No More Condemnation

There is no better news we can hear than this:

As I was reflecting again the other night on my many shortcomings, failings, sins and selfishness, Romans 8:1 sprang to mind: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It then struck me that one can never really fully appreciate the wonder, beauty and significance of this verse without first grasping all that is found in Romans 1-7 (about our sinful condition). The more we know about the bad news of the gospel, the more we can rejoice in its good news.

Such glorious news can of course be twisted, misused and abused, which is why Paul twice in his epistle had to warn against letting this wonderful grace be turned into a license to sin. He used quite strong terms in 6:1ff and 6:15ff to shut down any ideas of cheap grace.

And that connection between no condemnation and saying no to sin is of course famously found in the words of Jesus as he dealt with the woman brought to him who was caught in the act of adultery. As we read in John 8:10-11: “Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’  She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more’.”

But I want to return to this idea of the matchless grace found in a passage like Romans 8:1, and the need to consider all that has gone before. The previous seven chapters all lead up to this, and they all speak of our condition as condemned sinners, under the wrath of God, and without hope – apart from God and his grace. All that is what makes verse 1 of chapter 8 so utterly remarkable and amazing.

At this point I just want to allow some others to speak to these truths. But the trouble is, as I went to my shelves full of commentaries on Romans, I found way too many to choose from (I have over 35). So I just quickly grabbed a few representative volumes that I knew could deliver the goods. Let me then share from a few of these writers.

In his four-volume expository commentary on Romans, James Montgomery Boice reiterates the need to appreciate first our dire condition as enemies of God before we can really appreciate the good news of the gospel. He says this about verse 1: it “is not only the theme of Romans 8. It is the theme of the entire Word of God, which is only another way of saying that it is the gospel. Indeed, it is the gospel’s very heart.”

He looks at how so often in the book of Romans Paul discusses the gospel and says: “Paul seems never to have grown tired talking about it. Ah, but we do!” He goes on to say this:

Many of us find the gospel wearisome and grace boring. Why is that, do you suppose? Why are we so different from Paul at this point? I think it is because of what Jesus alluded to in speaking of the woman who anointed his feet with her tears and then wiped them with her hair. She had a sinful past, and those who knew it objected, saying to themselves, like the Pharisee: “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39). Jesus answered by telling of a man who had been forgiven a great debt and who therefore loved his benefactor greatly. Jesus’ point was that he who has been forgiven little loves little (v. 47). Isn’t that it? Isn’t it true that the reason grace means little to most of us is that we do not consider ourselves to be great sinners, desperately in need of forgiveness?

And biblical salvation is NOT about us trying harder to be better. It is about God himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit, dwelling within us, enabling us to live a life pleasing to God. John Stott – as usual – is worth quoting from in this regard:

Romans 1 is without doubt one of the best-known, best-loved chapters of the Bible. If in Romans 7 Paul has been preoccupied with the place of the law, in Romans 8 his preoccupation is with the work of the Spirit. In chapter 7 the law and its synonyms were mentioned some thirty-one times, but the Holy Spirit only once (6), whereas in the first twenty-seven verses of chapter 8 he is referred to nineteen times by name. The essential contrast which Paul paints is between the weakness of the law and the power of the Spirit. For over against indwelling sin, which is the reason the law is unable to help us in our moral struggle (7:17, 20), Paul now sets the indwelling Spirit, who is both our liberator now from ‘the law of sin and death’ (8:2) and the guarantee of resurrection and eternal glory in the end (8:11, 17, 23). Thus the Christian life is essentially life in the Spirit, that is to say, a life which is animated, sustained, directed and enriched by the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit true Christian discipleship would be inconceivable, indeed impossible.

Two more quotes on the role of the Spirit and the contrast with our condition before coming to Christ are worth mentioning. In his commentary R. Kent Hughes says this:

The theme of chapter 8 is the Holy Spirit. Until this point, there have only been two mentions of the Spirit in Romans. The first was a passing reference to “the Spirit of holiness” (1:4), and the other described the Holy Spirit as pouring out the love of God within our hearts (5:5). Now chapter 8 mentions the Holy Spirit twenty times! Second Corinthians 3:17 says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Romans 8 is the chapter of liberation through God’s Spirit. My hope is that our study of it will enable us to live more and more in “the glorious freedom of the children of God” (v. 21) so that chapter 7 will become less and less our experience.

Image of Romans: Righteousness from Heaven (Preaching the Word)
Romans: Righteousness from Heaven (Preaching the Word) by Hughes, R. Kent (Author) Amazon logo

And Daniel Doriani says similar things about the riches we have with the indwelling Spirit of God:

Romans 8 has been called the greatest chapter in the greatest book of the Bible, the inner sanctum of the cathedral of the faith and the tree of life in the garden of Eden. Romans 8 lifts readers from the valley of Romans 7, with its lament over sin and the law that none can keep. Romans 7 culminates in a cry of anguish: “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. . . . Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:15, 24). Then, against all expectation, Romans 8:1 begins, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”


The opening prepares the way for several themes of Romans 8. The chapter begins with “no condemnation by God” and ends with “no separation from God,” marking the security of the believer in the assurance of salvation as major themes. Romans 8 won’t allow assurance to become presumption, for confidence is the Spirit’s gift. While Romans 7 constantly emphasised law, sin, and inability, it mentions the Spirit just once in 7:6. But in Romans 8, law and sin become rare, supplanted by the work of the Spirit. In Romans 8 the spirit grants these gifts:


-The Spirit gives life, including freedom from sin and death (Rom. 8:1-2).

-The Spirit sanctifies by resetting the mind and empowering the body (8:5-11).

-The Spirit leads the “sons of God” to a “Spirit of adoption” (8:12-17).

-The Spirit bestows hope of glory even as we suffer and groan (8:18-26).

-The Spirit intercedes for us and teaches us to pray (8:26-27).

-The Spirit instills confidence about Christ and his coming (8:28-39).

But I cannot leave off the great Martyn Lloyd-Jones here. There is plenty to draw from in his 14-volume expository commentary on Romans. Just one brief quote on our text:

As the opposite of ‘condemnation’ is ‘justification,’ when Paul says ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus’, he is teaching that those who are in Christ Jesus are justified. Or, to put it the other way around, the justified are in Christ Jesus.


In a sense therefore, we can say that this first verse is a summary and summing up of the great argument about justification, the argument which began in the 1st chapter, and which is stated so clearly and dramatically in chapter 3, verses 21-31: ‘But now a righteousness from God apart from the law.’….


‘No condemnation’. ‘There is therefore now no’. ‘Therefore’, ‘now’, ‘no’ – what important words they are! The words remind us of our position now as Christians. Look at the word ‘no’ – ‘No condemnation’! Why this statement! ‘No’ is a little word of two letters; but are we aware of its full meaning? It is entire, it is complete, it is absolute. In other words, Paul is saying that a Christian is a person who has been taken entirely outside the realm of any possible or conceivable condemnation. The Christian has finished with the realm of condemnation; he has been taken right out of it; he has nothing more to do with it. There is no condemnation to the Christian now and never can be! Had you realised that? Not only is the Christian not in a state of condemnation now, he never can be; it is impossible.

All this is good news indeed for the wounded soul. Yes, we still sin, we still default back to self far too often. But in Christ we now have no condemnation. We may never fully grasp the import of this marvelous truth in this life. And it likely will take all of eternity in the next life to really get our heads and hearts around it.

Thanks be to God.

[1692 words]

2 Replies to “No More Condemnation”

  1. Yes still getting my head around. Raised a Catholic is a whole extra level of condemnation. Jesus Jesus….faith and works ….wisdom please Lord.

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