Read Romans 8:1–4
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
Back when I was really struggling with legalism my wife told me, “René, you are one of the most guilt-oriented people I know!”
It was true. I constantly felt guilty about not doing a better job as a pastor or a husband or a father or a friend, I felt guilty every time I messed up in any way, I felt guilty for past sins, and in those moments when I was happy, I quickly felt guilty that I wasn’t feeling guilty! I can still slip into guilt-orientation to this day.
Maybe you can relate. Or maybe instead of that constant low hum of background guilt, there’s one major sin in your past that keeps haunting you.
Well then, drink this in:
“Therefore…” Because of what Paul’s been explaining in the Book of Romans.
“there is now…” Not there will be; not there might be; there is now.
“no…” Not there is less; there is no.
“condemnation…” In the original Greek language the word is katakrimi. The last part of that word, krimi, is where we get our English words “criminal” and “crime.” It refers to a legal judgment about a crime in a court of law. Paul’s saying there is no more sentencing, no verdict to wait for, no further penalty possible. The trial is over.
“…for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Not for those who are perfectly well-behaved; not for those who fulfill certain religious requirements; for those in Christ.
What does it mean to be in Christ?
Experiment: Right now take a sticky note or 3×5 card, wrinkle it, write on it, bend it… and then place it in the middle of the pages of this book, without any of it sticking out. Then shut the book. Go ahead, try it. Notice what you see. Then come back and keep reading!
Done? So how much of the note’s flaws did you see when it was in the book? None. Not because it did anything to clean itself — not because it tried hard — but because it was enclosed, encased, covered, by the book.
That’s what it means to be in Christ. It does not mean you have tried hard and earned credit for good behavior. It means you have received the free gift of His gracious covering of your sin.
I wish more Christians really believed this. There are so many emotional problems among Christians because they don’t. They think God is angry with them continuously. They imagine that even when they try, God is saying, “You could have done better.”
Bill Hybels said, “There are only two religions in the world: The religion of human achievement that asks, ‘What must I do?’ and the religion of divine achievement that says, ‘Because of God it is done.’”
Do or done. Which religion are you?
For years, although I had been saying all the right words, in my heart I was really still in the first religion, trying hard to earn absolution. How did I finally get a sense of peace and security? That’s tomorrow.
Do you really believe Romans 8:1? Why or why not? What would Paul say to you?
What does Paul mean in verse 3 when he says the law was “powerless”? What was it powerless to do? Why?
Thank God today for His total forgiveness! Offer to Him memories of past mistakes that may have been plaguing you. Ask Him to help you focus on His love instead of your sins.