Romans 8:1–4 (ESV) — 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Given the “something” that Paul has taught thus far, he says…
- “There is therefore now no condemnation…”
We need to answer a couple of questions to begin to unpack our text.
- (1) What does Paul mean by condemnation?
- (2) What is the “therefore” – the something – that Paul is referring to?
(1) The answer to the first question is crucial in realizing the awesomeness of Paul’s words.
“No condemnation! This assurance can of course only carry its full force for someone who has pondered carefully the seriousness of sin and the reality of God’s judgment” – N.T. Wright.
The non-believer simply does not have the worldview to apprehend the enormity of Paul’s words.
- And quite honestly, perhaps the average Christian doesn’t properly apprehend the enormity of Paul’s words.
- Hopefully, having made it this far into Romans…this doesn’t apply to us!
In a nutshell, condemnation is a status or state of a person living “under sin”.
- This includes being “in Adam” and all that goes with it.
It entails both death, and an “estrangement from God” – Doug Moo.
- In other words, it is the result of being excluded from God’s Garden presence, blessing and life.
And some refer to it simply as suffering the curse and punishment of sin.
- Something that is both now and not yet.
Condemnation, then, is not something that fundamentally results from bad behavior!
- It is not something unfair that befalls a good person by a mean God.
(2) The answer to the second question is multi-faceted.
- Romans 7:24 seems to be forecasting it.
- Romans 7:24–25 (ESV) — 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
And Doug Moo says Paul also has in mind Romans 5 – where he began his discussion on condemnation.
- Romans 5:16–21 (ESV) — 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now we need to tie this text back in to Romans 8:1.
- But I want to do so in a peculiar way…so bear with me.
So…is Paul’s “therefore” referring to history or theology?
What is the history?
- “one man” – Adam
- “one man” – Jesus
- “one act” – the cross
We have to notice something here.
- What does the history tell us?
- How is it that the history has any force?
If you engage yourself or another in conversation with merely:
- “Adam died.”
- “Jesus died on the cross.”
- What meaning is conveyed?
So here is what we have to notice:
- The real meaning…the real application…is the theology!
The historical facts of Adam and Christ have to be applied to humanity.
- And they must be applied correctly.
- It is the inspired theology of the Bible writers that does this work!
In fact, the theology attaches to the history.
- And as a result, the theology actually becomes historical.
So let’s look at the theology of Paul’s “therefore” found in Romans 5:
- “free gift”
- “through that one man”
- “death reigned”
- “through the one man”
The history is that one man, Adam, died.
- The theology that fills this out and applies it is the “sin”, “judgment”, “through that one man”, “trespass”, “condemnation”, and the “death reigned”.
The history is that one man Christ died on the cross (and rose).
- The theology that fills this out and applies it is the “free gift”, “justification”, “grace”, “righteousness”, “through the one man”, and the “Christ”.
These are the theological truths that…
- Make sense of the death of the one man Adam…
- And the one act of the one man Jesus.
- And give them their “so what?”
Now we can see what Paul is doing in 8:1.
- Because of the theology attached to the events in history concerning Adam and Jesus…
- We see why we were under condemnation…
- And why we are delivered from condemnation.
The theology is the meat on the bones of the history!
But how are we joined to this Gospel history and theology?
- Paul says it is for “those who are in Christ Jesus”.
Here we go again!
- “Those” is the history.
- “who are in Christ Jesus” is the theology.
Who are the “those”?
- They are the people who profess Christ – Christians.
But, again, we need the theology to apply this and fill out its power and meaning.
- We need the “in Christ Jesus”!
- Because, all kinds of people profess all kinds of people.
- Muslims profess Allah.
- Buddhists profess Buddha.
So we need the theology attached to “in Christ Jesus”…
- Because it is the theological content that sets this apart from any competing claim.
So what does it mean…Tom Schreiner says:
- “‘In Christ Jesus’ refers to those who died with Christ Jesus and will be raised with him, harking back to 6:1–11” – Tom Schreiner.
Well, lets look back at Romans 6:3-11.
- Romans 6:3–11 (ESV) — 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We 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. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We 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. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
So to be “in Christ Jesus” means:
- He died…we died!
- He was raised…we “were” raised, will be raised, and “live with him”.
As a result:
- We have newness of life.
- We are “no longer enslaved to sin”, “dead to sin”, and “alive to God in Christ Jesus”.
Think of it this way:
- To be united to Christ is to be…
- Joined to both Christ’s history…
- Who He was and what He did historically
- And the theology (the meaning) that resides in Christ and His history.
How does being “in Christ Jesus” do this?
- We will answer that next week.