“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 is one of the greatest texts of the Bible for the Christian. Our justification in Christ is life-changing. This declaration from the courtroom of God is meant to free us and change our lives from top to bottom: our marriages, our jobs, our lives as students. Everything we do and everything we are is impacted by this glorious declaration that our lives are now free from condemnation. And a life lived in this glorious reality will be free, as Pastor John explains in this sermon clip sent to us from Joel, a college student in Atlanta. Here’s Pastor John applying Romans 8:1.
What about no condemnation in marriage difficulties? Is that practical enough? Does anybody have any problems in your marriage?
Free to Forebear
Suppose you’re disappointed this morning — I mean, maybe some of you are really big-time, lifelong disappointed. It isn’t what you bargained for at all. How are you going to find the emotional and moral power not to return evil for evil, to return good for evil, to be kind and forgiving and loving and tenderhearted when you feel so unjustly handled by God?
Answer: You’re going to remind yourself day in and day out, “I’m a sinner. I’m an ungodly, undeserving, hell-deserving sinner, and there flies over my life a blood-bought banner: no condemnation. I swim in a reservoir of free grace. And I will manage a lifetime of buckets for my wife. I don’t care what she does.”
“You are free to die. You are free to become radical. You are free to serve.”
That would save a marriage, and maybe God would step in and make it good. I know the testimonies. It does happen, folks. But you know what? If it never happens, that’s okay. You’ve got 85 million ages of years when there is no more marriage or giving in marriage (Matthew 22:30), but only our Husband and the sweetest, deepest pleasures you will ever know. Dip into the reservoir of no condemnation. Pour them out on husband; pour them out on wife.
Free to Confess
And what if your kid is breaking your heart, and your own conscience is quite adequate to tell you you’re the problem? “It’s your fault. It’s your fault.” How are you going to stay above water? How are you going to just keep on with the other kids, or how are you going to keep on with that kid? How are you going to keep loving? How are you going to keep coming back? You know what? You will never sort out how much is your fault and how much wasn’t — ever, ever, ever. You will never sort that out.
So, if you come to me for counseling on that issue and say, “Can you help me sort this out?” You know what I’m going to say? “No.” My next sentence is going to be “Nor do I care, nor need you care. You’ll never sort that out. I’ve got good news for you. Your standing with Almighty God, and the moral resources that you can appropriate for living on your face in humility before that, kid don’t depend on whether you blew it or not, because there is therefore now no condemnation for any parent in Christ Jesus.” So, that’s practical.
Here’s what might happen. Living, swimming, in that ocean of no-condemnation grace, do you know what’ll happen? You will be so humbled. This is the mark of whether it’s really happening or not, by the way. We’ve got a lot of people who hit people over the head with their doctrine. But the evidence of whether glorious doctrine like this is taking any effect in people’s lives is how humble it makes them.
If you humble yourself under this child, so that you go to this kid at five or fifty and say, “You know, I don’t know how much is me and how much is you, and how much is your sister, brother, dad, or friends. I just know I’ve got a lot of responsibility here, and I am so sorry for my failures.” Where does that freedom come from — out loud, not feeling it only but saying it? Where does that come from? It comes from Romans 8:1.
Free to Forget
And on and on we could go, but I’ve got to stop. We could talk about sexual temptation and no condemnation. We could talk about ministry and no condemnation. We could talk about peer pressure. Let me say a word about this. We have a lot of college students, a lot of high school students in this room. Peer pressure: Is my hair right? Is this the way it’s supposed to be on the first day of school? Oh, nobody else has hair like this. Or how do you carry your books this year? Like this? Or like this? Do you use briefcases? “Oh, what a nerd!” “These shoes, they were in last year. Shoot — I should’ve got rid of them this summer.”
I mean, come on. Get a life. Where are you going to get free from that kind of bondage? It’s like we are jellyfish. There are teenage jellyfish everywhere. I want a few dolphins in this church, swimming against the tide. Who cares about those trivialities?
“There flies over my life a blood-bought banner: ‘no condemnation.’ I swim in a reservoir of free grace.”
And I’ll tell you how you get free from that kind of bondage: There is therefore now no condemnation over your head. You’ve got a Father in heaven whose approval of you is ten thousand times more important than what Mary or Joe thinks about what you’re wearing, or whether the right kind of cool word just came out of your mouth, or whether you saw the right TV program or the right movie, or whether you liked the right group, or whether you wear the right shoes, or whether you have your hair done just right. Come on. Let’s be free.
Free to Die
Christianity is about freedom — all this freedom that I’m talking about here, all this no condemnation. Liberty is not to free you up to be a fat-cat American consumer.
“Well, the pastor, he dumped on social action this morning. So I’m free. I can go back to my nice suburban house and my three or four cars with my two cabins and my boats and my whatever. Because I don’t have to worry about housing. I don’t have to worry about poverty. I don’t have to worry about drugs. I don’t have to worry about broken families. I don’t have to worry about ten thousand people a day who fall into eternity in lands that have no church, because he said it’s about me and God getting right with each other.”
That’s the devil talking. If you talk to me like that, I’d say, “You didn’t get it at all.” You are free to die. You are free to become radical. You are free to serve. And I could preach another message here, but we’ve got lots more years, God willing.