No Condemnation

May 21, 2023 Speaker: Josh DeGroote Series: Romans 8

Topic: Jesus Christ Passage: Romans 8:1–2

I have said that Romans 8 is the greatest chapter in the bible. I am not the only one to say that… many others have as well. One of the reasons why many have considered it to be the greatest (not more inspired), is because of the range of what is covered in this chapter. It covers the entire range of God’s saving work. From predestination to glorification. It covers our justification (God’s declaration of “not guilty… righteous”), sanctification (growing in godliness), and future glorification when the Lord Jesus Christ returns (our very bodies will be redeemed). 

Romans 8 lays a heavy emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The Holy Spirit gives life, sanctifies, empowers us to live in victory over sin, helps us to pray, intercedes for us (prays for us), and gives full assurance that we are children of God and co-heirs with Christ.

Romans 8 lays out for us the perfection of the work of Jesus as High Priest. He doesn’t merely try to save. He doesn’t just make salvation possible. He doesn’t merely make people savable. He saves. Christ Jesus is the One who died, more than that who was raised, who is at the right of God, who indeed is interceding for us (v. 34). His work on the cross and resurrection and present intercession will not fail - he saves!

Romans 8 gives us some of the most precious promises… promises that we can build our lives upon…

  • Romans 8:28 
  • Romans 8:32
  • Romans 8:37-39

All of this is in Romans 8… and we need to know all of it. Because it is meant to produce in the Christian a full assurance that these promises belong to us and we are beloved children of God, purchased by Christ, indwelt by the Spirit, kept by Christ, and destined for glory. The ultimate result of Romans 8 being lodged in our souls is for us to be launched into courageous, joyful, faith-filled, Spirit-empowered obedience in all of life. 

So, let’s start at the beginning and work our way through the chapter. I will probably be in Romans 8 for a while because we have to build line upon line, truth upon truth. Romans 8:1 is one of the great promises in the bible. One that every true Christian ought to be able to say about him/herself. It ought to be a triumphant banner flying over our lives.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 

But we need to do a bit of spadework before we park on this glorious declaration “No condemnation”. The reason I say that is because we see the word “therefore” in verse 1. “There is therefore now no condemnation…” Whenever there is a “therefore” in the bible, it is important to see what came before, so we know what the therefore is there for. So let me briefly go back to the last few verses of chapter 7. In the latter part of Romans 7, Paul describes what I believe to be the reality of conflict within the believer. There is ongoing conflict with indwelling sin. Christians are those who have been made new in Christ, given a new heart with new desires, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit… but sin is not completely eradicated and so in the Christian there is this conflict. There are times it is more intense and times it is less intense, but it is there. And I think every true Christian knows this. There is a battle going on - not just out there - but in here (the heart). So listen to what Paul says in 7:22-23 (explain as you go):

22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 

Pauls says that the law of sin takes his members captive and he falls prey to sin. This leads to Paul crying out for deliverance: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Where is deliverance going to come from? Paul says, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ!” Who’s going to save? Jesus Christ saves! Amen! Now, this is important. Because Paul does not conclude from this that the battle is over. Quite the opposite. Verse 25 says,

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ. So then (drawing a conclusion), I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

The conflict with sin continues. And in the battle against remaining sin… we need to know that in the conflict there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ… There is conflict, but no condemnation. 

Big Idea: There is no condemnation now or ever for those who are in Christ Jesus, because if you are in Christ, you are free from the law of sin and death.


No Condemnation

The word condemnation is a daunting word. We think of the word condemn as a sort of cuss word. But it is a good word when describing the righteous work of a judge condemning a criminal. In fact, it is an abomination to God for a judge to not condemn those who are truly guilty. Because condemnation has to do with guilt and it has to do with righteous punishment because of guilt. In fact, listen to the 1828 Websters Dictionary definition of condemnation:

The judicial act of declaring a man guilty, and dooming him to punishment.

That’s condemnation. And the condemnation we need to be worried about in Romans 8 is not that which comes from a man or a government or the devil. It is the condemnation that comes from God. To have “condemned” be the banner that hangs over us would be the worst thing that could ever be said of us. Now, we need to park here, because I think we have become too accustomed to speaking of God’s grace and love and mercy and kindness apart from his severity and judgment and what we deserve.

And when that happens, we lose sight of why God’s grace and mercy and love and kindness are so stupendous. It is because we deserve condemnation. Our sins deserve the full fury of God’s condemning wrath. And before we were converted, we were under the wrath of God:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36)

This is what makes the declaration: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” Instead of getting condemnation, we get mercy, grace, kindness, love. The word “No” is a stronger form of the word than is usually used. Not only that, in the Greek, it is the first word of the sentence, putting ever greater emphasis on it. It is not as though there is not much condemnation, or not too much, or not as much as we deserve. No. There is NO condemnation. All the guilt and the punishment our guilt deserves has been nullified. 

And I love how Paul puts it in the present tense. He says, “Now”. So if you are in Christ, no matter when you call this passage to mind or need to be reminded of it, it is always, “now”. It truly is a “now word” for all who are in Christ. Not just at a particular time when you had a good day. On your best day and your worst, there is no condemnation. Which leads to the question, how can this be? What is the reason given? We need to know. There is no condemnation, because you have been set free. 


You Have Been Set Free

Because you have been set free from the law of sin and death. The law of sin is the ruling principle of sin… and the condemnation of eternal death that comes because of sin.  Condemnation is contrasted with freedom. This is the ultimate emancipation proclamation! No condemnation! You are free! And this is what we need to ponder for a bit. In what way have we been set free? And before you answer, I think, unless you believe in a sinless perfection in this life, we all would agree that we don’t experience absolute freedom in this life. So in what way are we free? We need to understand this, because it is more than just a cliche or just kind of claiming freedom. How are we free?

Let me give you three answers that build upon each other: decisively, increasingly, and fully.


Decisively Free

There is no condemnation because you have been set free from sin decisively through the death of Jesus Christ. Look at verse 3:

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh…

Did you hear that? You are free from condemnation because your sin and guilt was condemned in Christ on the cross. That’s what happened at the cross. There was a great exchange! Your condemnation given to the Lord Jesus Christ, and his innocence and righteousness has been given to you! And this has happened once for all. 

** So there is no condemnation. It has been fully taken by Christ himself, in his body on the tree. The Father condemned your sin in the flesh of the Lord Jesus. So you are free decisively through Christ. 


Increasingly Free

There is no condemnation because you are free. In addition to a decisive freedom through the cross of Christ, there is also an increasing freedom from actual sinning. Verse 2 says the Spirit of life frees us. 

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

The Spirit of life has set you free. So there is a freedom that comes from the Spirit and his work of giving us life and renewing us and empowering us to walk in victory of sin. Before we were Christians, we not only sinned, but were dominated by it and we loved it. But now in Christ, the cord of sin’s power has been severed. The absolute domination of sin has been broken. And there is a new life and power indwelling through the Spirit that empowers us to walk and live increasingly free from sin. Listen to what Paul says later in Romans 8:13: 

If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

** So there is no condemnation. You are free. The Spirit has set you free, by severing the cord of sin, breaking sin’s dominion, and empowering you to walk in freedom from sin in Christ. 


Set Free Fully

Now you might be thinking, “I think he’s schizophrenic!” He said earlier that we are not fully set free from sin in this life. Let me explain. Later in Romans 8, we see hints of a future hope that is so secure and so guaranteed that Paul speaks of it in the past tense. 

Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified (there it is). (8:30)

Glorification is still future. But again, Paul is speaking with absolute certainty that if God began a good work, he will bring it to completion. Paul can speak with such certainty that he uses the past perfect tense, “glorified”. And so if you are justified through faith in Christ, Paul says not only that you will be glorified. It is so certain that those whom he justified, he also glorified. 


When you think of all that the return of Christ means, what comes to mind? Evil and injustice done away with. Pain and sorrow removed. Everything wrong made right. Amen! What about this. Sin will be done away with for good. Not just sin generally, but yours. When we are glorified, we will never sin again. We will never sin against the One our souls love again. You and I will be finally and fully freed from sin forever. It is a certainty. A guarantee. The One who began a good work in you will… 


So there is no condemnation. You have been set free from sin and death. Decisively through the cross of Christ, increasingly through the indwelling Spirit, and fully at the coming of Christ. How do you know if you have a claim on this promise?  


Are you in Christ? 

You see, this banner of “no condemnation” triumphantly flies over a particular group of people. Not everyone can lay claim to this wonderful promise. Who is this wonderful promise for? Do you see it in verse 1? “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. Are you in Christ? 

That is the all important question. If you are not in Christ, then you are still under condemnation. And today, I urge you to leave here knowing you are in Christ. You might say, what does it mean to be in Christ? This is one of Paul’s favorite phrases, a descriptor of the Christian - “in Christ” - dozens of times in his letter. Let me put it this way. When it comes to God’s holiness and your sin and the condemnation you deserve, to be in Christ means that you have run to Him for shelter, you have hidden yourself in him for salvation. 

In one sense, it is through simple faith that you are joined to Christ in this way. But I also would say that it is not a matter of little consequence. It may be by simple faith, but that faith is not a matter of merely giving your assent to a doctrinal statement. It is a faith that places you in Him. The hymn written by Augustus Toplady, Rock of Ages, has these lyrics:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee. Let the water and the blood from Thy wounded side which flowed, be of sin the double cure. Save from wrath and make me pure. 

Have you come to Christ and hidden yourself in Him? Do so now. And let Christ set up that banner over you “No Condemnation!”


What would freedom look like? 

If you were living in the freedom of this glorious declaration “No condemnation”, what effects would it have? Let me give you five:

1. Confidence in approaching God. Do you have confidence approaching God? Truly? I tell you, many don’t. And the proof is that they never do. Let that change today! If you are in Christ, there is no condemnation. That is the ONLY upon which you may approach God. There is no other. The book of Hebrews urges us to draw near… with confidence because of what our High Priest, Jesus Christ has done on your behalf. You are free from condemnation… and free to approach God with confidence. 

2. Help to live in victory over sin. This may seem counterintuitive. It may seem logical that the threat of condemnation is good to kind of light a fire under our butts to get in gear and stop sinning. But surprisingly, the NT takes us in the other direction. Grace empowers obedience. Forgiven sin is the only sin that we can have victory over. This liberates us for holiness. There is a great line from the hymn, O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing: “He breaks the power of canceled sin…” That’s it. Canceled sin is sin that has had its power broken. And so we come back to this place, “there is no condemnation…” because Christ took it for me. Now I’m free… to say NO to sin!

3. A strong weapon to silence the accuser. The only reason the devil’s accusations have any effect on us is because we still sin and so when an accusation comes, the comeback, “No I didn’t” or “No, I’m actually a really good person”, or “No I don’t deserve that!” aren’t really helpful. Because often we did do something, and we aren’t good people, and we do deserve God’s displeasure. What’s must our response be then? Romans 8:33-34 → “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect. Who is…” 

4. Humility and grace toward others. A dear sister recently brought this up and said, “if there is no condemnation for me because I am in Christ, it means there is no condemnation for others who are in Christ”. We need to remember that. What makes you to differ from others. You stand before God on the same grounds upon which I stand before him. 

5. Steadfastness in hope. At the end of the day, everything is going to be okay. 

More in Romans 8

January 28, 2024

The Triumphant Love of Christ

January 7, 2024

It Is God Who Justifies!

November 12, 2023

He Did Not Spare His Own Son

Join us Sunday at