How much is zero? I understand that there are abstract cases like math (or golf), where a zero might be the combination of positives and negatives. However, if a store tells us that they have zero of the item that we want in stock, this means that (barring the presence of a floor model or inventory miscalculation), they don’t have any. We could haggle all day on the price of something that the store doesn’t have, but if it isn’t available, we’re not taking it home that day.
I think that we all know that zero is zero. None is none: Zilch. Nada. Zip. Nil.
So, why is it that some people – myself included – struggle mightily with a simple verse like the following?
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
Romans 8:1 NIV
I can’t even guess how many people have learned about the amazing salvation that God (the Father) gave us through Jesus Christ (God the Son), yet still allow themselves to experience condemnation day after day. I’ve gotten pretty good at blaming and condemning myself during different stages of my life, despite the fact that I have known this verse for a very long time, and have quoted it to myself more times than I can count.
Now, before we consider what “no condemnation” means (hint: exactly what it says), let’s consider two kinds of condemnation. One comes from anything that isn’t God: Other people may condemn us for most anything that we do, from our choice of occupation to our support of a local sports team. The devil and his evil forces specialize in condemnation, and since they aren’t bound by any morals, they are free to condemn followers of Jesus with all manner of lies.
The other kind of condemnation comes from God, and this is really the only kind of condemnation that matters. Every sin that we committed separated us from His holiness, and that’s a big deal, but when we trade our sins (along with their relational consequences) for Jesus’ perfect gift, that condemnation is gone.
Let me say that again: For those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, there is no condemnation. Not “some condemnation”. Not “a little bit of condemnation”. Not “only condemnation for the really bad sins”. Instead, there is none.
If you’re in this category (having accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord), I’d like to ask you a question. You don’t need to answer out loud right now, but what sins plague you? What are your weak points, like past mistakes or recurring sins where misguided voices try to shame and condemn you? I don’t want to bring up bad memories, but maybe this could be the last time that you have to remember those things with pain. You don’t need to tell me what they are (although confession to a trusted member of the body of Christ is a good thing). Instead, tell God. Then, ask Him, “As a follower of Jesus Christ, are You storing up condemnation for me?” Next, read all of Romans 8:1-4 for the answer. (Note that verse 3 says that sin is condemned, rather than “those who are in Christ Jesus”.)
Are you unconvinced that you aren’t condemned by God? Read that passage again. Still not convinced? Look for a qualifier in Romans 8:1 (I don’t think that you’ll find any). Read this passage in other translations. Learn Greek and read it in the original. No matter how you slice it, Jesus took away our condemnation, and the next time that someone tells you that you don’t deserve God’s grace, tell them that they are right (!): None of us deserve it. Then, tell them that God still offers His grace and mercy, and thanks to Him, you are free from that condemnation. And, compared to condemnation from others (who are wrong), being part of God’s family, enjoying His blessings here on earth, and having your inheritance being prepared in Heaven…well, there’s really no comparison.
Carrying a burden that Jesus already took care of is a real pain. Trust me, I know. The worst part isn’t that we live with it, though: it’s that there’s absolutely no need to do so. I hope that you will be freed from your burdens today. There’s no sense doubling up on the work that Jesus already did.
Be free to live for Him, without condemnation, today.
Originally written to accompany the July 2021 sermon series, “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb”, at First Christian Church, Canton, OH. Republished by permission.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.