Sunday, May 08, 2022

Beyond Condemnation

In my previous post we saw that we are either represented by Adam and what he did in Eden (sin) and became in consequence (a sinner), or else by Christ and what he passed through in his death and resurrection. The multiple benefits of the Savior’s work on behalf of those who have faith in him are the subject of large sections of the New Testament.

Believers are taught there to see themselves as “in Christ”, for he fully represents what they now are before God.

Life in Christ Jesus

They should never consider themselves apart from that fact; it is one that puts them beyond condemnation:

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

You may feel condemned as you consider your past, how stubbornly you resisted the gospel, ridiculed Christians or reveled in your sin, etc. The apostle Paul permitted himself to recall his past when occasion called for it, but note how he used it to magnify the grace of God in 1 Timothy 2:13-17, thus moving immediately from what he had been in Adam to what he was now in Christ.

On the other hand it may be that you feel condemned because you are discovering that though you came to the Savior some time ago, your most earnest efforts at self-improvement have met with no success. Instead there are ongoing disclosures of the weakness of your flesh, a situation so graphically described in Romans 7. That chapter ends in utter despair. Again Paul counters with what is true for all those “in Christ” — they are not under law (what man should do and be) but under grace (what God in Christ has done for us). Any self-condemnation a Christian feels arises from either ignorance or unbelief as to all that the gospel provides.

Appreciating the Cross

The nature you inherited from Adam will not change. You cannot improve it, and to think that you may someday personally gain victory over it is to entertain a false hope. But on the cross and by his death Christ delivered believers from all condemnation associated with it! So the gospel does not reach its climax in Romans 5 with us being justified by faith from our sins, but continues on to chapter 8. That chapter begins with us being freed from the condemnation due to us because of our sinfulness. Our condition as well as our conduct had to be dealt with to God’s satisfaction.

Jesus bore our sins in his body on the tree and God at the same time expressed his condemnation of sin in the flesh. Only a perfect, sinless man could make this possible. God did what the law could not do by sending his own Son “in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: he condemned sin in the flesh”. It was for sin in your flesh, but borne by him in his holy flesh. What grace!

“Not what I am, O Lord but what Thou art;
That, that alone can be my soul’s true rest;
Thy love, not mine, bids fear and doubt depart,
And stills the tempest of my tossing breast.”

— Horatius Bonar

— Colin Anderson, “No Condemnation?”, March 2013

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