There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (KJV).
What amazing words! No condemnation! There is eternal blessing in this verse. But there is a reservation: “those who are in Christ Jesus.” And the words “no condemnation” bring to mind another phrase from God’s Word: “condemned already” (Joh 3:18). The contrast reminds us that there are only two classes of people: those who are “condemned already” and those who are in Christ Jesus and under “no condemnation.”
When I was part of a strict religious group, there would often be a vague sense of foreboding or condemnation when I pondered eternal matters. I was religious but unsaved. When God began to deal with me, I came to realize that I wasn’t somewhere in between heaven and hell, but that the wrath of God was abiding on me (Joh 3:36), and I was condemned already.
Over the years there have been many “formulas” presented for reaching heaven. Some will say that Jesus died for us but we still need to do our part and live good lives. Once I was in a meeting where the good news of Christ was preached, only to be told at the end to pray along with the speaker as he said a prayer for sinners. We were told that if we had done this sincerely, we were now saved. There’s a group that preaches that we must learn to die to self, and only then can we be saved.
The essential ingredient missing from these “self-help” false gospels is the definitive Word of God that tells us that it is our sins that separate us from God (Isa 59:2). It comes as a shock when we realize that Scripture clearly states we’re not good people working our way to heaven, but sinners who are condemned already (Rom 3:23; Joh 3:18).
When we understand we are guilty and have offended a holy God with our sin, we see that it is hopeless to please Him with good living, or try to die to self, or repeat the sinner’s prayer. There is only one thing that can meet our great need, and that is Christ Jesus, who came into the world to save sinners!
In Romans 2:4 we read, “Despiseth thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (KJV). True repentance is admitting God is right about us, and agreeing with Him about how awful our sin is. Then we are able to see the wondrous provision for sinners and flee to Christ.
When we have passed from death unto life (Joh 5:24), we understand those precious words, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” Forever freed from the bondage and penalty of our sins, we marvel at the love of God. How about you? Where do you find yourself as you consider these two contrasts? Are you in Christ Jesus and under no condemnation? Or are you condemned already? If you repent and turn from your sins to the Lord Jesus Christ, He will save you. He will give you that wonderful position of no condemnation! And you will love Him because He first loved us (1Jn 4:19).