The gavel slams on the table and the defendant is declared guilty according to the law. Such a scene is familiar to those who enjoy watching criminal justice or court shows. While TV shows of law and justice are popular with the general public, many do not know that all people stand guilty in front of the ultimate Judge, a holy and righteous God. Every person alive has failed to live according to His Law and thus are rightly condemned by their sins.
Christians, however, have been forgiven and saved from condemnation. As Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The question, though, is why is there no condemnation for those in Christ?
Are they arbitrarily forgiven? Does God just wipe away their sins as if nothing happened? Based on Scripture’s teaching in Romans 8, there is no condemnation for believers in Christ because Christ has taken the punishment for sins and the law of the Spirit has set the believer free from the law of sin.
Wages of Sin Is Death
Earlier in his letter to the Romans, Paul presents the case that there is no one who does good or who lives according to God’s holy standard (Romans 3:9-18, 3:23). Both Jews and Gentiles are equally guilty because all freely choose to sin and every human has inherited a sinful nature from Adam (Romans 5:12).
As Paul said in his epistle, “All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:12).
Therefore, every human being is charged with sin against God. They deserve the sentence of death since the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
From a human standpoint, the future of humankind looks bleak because of sin since all bear the guilt of condemnation. However, as the Apostle Paul demonstrates throughout the epistle to the Romans, God has provided rescue.
Christ Paid the Price
Paul had just discussed his war with his sinful flesh in Romans 7:14-23. The Mosaic Law made him aware of his sin, but it could not do anything to free him from his flesh (Romans 7:13; 8:3). Thus, the apostle exclaimed, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Romans 7:24, NLT).
Jesus Christ is the answer to mankind’s sin problem since He took on the likeness of sinful man in the incarnation and died in mankind’s place, bringing condemnation to sin (Romans 8:3).
Jesus never sinned but was completely human, which He added to His divinity at the time of the incarnation (Philippians 2:6-8). As is said in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Because of Jesus’ sacrificial, atoning death for mankind, those who place faith in Him are no longer condemned because He paid the penalty (Romans 8:1).
John 3:18 reflects this truth, since it states, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
Humans could never have freed themselves from the condemnation they deserved, either by good works or by following the Mosaic Law (Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 10:1-4). Thus, in God’s mercy, He lovingly and graciously provided salvation through His Son.
Some translations of the Bible refer to Jesus as a “sin offering” (Romans 8:3). Commentators are correct in pointing out that Christ came to deal with sin, which is why other translations render the verse as “for sin” (ESV).
However, the picture of Jesus as a sin offering is biblical and fits with Paul’s discussion of the Mosaic Law. In the Old Testament, according to the Law of Moses, Israelites who became aware of their sin guilt would offer an animal for sacrifice after having laid their hand on the animal’s head (Leviticus 4:1-5).
The animal would be killed in the Tabernacle or Temple, but its body was taken outside of the camp to be burned (Leviticus 4:12). Likewise, Jesus “suffered outside the city gate” and his blood brings atonement to all who believe (Hebrews 13:12). He is the final and perfect sin offering to clear guilty mankind of their condemnation.
Law of the Spirit
In answering the question of why there is no condemnation in Christ, Paul mentioned both Christ’s atoning death and the “law” of the Spirit (Romans 8:2). At salvation, all believers receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Because of the Spirit, followers of Christ do not have to be enslaved to the law of sin any longer because the Holy Spirit’s “law” is one of life, not death (Romans 8:2). He regenerates believers when they place faith in Christ since believers receive “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5, ESV).
Once spiritually dead because of the sinful flesh, Christians are now spiritually alive and can live for Christ (Romans 8:10). No longer must they live in spiritual darkness and condemnation, but as free people who walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).
Paul includes a wonderful promise in Romans 8:11, which applies to Christians now and in the future. According to this verse, “He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:11).
Presently, believers do receive spiritual life because of the regeneration and new birth the Holy Spirit produces when a person places faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
In the future, followers of Christ will also be made alive physically at the resurrection, when their old earthly bodies will be transformed into glorified bodies resembling Christ’s resurrection body (1 Corinthians 15:20, 51-54).
Clearly, Christ is the basis for believers having no condemnation. He gives them the Holy Spirit, who brings life where there was once death. No longer enslaved to sin and guilt, believers can live in the forgiveness they have received by walking and living by the Spirit.
The law of sin brought death, but the law of the Spirit brings life and is an important part of the discussion of Christians having no condemnation in Christ.
While all people rightly stand guilty in front of the Judge of the universe, since all have fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23), the Lord has not left mankind without hope and rescue. God is the Judge, but He also took the place of the defendant (accused) and bore mankind’s punishment.
Christ has paid the price for the punishment of sins, enabling all who place faith in his sacrificial death and resurrection to be saved.
He has also freed them from their flesh, the law of sin and death, by giving the Holy Spirit, who brings life. All people deserve punishment, but the Lord Jesus has provided the free offer of salvation at the ultimate cost to Himself.
So, when Satan, the accuser, recalls all the guilt and sin from the past, a believer needs only to remind themselves that Jesus paid the price for their sins and saved them.
As Paul states later in his epistle to the Romans, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, Christians are no longer condemned.
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Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.
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