January 24th – Guilty, Forgiven, Freed
Today’s Scripture Reading: Romans 8
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1
If it is possible for there to be a seminal chapter of the Bible, it might be Romans chapter 8. Paul, writing to a group of disciples in Rome, describes the essence of the Gospel and it’s implications for Christians. We’ll conclude our series of devotions tracking through this incredible portion of scripture.
Imagine yourself guilty of a horrific crime, worthy of imprisonment and death. If you lived in Rome at this time it wouldn’t be a pretty image. You would be tried by a counsel, sentenced to a violent death and written off as a useless existence. That is precisely the picture of what we look like in light of our sin and it’s penalty. Romans 6:23 describes it this way, “The payment and penalty for sin is death…” I am guilty as charged. You are too. Today, it’s common to simply see our sin as mistakes, or lapses in judgment. However, that’s not the language of the Bible. Never does the scripture or Jesus call us “mistakers” in need of a second chance, but instead sinners in desperate need of forgiveness and pardon.
Our sinful fleshly nature is a cruel taskmaster leading us to death and destruction. Kind of depressing, huh? Yes it is. It is also absolutely necessary to see our condition it in it’s dark and foreboding context, otherwise it will impossible to see that brightness and beauty of the Gospel. If our lies and lapses in moral judgments are simple little mistakes to be brushed off and if we see ourselves as anything less than completely fallen, what are we to make of Jesus suffering on the cross? How cruel must God the Father be to sentence His Son to such a violent death for a few mistakes and mishaps? The cross Jesus bore is evidence of how depraved and serious our sinfulness is.
With this serious, uneasy backdrop let us read these words written by a self-described “chief of sinners”: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1
When you see the word “therefore” in this instance it is referring to consequences of all the previous truth that has been taught. In Romans chapters 1 thru 7 Paul has articulated how justification (right standing with God) comes exclusively though the extravagant, overwhelming grace of God. Therefore, as a direct result of this marvelous grace, there is NO condemnation! The term condemnation is a very specific judicial term referring to the verdict of guilty and the penalty that verdict demands. Jesus steps in as your advocate as a result of the cross and His Grace and proclaims there is no condemnation. The guilty verdict is overturned. You are free. If a person, and that’s an important ‘if’, is in Christ Jesus no sin he or she can commit – past, present, or future can ever be held against them. The penalty was paid in full, and the righteousness of Jesus Christ has been applied to our lives. This divine legal decision is forever!
That is the opposite of depressing! This is reason to dance and celebrate. Better yet this is reason to proclaim the love and grace of Jesus to sinful people. The brilliance of the Gospel is simple, yet magnificent at the same time. You were guilty. Punishment was imminent. By grace God forgives and sets you free!
Prayer Focus: Think about what it means to be “in Christ Jesus”. Give thanks specifically for the unconditional pardon and forgiveness you have received if you are in Christ Jesus.