Church Requel
Why I Am Not Condemned
We talked last week about how we are SET FREE from guilt and condemnation - by living according to “the law of the Spirit of life” rather than “the law of sin and death.” This choice between the two laws is critical to understanding why and how we live out our Christian lives.
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  • Church Requel
    2 Marion Ave, Mansfield, OH 44903, USA
    Friday 11:00 AM
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Why I Am Not Condemned

Last week we considered the first two verses of Romans 8 and talked about our experience and feelings of condemnation and guilt. We talked about the FACT that indeed we are NOT CONDEMNED. We talked about what to do if we feel condemned by ourselves, by society or by God. If you haven’t already listened to that sermon, go back! It’s really important.

We also talked about how we are SET FREE from guilt and condemnation - by living according to “the law of the Spirit of life” rather than “the law of sin and death.” This choice between the two laws is critical to understanding why and how we live out our Christian lives.

For two important reasons:

1st, God intends for us to understand what He has already accomplished on our behalf. If we continuously attempt to do for ourselves what God has already done, our result will be frustration and guilt.

2nd, we need to know - for sure - that we are firmly in the camp (on the side of) God, and that what He says here about Christ-followers applies to me individually and specifically. IOW, how can I know for sure that I actually am a Christian?

We’re going to talk about the 1st thing - the WHY - of no condemnation - what God has accomplished for me - this week. Come back next week for us to talk about the 2nd thing - the HOW I KNOW that God has accomplished - next week.

I am approved and absolved because…

#1 - God has already ACCOMPLISHED IT.

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.” Romans 8:3a

Jesus tells a story about someone who owed millions of dollars and just couldn’t pay. No matter how much he worked or what he would do, nothing would be good enough to satisfy the debt. In the story the lender, the one who was owed the debt, did what the debtor could not - he wiped out the debt! The debt was not owed any more!

In many ways we are like that debtor. We try to live rightly. It may be according to the law of Moses (the Torah) - this is certainly how the readers in the Roman church would have understood this verse. But for us - it could also be according to what our own conscious tell us how to live - what we believe to be right and wrong. No matter. The fact is we simply cannot do it. We can’t even live up to our own expectations, let alone God’s!

This is what is meant by “weakened by the flesh.” This is our sorry condition and it actually pre-dates the Moses law, going all the way back to Adam. We don’t have the ability to live rightly by God’s laws or our own, and so our natural result will be to feel condemnation and guilt. But praise God, He has solved that problem already for us! God saw our weakened condition, our inability to live in a way that would please Him, (cannot pay the debt) and so HE DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

We’re going to talk about what He did in just a moment, but let’s stop here and just think about this first point for a moment. If we don’t get this… really internalize it… we will never be over our feelings of guilt and condemnation. We’ll always feel in debt over our wrongs, even though the debt has been forgiven. And if we keep trying to do for ourselves, what we cannot do for ourselves, and what only Godcould do and in fact did do, we will remain perpetually in a dungeon of our own making. (Like last week when we ended with the prison doors open - will you walk out?)

#2 - God has already CONDEMNED MY SIN.

“By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.” Romans 8:3b

This is the gospel (the good news) in a sentence. God sent His Son - Jesus! “For God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son.” (John 3:16) I know that you already know this. I know you have already heard it. We are in danger of becoming so accustomed to the beauty of God’s symphony playing all around us, that we no longer can hear it.

Here, though, Paul tells us more than JUST God sent His only Son. There are two other phrases that help us fully understand what’s going on in God’s accomplishment. First, God sent “His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.”We just celebrated Christmas - the incarnation of God coming in the form of man, in the form of flesh. John 1:14 tells us that “The WORD became flesh and dwelt among us,” is more than just an awesome way to know that God truly knows us and what it’s like to be human.

Here, in Romans 8:3, we are told the ultimate purpose for the incarnation (Latin = into + flesh). Paul adds one incredibly important word, “sin.” The Son came “in the likeness of sinful flesh”. And just so we don’t miss the point, Paul even adds the word one more time: “sin.” Let’s make certain we understand: Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh. He did not come to sin. He did not sin. Jesus led a perfectly righteous life. He is the ONE Person Who put on flesh and yet lived entirely and fully a righteous and perfect life.

Here we see the end result of what God accomplished for us in the second phrase: “He (God the Father) condemned sin in the flesh.” The sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus, upon the cross was for this purpose: to condemn sin. It’s really hard to read this one sentence (8:3b) without getting it - the word “sin” is repeated 3 times: “sinful” flesh… for sin… condemned sin.”

Sin is the wrong I’ve committed. It’s when I don’t live up to God’s standards. It’s what makes me feel guilty. It’s what makes me feel condemned. However, here we can see it’s totally unnecessary for me to condemn myself… or for me to allow anyone else to condemn me and make me feel guilty, because God has already condemned my sin perfectly! He did it with Jesus - on the cross.

When we understand this we will forever think differently of Jesus and the crucifixion. When Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane for this cup to pass from Him, it wasn’t just the painful execution of the cross that alarmed Him so much. It was the separation from the Father, the taking on all the sin of all humanity - including your sin and mine.

Do you struggle with feeling free from your guilt, feeling forgiven, feeling absolved from your past wrongs? Go back and re-read Romans 8:3b, but this time personalize it: “By sending His own Son in the likeness of (my) sinful flesh and for (my) sin, He condemned (my) sin in the flesh!”

#3 - God has already provided RIGHTEOUSNESS.

“… in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us…” Romans 8:4a

It’s one thing for us to not be condemned for sins we have already committed. It’s another thing entirely to move forward in life by living a righteous life. By living the right way. By living the way Jesus would want us to live. By meeting the requirements of the law… and this time it’s very clear - not just our own rules for living, but living rightly according to God’s way of living.

And it’s exactly at this point that so many Christians get it wrong!

Have you ever thought of Christianity this way? My life has been full of sin and un-right living. I am far away from God’s expectations. I am far away from my own expectations. I’m going to pray the sinner’s prayer. I’m going to ask God to forgive me. I’m going to tell God that I’m going to follow Him and obey Him for the rest of my life. I WAS a sinner. Now I’ve become a Christian and I will sin never again!

WRONG! “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:10). Christianity does not equal perfection. Christianity means “walking with the Spirit of Christ!” (Next/last point.) When we have the wrong expectation, of living a perfect, sinless life, we only trade our present guilt and condemnation for a future guilt and condemnation. We become prideful (and lying), guilt-ridden Christians. What a tormented way to live!

Let’s go back and re-read Romans 8:4a again. Notice it does NOT say that I (and you) might fulfill the righteous requirement of the law. NO! We’ve already established that “in the flesh” we do not have the ability to do this! I don’t know about you, but I still feel pretty “fleshy”! So what is Romans 8:4 saying to us?

The entire verse 4 is a subjective sentence to verse 3. IOW, what happens in verse 3 causes verse 4. Verse 4 is the result of verse 3. So what happened in verse 3? God sent His Son. God condemned sinful flesh. IOW, God the Father sent Jesus to pay the price for our sin on the cross. Perfect flesh was sacrificed in a substitutionary way for our imperfect, sinful flesh. And this in turn, in order that, because of what was just said…“the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” We now MEET the requirement of living the right way. Something new “in us” changes us so that we can now be righteous. Those two little words, “in us” seem like throw away words, but they may be the most important! What is “in us” now that we are Christ-followers? What makes the difference?

#4 - God has already provided THE HOLY SPIRIT.

“… who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:4b

The perfect sacrifice for sin, the Person of perfection and righteousness and love and obedience… lives inside of each and every Christian. This is the 3rd Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ.

In Jesus instructions to His disciples (as well as to you and to me) in John 14-16, Jesus talks at great length about the need for each of us to have the gift of His Holy Spirit within us. It is because of God’s Holy Spirit with- “in us” that we meet the requirements of the law. When God the Father looks at you and when He looks at me, He no longer sees us and our wrong-doing, our guilt, our condemned and sinful natures - He sees the beautiful and perfect Spirit of His most beloved Son with- “in us.”

And when we look back at God the Father and when we think of God the Son, we no longer have the desire to live according to our flesh. No! Because we feel such love and such acceptance and such inspiration for living, we greatly desire to live “according to the Spirit”.

Do we still make mistakes? Do we still mess up? Do we still sometimes sin? Just pinch yourself and you’ll know the answer. You still are “in the flesh”. Yet now - for the true and authentic Christ-follower - there is a change. Now there is a union between flesh and between Spirit that brings us within the fold of God’s beloved children. We love the Spirit within us more than we love the sin of the flesh around us. And so we continuously, daily, CHOOSE the Spirit over the flesh. We continuously, daily, CONFESS our sins and ASK for forgiveness and continuously COMMIT to living for Jesus, for God’s way, with the Holy Spirit’s help.

This is what it means to be a Christ-follower. Each day I walk a little better, I walk a little closer. I become more like Christ and less like the man I was when He saved me. I can see a difference in me and it’s not because of me. It’s all because of Him! It’s all because of God in me!

So, how do I know for sure? How can I know for sure that God has already accomplished it? How can I know for sure that God has already condemned my sin (but not me?) How can I know for sure that God has already provided righteousness? How can I know for sure that God has already given me His Holy Spirit? For those answers, you’ll have to come back next week!