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Author:Pastor Dale VanDyke
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Congregation:Harvest Orthodox Presbyterian Church
 Wyoming, MI
Title:No Condemnation
Text:Romans 8:1 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Our Salvation

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Dale VanDyke, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Intro of series. This morning I am beginning a new series entitled "The Fruits of Grace!" In this series we will be studying one of the greatest chapters in the Bible. The truths contained in these verses have made this one of the most beloved texts for Christians in all ages. These words reveal the radical core of the Christian conviction.... Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

M. Loyd-Jones "This is one of the great statements of Scripture, and one of the most important for the Christian experience, for the health and well-being of the Christian believer......It is the heart, essence and soul of the Christian gospel." 269

With the Doctor, I believe that not only is this a great truth, it's a critical one for spiritual growth. In fact, nothing is more necessary for the spiritual growth and health of a Christian than a proper understanding of the doctrine of justification and a true appreciation of all the fruits of grace which proceed from it. We need to hear and be convinced of this truth "There is now no condemnation". We need to understand all that this means for us....all that it means for our growth in holiness, all that it means for our persevering in grace and what it means for our eternal reward.

The sad fact is that many if not most Christians today are not experiencing the glorious peace and inexpressible joy Christ promises us - and there are two reasons for this. They are either tritely unaware of the horrifying reality of their sin and so think the gospel a small thing, or else are burdened and miserable under their sin - and while they see the glory of gospel they are unable or unwilling to experience the peace of it! So what you are left with is either shallow chipper Christians or concerned but burdened Christians.

What God desires are Christians who have learned to stand on the gospel and therefore, without hesitation confess both the wretchedness of their awful sin and their full confidence in the glory and sufficiency of God's grace! Men, women and children who can say with Paul "I am the chief of sinners.....and I am convinced hat where sin abounds grace abounded all the more."

You want to know who the really productive Christians are? The people who are useful in the church and kingdom? It's not the people who have it all together, (I've met people who have it all together and while I admire them they convict me more than encourage me.) The people I like to hang around with are those blessed saints who've learned to live on grace. They are people who experience deep, soul-satisfying joy and peace and who bear the best gospel fruit. (Mike Horton)

So how do we get to be like that? How can we become those sort of honest, gentle, grace-filled, God-besotted Christians? We need to learn the lessons of grace. And that's what Romans 8 is all about.

Introduction to Romans 8:

Romans 8 lies at the center of Paul's famous letter to the Romans. This letter is Paul's great apologetic of the gospel of free, Sovereign grace. In a fallen world where man insists on seeking his redemption by his own blood sweat and tears, Paul displays the crown jewel of the gospel - that eternal salvation and peace with God does not come to "him who works, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly" (Rom 4:5). It is only by virtue of the blood, sweat and tears of Jesus Christ that sinners can be saved and declared righteous in God's sight. The righteous shall live by faith!

There is not much new material in chapter 8 - as we go through this series we will realize that Paul has said all of this already. But chapter 8 is a glorious, Spirit-inspired summary of the radical, raw core of the gospel of God. In this one chapter we see all the blessings of our salvation - justification, sanctification, the preserving power and unquenchable love of God in Christ which is able to keep us even in death and raise us to everlasting life. By God's grace, I pray that this series will be soul-food for your spiritual growth and a great help to your confidence in God and joy in Jesus Christ.

This morning we are going to simply look at verse 1 - "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...."

I. "Therefore" - What's the Connection?

"Whenever you see a 'therefore' ask what it's there for." What lies behind this "therefore"? What's the connection? I'm going to answer that in two ways - first the experiential connection, and secondly the exegetical connection.

A. The Experiential Connection - Chapter 7

Although the book of Romans is a great theological treatise, it is not simply a theological treatise. It is a exposition detailing the fallen human experience. For example, Romans 1 details the reality of the wickedness of men who exchange the glory of the immortal God for images and worship the creature rather than the creator. That is the universal human experience. Chapters 2 and 3 reveal that the righteous law of God condemns all men Jew and Gentile alike. But I think chapter 8 flows experientially from chapter 7 where Paul details the experience of the tortured soul wrestling with the weakness of the sinful flesh. Scholars disagree concerning whom Paul is talking about here -a person before or after conversion, but they agree on the fact that the experience of Romans 7 is a common experience for Christians. On the one hand we delight in the law of God, we want to follow it. On the other hand we find within us a delight in wickedness. And Paul captures the sense of despair every Christian experiences at one time or another -

Romans 7:18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing..... 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Sooner or later every person has to come face to face with the fact that there is a basic rottenness within them. That at their core they are not what they want to be.

Bryan Chapell, current president of Covenant Seminary, in his book "The Promises of Grace" tells of a man in a previous church who was fired from his job, in despair sought relief in an adulterous relationship and finally in desperation cleaned out the families bank account and deserted his pregnant wife and children. A few days later he was in Chapell's office utterly stricken with grief not simply with what he had done, but who he was. Chapell writes: "The young man clenched his fists and shouted "I am a freak, a freak." The words burst from Jim in a torrent of bitter tears. "I am supposed to be a Christian leader in this community. I am supposed to lead others to Christ, but I do what I hate. I can't control my own body. I even ran out on my wife. I'm hopeless, hopeless. Why did God make me this way?"

Do you ever feel hopeless? You see the beauty of God, you desire to love him and obey him - but your great despair is seeing how short you fall short of the obedience and love you want to give. And so our conscience accuses us - we have sinned against God. We have sinned against love and grace. We know better than to do this. We should be far more advanced in the Christian life than we are. Why does God put up with us? He must be terribly disappointed and angry with us.

How can we answer these accusations? How can we still the storms within us? Where do we go to still the raging waves of our conscience? We go to Romans 8:1. To the tortured soul of Romans 7 Paul speaks the gospel affirmation of chapter 8. - "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." And as Paul continues on in verses 2-4 he will be speaking specifically about the power of the gospel to accomplish what the law could not do - set us free from the guilt and the power of sin.

What I want you to see this morning Rom 8:1 makes sense only in the proper experiential context! It sounds like life and light only to that person who understands the reality of their own sin. If you know your sin - these words grab your attention. Is it possible? Can the accusing voice within me be stilled? Can the condemnation I know I deserve be erased? Can I, the desperate sinner be at peace in the presence of the Almighty Holy God? The answer is YES! How?

B. The Exegetical Connection

In Romans 8:1, Paul is not only connecting to the human experience of sin, but he is also connecting to the running theme of the book of Romans which is the doctrine of justification. This theme is like a melody in a composition that reappears through the piece lending the unity and harmony to the whole. Justification - the act of God whereby he declares those who believe in Christ to be righteous in his sight - is the melody, the one beautiful refrain that appears over and over again in this letter.

Romans 1:16-17 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

Romans 3:21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

These are the things on Paul's mind as he pens the words of Romans 8:1. "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" is just another way of saying that God justifies the ungodly! God is willing to impute to us, to lay to our account the righteous acts of Christ as if we had performed them, and then to declare us free from condemnation on the basis of them. This is God's answer to the sin-rotted soul. Righteousness, perfect righteousness is freely given to those who believe in Christ Jesus. For those who believe there is now no condemnation!

II. "No Condemnation"

A. What does condemnation mean? It is a status before God. It is how a sinner stands in relation to God under the law. The law says "Be Perfect for I am perfect". The law says "The soul that sins shall surely die". To be condemned then means that a person is found to be guilty of sin and justly sentenced to eternal death. It is not simply a feeling of guilt it is a legal status of guilt before the law, before God. Every person by nature is justly under this sentence of condemnation. We are guilty of horrible crimes against God and God justly sentences us to everlasting death and punishment.

B. But then the gospel appears. And it appears in such a little word - "NO". Just two letters. "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Now this is something we need to get in our heads because we are often tempted to doubt it! We need to realize that this "NO" is entire, complete, absolute! (What part of "no" don't you understand?) Listen to this quote from L.J.

"A Christian is a person who has been taken entirely outside the realm of any possible or conceivable condemnation....he has nothing more to do with it. Not only is he not "Now" in a state of condemnation, but never can be; it's impossible."

Many Christians are confused about this. Many Christians seem to believe that if a person confesses their sin and asks for forgiveness then, at that moment they are forgiven. But if they sin again, particularly if it's some grievous sin they are back under condemnation and need to go once again and ask forgiveness so that they can escape condemnation. In fact, there are those who teach that if you die with an unconfessed sin, you are lost! But this is directly contrary to the gospel! No condemnation means exactly that! It means that even when we sin we are not under condemnation.

Now there is no doubt that at times we feel like we are under condemnation. We feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit for our sin. We experience a lack of peace, a loss of assurance. We feel like we are separated from God and under his wrath. These are all common experience a Christian faces and they are all a result of sin. But no matter how great the feeling of condemnation might be - we need to learn to judge the true nature of our status with God not by experience by Scripture. And the Scripture says that there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

What about future sins that I may commit - for I know that I am weak, and I know that there is a sinful part of me which still delights in evil. But "no condemnation" means exactly what it says! It means that every sin, past, present and future has been forgiven and no condemnation is possible. Therefore, Christians should never allow themselves to feel condemned! When our hearts accuse us, when the devil charges us - we must answer with the blessed words of the gospel! There is No condemnation for those who are in Christ". If you are "in Christ Jesus" you will never, you cannot ever, come under condemnation. It simply can't be. Why? Because of what it means to be "in Christ".

III. "in Christ Jesus"

We will be talking about this more in the messages to come, so let me state it briefly here. To be saved is to be in Christ. Salvation is not simply a matter of a person deciding to follow Jesus, and change his lifestyle and go to church. All those things are a part of becoming a Christian but they are not the most essential thing. The most essential thing, the thing that matter more than anything else is the work of God whereby he places us "in Christ". In other words, he gives us to His Son, we are united to His Son. The Spirit of Christ comes to dwell with in us, we are made a part of the body of Christ. All of the fruits of grace purchased by our Savior become ours by a free gift - justification, sanctification, adoption, glorification. This is the sum and the whole of being a Christian. There is no Christianity without this and no Christianity beyond this.

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Those who are in Christ cannot be taken from Christ. What can separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble, hardship, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or danger, or sword? No. Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. And since that is true - no condemnation means no condemnation forever. If I am in Christ, I can no more be condemned than Christ himself! That is the assurance of the gospel.

IV. Application

1. Are you in Christ? This is the question that plagues us when we deeply experience our sin. How can I be in Christ and still sin like this? Still feel this bitterness, still suffer this anxiety? Maybe I'm not in Christ at all? How can we know?

It is the Spirit within you that (1) teaches you to sorrow over your sin. Do you sense a true heart sorrow over offending God? (2) the Spirit makes you desire to cry out to God - Abba Father.

So when you fear that you are not in Christ - flee to him! Believe that he is willing to receive you.

2. Rest in the security of your salvation. Let the reality of the gospel drive away your fears. Close with an illustration.

Growing up I had an inordinate fear of drowning. Not sure why. Remember the first time I went water skiing. The thought of falling down way out there in the deep part of the lake terrified me. But they said that my life jacket would hold me up and so I headed out realizing that I was placing my life in the hands of that piece of foam. When I fell for the first time I experienced the most amazing thing. After the confusion and fear of the fall, I realized I was floating gently on the top of the life jacket was able to keep me up and I felt a wonderful sense of exileration and peace. Somehow the combination of being in 40 feet of water out in the middle of the lake and yet secure brought a delicious sense of security. My life jacket was able to hold me up. In fact, after several more falls I realized that no matter how often I fell, no matter how deeply I was plunged into the water, that life jacket would bring me back to the surface every time. As long as I had that life jacket on, I couldn't sink to the bottom of the lake if I wanted to!

Friends, that's the way it is with the saving love of Christ. If you are in Christ - there is no condemnation. No matter how often or hard you fall, the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ is able to keep you from falling away. When life falls down around us, when we are plunged into dire circumstances, when our sinful flesh leads us astray - we are still secure. The truth remains the same--there is now no condemnation. There is only love and grace. Believe it. Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Dale VanDyke, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2001, Pastor Dale VanDyke

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