(This sermon was preached by Pastor Paul Zaspel at the Word of Life Baptist Church of Pottsville, PA on January 4, 2015. All scriptural texts are from the English Standard Version, except where noted.)
Turn to Romans chapter 1. I want to give an overview of the first eight chapters in order to get the context and flow of the epistle in our minds especially as it relates to the gospel. Let’s read the first seventeen verses of Romans 1.
1Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh, 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—12that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to Barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it’s the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”
This theological letter was written by the apostle Paul to a relatively young church, consisting of both Jews and Gentiles living in the imperial city of Rome. And Paul has many things to say to both groups as he writes, but probably the most significant thing he deals with is what he says in verse 16, “the gospel of Christ.” From the very beginning, before he even mentions his recipients, which is his normal way of introduction like, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God to the saints who are in Ephesus” (Eph 1:1). But the mention of his recipients in this letter doesn’t come until verse 7. Instead, what Paul does first is to make a declaration of the gospel in verses 2 through 4. And what is the gospel? It means “good news.” What is this good news? The good news is, as Doug Moo says in his commentary on Romans, “that God brings guilty sinners into relationship with himself and destines them to eternal life through his son, Jesus Christ.” [p. 29]
And Jesus Christ is important. It is after all, as Paul says, “the gospel of Christ” (verse 16) and “the gospel of His Son” (verses 3 and 9). This Christological foundation is laid in these beginning verses, for note that the “gospel of God” of verse 1 is in verses 3 and 4 “concerning His Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” So from the very beginning he lays the foundation of Christ being fully God and fully man who became our substitute, bearing the penalty of our sin which then is the foundation of “the gospel of God unto salvation.”
Christ is prominent throughout the epistle and especially as we read chapters 5 through 8 and hear the constant refrain “through our Lord Jesus Christ,” “through Jesus Christ,” “into Christ,” “with Christ,” “in Christ.” In other words, Paul is consumed with God’s act of saving us in Christ and in Christ alone. It’s the underlying point of the whole letter and the center of salvation history. You see Paul presents everything as hinging on a relationship with Jesus Christ. All history is divided into two ages, with the cross of Christ as the dividing line. There’s the old era (before Christ) and the new era (after Christ). And I’m not just talking about BC and AD. It’s not a matter of time. All people start out in the old era by virtue of their participation in the sin of Adam. That’s Romans 5. But we can be transferred from that old era into the new era by becoming “joined to Christ” by faith in His death, burial, & resurrection. That’s Paul’s point in Romans 6. You see though the new era was inaugurated by the death of Christ and His resurrection, that new era has not yet replaced the old era. Both ages continue to exist simultaneously. That is, though the cross is the dividing line, the change of eras becomes real for the individual only at the point of faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, a person who lives AFTER Christ’s death and resurrection but has not appropriated the benefits of those events by faith in Christ still lives in the old era. Even though he lives after Christ. He still lives in the old era, for he’s enslaved to sin, in the flesh and doomed to eternal death. On the other hand, a person living thousands of years before Christ, like Abraham whom Paul uses as an example of faith in chapter 4, he belongs in some sense at least, to the new era. Why? Because he is described as a man of faith, believing what God said and looking forward to the victory in Christ.
So faith in Christ crucified and risen is central to Paul’s thinking about the GOSPEL, and it’s what gives the gospel the power to save. Therefore Paul writes in verse 16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it’s the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.” And by this gospel then, verse 17, “the righteousness of God is revealed.” That is, the gospel of Christ is the only way to be accepted as righteous before God!
Now as Paul writes of this gospel, he does so in terms of “justification,” which means being declared righteous by God, declared righteous by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Paul mentions justification and the receiving of this righteousness thirty-six times in this epistle. And remember justification language is that of the legal court system. It’s legal language. So when you read Romans you find that the whole world is on trial! The evidence is presented in chapters 1 through 3 as the universal guilt of us all is established. We are “given over” to impurity, “impenitent,” “not righteous,” “no one seeks God,” we all “turn aside” from Him, we all “come short” of God’s divine standard and are unrighteous! So the only hope a condemned guilty sinner has of being declared righteous by the divine Sovereign Judge is, according to chapter 3 verse 22, to have the “righteousness of God.” But how can we have such righteousness? Paul answers that question in the same verse. It is obtained only “through faith in Jesus Christ.” And if we trust Him, then as a result (chapter 5) we have “life.” Chapter 6, sin’s dominion is broken, as is the hold of the Law in chapter 7. And being found in Christ, the believer (chapter 8) is secure forever. Now let’s review these first eight chapters in a little more detail.
1. The Need for Justification (1:18-3:20)
In verse 18 Paul writes of the need for justification. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Romans 1 through 3 probably gives us the most definitive explanation in all Scripture of how guilty, hopeless, helpless and doomed humanity is apart from God. Now this is BAD NEWS for us, and Paul begins with the bad news because if you don’t understand the “bad news” about man, you’ll never fully understand or appreciate the “good news” about Jesus Christ. You must have a grasp of man’s awful condition or you won’t see the need for justification. And Paul says against all our ungodliness “the wrath of God is being revealed.” That’s “bad news.” God’s wrath is against us. Have you committed any ungodly deeds? Any wickedness? Any sin? Then God’s wrath abides on you. It’s being revealed from heaven against ALL ungodliness and wickedness of men. The whole world is guilty before God and lies under His wrath and under His curse. Why? Because, according to verses 19 through 25 we read,
19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
According to these verses, mankind has a wrong estimate of both himself and God. You see we were created for the Creator, which means God is to be praised and worshipped by man. But humanity worships anything and everything except God. Because to acknowledge His creatorship means bowing to His Lordship, and that just won’t do; We want to rule our own lives. So as John Stott says in his book “The Cross of Christ,” “if we bring God down to our level and raise ourselves to his, then of course we see no need for a radical salvation, let alone for a radical atonement to secure it. When, on other hand, we have glimpsed the blinding glory of the holiness of God, & have been so convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit that we tremble before God & acknowledge what we are, ‘hell-deserving sinners’, then and only then does the necessity of the cross appear so obvious.” [p. 109] In other words, we can cry, “Hallelujah, I’m saved!” only after we’ve first cried “Woe is me, for I am wicked and doomed.” And that’s the picture Paul paints of humanity in chapters 1 through 3. It’s “bad news!”
And because of our rejection of God, as we read here, “He gives us up” to follow our own wicked desires and lets sin run its course in us unhindered. Humanity is completely depraved. God’s word describes it here as being “given over” to “unnatural” “shameless” same-sex desires in verses 26 and 27, and of being “given over” to such a debased mind that in the following verses, “29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They were full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
That’s the description of humanity that Paul gives under inspiration. That’s what we all are. Now, modern man would’ve liked for Paul to conceal this side of human depravity, but instead of closing the curtain, he pulls it open so we may view the full degeneracy of human reprobation. Why does he do so? Answer: it is because upon that degradation that God works in power to save! The glory of the gospel is that it comes to us where we are in our depravity and satisfies all the necessary penalties our sins require, even to the lowest depths of human iniquity and misery. That’s GOOD NEWS! And were it not for the gospel of Christ taking care of such human depravity, we would all be on the receiving end of verse 18. We would receive “the wrath of God which is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold back the truth in unrighteousness.” You see God’s holiness reacts strongly against all that contradicts Himself.
So Paul says, whether it’s idolatrous immoral Gentiles in chapter 1 or moral ethical Jews or Gentiles (2:1-16) or religious Jews (2:17-3:8) or anyone anywhere in the whole human race (3:9-20), we ALL stand condemned before God because of our sin. We’re all proven guilty by our deliberate suppression of the knowledge of God in order to continue to live in unrighteousness, and we are all, therefore, inexcusably guilty before God and under His wrath. Nobody can plead innocence, because nobody can plead ignorance. We all know what we are. We do not fear God; we do not seek Him. We willfully turn away from Him. There’s none of us who is righteous. But in the gospel of Christ, God supplies all the righteousness necessary to satisfy His holy wrath. He meets us in our desperate, fallen, unrighteous and wicked condition and actually saves us. That’s the power of the gospel. And that’s the “good news” that comes in chapter 3 verses 21 and following. These verses say that unrighteous ungodly people may receive God’s grace and be saved from wrath through faith in Jesus Christ.
2. The Method of Justification (3:21-5:21)
Now remember to justify means what? Not to be made righteous, but to be declared righteous. And there’s a difference. We are all sinners. We are “ungodly.” In Adam we are sinners, but in Christ we are declared righteous, because we are in Christ. So it’s a judicial declaration by God as Judge of all the earth. And beginning in chapter 3 verse 21, going through chapter 5, the only way for God to do that to guilty sinners and still remain righteous Himself is for them to receive a righteousness not their own, the righteousness of another. And that’s what happens as the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us by faith.
Chapter 3 verse 21 begins with a grand conjunction “but.” This word stands in contrast to all that precedes it concerning the depravity and degeneracy of humanity. We all are unrighteous, rebellious against God, evil and wicked, “BUT,” verse 21:
21But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just (or righteous) and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
In these verse Paul emphasizes that this righteousness comes through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus and by propitiation in his blood. In other words Christ’s blood satisfies the wrath and justice of God so that He “may be just” in that sin is punished. Sin must be punished for the guilty to go free. It must be punished, and it was punished in our substitute, in Jesus Christ. Christ bore the penalty of God’s wrath on our sin, and so God can still be righteous or “just” to redeem us. In other words, on that basis God may be “the justifier of the ungodly,” because if the sin was paid for then there’s no more basis for judgment. But note how this justification comes. There’s an emphasis on FAITH. Chapter 1, verse 16 says the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes.” So here also in 3:22, “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ.” Also in verse 26, God is “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Faith is the key, that is, faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done, so that, verse 27, “all boasting is excluded.” No one is saved by his own good deeds or religious works or by a worked up righteousness of his own–but only by faith in what God has provided in Christ. Faith was the key for Abraham in chapter 4. It was his faith, not his works, whereby he was “counted righteous.” Look at verses 2 through 5.
2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5And to the one who does not work but trust him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…
Paul emphasizes this again in chapter 5 verse 1. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” You see, salvation doesn’t come to everyone unconditionally and indiscriminately, but only where there is faith. If it is a God-righteousness, it is also a faith-righteousness. These are mutually interdependent. It is faith that brings us the righteousness of Christ because faith just receives and rests in what Christ has done. Faith is self-renouncing; it looks away from itself and finds its all in Christ who died “for the ungodly.” This is what Paul writes in chapter 5 verses 6-11.
6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—8But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11More than that we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Note the emphasis on Christ. It’s Christ, Christ, Christ. Christ’s sacrifice was so efficient that it more than exceeds our worst condition. For if we’ve been justified by faith, then (5:1) we have (right now) “peace with God” along with a sure “hope of [future] glory” (verse 2) & all because (verse 6) “Christ died for the ungodly.” It all hinges on our Lord Jesus Christ. We are “saved from God’s wrath” (verse 9) forever “reconciled” to God (verse 11) because in verses 20-21 God’s grace abounded to us with “eternal life” through our Lord Jesus Christ. Now tell me. If we have eternal life now, will it ever end? No! Why? It is “eternal” and we have that eternal life right now! We have all these blessings right now in Christ. And we receive all these things only by trusting in Jesus Christ. It’s His death and resurrection that bought them. We don’t need to do a thing. Jesus accomplished these things for us!
Now, upon hearing Paul’s message of justification by faith alone in Christ alone, Paul’s detractors condemned such teaching, because they saw the gospel of free grace as actually encouraging lawlessness. In other words, if salvation doesn’t depend on us, what we do, but God just freely forgives us in Christ, then (they conclude) a person can sin all he wants because God will forgive him anyway. So everyone may as well just live it up and take advantage of such a secure position. Nothing is required. But in chapters 6 through 8, Paul says, “NO!” There is a required Life of Justification.
3. The Life of Justification (chs 6-8)
Look at chapter 6 verse 1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” That’s the objection Paul’s detractors had. “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” Paul’s answer is in verse 2, “By no means!” I like the old King James translation of this better. “God forbid!” It’s like saying, “no, no, no, no, no, may it never be.”
2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
According to these verses, there are some practical ramifications to Justification.
Now, the lives of some professing Christians are a series of stumbles; they are never quite down, and yet they never on their feet either. This is not right for a believer. He is instructed to walk with God by faith & to steadily persevere in holiness, for as Hebrews 12:14 says, “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” And this is the thrust of Romans 6 where Paul writes, “Sin shall not have dominion over you,” “walk in newness of life” and “yield your bodies as instruments of righteousness.” In other words, as Romans 5 teaches that a believer is secure in Christ forever, that same believer will persevere in holiness, thus proving that He is in Christ.
You see, justification, is like the winning touchdown of Christianity, the game is over. Christ has won and we are justified, declared righteous. Nothing can change that. “Game, set, match” to use a tennis metaphor. We are secure in our position in Christ. It’s the winning touchdown. But justification is also just the opening kick-off in the Christian experience. It is the beginning of our life of sanctification. You cannot say, “I’m justified so I can do what I want.” No you can’t! If you are declared righteous, you will do righteous deeds. Justification always leads to sanctification. John Piper says, “Justification by faith always brings sanctification with it and though it does not produce perfection in this age, it always produces a new direction in this age. It dethrones sin & enthrones God…in our hearts and bodies.” And that’s Paul’s argument in Romans 6 exactly.
5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8Now if we have died with Christ we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he live he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Let not sin therefore reign in you mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Paul shows how sin’s tyranny over our lives has been broken by Christ. In the old era, all we could do was obey sin. We were enslaved to it. But now in the new era, by faith in Jesus Christ we do have the where with all to say “no” to sin. We can have victory over sin through Jesus Christ, through the gospel. The gospel brings freedom from sin’s mastery. It enables us (verse 2) to “die to sin” with Christ. And being united to Him in His death & resurrection (verses 5 through 6), we can live a resurrected life free from sin’s dominion. You see, verse 18, “having been set free from sin, we’ve become slaves of righteousness.” In other words, back to verse 4, we are walking in newness of life. Newness of life characterizes those who’ve come under the reign of the gospel of Christ. But in contrast to this, the unbeliever is in great conflict with sin (chapter 7). He’s enslaved to it, bound to do its bidding. And though he tries to do good, it never happens, because chapter 7 verse 18 says, “nothing good dwells in me.” Unbelievers cannot do anything right before God. Sin holds them so captive that they’re unable to free themselves by resolution or determination. They are “sold under sin” (verse 14), unable to do anything righteous (verses 15-20), and held captive to sin (verse 23).
And so Paul, looking back at his former life of unbelief, understanding his former sinful life-style before Christ, being in the old era, he sees his “wretched” condition and cries out in verse 24, not as a Christian mourning over sin, but as a sinner under conviction of sin, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” Who can make the spiritually dead…alive? Who can make the condemned … righteous? Who can give the damned … eternal life? Who can deliver me? The answer comes immediately in verse 25, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The only worthy and able deliverer who can ever rescue sinners from captivity and slavery and death is our Lord Jesus Christ who overcame them all at cross. I cannot deliver myself as the rest of verse 25 says, for though I try to do it and resolve to obey God’s Law in my mind, “in the flesh” all I did was “serve the law of sin.” But, next verse of chapter 8, “there is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” Jesus does for us what neither the law nor our own powers could ever do. He is the only Redeemer from sin. This is why Paul could write in chapter one that he was “not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.” For in it is revealed the required righteousness that God alone accepts, that is, Christ’s righteousness. And with Christ’s righteousness imputed to us by faith, we are declared righteous. So the gospel is the only power that can save.
The only other power is sin! And it produces only death. “But I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord,” that I can be released from sin, that according to chapter 8,
1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Did you get what he said in verse 4? “That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” This is the Good News! God transferred all the sin of His people to Christ, who bore them on Calvary. He was condemned and died for them, and in exchange they received His righteousness and that is why “there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” Our life and our righteousness all rest upon Jesus Christ our Lord. He liberated the captives and set them free from sin’s enslavement. He delivered us from this body of death. Because of Him, sin no longer dwells in me; instead it is His Holy Spirit. And because of Him, my wretchedness is changed to blessing. So there is no punishment for those who are “in Christ Jesus.” In spite of all our violations of God’s Law, in spite of our corruption, in spite of us deserving the just, holy and righteous condemnation of God, if we are “in Christ Jesus,” we are not condemned! And we remain that way forever! Not condemned!
And that is the message of chapter 8 as the gospel story is reviewed from eternity to eternity, from its beginning in election “before foundation of the world” to its consummation in glory. Everyone who is united to Jesus Christ by faith remain in a state of no condemnation! Every believer “in Christ Jesus” has “received the Spirit of adoption as sons” of God (verse 15) and “if sons, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (verse 17). So if we are “sons of God” and “heirs of God” and “joint heirs with Christ,” I don’t know about you but that says to me “not condemned!” Every believer in Christ (verse 24) is “saved in this hope.” What hope? “The redemption of our bodies.” That’s not condemned! And if God has “fore-loved” them (verse 29) and “predestined them to be conformed to the image of His Son,” Jesus Christ, then that’s not condemned! And, verse 30, if “those whom he predestined he also called and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (past tense), then that’s not condemned! You see, verse 31, “if God is for us, then none is against us” and that’s not condemned! And if “God did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all (verse 32), that’s not condemned! So (verse 33) “who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justified.” There’s no higher power or court than He, therefore His declaration can’t be overturned. That’s not condemned! And (verse 34) “who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who indeed is interceding for us.” That’s not condemned! You see (verse 35), “who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” Answer, verse 37, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” That’s not condemned! Therefore, verses 38 and 39, “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That’s not condemned! God will never condemn us. He will never cease to love us, and we will never cease to be His children. Why? Because the penalty of our sin has been paid in full by Jesus Christ for us, and in Him we are not condemned! Forever we will have His righteousness. Forever we will be without guilt. Forever we will be forgiven. Our lack of sanctification in this life will not change the verdict. Did you get that? If God is for us then none can be against us, not even ourselves. Our physical death will not change the verdict. Satan and his demons will not be able to change the verdict. “Nothing” in creation (whether on earth or in heaven or under the earth) will be able change the verdict. I am forever “in Christ Jesus,” so I am forever and forever and forever not condemned! Forever justified!
And as we’ll see next time from chapters 9 through 11, this has been God’s purpose down through the ages – to have a People marked out for Justification.
4. The People of Justification (9-11)
Listen, the gospel of Christ crucified is good news! There can never be eternal death for believers in Christ Jesus — never, ever! If you are a believer in Christ, know this morning that you are not condemned! Don’t let your sin cause defeat, despair or despondency in your Christian life because you are not condemned! Listen, that sin for which you feel so ashamed, that sin over which you struggle so much, that sin about which no one knows, yes, that sin was paid for in full. And our Savior, Jesus Christ, is right now interceding for us at God’s throne presenting the evidence of his death, saying he died to pay for that sin, so you are not condemned! Yes, I sin. Yes I listen to temptation’s voice. Yes I fall! But I’m in Christ Jesus and I am not condemned!
But if you’re not a Christian, then listen: “there’s no Condemnation in Christ Jesus.” That means no hell, no eternal suffering and no infinite wrath! But if you are not “in Christ Jesus,” if you’re not trusting in Him but rather depending on your good deeds or your religion or that you’ve always been in church or whatever else and so therefore you must be OK with God, then hell will be yours, as will eternal suffering and infinite divine wrath. You’ll be condemned, “because you have not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18). But if you trust in Christ alone, then none of this wrath is yours, for in Him we’re not condemned! “Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish.” Oh, we deserve it — but receive it we won’t, because “there’s no condemnation for them who are in Christ Jesus.” Are you in Him?