What an honor it has been for me to have led you these past many months through the first seven chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans. We’ve seen much and rejoiced over much in these chapters. But today marks a very special day. Today we arrive at Romans chapter 8. Some have called this chapter ‘the inner sanctuary of the Christian faith’, ‘the tree of life in the midst of the Garden of Eden’, and even ‘the highest peak in Paul’s beautiful mountain range that is Romans.’[1]Simply put, Romans 8 is one of the greatest chapters in the Bible.[2] Beginning in v1 with no condemnation and ending in v39 with no separation, Romans 8 covers the whole of the Christian life, from our hostility toward God as sinners to our redemption in Christ that made us saints, from justification to glorification and from the suffering of this present life to the peace of the life to come. Romans 8 is a grand and gracious reminder, from God to us, of how the gospel truly does bring us all the way home![3]

But is it right for us to hold such a high view of this chapter?[4] Sure many have said exalted things about these 39 verses, are they right to do so? I mean, shouldn’t we hold the whole Bible this high and view all of Scripture as the inner sanctuary of the Christian faith? Doesn’t all of it shine out with the brightness of the glory of God? Indeed it does. But, while all of Scripture is a treasure chest of glory to us we cannot deny that certain chapters, certain books even, have always stood out distinctly to believers through the ages. Think of our bodies, a toe is just as much a part of the body as the face, but do they arrest our attention equally? While no one is going to say our toes are useless we do say the face stands out more prominently in our bodies. Even so, as long as we remain balanced in our handling of Scripture and it doesn’t lead us to neglect the rest of Scripture, I do think we can say, and are right to say, that Romans 8 is truly one of the most moving and soul stirring chapters in the Bible.

As we draw near it there is one introductory remark I’d like to make. While there are many incredible and remarkable statements made in Romans 8, would you be surprised to hear that there is nothing new in the whole chapter?[5] Romans 8 contains no new truth! What it does do is expand and apply many truths that have only been hinted at or briefly mentioned before in Romans, especially in chapter 5. Truths about how we should think about ourselves and what we should know to be true of us as Christians. This in and of itself is worth noting because we too often tire of old things, thinking only new things dazzle us or shine brightly. Romans 8 displays just the opposite! The most moving and powerful chapter in the Bible is filled with nothing novel, nothing original, and nothing innovative. No, it’s the old gospel story that fills these verses, that is opened up to us here, and driven home to the heart. Paul simply states what is now true of the Christian in v1, and then spends the next 38 verses explaining how gloriously true v1 really is!

Well, I think we can get to it now. So look with me at the first verse, Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who in Christ Jesus.” Let’s slowly move through the three main phrases here before us.

“Therefore”

The first word in the ESV translation in 8:1 is “Therefore.” And of course, we know what this word means. It reminds us that Paul is making conclusions. That he’s said something and is now going to be applying that something to us. Well what has Paul said? In Romans 1-7 he’s shown us our holy God, sinful man, the wrath to come, a perfect Savior, Christ crucified for us, Christ risen for us, justification by faith alone, and sanctification by faith alone![6] In other words, Paul has shown us in Romans 1-7 the essence of our faith. And after all of this he now says in v1, “Therefore.” It’s like Paul has been building and building and building and building, laying a firm foundation for us in Romans 1-7 and as soon as chapter 8 begins with this “Therefore” he starts to craft a house we can live in that sits fixed and forever firm on this foundation.

I’m so glad for this word “Therefore”, especially since it comes right after chapter 7. Chapter 7 closes with one of the clearest displays of our struggle with sin in Scripture. “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…I know that nothing good dwells in me…for I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out…Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Then comes the great “Therefore” statement of 8:1, telling us of our standing in this great Savior. I almost wish 8:1 was really the last verse in Romans 7, because it’s the proper conclusion of it. A friend once told Charles Spurgeon, “I have finally got out of Romans 7 and into Romans 8.” To which Spurgeon replied, “Nonsense! There is no getting out of one into the other, for they are one. The field is not divided by hedge or ditch. I thank God with all my heart that since my conversion I have never known what it is to be out of Romans 7, nor have I known what it is to be out of Romans 8. The whole passage has been my experience.”[7] Church, can we not say the same? Indeed we can. Yes, we know our sin. The struggle of not understanding our actions, our doing what is evil, our not doing what is good, our seeing Christ as Savior, throwing ourselves on Him and Him alone, and then finding Him to be what He is…powerful to save us to the uttermost! So powerful that now a new banner stands over us all our days never to be removed, “No condemnation!” Praise God!

Which brings us to our next phrase in v1…

“No Condemnation”

“There is therefore now no condemnation…” 

I am a firm believer that you don’t need to know ancient Greek to truly understand the Bible. The English is very adequate to show us the glory of God in the pages of Scripture. But I want to briefly take you into the language to show you something.

If you notice, on the back of your bookmark today (or on the loop if you’re looking at your phone) we’ve put a few different translations of v1 there for you to see. It’s got the ESV on the top, then the Greek, then a word for word rendering of what the Greek word order looks like in English, and finally the KJV on the bottom. Notice a few things here. The KJV has more than the rest, see that? It’s version of v1 ends with the phrase, “…who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” This phrase is also in the NKJV but it isn’t in other translations because in the oldest and most reliable manuscripts we have of Romans, this phrase is not in there. Which means this is likely a later addition from someone other than Paul. So it’s wise to leave it out of v1. But notice it does pop up again in every translation of v4.[8]We included the KJV/NKJV on here because we know some of you read those translations here and we wanted you to know why it is slightly different than the ESV.

Now, look at the remaining three versions of v1 on it. Notice the Greek? It’s might be strange to translate it word for word into English because the word order doesn’t make sense but if we do that we read, “No therefore now condemnation forthose in Christ Jesus.” Though that sentence is very rough English do you notice the difference between the ESV and the Greek? While the ESV begins with “Therefore” what does the Greek begin with? The word “NO!” Why does all of this matter? It shows us Paul’s eagerness. He’s so eager to tell us there’s no condemnation any longer that he moves the emphatic negative, the “NO”, right to the front of the verse.

So what does ‘no condemnation’ mean? Well, let’s first ask what does condemnation mean? It’s a fairly common word, even though it’s a word most don’t use very often. The word itself can be used in a few different ways. In a small sense we can say to condemn is to express disapproval for something. ‘I don’t like this or that, him or her or them.’ That’s condemning in a small sense. Going a bit further we could say to condemn is to declare something unfit for use. ‘That house has been condemned, it’ll be torn down next week.’ This use is a bit more direct in its usage. But going still further I think the word condemn is normally used to bring a larger negative sense into view. In this larger sense we can say to condemn is to pass verdict on someone or to sentence someone to a particular punishment, normally death. This definition immediately places the word in a legal setting where we get the image of a judge and jury making the decision to bring an innocent or guilty verdict to bear on those who break the law. I do think Paul has this legal setting in mind when he uses this word. And that Paul places the word NO in front of the word condemnation is simply astounding. He means to teach us how Christians now relate to God the just Judge over all things. Even though all the evidence is abundant and clear that we’re sinners and should face the eternal inferno of God’s wrath forever, Paul says that’s not the case. That this is no longer true of us. Now, it’s no condemnation for us. Instead it’s salvation, redemption, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification.

Think on this in light of what Paul’s taught us so far in Romans. Since the day Adam disobeyed God, death spread to and reigned over all men. The same proved true in Noah’s day and in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s day. Then God redeemed His people out of Egypt and gave them His Law on Mt. Sinai, and the Law imposed its commands on Israel. Commands about how they were to live before God and alongside their neighbors. Commands if kept brought blessing and righteousness and yet if broken brought curse and condemnation. What did Israel do? They failed to keep the Law and by failing to keep it they experienced the curses of the covenant and therefore lived under the banner of condemnation. What then happened? If condemnation loomed over God’s people, what happened to change that? Did they straighten up? Did they work harder at obeying? No. Simply put, Jesus happened. God’s very Son came to us. A life lived in perfect obedience to the Law and yet dying the death of a Law breaker to free and purchase and redeem all those come to Him in faith. In other words, by the time we get to Romans 8:1 and hear Paul say, “There is therefore now no condemnation…” we know why he can speak such an astounding statement. The Christian doesn’t experience condemnation before God because Christ the Son of God was condemned by God! Jesus received the sentence, the guilty verdict, for us. He represented us on the cross where all of God’s condemnation, displeasure, and omnipotent wrath against sin was spent.[9]This is what Paul meant in chapter 3 when he says in v25-26 that Jesus was put forward by God as a propitiation in His blood. To propitiate is to appease or to satisfy wrath. Meaning, the moment the Son of God died on the cross, the Father’s anger against sin was quenched, not just for a time, but for all time. Paul rejoices in this fact at the end of Romans 8, in v33-34 when he says, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? (same thought as in v1!) 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.”

Church, because Christ was condemned, the verdict is now in for every Christian – not guilty! No condemnation! Hear that as it is. It isn’t just that were ‘not condemned at the cross’ it’s ‘no condemnation’ today. It isn’t just that one day in the end we’ll no longer be condemned for our sin, it’s ‘no condemnation’ already. It isn’t just that were not under condemnation now even though we might return underneath it if we go back into sin again, it’s ‘no condemnation’ forever. Condemnation doesn’t exist for us, it’s gone, and it can’t ever return![10] Is this not the great rejection of the serpents lie? “You won’t surely die.” That was an empty promise, intended to deceive. Romans 8:1 is the true remedy to man’s ruin, intended to bring absolute assurance into the soul.

But, who receives such a gift? Everyone universally? No, see our last heading. The gift of no condemnation is only for those in Christ.

“In Christ”

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who in Christ Jesus.”

I’ll be brief here, we’ve lingered on this many times in the past 7 chapters. Church, not everyone can say, ‘I’m no longer under condemnation!’ No, Paul’s is not a universalist, as if God is sitting on top of a great mountain on which people can choose whatever road they want because all roads lead to God in the end. No, that’s not Paul, that’s not Bible, that’s not Christianity. Some are in Christ and some are not. And only those in Christ experience Christ taking their condemnation for them on the cross. It would be just as true to reverse Romans 8:1 for those outside of Christ, “There is therefore condemnation to all those who are not in Christ.”[11] So, where are you? Are you in Christ and under grace? Or are you outside of Christ and under condemnation? If you’re outside of Christ I know no truth more alarming than this, that condemnation still stands over you. And yet, if you’re in Christ I know no truth more amazing than this, that no condemnation is ever our boast before God.

Conclusion:

Well, that’s Romans 8:1. Let’s now ask one more question. Why does this matter?[12]

Answer #1: freedom from guilt. Do you realize what happened in Romans 7-8 here before us? The same lips that made an honest confession of sin in chapter 7 made this bold declaration of no condemnation in chapter 8. See that? You must be able to do this too. Many Christians simply conclude they’re not Christians when they sin or struggle. Were you saved by your goodness? No. Why then do you think you now stand in Christ by your own goodness? Are you Roman Catholic? What God tells us about us, is truer than what we tell ourselves about us. Yes, we should feel the weight of our sin. Yes we should repent and turn from sin. But we should also turn toward Romans 8:1 and feel its warm embrace. So take off the gloves of guilt and stop trying to Mike Tyson yourself to death and rest in grace.

Why does Romans 8:1 matter? Answer #2: freedom to love. Suppose you’re disappointed. I mean big time disappointed in life and find yourself saying, ‘This isn’t what I signed up for.’ Whether this is true of your own self, your marriage, your children, your job…whatever, Romans 8:1 can free you to love others as you ought. How? Because it’s the reminder that you’re a sinner, deserving of God’s wrath, and yet because of Jesus you now swim in a sea of grace. Since God so loved you, you can find the strength to love others as well.

Why does Romans 8:1 matter? Answer #3: freedom to live. There’s a lot of pressure to be this or that today. ‘Is it still cool to wear pants like this nowadays?’ ‘Are people still using briefcases or should I get a fancy bag to bring to work?’ ‘What kind of car should I be driving?’ ‘Is it still ok to wear crocs in public?’ ‘What are the cool churches singing and teaching these days?’ At the bottom of all these questions is this thought, ‘I want to be seen as with-it and not out of touch.’ Church, the tide of cultural approval is ever coming and going, to be ruled by it is to be tossed ‘to and fro’ in the sea. Don’t be ruled by it. Be free. If you’re in Christ your Father in heaven loves you and will never stop loving you. His approval, His smile, is 10,000 times more important than the world’s. Live free in Him.

Why does Romans 8:1 matter? Answer #4: freedom to risk. Because all of this and more is true, because there’s no condemnation for us, and because we’re forever home in Christ…we’re free take risks, to do hard things, to live bold for Christ in this world. 


[1] Douglas Moo, Romans, NICNT (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2018), 491.

[2] Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans – The Law: Its Functions and Limits (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth, 1985), 258.

[3] See Derek W.H. Thomas, How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home (Sanford, Florida: Reformation Trust, 2011).

[4] Lloyd-Jones, Romans, 258–259.

[5] Ibid., 263.

[6] John Piper, No Condemnation in Christ, part 1 (9/9/01, accessed via Accordance Bible software, 4/23/21).

[7] Charles Spurgeon, In Christ No Condemnation (8/29/1886, accessed via Accordance Bible software, 4/23/21).

[8] Lloyd-Jones, Romans, 257.

[9] Moo, Romans, 496.

[10] Timothy Keller, Romans 8-16 For You, God’s Word For You (The Good Book Company, 2015), 12.

[11] Spurgeon, In Christ No Condemnation.

[12] John Piper, What ‘No Condemnation’ Does to a Heart (4/21/21, https://tracking.feedpress.com/link/10715/14425167/what-no-condemnation-does-to-a-heart).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: