true in any other part of our lives. Actually guilty but not condemned? That is not a real thing anywhere else – society, school, family, our own consciences. Sure, many of us can quote this verse, and we probably say we believe it, but do we really believe it in our hearts? Do we actually live free from condemnation?
Why is no condemnation so hard for us to accept? Because we are constantly looking at ourselves, instead of at Christ. We look at our own behavior, our own performance, and our own failures way more than we look at what Jesus has done for us. We fail to see who we truly are in Christ – dead to sin and alive to God. We think that our union with Christ is a process, a union of degrees, as if we are partially in Christ and still partially guilty at the same time. No. With Christ it’s all or nothing.
Why does Paul start this glorious section of scripture about walking in the way of the Spirit with this declaration of no condemnation? Because he knows that if God is after our holiness (and he is), it will never come from condemning us. Feelings of condemnation will never produce heartfelt repentance and righteousness. Only God’s kindness will (Romans 2:4).
You see, condemnation always produces a fight or flight response. Our objective condemnation (yes, you’re guilty) produces a subjective self-condemnation (you feel guilty), and when we feel our guilt we will do all kinds of things to escape it. We will compare ourselves to others. We will turn the blame around on the one who we think is condemning us. We will embrace a victim mentality. Or we might try to lessen the “law” that is condemning us, turning sin into “no big deal.”
Earlier in Romans Paul described our consciences this way:
Romans 2:15. [the Gentiles] show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.
Accusing and excusing. Isn’t that what we’ve been doing since the Garden? Sewing fig leaves together. Pointing fingers. Even blaming God himself.
But the beauty of no condemnation in Christ is that all objective condemnation is gone, and all self-condemnation is reversed. What once accused and condemned me, now is used by Christ to transform me. What I once made excuses about, I can now confront and use it to send me boldly to my Father in faith and repentance.
You see Christian, the truth is you ARE a mess. When the Devil is accusing you before God he’s probably not wrong. The law’s mirror doesn’t lie. And honestly your inner lawyer has run out of arguments. All of this is true. But the clear conscience means you can stop excusing. You can face the reality of who you really are – a sinner.
But in Christ you are also a saint. You are forgiven. You’re forgiven of both your bad works and your self-righteous good works. The law might reveal the realities of our sin, but it can no longer destroy us with its condemning power. This clear conscience means you can stop accusing and excusing. You can face your failures through the reality of who you are – a beloved and holy saint of God.
Because of “to live is Christ,” the force of condemnation – excusing and accusing – is no longer at work in our conscience. Now our conscience is guided by the love of Christ. And the more we allow the gospel to overwhelm our hearts, the more we can listen to our conscience, and follow it into the presence of God.
What condemnation have you felt recently?
You in Christ
How can your union with Christ allow you to be convicted and encouraged by this very same thing?
Christ in you
How can you use your failures to find the presence of God?
Playlist: No Condemnation.
Click Here to this playlist on Spotify!
To see today’s post from the TLIC Family blog –> Click Here