There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
Imagine yourself in a courtroom, but no ordinary one. It’s like a courtroom-stadium — countless millions are watching. You’re the defendant, and God is the judge. And you’re not on trial just for one act, but your whole life.
When the judge asks for your plea, as to whether you have lived perfectly to his glory in every thought, word, and deed, the answer is plain to all: “Guilty as charged.”
However, when the judge raises his gavel, and lowers it with a thud that echoes through the stadium, he speaks these shocking and amazing words, “No condemnation.”
When God Sets the Guilty Free
Typically at the end of a trial, the judge declares the defendant either condemned or justified. The condemned have been shown to be guilty of wrongdoing, and they are sentenced and punished. But the justified go free. They have been shown to be innocent of the charges, and thus right-doers rather than wrongdoers.
In a human trial, it is a horrible thing when someone who is innocent is condemned. But this never happens in God’s courtroom. No human, other than Jesus the God-man, has ever lived an innocent life perfectly dedicated to the glory of God. God knows everything, and he never condemns the innocent in his court.
But if God never condemns the innocent, how is it then that he sometimes sets the guilty free, as Romans 4:5 says, he “justifies the ungodly”?
For Those in Christ
The key is the last little phrase in Romans 8:1: “for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Being “in Jesus” means being connected to him by faith, and experiencing the flood of his grace, which truly is enough.
Even though we are here on earth and Jesus in all his human perfection is seated at his Father’s right hand in heaven, the Holy Spirit joins us to Jesus through faith. Those of us who believe in him are connected to him, and so when the Father views us, he sees us not in our lives full of guilt and rebellion and the treason of sin, but in the very innocence and perfection of his Son, who lived a life perfectly to his glory in thought, word, and deed.
For those of us who are “in Jesus” by faith, we are declared righteous, and wonder upon wonder, there is no condemnation for us in heaven’s courtroom.
One final thing to point to is the little word “now.” There is now no condemnation for those of us who by faith are in Jesus.
Not only do we know that one day when we stand before God and his crucified and risen Son, in the presence of the whole universe, that despite our sin and unrighteousness, we will be declared righteous, not condemned, because of Jesus. But by faith we also know now — already now in this life — that we are not condemned.
We don’t have to wait and see whether our lives will prove good enough to earn God’s favor and acceptance, because the only possible way to gain such favor is Jesus, and only Jesus, who we already now are connected to him by faith.
Those who are in Jesus now by trusting in him, already have the words “no condemnation” pronounced over them by the God of the universe. We are accepted by God, now. We are considered to be righteous, now. Even now, we can assure ourselves that the difficulties and pains that come into our lives may be our Father’s loving discipline (Hebrews 12:5–11), but they are never his condemnation, in any way, shape, or form.
For those who are in Jesus by faith, there is no condemnation, now. His grace will be enough for eternity, and his grace is already enough for us even today.