TITLE: The Gospel teaches us that there is no more condemnation for those in Christ Jesus
Date : 27 /11 /2011
Today we will consider yet another phenomenon that would attack and undermine the good seed , the gospel and therefore the centrality of the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in our heart , mind , soul and passion: False guilt and shame!
This problem is precipitated by ‘non thinking’ or ‘shallow thinking’ , or perhaps by busy , cluttered minds that do not want to think through the teaching of Scripture on the achievement of the cross for the true believer : “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Christians who let others do the thinking for them will at some time either be confused by legalistic “Galatian type Christians” , or antinomian  “ Corinthian type Christians “ . Both letters of Paul to these respective churches reflect a very stern rebuke .
When you let others do the thinking for you , you may become very easily enslaved by teachings that enslave you rather than free you . I remind you that God has given you a mind . It must be used prayerfully and in dependence upon the gracious aid of the Holy Spirit who helps us to think. The Bereans of Acts 17:11 were a good example of such a people .
So with respect to false guilt and shame that is imposed upon us so very often by others or by our cultural actions or reactions , what can we learn from our passage in Romans 8: 1 -11 ?
1. We consider firstly the plain teaching of Scripture :
Verse 1 sums up the theme of the entire chapter : “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is a general statement of what is true of the Christian. It is a fundamental truth ! The remaining 38 verses are a 'working - out' of the theme...
Verses 2 - 4 teach us that Christians have been freed from the law of sin and death ( not meaning that the law is evil , but that the law is unable to save us ; it can only condemn us) . Christ Jesus has done it ! Christ’s death frees the true believer from all the accusations , all guilt all condemnation that might be brought against him/her .
Verses 5 - 17 teach us that there are two kinds of people in the world , who have two different kinds of desires , and who have two different reactions to God and therefore they have two different future destinations and therefore two present responses :
(i) Two different kind of people : those who live according to the flesh versus those who live according to the Spirit
(ii) Two kinds of desires : those who set their minds on the things of the flesh (8:5,6,7) versus those who have set their minds on the things of the spirit (8:4,5,6)
(iii) Two kinds of reactions to God : the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God (8:7) and cannot please God (8:8) , versus the spiritual mind that is at peace with God . The spiritual mind has the Spirit of God ( 8:8)… the Spirit of Christ(8:9)
(iv) Two kinds of destinations : those led by the flesh do not belong to Christ (8:9) . Their destiny is eternal death ( 8:6) , whereas those who are led by the spirit , have life and peace ( 8:6) . This means that even though their bodies must die , they will be resurrected to eternal life ( 8:11) . Our salvation is guaranteed, because of the work ( the deposit – Eph 1:14) of the Holy Spirit within us. He gives us true life (8:2); He enables us to walk according to His power ( 8:4) ; He enables us to have our mind fixed on the things of God ( 8:5) ; His presence in us produces life and peace( 8:6) ; He dwells in us and thereby mediates the real and life giving presence of Christ (8:9 -11) .
(v) Two kinds of responses : debtors not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh ( which leads to death – 8:12,13a) BUT debtors to Christ, who gives us His Spirit by whom we are enabled to live as sons of God – i.e. not in slavery and fear (8:15) BUT as adopted (8:15) children of God ( 8:16)
The big point about chapter 8 is that those who are truly Christians ( as seen by those distinctives that set them apart from non-believers) are fully supplied by God’s grace .
2. Application : How does this knowledge help us ?
This passage helps the believer in terms of his/her assurance . The conclusion near the end of chapter 8 in the light of all this teaching is this : “ If God is for us , who can be against us ? “ ( 8:31) . If you understand the complete and powerful work of God in you in terms of dealing with your sin and forgiving all your sin , then it helps you greatly . You are helped to see that Christ completely unloads any false guilt and condemnation under which you may currently live. Let us try to see this in real life situations in which various Christians may find themselves.
- a Christian father who has to work away from home frequently lives with constant guilt that he is not there in the growing up phases of his children .
- a Christian mother lives under perpetual guilt and self condemnation because she thinks she does not do enough for her children, her husband , the finances…
- a child growing up in a Christian home feels perpetual guilt and shame for not living up to its parents expectations .
- a woman has had an abortion a few years ago ; since then she has become a Christian , but she continues to labour under heavy guilt and shame.
- You may perhaps experience a continuous sense of regret over your lack of prayer.
- Pastors often feel guilty for not being able to meet everyone’s need in the congregation etc .
Some of these guilt issues come such a long and far way , that some have begun to think that it is normal to go through life bearing such burdens . Although you are a Christian and although you are supposed to be one of God’s free people , you rarely feel free . Many of us feel trapped and enslaved by someone or something , and we know nothing of the joy or the victory that is supposed to be our portion.
The truth is that apart from the cross , apart from the gospel , apart from Christ condemnation is normal ! That is why natural people drink and do drugs , or engage in a number of distractions to get rid of these ‘normal’ feelings of condemnation . The truth is that without the gospel , apart from the cleansing and pardoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ we all deserve to be condemned. No one is righteous , not even one …( Rom 3:10-18)
But here the Bible tells us : “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Here you are, Christian man and woman , and you feel perpetual guilt and condemnation . What is it that you are not understanding?
You are not yet understanding that the work of Christ in you is greater than all your sin !
The Bible constantly affirms that in Christ the believer’s sins ( past , present and future) have been completely taken care of . Consider also what Colossians 2: 6- 14 teaches us in this regard .
Your entire record of debt that stood against you with its legal demands , was nailed to the cross (Col 2:14) .
This is precisely what Horatio Spafford had understood when he composed the hymn: “ It is well with my soul” in 1873
“ My sin – oh the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin , not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord , Praise the Lord oh my soul.”
So now I trust that you understand the magnificent grace of God ; His total forgiveness for all your sins . Consider then all the guilt and condemnation that you as a Christian might still experience to be nailed to the cross!
Jesus died for all your sin . You bear it no more.
Moreover , you are no longer a slave ( see 8:15!) “ For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by who we cry Abba , Father!”
You have received power to obey , and by this grace you are able to turn from old sinful ways of living and you are able to walk in grace motivated obedience . The motive for going to church on a Sunday is no longer duty driven . It is a delight , because Jesus is there , and His Word is there , and His people are there , genuine love is there , and a whole lot of spiritual gifts that minister to you are there …
All this does not mean that you will not regularly face your own depravity and sinfulness. It is a reality . But the difference is that when you have taken this scripture into your heart that you will know that the reality of Christ’s death and forgiveness of your sin is a greater reality ! Paul knew himself to be the chief of sinners ( 1 Tim 1:16) , but note that he wasn’t paralyzed by condemnation . On the contrary , he now had a better appreciation of God’s grace by recognizing his own unworthiness and sin as he marveled at the mercy of God .
It doesn’t mean that you will not occasionally struggle with condemnation and feelings of guilt, but you will know what to do with it .
And when you do sin ( and there is no one who does not sin – 1 Jn 1:8,9 ) , then you must confess your sin to God . He who is faithful and just has promised to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all remaining sin – from all unrighteousness!
By this knowledge may you learn to live the rest of your days in worshipful thankfulness as you are reminded with Paul : But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:16 ESV)
 Antinomianism (a term coined by Martin Luther , from the Greek ἀντί, "against" + νόμος, "law") is defined as holding that, under the gospel dispensation of grace , moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation .