No Condemnation! (Pt. 1)
August 19, 2018
In my closet I have a bag of letters. Most people would not be interested in those letters. They are cards and notes that have been kept in that bag for over thirty years. But they are a treasure to me. They are the correspondence Raye Jeanne and I shared over the 13 months after we met until we married. We lived in different states and in a time when phone calls were still paid for by the minute and email didn’t exist and Facetime and communication on watches was a Dick Tracy fantasy (kids you might need to ask your parents or grandparents who Dick Tracy was). So the way we communicated was by physical card and letter. And those letters chronicle the early progress of our relationship, and are immeasurably valuable.
Like my letters from Raye Jeanne, you undoubtedly have some favorite or treasured letters as well.
And if you have been a believer for very long, you likewise have some similarly favorite books of the Bible. For many of you the book is Romans. And if Romans is your favorite book, it’s likely that chapter 8 is your favorite chapter. John Piper has said that this is the greatest chapter in the greatest letter in the greatest book ever written.
Others have also noted the significance of this chapter:
- “Here in Romans 8 there is refreshment enough for dry and thirsty believers!”
- If the Bible was a ring and the book of Romans its precious stone, chapter 8 would be “the sparkling point of the jewel.” [Lutheran Pietist leader Philipp Jakob Spener]
- “Here the apostle is swept along in a wave of spiritual exaltation that begins with God’s provision of the Spirit for victory over the old nature, breaks through the sufferings that mark our present existence, and crests with a doxology of praise to the unfathomable love of God revealed in Christ Jesus. Nowhere in the annals of sacred literature do we find anything to match the power and beauty of this remarkable paean of praise.” [Robert Mounce]
- “The eighth of Romans has become peculiarly precious to me, beginning with ‘no condemnation,’ ending with ‘no separation’…and in between, ‘no defeat.’” [Charles G. Trumbull]
- “This wondrous chapter sets forth the gospel and plan of salvation; the life of freedom and victory; the hopelessness of the natural man and the righteousness of the born again; the indwelling of Christ and the Holy Spirit; the resurrection of the body and blessed hope of Christ’s return; the working together of all things for our good; every tense of the Christian life, past, present, and future; and the glorious, climactic song of triumph, no separation in time or eternity ‘from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.’” [Boice]
Paul has just finished a section (7:14-25) that reads like a funeral dirge — its tone is foreboding and wearying. But as ominous as that section set in a minor key is, the words that follow in chapter eight are an exultant praise written in a major key and ringing with hopefulness and joy.
The joy begins in the opening verses with a reminder of the work of Christ for sinners.
Here is Paul’s theme for these four verses —
Christ removes every aspect of condemnation for the believer in Him.
These four verses tell us four truths about our position in Christ that make us hopeful for living sanctified, God-honoring lives.
[Note: there are no imperatives in Romans 8. That means Paul is not so much telling us what to do to be sanctified, but what to believe and think to be sanctified. We don’t need something to do, we need something to reckon or consider. We need a promise to believe and a truth to meditate on; and that is just what Paul provides in this chapter.]
- There is No Condemnation (v. 1)
- There is No Condemnation Because of Christ (v. 2)
- There is No Condemnation Because Christ Condemned Sin (v. 3)
- Because There is No Condemnation, There is Sanctification (v. 4)
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 8:1-4.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.