When I was a child in Sunday School, we used to sing this little song which, to me, had big, confusing words.
It went like this:
“There is no condemnation to them in Christ Jesus
who walk every day in the Spirit of the Lord
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
has made me free, has made me free
from the law of sin and death…”
But once I learnt what ‘condemnation’ meant, it sounded like good news. I was not condemned! In other words, my God approved of me!
In a court of law, to be condemned is to be judged, sentenced, punished or penalized. The opposite of condemnation is absolution, acquittal, clearance, exoneration… freedom.
That chorus was based on some verses at the start of Romans 8:
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.” (NLT)
When we become united with Christ through faith, we find release from judgement. Because of Christ’s death in our place we are no longer ‘condemned’ for the things we have done to others. Our walk with Christ is now defined by a ‘new nature’ which is led by the Holy Spirit. We enter into a life of grace – of forgiveness for our sins. And we receive God’s strength and empowerment to live with purpose.
Matthew Henry said this in his commentary on Romans 8:
“By the Spirit, the law of love is written upon the heart, and though the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled by us, yet it is fulfilled in us.”
I love that imagery. The law of love is written on our hearts… and it is fulfilled in us.
God’s grace means his favour. And who wouldn’t want that? God’s grace means our soul can rest well. We don’t need to be wracked by the torment of guilt and shame. God’s grace means we have an eternity with him to look forward to. God’s grace means we’re free to seek the pleasures of God, and not the short-term ones that lead us away from God. God’s grace means peace and life and hope…
Thank you for your grace in sending your son, Jesus Christ, to die in my place so that the requirements of your law might be met once and for all. Thank you for ‘paying the debt’ that my sin accrued. Thank you that becoming your child means a life of freedom from the law of sin and death. Thank you that I can walk every day in the freeing power of the Holy Spirit. Lord, sometimes it feels like Satan is writing all these things on my forehead: ‘Condemned’, ‘Guilty’, ‘Stupid’, ‘Undeserving’… But you, dear Jesus, take that marker away from him, rubbing out the accusatory words. Instead, you write ‘Beloved’, ‘Forgiven’, ‘Free’, ‘Under Grace’, ‘Delighted in…’ and ‘Forever Mine’.
Today, dear God, I choose to walk in your complete, sufficient, never-ending grace and love.
I am no longer condemned.
May I never stop thanking you with my life.
Your daughter, who longs to one day see you face to face…