Sermon 1917. In Christ No Condemnation
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, AUGUST 29, 1886,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."Romans 8:1.
You are well aware, dear Friends, that the division into chapters has only been made for convenience sake and is not a matterof Inspired arrangement. I may add that it has been clumsily made and not with careful thoughtfulness, but as roughly as ifa woodman had taken an axe and chopped the book to pieces in a hurry! It was a very unfortunate thing that the axe droppeddown just here, so as to divide a passage which ought to have been kept entire. We once heard a friend say, "I have got outof the seventh of Romans into the eighth." Nonsense! There is no getting out of one into the other, for they are one. Thefield is not divided by hedge or ditch. I thank God with all my heart that since my conversion I have never known what itis to be out of the seventh of Romans, nor out of the eighth of Romans, either-the whole passage has been solid Truth of Godto my experience. I have struggled against inward sin and rejoiced in complete justification at the same time.
Our Apostle, after having said, "So then, with the mind I myself serve the Law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin,"goes on to say, without any break, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." The fact is,that Believers are in a state of conflict, but not in a state of condemnation and at the very time when the conflict is hottest,the Believer is still justified! When the Believer has to do his utmost even to hold his ground. When he feels that he cannotadvance an inch without fighting for it. When he has to cry out in the agony of his spirit because of the vehemence of temptation,he may still lay his hand upon the Word of God and say, "And yet there is no condemnation to me, for I am in Christ Jesus!"
The man who never strives against the sin which dwells in him, who, indeed, is not conscious of any sin to strive against-thatis the man who may begin to question whether he knows anything at all about the spiritual life. He who has no inward painmay well suspect that he is abiding in death-abiding, therefore, under constant condemnation. But that man who feels a dailystriving after deliverance from evil, who is panting, pining, longing and agonizing to become holy even as God is holy, heis the justified man! The man to whom every sin is a misery, to whom even the thought of iniquity is intolerable, he is theman who may with confidence declare, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." Souls thatsigh for holiness are not condemned to eternal death, for their sighing proves that they are in Christ Jesus!
Observe that the text is written in the present tense. You will lose much of its force and beauty if you leave out that word,"now," or regard it as a mere term of argument. This, "now," shows how distinctly the statement of non-condemnation is consistentwith that mingled experience of the seventh chapter which certain good people do not appear to understand. The passage describesa conflict which the unregenerate cannot feel, for they neither delight in God after the inward man, nor do they agonize tobe set free from the presence of sin. Every child of God must know this conflict if he knows himself. If it had not been forthe fierce debates of former ages, this passage would have been accepted as an accurate picture of the inner life of the strugglingBeliever-and it would have been held up to admiration as a sure proof of the Divine Inspiration of the Epistle-that with suchamazing accuracy it records the secret experiences of a soul struggling after purity-an experience which often puzzles thevery people who are the subjects of it.
Reading my text in that connection, with an emphasis upon the, "now," my heart sings for joy! With all my watching and warring-yes,with all my fears and trembling-yet will I rejoice in the Lord even now, for, "there is therefore now no condemnation to thosewho are in Christ Jesus."
I would have you carefully observe our Apostle's change of expression. When he is speaking about the inward contention hewrites in the first person and speaks of himself-"I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me."That which might seem humiliating and derogatory, he imputes to himself most distinctly, crying out, "O wretched man thatI am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" But when he comes to write upon the privileges of the children ofGod, he does not write in the first person, but he speaks of them in general terms-"There is therefore now no condemnationto those who are in Christ Jesus." His deep humility thus displayed itself. His very self-remembrance is a self-annihilation-heuses himself as lead sinker with which to sink his nets, but his Brethren he puts into the place of honor and esteem. Hisis the confession and theirs is the confidence-he extols the glorious company of Believers, but he lowers himself!
This is the style of his language and the style often reveals the man. He might have said, "There is therefore now no condemnationto me, for I am in Christ Jesus," and it would have been true. But it would not have been after the manner of the lowly Apostle.After these wanderings upon the shores of the text, let us now plunge into its depths and may the Holy Spirit, from whom itproceeded, bless it to our hearts!
I. I would say, first of all, that this verse contains A REFUTATION OF THE OLD SERPENT'S GOSPEL. "The serpent's gospel," youask, "what is that?" It is another name for the gospel of modern thought-that gospel which casts a doubt upon the threatsof the Law and even denies them altogether. Quote the first few words of the text and stop there, and this false gospel isbefore you-"There is therefore now no condemnation." The serpent promulgated this gospel in the Garden of Eden when he said,"You shall not surely die." With what greediness, our first parents received that highly advanced teaching which contradictedthe declaration of God-"You shall surely die!" The doctrine of no punishment for any man is popular at this day and threatensto have even greater sway in the future. Generally it comes in the serpent's favorite form of, "honest doubt"-"Yes, has Godsaid?" Can it be so? Is He not far too merciful? Is it possible that a God of Love should condemn and punish His creatures?"
The denial of the penalty attached to sin comes out in different ways, but when put into a nutshell, it amounts to this-"Thereis therefore now no condemnation to any man, however he may live." Some teach that you may live in sin and die impenitent,but it will not matter, for at death that is the end of you-the soul is not immortal, men are only cooking animals. Otherstell us that if you die unforgiven, it will be a pity, but you will come round, in due time, after a purgatorial period-youmay take a little longer road, but you will come to the same end in the course of time. In other words, it does not matterhow you live, or what you do, you will become perfectly happy in the long run-therefore trouble not yourselves with the explodednotion that there is a Heaven to be lost or a Hell to be feared! The wrath of God and the Judgment to come are mere bugbearsaccording to the teaching of our new apostles. This is the gospel according to Satan-a Gospel which has already ruined thousandsof souls and is now sealing up millions in a stony-hearted unbelief which enables them to sin without fear! Though these evildoctrines have done incalculable mischief in many places so as to almost paralyze the energies of the Church, yet some professedChristians, boastful of their "culture," would move Heaven and earth to spread these delusions!
Here is Paul's refutation of this doctrine of a general amnesty-"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are inChrist Jesus." They would be condemned, every one of them, if it had not been that they are in Christ Jesus! And there isnow no condemnation to them solely because they are in Christ Jesus. Their being in Christ Jesus is the great method by which,alone, they have escaped condemnation. If Paul had only stopped when he had got as far as "there is now no condemnation,"every drunk, swearer and whoremonger would have cried, "Bravo, Apostle! That is the gospel for us! Now you speak like a manof thought! You have broken loose from the horrible old doctrine of Jesus of Nazareth and have found for us a 'larger hope.'Hurrah for Paul! He is in advance of his age-he is the man for the times!" But Paul was too honest to court popularity bypandering to man's desire of immunity in sin. He believed the terrible Truth of God that the impenitent sinner is under condemnationand, believing that Truth, he spoke it plainly. He did not deal out comfort head over heels, catch it who can, but he putit thus-"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus."
It is a work of Almighty and Sovereign Grace to put men into Christ Jesus-by this method they escape condemnation, but byno other. I understand Paul tacitly to tell us that those who are not in Christ Jesus are under condemna-tion-and this isa terrible Truth of God. "He that believes not shall be damned" is as much the declaration of our Lord Jesus as that otherDivine sentence, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." As many as believe not in Christ Jesus and repent notof sin have, before them, at this moment, "a fearful looking for judgment and of fiery indignation."
It is no pleasant task to us to have to speak of this matter, but who are we that we should ask for pleasant tasks? What Godhas witnessed in Scripture is the sum and substance of what the Lord's servants are to testify to the people. If you are notin Christ Jesus and are walking after the flesh, you have not escaped from condemnation!
One alarming fact I must not fail to mention here-the word, "now," is as applicable to these condemned ones as to those whoare freed from condemnation. It would be true if I were to say, "There is therefore now condemnation to all them that arenot in Christ Jesus." Hear these words, they are the words of John the Tender, who leaned his head on the gentle bosom ofhis Master-"He that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed upon the Son of God." We are said, by commontalk, to be in a state ofprobation, but that is not true-we are, all of us, in a state of present condemnation if we are notin Christ Jesus. If you felt the true force of words, some of you would fall off your seats at the sound of that sentence-"Hethat believes not is condemned already." The sentence has gone out against you if you have not believed in the Lord JesusChrist! "Condemned already!" Think of it, I pray you. You have called God a liar because you have not believed His testimonyconcerning His Son and He, on the other hand, has already judged you and condemned you! This is the most conclusive of allevidence as to the blackness of your hearts-that you have not believed upon the Son of God! There is condemnation for unbelieversand that condemnation is now.
I must also add that to as many as believe not in the Lord Jesus Christ, who walk after the flesh and not after the Spirit,there is nothing but condemnation so long as they remain in that state. It is written, "He that believes not shall not seelife, but the wrath of God abides on him." That is a terrible text! It is not as though wrath flashed upon you now and then,with the glare of momentary lightning-but a black cloud charged with destruction and tempest continues over your guilty headstill you fly away to Christ! O Sirs, I must tell you these things! It is as much as my soul is worth to be silent about them!If you think that I find any pleasure in them, you misjudge me. I appeal to those who know me- am I morose? Am I without tenderness?No, it is because I love you that I warn you! You shall not perish through any flattering words of mine. I will be clear ofyour blood!
It is idle for me to sew without a needle. There are many new sewing machines, but none that can dispense with the needle!You cannot take silk and sew with that, alone-you must have a sharp needle to pierce the fabric so that the soft silk mayfollow afterwards. These words of warning are meant to be my needle. May God the Holy Spirit use them as such-to go rightthrough your hearts with the sharp prick of conviction-and so prepare you for the thread of the Gospel! "There is now no condemnationto them that are in Christ Jesus!" But if sin is not forgiven, you are under its condemnation, and if you die in your sins,you will die forever that death which brings with it everlasting woe! If you are not reconciled to God by the death of HisSon, you are His enemies! And to be at enmity with God is to be miserable-it cannot be otherwise. How I wish you would feelthis Truth of God and be led by it to escape from the wrath to come before yonder sun shall again go down! God grant you may!I entreat those of you who know the Lord to pray silently at this moment, in your hearts, that God will awaken the carelessso that under a sense of well-deserved condemnation they may fly to Jesus and be reconciled to God!
So much for Paul's refutation of the serpent's Gospel.
II. And now, secondly, we have in the text A DESCRIPTION OF THE BELIEVER'S POSITION-he is "in Christ Jesus." What does thatmean?
I am not going into any deep theological discussions-I speak very simply and with a view to practical results. He that believesin the Lord Jesus Christ is in Christ. By an act of simple dependence upon Jesus, he realizes his position as being in Christ.By nature I am in myself and in sin and I am, therefore, condemned. But when the Grace of God awakens me to know my ruinedstate, then I fly to Christ. I trust, alone, in His blood and righteousness, and He becomes to me the cleft of the rock whereinI hide myself from the storm of vengeance justly due to me for my many offenses. The Lord Jesus is typified by the City ofRefuge. You and I are like the manslayer who was pursued by the avenger-and we are never safe till we pass through the gateof the City of Refuge-I mean, till we are completely enclosed by the Lord Jesus! Inside
the walls of the city, the manslayer was secure-and within our Savior's wounds, we are safe. By a humble, simple, undivideddependence upon Him, we are placed where we are covered by His merits and so, saved!
Noah's dove out yonder, flying over the waste of waters, is outside the ark-she will never rest the soles of her feet tillNoah puts out his hand and pulls her in to him. Then is she secure and restful, but not till then. Judge, then, my Hearer,whether you are in Christ. Do you stand before God on your own footing, or do you rest upon Christ and find your all in Him?This is not a baffling problem, but a plain question. Say, is your righteousness one which you have worked out yourself, oris the righteousness of Christ imputed to you? Do you look for salvation by self, or for salvation by Christ? If you can trulysay, "I hide in Christ," then this text plays sweeter music than ever fell from angel lips- "There is therefore now no condemnationto those who are in Christ Jesus." Inasmuch as you have believed in Him, you are in Him. "He that believes on Him has everlastinglife and, "shall not come into condemnation"-these are our Lord's own dear words-treasure them up in your spirits and rejoicein them forevermore!
Let us go a little deeper. That which faith thus realizes by coming unto Christ for shelter was true before, in a blessedsense. I understand my text, when it says, "therefore," to refer to all that the Apostle had argued before in the previouspart of his Epistle. But even if I did not think so, I could understand his, "therefore," for I believe that the text carriesits own argument within itself. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." Why, "therefore"?Because they are in Christ Jesus! Therefore there is no condemnation to them because they are in Him who can never be condemned.Though it is quite correct to fetch your argument from the preceding part of the Epistle, yet it seems to me it is a self-containedverse and carries its argument within itself. If you are in Christ, there is, for that very reason, no condemnation in you.
Still, there are other arguments near at hand. Will you, at home, kindly read the fifth chapter? There you will perceive thatBelievers are in Christ as their federal Head. By one transgression, Adam introduced death into the race, "and so death passedupon all men, for that all had sinned." But Jesus came to bring life by His obedience. "As by the offense of one, judgmentcame upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justificationof life." By Christ's righteous life and substitutionary death, justification has come upon all who are in Him. As you werein Adam you sinned and, therefore, you fell and were condemned. And as you were in Christ through the Divine Covenant of Graceand Christ fulfilled the Law for you, you are justified in Him. His righteousness and Sacrifice have been of use for you-"Thereis therefore now no condemnation." Because we are viewed by Divine Justice as under the Headship of the perfect Man, who,on our behalf, has magnified the Law and made it honorable, therefore we are well-pleasing unto God. We are accepted in theBeloved. It is written, "By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous"-and we enjoy the fulfillment of that promise!Will the Lord condemn those whom He has made righteous? Will He do despite to the righteousness of His own Son with whichwe are covered?
But Paul goes on to show, in the sixth chapter, that the saints of God are united to Christ by a living and vital union. Hesays of us, "Therefore we are buried with Him by Baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by theGlory of the Father, even so we, also, should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likenessof His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His Resurrection." We are actually one with Christ by living experience!Beloved, if it is so, that we died in Christ, then we shall not be put to death, again, for the sin for which we have alreadydied in Him! If we have received a new life in Christ's Resurrection, then that promise is true, "Because I live, you shalllive also." And for that reason we cannot be condemned, for condemnation involves death. We, Beloved, who are in Christ, arejustified because Christ is justified by His rising from the dead and by His taking the position of honor and Glory at theright hand of God! He is our Representative and we are one with Him-what He is, that are we. Our union is inseparable and,therefore, our condemnation is impossible!
In the seventh chapter the Apostle mentions our mystical union with Christ under the figure of a marriage union- "Therefore,my Brethren, you also are become dead to the Law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another, even to Himwho is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." Shall the spouse of Christ be condemned with theworld? "Christ loved His Church and gave Himself for it"-shall she be condemned despite His death? This union with Christis often mentioned in Scripture under the form of a marriage, but it is also described under other symbols-we are one withChrist as a branch is one with the vine; as a stone is one with the foundation and especially as a member of the body is onewith the head. Now it is not possible, if I am a member of Christ, that I should be
under condemnation until He is condemned. Is my Head acquitted? Then my hand is acquitted! So long as a man's head is abovewater you cannot drown his feet and as long as Christ, the Head of the mystical body, rises above the torrent of condemnation,there is no condemning even the least and feeblest member of His body!
It has been my joy to preach to you, for many years, the blessed Doctrine of Substitution. Now, if Jesus became our Suretyand our Substitute and suffered in our place, it is an inevitable consequence that we cannot suffer punishment- and that thesin laid upon our Surety cannot now be laid upon us. If our debt was paid, it was paid-and that is the end of it-a secondpayment cannot be demanded.
You know the story, the very excellent story, which I think was first told by Mr. Moody, of the man, who in the French war,was drawn in the draft, for a soldier, but a friend stepped in and was accepted as his substitute. That substitute servedin the war till he was slain in battle. The man for whom he served was drawn a second time, but he declined to serve. He appearedbefore the court and pleaded that he had been drawn once, had served in the war by his substitute and must now be regardedas dead because his representative had been killed. He pleaded that his substitute's service was, practically, his service-andit is said that the law allowed his plea. Assuredly it is according to Divine equity even if it is not according to humanlaw! No criminal can be hanged a second time. One death is all the law requires! Believers died in Christ unto sin, once,and now they penally can die no more.
Our condemnation has spent itself upon our gracious Representative. The full vials of Divine Wrath against sin have been pouredupon the head of the Great Shepherd, that His sheep might go free and in it is our joy, our comfort, our security. "Thereis therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." Bow your heads in worship, you that are in Him. Renderan ascription of blessing and praise and glory unto Him who took you unto Himself and then bore your sins in His own bodyon the tree, so that you might be delivered from condemnation through His sufferings and death!
Thus, by faith, we are in Christ Jesus and the assurance of our safety is enlarged by a consideration of His federal Headship,our vital oneness with Him, our mystical marriage to Him and His finished work on our behalf.
III. Now we come to the third point, upon which we shall speak briefly, because this part of my text is not a true portionof Holy Scripture. We have before us in this verse A DESCRIPTION OF THE BELIEVER'S WALK-"who walk not after the flesh, butafter the Spirit." You who have the Revised New Testament will kindly look at it. Do you see this sentence there? To yoursurprise it is omitted and very rightly so. The most learned men assure us that it is no part of the original text. I cannot,just now, go into the reasons for this conclusion, but they are very good and solid. The oldest copies are without it-theversions do not sustain it and the fathers who quoted abundance of Scripture do not quote this sentence! We must admit thatit is an opinion inserted in later copies by some penman who was wise enough, in his own conceit, to think that he could mendthe Bible!
Do you ask me, "How did it get into the text?" Remember that there always have been many divines who have been afraid of theDoctrine of free Justification. They have been half afraid that sinners should get comfort by faith and should not see thenecessity of a change of life. They have questioned the wisdom of ascribing salvation wholly to a man's being in Christ andso they have guarded the more open passages whenever they have seen a chance of so doing. In so doing they stated Truth, butthey stated it out of season and from motives which were unsound. Probably the sentence now before us was put in and allowedto remain, by general consent, in order that the great Truth of the non-condemnation of those who are in Christ Jesus mightbe guarded from that Antinomian tendency which would separate faith from good works. But the fear was groundless and the tamperingwith Scripture was unjustifiable.
We are greatly obliged to our revisers for leaving out the sentence, since it should not be there and, without it, the Doctrineof Justification in Christ is made more clear than in the Authorized Version. In the last chapter of the Book of Revelation,service of the same kind is most properly rendered, for instead of, "Blessed are they that do His commandments, that theymay have right to the Tree of Life," the Revisers have given us a more accurate text-"Blessed are they that wash their robes."In these two cases we have proof that the more nearly the text of Scripture is restored to its original purity, the more clearlywill the doctrines of Grace be set forth in it. The more we get back to true Scripture, the more shall we escape all interferencewith the complete and perfect salvation which comes of our being in Christ. We are not justified by the manner of our walk,but by our being in Christ Jesus!
Again, you ask me, "From where did the man who added this opinion get his words? The words are so good and true that theyread like Inspiration." Just so. The words are borrowed from the fourth verse. The Holy Spirit meant to say this very thinga little further on, in its proper place, but the good men who felt it right to tamper a little with the document made Himsay it sooner and, therefore, they copied the last sentence of the fourth verse and placed it here-"who walk not after theflesh, but after the Spirit." Truly, there was not much hurt done, for the words are true, but no man has a right to add toHoly Scripture or take from it, and I fear that many may have been brought into needless bondage by this sentence being insertedwhere the Holy Spirit did not place it. Beloved, when you desire to know your state, be content with this question-"Am I inChrist?" And if you can answer it from your heart, let it satisfy you-"There is therefore now no condemnation to those whoare in Christ Jesus." Others may better judge your walk than you can judge it yourself, but your union with Christ is bestknown to yourself!
Still, the interpolated sentence is true-the man who is in Christ Jesus does not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit.I will now, for a little while, preach upon verse four.
We notice that such a man in Christ has received the Holy Spirit, for he walks according to His guidance. All honor and worshipbe unto the third most blessed Person of the Divine Trinity, that He should deign to dwell in our poor hearts and sanctifyour spirits to Himself! Every Believer has the Holy Spirit!
Secondly, every Believer has been quickened into the possession of a new nature called the spirit. He has a right spirit withinhim, a new spirit, a holy spirit-the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. He is a new creature. He is no longer in the flesh, butin the spirit and so he has become a spiritual man.
Observe carefully that the flesh is there-he does not walk after it, but it is there. It is there striving and warring, vexingand grieving, and it will be there till he is taken up into Heaven! It is there as an alien and detested force, but not thereso as to have dominion over him. He does not walk after it, nor practically obey it. He does not accept it as his guide, norallow it to drive him into rebellion. The man who is in Christ Jesus commits himself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
What a wonderful power is that which dwells in every Believer, checking him when he would do wrong, encouraging him to doright, leading him in the paths of righteousness for Christ's name's sake! Happy men to have such a Conductor!
Judge yourselves in which way you are walking. Are you walking according to the flesh? Do you do whatever you like to do?Do you believe whatever you like to believe? Do you say to yourself, "I am not going to be limited by Scripture, nor by rulesof holiness-these are too old-fashioned and strait-laced for me"? Then, you walk after the flesh-you are your own guide, yourown wisdom and righteousness-and vain desires conduct you where they will. You are blind and your guide is blind-and you willsoon fall into the Pit. You may no think so, but time will prove my words.
Blessed is that man who no longer follows the devices and desires of his own heart and no longer trusts to his own understanding!Blessed is he who bows his mind to the mind of God! My own desire is not to believe what I may imagine, or invent, or thinkout, but I would believe what the Lord God has taught us in the Inspired Scriptures. I submit myself to the guidance of theSpirit of God in connection with the written Word of God. This is safe walking.
Combine the two descriptive clauses of my text. On the one hand look to Christ alone and abide in Him. And then, on the otherhand, look for the guidance of the Holy Spirit who is to be in you. By faith we are in Christ and the Holy Spirit is in us.All who can go with me in this are delivered from condemnation, for how shall he be condemned that is in Christ? And how shallhe be condemned that has the Holy Spirit within him? "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
IV. And so I come, in closing, to notice THE ABSOLUTION OF THE BELIEVER-"There is therefore now no
condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." What a grand sentence! I call upon you to notice it. You may have seen a well-paintedpicture called, "Waiting for the Verdict." What interest is displayed on every face! What fear and trembling upon the countenanceof the prisoner! In his wife and the friends around him, what anxiety is seen! "Waiting for the Verdict" is a sad picture,but what another might be drawn of, "The Favorable Verdict Received." The prisoner is acquitted! Oh what joy! It is not possibleto bring in a verdict of, "Not Guilty," for you and for me, for we are undoubtedly guilty, but yet it is possible, by theprocesses of Substitution and Divine Grace to bring in a just verdict by which it is witnessed that, "There is now no condemnation."
Notice, first, that this is a bold speech. "There is no condemnation." "But you said just now that the thing you would not,you did." Yes, but there is no condemnation! The same lips which made such a humble confession and revealed such a troublesomeexperience now assert positively and joyfully, "There is no condemnation!" Free Grace makes men speak bravely when their faithhas a clear view of Jesus! Though it is a bold assertion, it is proven. Whenever a man has a, "therefore," at the back ofwhat he has to say, he may say it without stammering. "There is therefore now no condemnation." Paul is always a reasonerand a great logician. Here he seems to declare his certainty. "What I say I can prove. There is no condemnation to them thatare in Christ Jesus and I can prove it to a demonstration." Brothers and Sisters, the demonstrations of mathematics are notmore clear and certain than the inference that if we are in Christ and Christ died in our place, there can be no condemnationfor us! Cool calculation may be used here. This is no raving of fanaticism, but the unquestionable deduction of fair argument-ifJesus was condemned in my place, there can be no condemnation for me!
What a broad assertion it is!-"There is no condemnation." No condemnation on account of original sin, though the Believerwas an heir of wrath even as others. No condemnation for actual sin, though he greatly transgressed and came far short ofthe Glory of God. He is in Christ and there is no condemnation of any sort possible to him! No condemnation, no, though hehumbles himself and weeps and groans before God because in thought and word and deed he still offends. No condemnation, thoughhe feels that he has not yet attained to the excellence which he labors after.
The devil says there is condemnation and, therefore, he accuses us day and night. He was a liar from the beginning and thefather of lies! Conscience sometimes censures us, for even conscience, itself, needs to be enlightened and to be purged fromdead works. But when conscience understands the plan of Free Grace and sees things in the light of the Truth of God, it, also,bears witness and the Spirit of God bears witness with it, that we are the children of God! "No," says the Apostle, "thereis no condemnation." What a broad sweep these words take! If you read to the end of the chapter you see how unreserved Paulwas in his statement, for there he mounts the high horse and cries, "Who shall say anything to the charge of God's elect?It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again." Paul makes allHeaven and earth and Hell to ring with his daring challenge, "Who is he that condemns?" In the broadest imaginable terms hedeclares that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus! Where there is no condemnation there is no wrath,no guilt, no punishment! On the contrary, there is acceptance, favor, and bliss!
This, Beloved, is an abiding statement, a standing assertion. It was true of me, 30 years ago, as a Believer, and it is justas true of me now. It was true in Paul's day and though centuries have passed away, it is just as true at this moment. Ifyou are in Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation. That living "now" goes singing down the centuries-in life, in death,in time, in eternity-there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus!
What a joyful statement it is! It makes one laugh for joy of heart. If you have ever been burdened with a sense of sin, youwill know the sweetness of the text. You that are not sinners-you good respectable people who are sailing to Heaven in yourown ship-there is nothing in it for you! Gospel assurances are not for you-you would not prize them and, therefore, you haveneither part nor lot in them. For Jesus Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
But you that have been whipped of the devil and dragged at the heels of your sins-you that have been broken and crushed asin a mortar, with a pestle, till you are ground fine under the hand of conviction-you are the people that will leap for joyas you hear the silver trumpet ring out the note of "no condemnation!" Come, let us be glad! Let us rejoice together becausethere is now no condemnation to us! When Giant Despair's head was cut off, Mr. Bunyan says that the pilgrims danced-and wellthey might! Mr. Despondency and Miss Much-Afraid took a turn and even Ready-to-Halt, with his crutches, joined in! I guaranteeyou he footed it well! When he saw the monster's head upon the pole, he could not help being merry!
This text sticks the giant's head up on the pole for us. "There is therefore now no condemnation." Oh for the loud soundingcymbals! Now for the maidens and their timbrels! Let us have holy merriment over this! Poor prodigal sinners have fled toJesus and hidden in Him and there is now no condemnation to them! Poverty? Yes, but no condemnation. Depression of spirit?Yes, sometimes, but no condemnation. Infirmities and weaknesses and things to grieve over? Yes, plenty of them, but no condemnation!"O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation!"
"All very well," says one, "but we would like something practical." Practical? This is the most practical thing that everwas because the moment a man receives this assurance into his soul, his heart is won to his loving Lord and the neck of hissinfulness is broken with a blow! There never was, no, never can be, a man that has realized, by the witness of the Holy Spiritthat he is free from condemnation, who will ever go to love sin and live in it. While I am condemned I say, "Well, if I amto be sent to Hell for my sins, I may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb and, therefore, I will continue in sins and getwhat pleasure I can out of them." Do you not know how the guilty man often feels, that since there is no hope for him, hemay as well harden his heart and enjoy himself? A mouse was caught in a trap, the other day, by its tail, and the poor creaturewent on eating the cheese. Many men are doing the same-they know that they are guilty and they dread their punishment-butthey go on nibbling at their beloved sins!
They remind me of the soldier in the old classic story. The army marched through a certain country and the commander-in-chiefordered that there should be no plundering. Not a man must touch a bunch of grapes in going through the vineyards, or he shoulddie for his disobedience. One soldier, tempted by a bunch of grapes, plucked it and begin to eat it. He was brought beforethe captain who declared that the law must be carried out and the thief must die. He was taken out to die and though he knewhis head would be cut off, he went on eating the grapes as he walked along. A comrade wondered that he should do this, butthe condemned man answered that no one ought to grudge him his grapes, for they cost him dearly.
Such are the bravados of sinners. The breasts of wicked men are steeled rather than softened by a sense of condemnation, butonce let the Holy Spirit remove the burden of their guilt and they will be dissolved by love! Free pardon is a great conqueror.The love of Jesus soon makes men turn from sin with burning hatred. Forgiving love is a main instrument in transforming menfrom rebels into friends. You may preach the demands of the Law as long as you like and tell men that they must merit salvation-andyou will only make them worse and worse. But go and proclaim the dying love of Jesus! Tell them that Free Grace reigns andthat undeserved mercy saves the sinner through faith in Christ-and that the moment he believes in Jesus there is no condemnationto him-and you shall see miracles accomplished!
In the experience of Free Grace you have something to work upon. You have put a new affection into the man and it will driveout his base affections. A life force is communicated to him which will cause him to forsake his old ways and turn unto theLord. "How do you know?" asks one. I know by experience and by observation. I could point you out many specimens of the powerof Divine Grace in this assembly, but I will not do so. If I were to say, "Brothers and Sisters, you who once lived in sinbut have escaped from it through Free Grace and dying love, stand up!"-What an exceedingly great army would start to theirfeet!
Yes, we know it is true, for the lips of many witnesses declare it! They say, "Jesus saved us from the worst of sins and madeus His friends by His Free Grace, and now we rejoice to love and serve Him." So shall it be with you, dear Hearer, if you,also, believe in Jesus. The text shall be true of you, also-"There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in ChristJesus." God bless you! Amen.