No Condemnation Do We DreadBy Bob Lepine
November 29, 2021
The word “condemn” is an interesting word. The dictionary offers a couple of definitions. It can mean to “express complete disapproval of, typically in public; censure.” It can also mean “to sentence someone to a particular punishment, especially death.” Or to “officially declare something or someone as unfit for use.”
After her accusers left, Jesus asked the woman caught in adultery in John 8 “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” With her accusers gone, she rightly realizes there is only one left who can rightfully censure her for her sin. But in an act of grace, Jesus declares “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, sin no more.”
In writing to the church in Rome, the apostle Paul doesn’t need anyone to express their disapproval of him and his sin. He is his own judge and jury. “Wretched man that I am!” he declares. “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Verdict: Guilty. Sentence? Condemned.
Because of Jesus’ death as his sin substitute, Paul can declare “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit, alive in Christ Jesus, has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2). Verdict overturned on appeal.
To be “in Christ Jesus” is to be free from the threat of condemnation. Let that sink in for a minute. Free.
That doesn’t mean that other people, or the devil himself, the “accuser of the brethren” won’t bring fresh charges against you. And it doesn’t mean the charges won’t be valid. After all, sin is still a part of your daily life. Each of us sins regularly “in thought, word or deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.”
But as Paul makes clear in Romans 8, the charges won’t stick, even though you’re guilty. “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” he asks in Romans 8. The answer? It doesn’t matter who brings the charges. “It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33).
Paul then asks “Who is to condemn?”
Like the woman caught in adultery, there is no one who has standing to bring judgment. The only one who has the right to condemn is busy doing something else. “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34).
Did you get that? Again, take a minute with this idea. The Lord Jesus, the only one qualified to declare you guilty and pronounce judgment instead declares that you belong to Him. Instead of condemning, He is interceding for you.
This is why the hymn writer declares:
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great High Priest, whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
The next time Satan—or anyone—tries to “express complete disapproval” or wants to “officially declare you as unfit for use,” remember that the only Person who really matters has already declared “no condemnation.” He is interceding for you.