Saturday, May 30, 2009

Not Guilty! - Romans 8:1

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

We are all, by nature justly condemned. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 3:23). Condemnation is what we deserve. It is fair. But, to God alone be the glory, through Christ we are not condemned. Romans 8 begins with a declaration of the difference that Christ makes in a life. Here is one of the privileges of the elect – O! and it is a precious privilege – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Hear those words precious believer and let them roll around on your ear as fine wine would roll around on your tongue!

Paul has complained to His God regarding the reality of the battle. There is a war waging and we are soldiers in the midst of this grand conflict. Romans 8 is full of hope for the weary warrior and it begins with this glorious declaration – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!”

Matthew Henry writes, “It is the unspeakable privilege of all those that are in Christ Jesus that there is therefore now no condemnation against them. Paul does not say, ‘There is no accusation against them’, for this there is; but the accusation is thrown out. He does not say, ‘There is nothing in them that deserves condemnation’, for this there is, and they see it, and own it; but it shall not be their ruin. He does not say, ‘There is no cross, no affliction to them’, for this there may be; but no condemnation.”

Where does this freeing declaration spring from? It springs from the Lord Jesus Christ and our union with Him. Romans 8 is the result of Romans 6. By God’s doing, we are “in Christ” and because we are “in Christ” there is therefore now no condemnation! It is all of Him and none of us. Romans 8 is the result of God’s mercy given to us in Christ.

Keep in mind that Romans 8:1 begins with “There is therefore.…” For years I’ve been reminded to always find out what the “therefore” is there for! Context matters, it is important. (“A text without a context is a pretext for anything.” Yet a text within its context is eye opening and life changing.) Immediately prior to this wonderful statement, we have found Paul undone by the reality of his sin. Romans 7 ends with “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Paul is undone, as are we. What can he do? Nothing! and he realized it full well. What does he deserve? The wrath and displeasure of a holy God. Paul, when looking at his sin and gazing at the character of God is absolutely undone.

He’s just like Isaiah when he saw the LORD “sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.” Remember his vision? “Seraphim stood above Him each having six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, isi the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out…. Then [Isaiah] said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Is 6:1-5)

Paul, when seeing his sin and seeing God in all of his holiness, is absolutely undone. We better be undone as well. If we aren’t then perhaps we are still dead in our trespasses and sins. “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” “Woe is me, for I am ruined!”

O! But our God does not leave Paul there! He does not leave Isaiah there! He has not left Lori there and he will not leave you there! Paul declares “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Isaiah, the man of unclean lips, is sent a seraph with a burning coal to touch his mouth with fiery grace. Once that touch of grace is given the seraph declares “Behold, this has touched your lips, and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.”

See this same truth playing out at the beginning of Romans 8. Paul the unclean is touched by the grace of Christ and is now Paul the not condemned. How glorious is grace?!?! Here is what the “therefore” is there for. I am a woman of unclean lips and heart and mind and action. I am wretched. I am undone left to myself. But, I have not been left to myself. I have been united, by grace through faith, to the Lord Jesus Christ. And because of that reality “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Let it soak in. Let the healing oil of that promise run its course all this day. Walk in the freedom of God’s declaration. The wretched is made righteous. The unclean has been washed. “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow.” The judge has spoken. I am no longer on death row. Christ was executed for me - in my place, for my sins - and “there is therefore now no condemnation.”

And Can it Be?

And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood? Died He for me, who caused His pain? For me, who Him to death pursued?Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

‘Tis mystery all! The immortal dies! Who can explore His strange design?In vain the firstborn seraph tries to sound the depths of love divine. ‘Tis mercy all! let earth adore, let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above (so free, so infininte His grace!) Humbled Himself (so great His love!), and bled for all His chosen race. ‘Tis mercy all, immense and free; for, O my God, it found out me.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and nature’s night; thine eye diffused a quickening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free; I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in Him is mine! Alive in Him, my living Head, and clothed in righteousness divine,bold I approach the eternal throne, and claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shoulds’t die for me?

Charles Wesley, 1738
Not Condemned,

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