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Living Under No Condemnation
Have you ever been threatened that someone would hurt you, sue you, or kill you? Nothing is more traumatic than being under a threat. I once told a fellow high school student he reminded me of a TV commercial, and he said if I ever said the offensive slogan from that commercial to him again, he’d tell his relatives in the tong (that’s the Chinese mafia), and they’d kill me. It was a genuine threat.
I was often threatened by guys on the other team for the things I said to them on the court, or from the bench. They wanted to hurt me. I have been threatened with a lawsuit–they threatened to sue. It is a powerful thing to be under a threat–you’re not free. It’s weighty, it produces worry, and the reality is, every single one of you here . . . adult, student and child has or still does live under a genuine threat of divine judgment.
Hell–the Lake of Fire, eternal suffering awaits everyone who is not in Christ. It is coming, and it is genuine. It is not a place of fellowship and beers with your bros. It is torment, dark, burning and eternal. Yet you can be freed and forgiven instead of condemned. You can live under no condemnation. And that is how Paul begins the encouragement of Romans 8:1—turn there, take out your sermon outline for Living Under No Condemnation.
We are in the middle of our summer series, Gospel Greatness–a study of the doctrine of soteriology, the doctrine of salvation. And today I want us to examine what salvation did in placing you in a state of no condemnation. Get ready to smile, have your heart soar like an eagle, as Paul gives his Roman readers and us today mega-encouragement. Are you ready?
Paul says in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Now when you see a therefore in your Bible, you need to ask, “Wherefore is that therefore there for?” The context here is a powerful truth. You probably know, Paul was miserable in chapter 7–doing what he didn’t want to do and not doing what he wanted to do. He was frustrated and defeated, trying to live the Christian life in his own strength.
Do any Christians here struggle in their walk of faith? Be encouraged, Paul struggled greatly. In Romans 7:19 he says, “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” But now in chapter 8:1 Paul celebrates, “There is therefore now no condemnation,” meaning there was a time when we were under the threat of condemnation.
We were literally ready for judgment–the rope was around our necks, the electric chair was charged, the firing squad safeties were off. But you can enjoy a sigh of relief since that’s no longer the case. Verse 1 says, “For all those who are in Christ Jesus.” Those of you in Christ are no longer under condemnation. So what does that mean now? How does God respond to me when I sin, when I fail, when I struggle, doubt, fall?
#1 What does no condemnation mean for those in Christ?
Mark these four encouraging truths
First God does not reject me when I sin
Jesus said in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” If you are in Christ, God will not reject you. He will never drive you away or cast you out. You can’t lose your salvation when you sin. Why?
1 God’s love is unconditional
Romans 9:15 says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Ever been told, “You’d better be good or God won’t love you”? That’s a lie. God’s love is not based upon our conduct, but His character. He doesn’t say, “I love you if . . . ,“ or “I love you because . . . ,” but “I love you. I love you anyway.”
2 Our acceptance by God is not based upon our performance
Romans 9:16 says, “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” God’s acceptance of you is not dependent on your conduct, but only on God’s choice to accept you. And you can’t lose your salvation when you sin, because . . .
3 Our acceptance is based upon our position in Christ
Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Being in Christ causes God to treat me like His son, not His enemy, even when I sin.” No condemnation not only means . . .
First God does not reject me when I sin, but also . . .
Second God is not angry with me when I’m inconsistent
Are any of you inconsistent? We get upset when we’re inconsistent, but God doesn’t. God is patient with us when we’re inconsistent. He understands it takes time to grow and mature. So why is God not angry when you’re inconsistent?
1 God made you
Psalm 103:13 to 14 says, “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. 14 For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” God knows exactly what you are made of–human. He made you. He knows you’re frail, dust and weak.
When my boys first learned to walk and took their first steps, they fell–a lot, sometimes hard. When they fell, I didn’t lecture them, spank them, and send them to their room. No, I picked them up, gave them a hug, dusted them off and sent them on their way. When you fall, God doesn’t say, “Stupid Christian–learn to walk.” No, He knows you and He is never disappointed.
How can I say that God is never disappointed? Well, to be disappointed you have to expect someone to do something differently. But God knows all the mistakes you’re going to make before you make them–today, this week, this month and for the rest of your life. God is not surprised, therefore He can’t be disappointed when you are inconsistent. He made you.
2 Jesus understands because He lived as a man
Hebrews 4:15 to 16, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.” Jesus was tempted in all things but He never sinned. He’s been there. He’s been here on earth with all the temptations, hassles and pressures. We forget Jesus understands. So when we sin we hide from God, like Adam and Eve, instead of run to Christ to find help. But God is never angry with me when I am inconsistent, because He has walked through this life.
This is the hardest lesson for me to learn–that God is not fed up with me, even with those sins that I sin over and over again. I get embarrassed, I’m ashamed, and I imagine God saying, “You know, Chris, can’t you think up a new sin? You just keep doing the same old ones. I mean, why don’t you get creative?” No–God is not angry or frustrated when I sin as a Christian. And being under no condemnation means . . .
First God does not reject me when I sin
Second God is not angry with me when I am inconsistent
Third God does not punish me when I sin
Punishment is the payment for past sin, so why doesn’t God punish me when I sin? Because of the law of double jeopardy. No one is punished for the same crime twice. And if Jesus took all the punishment for all my sin and all your sin on the cross 2,000 years ago, is God going to punish you for all those same sins you commit today–the same ones Jesus died for? No! Jesus took our punishment for all our sins,so no Christian is ever punished for their sins. (We are lovingly spanked from time to time, but never punished.)
Romans 5:18 says, “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through on act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” Paul says one man–Adam caused the problem of sin for all. And one act of righteousness–Jesus death on the cross bought the solution that can be applied to all of us in Christ.
First Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” Underline “once for all”. Jesus took the punishment for our sin once for all so that God will not punish us. For if God did punish all of us who are in Christ, it would be saying that Jesus’ death wasn’t good enough–and that’s blasphemy. God does not condemn me, He is not angry with me, and He will not punish me when I sin. And if that weren’t enough . . .
Fourth God does not want me to condemn myself
We think, “Well, since God won’t punish me, then I’ll punish myself. I hate me, I’m so awful–I’m such a bad Christian.” First John 3:19 to 20 says, “We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him, 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” This verse is for perfectionists and those with sensitive consciences. Even when I don’t love God as I should, God is still greater than my heart. He knows everything about me, but He won’t condemn me. And if that’s true, then I shouldn’t either.
Those of you Christians who do condemn yourselves are proud. That’s right–self-condemning Christians are high-minded, arrogant, puffed-up, stinking proud, because what you’re saying is, “God, you’re wrong not to condemn me. And since you won’t, I will. God, your opinion of me is wrong, and I’m right. God, your status of no condemnation is off, since I think I should be condemned.” That’s pride.
God does not want you to condemn yourself. Yes, you are the worst sinner you know. But no, you are not to crucify yourself–Christ already paid the price. Plus, when we believe God does want to punish us, we start looking for punishment in everything, don’t we? We get sick or lose our job and we think, “God is getting me back for my sin.”
But for the Christian, God is never trying to get even with you, because all your sins are paid for. Psalm 103:10 to 12, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. [God is not keeping a grudge, nor giving us what we deserve.] 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Why didn’t God say north and south? Because there is a North and South Pole, there is an ending place. But east or west just keeps going around forever and forever. God has removed our sins as far as east is from west. We will never be brought back under condemnation for our sins, which were taken care of on the cross.
Some of you are asking, “Chris, why are you making such a big deal about this? The reason why so many Christians are distant from the Lord they love is, they think their Savior is going to hurt them, condemn them or smack them. But you can’t love a person who you think is unfair. You can’t love a person who heaps burdens on you, and you can’t love a person who you think smacks you every time you fail Him.
Many Christians are terrorized by God. Yes, we should fear Him, honor Him, and be in awe, but not terror–why? Because all the punishment, guilt, sins, shame, and penalty for sin was taken by Jesus Christ—and when we come to Christ alone, God makes us His friend. Understand, Christian–God doesn’t motivate us with fear, guilt, manipulation, threat of punishment, rejection, anger, condemnation or getting even, but God always motivates Christians with love, grace and mercy, the Gospel and more. That is who God is. Now, since I am under no condemnation . . .
#2 Why should I live good?
Some of you are thinking, “Chris, you’re creating a license to sin here. If God accepts me no matter what–if I can’t lose my salvation, if God is not angry at me, but is patient, understanding, and loves me when I sin, then why be good? Why even depend? This is what Romans 6 asked twice—remember . . . 1 “Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? 2 May it never be! . . . 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!” Since my sin shows how gracious God is, then let’s really sin a lot to show how great God’s grace is.
Let me highlight just two of the major reasons why no genuine Christian would ever buy this line of thinking. Will a true Christian say, “Hey, if God accepts me even when I sin then why not sin a lot?” No–for two reasons.
First You have a new heart wanting to obey God
Romans 6:17 says, “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart.” All true Christians have a new heart that wants to please the Lord we love. Therefore, we would never choose to sin against God but because we are no longer condemned for our sin. But we will serve Him and love Him from the heart out of gratitude for all He has done for us. We’ve been made into new creatures with a new inner person that wants to please the Lord we love.
Second Even though your sin will not affect your position, it will affect your person
As a true Christian, your sins will not affect God’s acceptance of you, but it will make a big difference in your personality, your happiness, your rewards and all your relationships, especially your family and church.
Third He is worthy
Since I am under no condemnation, then . . .
#3 What happens when a Christian sins?
If God is not angry, frustrated, will not reject me or is not impatient with me when I sin, then what does happen? Let me highlight seven terrible consequences for sin in the Christian, then list a few more. When a Christian sins it . . .
First Sin brings conviction from God
John 16:8 says, “And He, [the Holy Spirit] when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment.” Conviction is God making me aware of my sin. It is not God saying, “I don’t love you,” or “You’re worthless,” but “Your sin was wrong.” Ever heard a sermon that seemed to speak right to you? Like I had cameras in your house all week? I don’t, but God does. That’s conviction, telling you this is what you could be in Christ.
Then what’s the difference between condemnation and conviction? Condemnation says, “I’m no good, and I’m never going to amount to anything, so why do anything at all?” Conviction says, “What shall I do? I want God to go to work on me, I want to be more like Christ, I will change with the Lord’s help.”
A big problem for Christians is distinguishing between the accusations of Satan and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. How do you know the difference? I have an idea . . . Satan seems to speak in general terms, like “you’re no good, you’re lousy, you’ll never amount to anything.” Plus, his words always tear down, resulting in discouragement, defeat, delay, denial and despair.
The Holy Spirit is specific–you’re being jealous right now, you’re being envious, you’re not willing to witness, or you’re not giving sacrificially. And the Holy Spirit’s words seem to build you up–the result is you’re more conformed to the image of Christ. And another consequence of sin is that it . . .
Second Sin hurts other people around us (especially those we are closest to)
David’s sin of numbering the people in 1 Chronicles 21:17 caused the whole nation to suffer. Plus David’s sin with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11 caused his entire family to fall apart, and even rebel. Sin is never committed in isolation–even our private sins affect others around us. And when a Christian sins it . . .
Third Sin hurts us and destroys our happiness
Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Some so-called Christians/church-attenders want to sow their wild oats and pray for a crop failure. But grace does not exempt you from the natural consequences of your actions and choices to sin. You can smoke as a Christian, but you will still have a greater chance of getting lung cancer, even though you are a Christian. People ask me, “Does smoking send you to Hell?” No–it just makes you smell like you’ve been there.
You get drunk and drive–you run the risk of getting into an accident. You can lie as a Christian—but you may get fired from your job. You can not exercise—but you may have a heart attack. You can steal—but you may get caught and go to jail. Everything in life has consequences, both good and bad. You will reap what you sow, no matter what you sow.
When you sin, it does not change your status with God–He won’t be angry or impatient. He will still love you and understand your struggle in this life. There is no condemnation, even in the struggle–but you will have conviction from God, it’ll hurt others, and it will hurt yourself with natural consequences, and when a Christian sins . . .
Fourth Sin causes our fellowship to be broken
The relationship is not broken–I am still a Christian, but fellowship, intimacy, and closeness will be shattered. First Corinthians 11 says our fellowship with God is polluted if we come to the Lord’s Table with unconfessed sin in our lives. Verse 28 and 29 say, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly.”
God accepts us as His child, but like a parent, He is grieved with our sinful choices–so a relational barrier to intimacy comes between a sinning Christian and Christ. So how do you know your fellowship is broken? It’s simple–your joy is gone. That is why David prayed after his confession over his sin with Bathsheba in Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation”–not restore my salvation, but the joy of my salvation.
David lost the joy of the Lord, and Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” There are too many joyless Christians who have no strength. My fear is that too many Christians and churches are weak because of sin–shown in their lack of joy. When a Christian sins . . .
Fifth Sin causes our usefulness to God to be limited
All Christians become unproductive when they allow sin to pile up in their lives. Second Timothy 2:21 says, “If a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” If you cleanse yourself, meaning you confess and repent of your sin–then you’ll be useful to and prepared for your Master. But if sin is not confessed, then you’re not useful to, nor prepared for any good work.
Sin in the life of a Christian prevents you from being used of God to build the saints and reach the ain’ts. Oh you can serve, you may look great, and God may use His Word through you–but God is not using you. When a Christian sins . . .
Sixth Sin results in God lovingly spanks His children
Turn to Hebrews 12—verses 6 through 11 tell us of God’s discipline and how it is different than God’s punishment. Hebrews 12:6 to 8, “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, [God does not discipline in anger, but out of love] and He scourges every son whom He receives [God spanks his children]. 7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
When I was a kid, my parents didn’t spank the kids down the street. But when I needed some corrective action, they felt it appropriate to apply some pain saturated memory actions to my bottom. One of the main ways you can know you’re a Christian is when you get “off track,” God corrects you.
In fact, if you know someone who claims to be a Christian but is living in blatant obvious sin–they’ve left their spouse, they have a bitter spirit, they slander others continually, or refuse to worship with the church body, and you see no corrective spanking by God, then I would seriously question that person’s salvation. You say, “That’s judging.” No, that’s believing God’s Word.
One of the things that proves you’re a Christian is you can’t sin and get away with it. You feel miserable, or God spanks you. Remember–God’s discipline doesn’t make you feel you are no good, or that God has rejected you. No, verses 9 to 11 say, “Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He [God] disciplines us for our good, [it may hurt but it is for our own good] that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful [amen?]; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
God’s discipline is different than punishment—so different that the difference shows us how we should discipline our children. Do you know the difference?
|Purpose||To get even
Pay back wrong
|Focus||Past/pay back for what you did||Future/how you can change|
God is angry with wicked
God loves His own
|Result||Fear, guilt, hostility||Security|
The most insecure kids are those who are never disciplined. The most secure children, with the highest worth, are those who are disciplined properly. When parents correct with a process towards the future in a heart of love, they will have secure children. How do you discipline your children? “I’m gonna get you for doing this” (in anger), or “I’m correcting you so next time you’ll do what’s best”? Another result of sin in the life of a Christian is . . .
Seventh The loss of rewards in heaven
Second Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” Those things we did in the flesh for our own glory are bad–literally useless. When we are in sin, we are not rewarded. When we serve in the Spirit and for the glory of God, then those things will be rewarded. What else happens to a Christian who sins?
The Holy Spirit is grieved–Ephesians 4:30
Our prayers go unanswered–1 Peter 3:7
Our life becomes powerless–1 Corinthians 9:27
Our praise is unacceptable–Psalm 33:1
God’s blessing is withheld–Jeremiah 5:25
Our spiritual growth is hindered–1 Corinthians 3:1-3
Our service is limited–2 Timothy 2:21
Our fellowship is polluted–1 Corinthians 10:21
God is dishonored–1 Corinthians 6:19-20
But our status, our position, our security is not affected. So since we are under no condemnation . . .
#4 What should a Christian do when they sin?
First Remember Christ has already paid for our sin
Many believers try to please a God who they think is unpleasable–their best is never enough. But this is not the God of the Bible. First John 2:1 to 2 says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. [That is the ideal–that you would not sin. Anyone reach the ideal?] And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”
Jesus took care of the sin problem for those in Him, so when we sin we need to remember to thank Christ. I know my sins deserve death, but Jesus already paid the price of death for me. Before you do anything, remember what Jesus already did and thank Him.
Second Confess your sin
First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Homologeo, confess, means “to speak the same, to say the same thing about sin as God does.” I agree with God that I sinned–it was my fault, I was acting independently of the Lord, not dependently. Say, “I was short-tempered, I was angry with my spouse,
I was critical”, or “I gossiped, I lied, I was envious.” But understand, to confess does not mean the three “B’s”.
1 to beg—“pretty please, please, please”
2 to bargain–if you forgive me I’ll never do that again
3 to bribe–if you forgive me I’ll promise to read the Bible every day, I’ll take notes of the Sunday sermons . . . (If you did, God will forgive you–I’m sure that’s the one thing that touches His heart.) No, to confess is to say the same thing about sin. Be specific, admit it was your choice, agree it was wrong, then choose by the power of the Spirit to turn from your sin (that’s repentance), and . . .
Third Accept God’s forgiveness, stop condemning yourself, and press on in your pursuit of Christlikeness
Read Philippians 3:13 and 14, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Focus on the future of living like and for Jesus. So . . .
1 Are you in Christ?
Verse 1 is the key to the rest of Romans 8–no condemnation is only for those who are IN. Praise God I am IN–IN Christ Jesus. In Christ refers to our position–not in and out, not in sometime, out later. Ephesians 2:13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” If you are a true believer and not a make believer, when you were saved your status changed from being condemned and hell bound to a state of no more condemnation.
So how do you get in Christ? Read John 3:18 with me, “He who believes in Him is not judged [no longer in a state of condemnation anymore]; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Why is a person outside of Jesus condemned? Is it because he drinks too much? Is it because he beats his wife, or has committed immorality, or is a homosexual, or swears, or never goes to church, or never tithes, or never serves? No–he is condemned because he has not believed in Christ, which means you are not following Christ.
Jesus said in John 8:24, “Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.” And scripture makes it very clear that belief is not mere intellectual assent. John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
The belief that saves is a gift from God that produces a change of dependence and direction in us. Second Thessalonians 1:7b to 9, “When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” The Bible declares every person who has ever lived is condemned forever apart from Jesus Christ. Are you in Christ? Are you dependent upon Him, following Him?
2 Are you living free or under guilt?
No condemnation means no judgment for the believer. No true child of God will stand before God in judgment at the Great White Throne. We’ll stand before Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ to receive rewards for those services we did for God’s glory and in the power of the Holy Spirit, but you and I will not be judged for sins, because Christ already was judged for us.
Paul told you Christians, you are in a permanent state of no condemnation. Do you feel God is angry at you, or wants to punish you, or do you condemn yourself? Or are you enjoying your forgiven position in Christ?
3 Are you taking sin seriously?
For the heart of a true Christian wants to obey God, live holy, conformed to God’s character and to repent of all known sin. God didn’t save you to make you first happy, but first holy. Repent today of any and all sin that you’ve grabbed onto this week.
4 Are you enjoying Christ?
Is Christ the one you love more than anything—above sports, spouse, children, house, things, events, ministry, church, everything? Are you enjoying your relationship with Him? You can, you should–He will satisfy. He is joy. Let’s pray.