Summary: Jesus condemned my sin so my sin won’t condemn me
Let’s suppose that you commit a crime that is a capital offense and you are arrested for that offense. When you go to trial, your life hangs in the balance. If you’re found guilty, as you deserve to be, it means death, but if you’re acquitted, it means life and freedom.
And let’s suppose that as the trial begins, the judge decides to treat you with leniency and he gives you two choices. One option is that, even though you are guilty, he will commute your sentence completely and permanently and release you to go and live life as a free man or woman with no strings attached with the hope that you will no longer live as a rebellious law-breaker out of gratitude for that leniency.
The other option is that the judge will release you, but he will require you to wear an ankle bracelet so that your every move can be tracked and he will also assign a parole officer to monitor everything you do. And at the end of two years, the judge will determine whether or not to carry out your sentence and put you to death based on how well you have proven to the court that you have changed your life over that 2-year period.
Which of those two options would you choose? I have to believe that every single one of us would choose the first option, right?
Well the gospel of Jesus provides us with the ability to essentially make that same choice in the spiritual realm. Through faith in Jesus we have the ability to have our death sentence, one which we deserve, commuted permanently so that we can live freely and righteously out of gratitude for what Jesus has done on our behalf to make that possible.
But unfortunately, it seems like, in spite of what Jesus has made possible, that many, even those who have placed their faith in Jesus, choose the second option – that of trying to achieve that commutation of their sentence on their own by the way that they live their lives. My guess is that all of us have done that at some point in our lives. I certainly know I have. And if you’ve ever attempted to live like that - even for a brief time – you know what a frustrating and unsatisfying kind of life that is.
That’s why all of us need to hear Paul’s message to us this morning. Romans chapter 8 has often been called the greatest chapter in the Bible, and for the next two weeks, we’ll get a taste of why so many have made that claim. Unfortunately, due to the constraints of the calendar and the Advent season that will begin in two weeks, we’re only going to be able to just scratch the surface in this encouraging chapter today and next Sunday. But the good news is that we’ll be able to come back and revisit it again next fall.
So go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Romans 8. I’m only going to attempt to cover the first four verses of the chapter this morning.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
(Romans 8:1-4 ESV)
Before we look at this passage in detail, let me give you…
An overview of Romans 8:
1. The key idea is “no condemnation”.
This chapter begins with the idea that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus and then Paul closes the chapter beginning in verse 34, with that same idea again when he writes ”Who is to condemn?”
2. Although all three persons of the triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – are involved in the work described in this chapter, the Holy Spirit is emphasized.
The Holy Spirit is mentioned 18 times in this chapter – more than any other chapter in the Bible.
3. Although this chapter is full of exhortation, there is not one command in the chapter.
Paul is primarily giving us statements of truth here, not giving us commands about things we are to do. And here is the primary truth that he is communicating in this entire chapter, and particularly in the first four verses:
Jesus condemned my sin
so my sin won’t condemn me
This passage is so full of important truths that the only way for us to get everything out of it that God has for us is to just work through it meticulously verse by verse and even word by word at certain points. In your bulletin, I’ve given you an outline of the basic structure of the passage that you can use to make your own notes as we proceed through this passage: