************ Sermon on Romans 8:1 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 11, 2004
"No Condemnation for Those in Christ"
Subtopic: Blood of
Title: Blood Stigma
When someone dies among the Ga'dang people of the Philippines the immediate family has to wear dark clothing and can not have their hair cut until what they call the "death stigma" has been removed.
According to their beliefs, after a proper mourning period of about six months, the closest male relative is to remove the death stigma by shedding human blood. Usually this means going to another village and either killing or injuring another party. When he brings back some proof that he has shed human blood, the stigma is removed and the family can again function normally in the village.
We are gathered together this morning to eat the bread and drink the wine of the Lord's Supper. This Supper reminds us that the "Death Stigma" of sin has been taken away from us by the shedding of Christ's blood upon the cross. More specifically, the Lord's Supper reminds and assures us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
I No Condemnation
A "Therefore, there is now no condemnation," says the Spirit-inspired Apostle in our text for this morning.
"Condemnation." Our attention is directed to a court-room setting. The judge has heard the case. Now he renders the guilty verdict and pronounces the sentence.
As Paul makes clear in the first seven chapters of Romans, the Divine Judge has every right to render a guilty verdict against each and every one of us and to pronounce upon us the sentence of eternal death. He can do this for we are all under guilt and remain under the power of sin.
In the first thee chapters Paul makes the charge that Jew and Gentile alike are all under sin. Quoting Old Testament Scripture he writes,
(Rom 3:10-18) As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; (11) there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. (12) All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." (13) "Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." "The poison of vipers is on their lips." (14) "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." (15) "Their feet are swift to shed blood; (16) ruin and misery mark their ways, (17) and the way of peace they do not know." (18) "There is no fear of God before their eyes."These words are not applicable just to the most evil on this earth. This describes the natural but sinful state of all men. In common with all other humans, we too are conceived and born in sin. We too are wicked and perverse, so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil – unless we, in Christ, are born again.
And, those of us who are born again, we find ourselves under the continued power of sin. We can say with a frustrated Paul in Romans 7:
(Rom 7:15-24) I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do ... For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (19) For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. (20) Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (21) So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. (22) For in my inner being I delight in God's law; (23) but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. (24) What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Yes, the Divine Judge has every right to render a guilty verdict against each and every one of us and to pronounce upon us the sentence of eternal death. He can do this for we are all under the guilt and remain under the power of sin.
As we eat and drink the bread and the wine of the Lord's Supper we are reminded of our sin and the wrath of God on that sin. We are reminded that we all lie under the verdict of God and deserve His punishment.
B Yet, in our text the Apostle can say, "there is now no condemnation." Some are not exposed to condemnation. They are placed beyond the reach of condemnation. They shall never be condemned.
Two things happen to these most blessed of all people. First, they are pardoned for their sin and guilt. Second, they are liberated from their prison-house of sin.
First, I don't know if we fully realize how wondrous a pardon is. Imagine a convicted murderer on death-row an hour or so before he is to be hanged or electrocuted or injected for his crime. Suddenly his cell door swings open and his lawyer announces he has been pardoned. Yes, he remains guilty of the crimes for which he has been convicted. Yes, he continues to deserve punishment. But, his slate is wiped clean. In the eyes of the law, anyway, it is as if he had never committed murder.
Some sinners receive a pardon from God. Yes, they remain guilty of the sins they have committed. Yes, they continue to deserve punishment. But, their slate is wiped clean. In the eyes of God, anyway, it is as if they have never sinned or nor been a sinner, as if they have fully met "the righteous requirements of the law" (vs 4).
Second, these same sinners are also liberated from the prison-house of sin. They have been enslaved to the power of sin. Against their will they do the evil they do not want to do. Suddenly they are set free. They are given the power to do the good they could not do. They begin to love as they ought. They actually begin to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. Yes, they continue to fall but there is now a new shape, a new direction, to their life!
Freedom, too, is a wonderful, marvelous thing. Think of the people of Iraq finally set free after more than 30 years of oppression. Free to speak their mind. Free to go where they want and to do what they want. Free, even, to protest against their liberators.
When we eat and drink we are reminded that we are pardoned and liberated.
II For Those in Christ
A How is this possible? How is it possible that some sinners are pardoned and liberated? "In Christ," says Paul. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Some sinners are pardoned and liberated "in Christ."
What does it mean to be in Christ? To be "in Christ" signifies the perfection which is to come. Believers are in Christ or with Christ forever after His triumphant return.
To be "in Christ," however, is also to be united with Him in His death and resurrection, so that with Him we died and with Him we rose.
First, to be "in Christ" means we are united with Christ in His death. It means our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with Him, so that the evil desires of the flesh may no longer rule us. To be "in Christ" means that the death of Christ is not just a death for others but also a death of others. Christ died for us, that is, He died in our place as a payment for our sins; but we also died with Him and in Him, that is, in some mysterious way we were united to Him in His death.
Second, to be "in Christ" also means that we are united with Christ in His resurrection. To be "in Christ" means that by His power we are already now resurrected to a new life. To be "in Christ" means our desire and our delight is to do every kind of good that God want us to do. To be "in Christ" means that the resurrection of Christ is not just a resurrection for others but also a resurrection of others. Christ rose for us, that is, He rose to give us new life and hope; but we also rose with Him and in Him, that is, in some mysterious way we were united to Him in His resurrection life.
"In Christ" reminds us that Christ is our representative. What He did, we did. In Him we paid for our sins. Through Him we overcame death. And, by His Spirit we now live a different kind of life than those who live according to the flesh.
The central message of the Gospel, as Paul puts it in Romans 4:25, is that Jesus "was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification." However, the benefits of Christ's death and resurrection become ours only in union with Him.
When we eat and drink, we are reminded in a powerful way that we are "in Christ," because we eat the bread which symbolizes His body and drink the wine which symbolizes His blood.
B "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." The question can and should be asked: when is it that we join or are united with Christ, when is it that we become one with Him in His death and resurrection?
The Bible tells us that we died and rose with Christ on Golgotha (Col 2:20; Col 3:3; Rom 6:8). His death and resurrection are guaranteed as ours when we are baptized (Rom 6:3; Col 2:12). And we personally taste His death and resurrection only when we are converted – in other words, when we come to repentance and faith (Col 3:1-2; Rom 6:11).
C "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." There is no condemnation because they are in Christ Jesus. They are pardoned and liberated because of their relationship to and with Christ.
That is the only way anyone can ever escape condemnation – because of Christ. There is no other way. There is no work we can do that can save us. There is nothing we can give or pay that will save us. There is no other person that can save us. Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the way. And, those who look for any other way – instead of escaping condemnation will be facing condemnation. Apart from Jesus there is no escape.
As we eat and drink, remember and believe that Jesus is the way, the only way, that we escape God's condemnation of our sin.
This morning, ours is the privilege of eating and drinking the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper. This bread and wine reminds us that "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
Are you "in Christ"? If so, then come to the Lord's Table!
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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