Summary: The “righteous requirements of the Law” are fully met in us because we’re covered by the blood of Christ, the price paid for our forgiveness.
Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
There are many reasons why we come to church—one is to get some encouragement. In spite of how badly things may be going in our lives, we have ample reason to be encouraged. There are numerous blessings God has provided us. Paul lists 14 benefits of being a Christian in Romans 8 (quickview) . The book of Romans is an intensely theological epistle that explains the human condition in great detail. I’ve a Pastor friend who took 4 years to preach through this Epistle, and one commentator wrote 8 volumes on Romans (Lloyd-Jones). There’s a lot to say about this letter. Paul writes as one who has struggled with trying to meet God’s requirements, then finally he surrendered to the grace of God. In chapter 7 Paul confesses his despair over trying to live lawfully by his own efforts. Paul admits that in his struggle with sin, sometimes he loses. He wonders if he’s going to spend his whole life being defeated by sin. The answer, in Romans 8 (quickview) , is an unqualified “NO”—we’re covered, not condemned!
The reason--we’re under grace, no longer enslaved to sin, and so we’re no longer under the law’s condemnation. We have the power to be victorious—not from within—from Above! But we need to be aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit before we can fully appreciate the help God has provided. It’s easy to despair over our failures, but we no longer succumb to guilt and shame. We’ve been delivered from the power and penalty of sin.
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (vs 1).
Paul was thrown into prison and an angel caused an earthquake to get him out. The jailor was shaken—God had gotten his attention. He begged Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” For most religions, the answer is: “obey-the-rules”. The problem is, no one can obey ALL the rules. Christianity offers a better Way. Jesus offers something unique—grace. Only Christianity makes God’s acceptance unconditional. Philip Yancy defines grace as “a gift that costs everything for the giver and nothing for the recipient.” “No condemnation” means freedom from guilt.
In 1995 I met the Army’s first Moslem Imam, Ch (CPT) Mohammed. He was assigned to the 28th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Bragg NC, the unit I served with during Desert Storm. We got together to talk about what the 28th CSH did during the Gulf War, and to talk a little about Islam. I asked him, “What happens if a Moslem breaks his fast during Ramadan? Can he be forgiven?” Chaplain Mohammed’s answer was: “No—that is a mark against him for all eternity. There’s nothing he can do about that. How can a sin that is committed be pardoned?” I recalled that the word Islam means “submission” (obey the rules). I felt grateful and relieved to know that I was under a much more gracious, forgiving system.
Paul had been a Pharisee and zealously tried to obey the Law’s requirements…he eventually realized that the Law could not help him find peace with God. The Law was a dead-end street. Had he remained “under the Law” he would have been condemned by it.