Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2.
Once, many years ago now, I fell from grace so badly and was so weighed down by my failure and sin that I felt I had passed beyond forgiveness. I sought sanctuary for a few days with a Christian friend who was studying medicine in Dundee. His first words to me were, “No condo, brother!” … a very elided version of this morning’s verses; and he continued to throw the phrase at me over and over, day in, day out until finally it sank in. There really is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And the reason there is no condemnation … the reason that there can be no condemnation is precisely because we are in Christ Jesus! That’s the bottom line. That is what Paul goes on to unpack in various ways in the first half of chapter eight of Romans.
I get two pictures coming to my mind’s eye as I meditate on these verses. The first is of Jesus, who has been writing in the dust, straightening up, and looking at a terrified young woman whom the Pharisees had been about to stone as an adulteress. “Where are your accusers?” he asks her (knowing his answer to their questions has sent them all away). “Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she answers. “Then neither do I condemn you,” says Jesus. (John 8:10-11). Jesus is simply not in the business of condemnation. The scriptures are clear on this: “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17).
But my second picture is of Jesus standing before the priests, then before Pilate, then before the crowd; and at every stage being himself condemned to death — the death he dies on Calvary. And Paul’s argument in the next two verses of Romans 8 homes in on this. There was, he says, an even greater condemnation going on at the cross than the condemnation by the priests, by Pilate, by the crowds. God was condemning all sin … including mine … in the flesh of Jesus. It was why God had taken on flesh in the first place. “Sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering … he condemned sin in sinful man”. There can be no condemnation for me if I am in Christ Jesus because Jesus has already born all the condemnation my sin and failure ever has or ever could or ever will deserve.
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood;
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!