In the world of construction and buildings, “condemn” means “needs to be demolished and destroyed.” The building is no longer considered fit for use or occupation.
In the world of people, the definition really doesn’t change all that much. Merriam-Webster says that condemn means “to declare to be reprehensible, wrong, or evil usually after weighing evidence and without reservation.”
Putting the two together, many of us, whether we know it or not, live under a sense of condemnation. There’s a little bit of a “looking over our shoulder” feeling in our hearts.
Because we know our own sins and wrong best, we especially feel the threat when our conscience is troubling us. But intriguingly, even a string of good fortune will sometimes leave us wondering when the other shoe is about to drop.
That’s a form of condemnation too. So are questions like these: When is everyone going to find out what kind of person I really am — that I a fraud? When am I going to be caught and punished for the wrong things I’ve done, the hurts I’ve caused?
Paul knew that anyone who doesn’t have a good sense of God’s forgiveness, or our Savior’s power over sin, would feel this way. He recognized that especially the Romans, who often felt that their lives were ruled by the fickle Romans gods, or by “fortune,” or by their own powers of virtue and personal skill, would be subject to such feelings unless they really came to understand grace.
So he tries to make his statements as clear as possible. In fact, in Romans 8, Paul becomes very pointed. Condemnation? There will be absolutely none of that for those who by faith are covered by Christ’s blood and righteousness.
Why? Because we have been set free from the very law that would condemn us. God sent his Son to be a sin offering. Sin is dead. The law is entirely fulfilled. It no longer has any power or authority to harm us.
Yes, because of the weakness of our sinful flesh, we have failed to meet the righteous requirements of the law by our own efforts. But God sent his Son to be our perfect substitute. In our place, he has fully met every requirement of the law. And God has fully credited Christ’s righteousness to our account.
So no more worries about being punished by God. No more anxiety about divine threats hanging over our heads. No longer do we have to fear that we are headed for the torments of hell.
Christ is ours. And we are his. By the Spirit’s work we live under absolution, and no longer under condemnation. In God’s eyes we have already fulfilled his law perfectly.
No matter what anyone else may think or say about me, I know what God thinks. He loves me. He does not condemn me any longer.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4, NIV).
Our Bible reading for Thursday, July 23, is Hosea 8:1 – 9:17, Romans 8:1-17 and Proverbs 17:25 – 18:6.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the perfect sin offering for me. Thank you for forgiveness and absolution. Help me to no longer feel a sense of condemnation, because the truth is, I am no longer condemned by you.