SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 11 October 2020
Sermon Text: Romans 8:1-4
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I. No condemnation for the law of the Spirit of life has set you free (v. 2)
II. No condemnation for the Son of God condemned your sin in His flesh (v. 3)
III. The law might be fulfilled in you (v. 4)
We’ve been following the Spirit’s guidance with these chapters of Romans since Aug. We picked up what we’d left in an earlier sermon series and began from ch. 4, planning to read and study up to ch. 8. The first message we heard in this series was from ch. 4 on ‘Justification by faith.’ Last week’s message was, as you remember well, on the true meaning of Christian’s struggle in sin. What was the meaning of our struggle? The clear evidence of God’s grace and of the Spirit’s diligent and powerful work in us who are of the Lord Jesus through faith.
Then, today, we begin studying Romans 8 which is surely one of the best-known and best-loved chapters of Romans. Some say that this chapter is the greatest part in Paul’s theology. A good and well-known illustration that describes the importance of this chapter is of Mt Everest as the other chapters of Romans are the mountain peaks of the Himalayas. I’m excited to read and study this chapter and hope that you’d be excited too.
So many sermons could be preached from this single chapter. But I’d like to draw four messages over four Lord’s Days till the first week in Nov (on which we could all participate the long-waited Lord’s Supper!). In these four sermons, I’d like to point out the fourfold ‘freedom’ we Christians have in Christ Jesus. Yes, we’re free in Jesus and this freedom is at least in four senses. The first is what we’ll hear today from the first four verses, that is, ‘freedom from judgment.’ Then, the next three sermons will be on ‘freedom from defeat,’ ‘freedom from discouragement,’ ‘freedom from frustration’ and, lastly, ‘freedom from fear.’
So, let us hear what the Word of God says regarding ‘freedom from judgment’ in these first four verses of Rom. 8.
Bible Reading: Romans 8:1-4
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is the Lord’s declaration of freedom of Christians! This is the word of God spoken through the Apostle Paul. Freedom is declared; freedom from oppression and bondage is now in effect. This freedom is granted to all who satisfy the condition, that is, ‘in Christ Jesus,’ in other words, all who are ‘united with Jesus through faith in Him.’ Freedom is for you and me and, for us alongside all who believe in Jesus, thus, are reconciled to God will face no judgment, no condemnation.
After this glorious declaration, we’re given three reasons why and how our freedom is now given to all true believers of Jesus.
I. NO CONDEMNATION FOR THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE HAS SET YOU FREE (v. 2)
Firstly, we’re free because the law of the Spirit of life has set us free. You and I are liberated from the law of sin and death, thus, we have no condemnation to face. Hear what v. 2 tells us: “the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” It means that the law of the Spirit of life has claimed you and you’re no longer under the law of sin and death, thus, you’re now in Jesus, not under the law of sin and death.
This liberation is made through a complete overturn, annulment and abrogation of one law for another’s enactment and implement. The law of sin and death is nullified and taken away from you as another law, the law of the Spirit of life, is now enforced.
Understanding this is not difficult but simple as you have clear evidence of this new law powerfully working in you. In your freedom, no longer do you follow your fleshly desire, no longer seek to indulge in your former way of life. In other words, having believed in Jesus, having the Spirit of God indwelling you, you now look everything of you through Christ, through the eyes of the Holy Spirit which is God’s word.
Before trusting Jesus, you used to see the world only from your point of view and what you see and feel was the only reference for your judgment. Even good and evil depended on your interpretation. No one else and nothing else could replace you from being the centre of the universe and being the judge of the whole world around you. But since you believed in Jesus, things have become completely different. No longer are you the centre of the world; no longer does your judgment the only reference for good and evil. Jesus is the Lord now and His word is the only standard against which all people and things must be measured, including yourself. Despite your occasional return to such old habits of yours, your heart and soul know that neither will this new law depart from you nor will you abandon it. This new law – that is, the law of the Spirit of life – will be in you and with you and upon you since the moment you put your trust in Jesus.
This is clear and concrete evidence of your freedom from the law of sin and death. This is clear and concrete evidence of your freedom in Jesus. Therefore, although you’re imperfect in holiness, there’s no judgment or condemnation for you.
II. NO CONDEMNATION FOR THE SON OF GOD CONDEMNED YOUR SIN IN HIS FLESH (v. 3)
In addition, v. 3 gives another reason and basis for your exemption from condemnation, that is, the Son of God’s condemnation of sin in the flesh. This sin is the sin of all Adam’s posterity and Jesus ended its curse and condemnation in His flesh on behalf of all believers. So, there’s no condemnation for you who are in Him, Jesus Christ.
Let me put it this way. Adam sinned and, through his sin, all his descendants are born with sin. Many people have argued against this and complained about it while many more have tried to nullify this truth because they hate it. But, ironically, their denial of their sinfulness proves their bondage to sin, thus, their bondage to death and condemnation. In Rom. 5, the Apostle Paul clearly explained that one man, Adam, had sinned and all men were condemned in him.
But another Man who came later was righteous – that is, Jesus Christ the Son of God – and His perfect obedience to God brought justification and life to all who believe in Him as Lord and Saviour. For all who have received Jesus’ life, the condemnation set for Adam’s descendants is cancelled. It’s a simple truth anyone can understand. Adam was the first man and all human beings are from him, even Eve was made from him. He sinned, trespassed against God, and his relationship with his Creator was broken. From him and through him, all men and women inherit his disobedience and transgression. Then, as promised by God, His Son, Jesus, was sent, and He came to earth, being born in flesh, in the likeness of men. This Jesus lived a perfect obedient life before God, unlike the first man, Adam. Although He was sinless, Jesus gave Himself up on the cross to redeem the sins of all who are His by faith. I said, ‘to redeem the sins of all who are His.’ Yes, Jesus’ redeeming death is not for all in mankind disregarding their faith in the Son, but for all whose sins are forgiven by believing in Him. For all who are ‘in Him,’ Jesus is the second Adam through whom and from whom all inherit His righteousness and life!
So, as Jesus has already condemned sin, your sin and mine, in His flesh when He gave up Himself on the cross, there’s no condemnation left for you or for me or any true believer! This is common sense and even secular law system practise it as common sense since the Roman era. It’s called in Latin, ‘non-bis in idem,’ or ‘not twice against the same (thing)’ and often called as ‘double jeopardy.’ It means, a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime. Then, how much more is so for you who are in Christ Jesus? He has already condemned in His flesh your sin, the sin you inherited from Adam and all sins you commit in your life.
This is what the declaration of v. 1 means: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came in flesh and condemned your sin and mine in His flesh! As there’s no condemnation for you and for me, what we have now and forevermore is His righteousness, thus, life received through faith!
III. THE LAW MIGHT BE FULFILLED IN YOU (v. 4)
Then, v. 4 discloses a great mystery of the gospel, that is, the purpose of Jesus’ removing our condemnation on the cross is that “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us”! In other words, ‘to enable you to keep what the law of God requires of you.’ The picture concerned here is much bigger than keeping some specific laws; this is about what God’s law as a whole is designed for. What is the requirement of the entire law of God? What does the law require of us?
I think we’d better remember what Jesus our Lord has said regarding the law. In Mt. 22:37-39, Jesus pointed out the twofold requirement of the law – that is, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind’ and ‘you shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ Surprisingly, this is the summary statement of the early church in Jerusalem as Acts 2:47 states that they of the Jerusalem Church were “praising God and having favour with all the people.” The Son’s condemnation of our sins in His flesh, thus, removing no condemnation for us, is to enable us in the Spirit to be like those of the early church in Jerusalem in favour with God and with men. What a blessed fulfilment of the righteous requirement of the law in us!
The first century Jerusalem Church was not the only example of fulfilling the requirement of the law, the boy Samuel of the OT was another case as described in Sam. 2:26 that said, “the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favour with the LORD and also with man.” Ultimately, all these examples point the Lord Jesus Christ and His perfect fulfillment of all the requirements of the law on our behalf and Lk. 2:40 tells us about Him in His childhood that He “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favour of God was upon Him.”
Titus 2:14 emphasises this again when the verse says this: “our … Saviour Jesus Christ … gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.” The righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in you and me who are members of this people of Jesus’ own possession and zealous for good works!
Having said, I want you to pause for a moment and consider what we’ve just heard. Would this be possible? Do you think you could literally love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul, at the same time, love your neighbour as yourself? We know that’s impossible. You and I are, as John Calvin put, the factories of idolatry of sin. It keeps rising from within us. Then, how could we be in favour of God and with men through fulfilling the righteous requirement of the law?
The answer is given in the second half of v. 4 which says, “(we) who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Yes, the Holy Spirit will provide us His guidance; He touches your mind to understand the will of God and opens your heart to love your God and your neighbour. In a word, He’ll not let you follow the desires of your flesh, but give His heart to you. He’ll surely make you and me as a people of His possession who are zealous for good works.
So, there’s no condemnation for you and me who are in Jesus and zealous for good works through the Holy Spirit!
Then, our final question is this – ‘If there’s no condemnation for me, what is my response to this blessed truth?’ If one hears and understands a truth of God, but does not live it out, then, the truth is a ‘dead doctrine’ in him. And you don’t want this extraordinary treasure and blessing of heaven be ‘dead’ in you. So, you should appreciate this truth in your life and apply it.
The first application I’d like to commend you is this that you should always remember your freedom from the law of sin and death. As you remember your freedom from condemnation, any fear of sin and death you may have will be removed from you. By remembering your freedom, you remember that sin has no power over you – it cannot claim anything on you – thus, neither can death threaten you. ‘The sting of death is sin’ and this sting has been removed from you through faith in Jesus Christ.
As you remember your freedom from judgment and condemnation, sin becomes less seductive to your eyes and heart because you know sin has been defeated in you through Jesus and it gives you no lasting pleasure. You belong to the Lord and the law of His life adds joy and hope to your soul daily.
Then, the more you realise your freedom from judgment, the deeper your joy becomes in you. You have no more fear of sin and death; the sadness, sorrow, despair or discouragement you may face is simply a training in holiness in the Lord. Its reward is assured peace and joy in Jesus.
And the last application is this that you stand strong and firm in what you know and understand. Sin has no power over you. You’re living in Jesus who alone is Lord and King; you belong to Him. Then, be brave and aggressive toward the enemy, that is, sin, and subdue it in the name of Jesus. Then, participate in the joy of the Lord who has overcome the world and invited us to do so together with Him! You and I are free indeed in Him! ***