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.Rom. 8:1-2
Every Christian wrestles against sin. As a result, it is not uncommon for self-condemning thoughts to float around in our heads and doubts to upset our hearts. On top of this, the enemy of our souls, the devil, takes advantage of our sin and doubt and accuses us before God (see Rev. 12:10). To combat these thoughts and grow in the assurance of faith, we must take up “the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). That is, we must deliberately speak God’s truth to ourselves to prevent lies from seizing control. We must remind ourselves of how God sees us now, in Christ. That’s what the apostle Paul does in today’s opening verse: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
The word therefore indicates this statement is a response to what comes before it. In the preceding chapter of Romans, the apostle has confessed that his unredeemed flesh causes him to commit unrighteous deeds that his new self does not want to commit or to omit righteous works that now he wants to do. Consequently, he cries out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (7:24). How does Paul answer his own question? With gospel truth. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v. 25). Paul reminds himself that in Christ he is not a victim in his battle against his flesh but a victor who can rest in the assurance of God’s love (see 8:37).
Condemnation is from a Greek word meaning “penalty.” It’s the word Paul uses to speak of the spiritual death that is the ultimate consequence of Adam’s choice to rebel against the good command of God (see 5:16, 18). According to Scripture, in Adam every one of us is condemned since “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (v. 12). However, in Christ believers need not fear a future penalty for sin because Jesus paid for it in full, and we received the gift of righteousness through repentant faith in the one who died in our place and rose again on our behalf (see vv. 15–17).
Therefore, believer in Jesus, when you sin, God does not punish you. He has already punished all your sins in the body of his Son (see 1 Peter 2:24). Instead, your heavenly Father disciplines you in order to restore you to close fellowship with him, remind you of the depth of his love, and train you in practical righteousness, which leads to more blessings (see Heb. 12:4–11). He corrects you when you stray onto self-destructive paths so that you are trained to walk in wisdom and truth. Unbelievers stand condemned already (see John 3:36), but if you trust Jesus as your sin-bearing Savior, you are forever secure in him (see Rom. 8:33–39). You are no longer condemned!
When we speak such biblical truths to ourselves, self-condemning thoughts will flee. The apostle John assures us, “Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20).
- Talk to Yourself. Begin a “Who I Am” section in your journal. List as many identity markers of a believer in Christ as you can think of and leave a few extra pages so that you can return to add more.
- Talk to God. Choose one of the identity markers you wrote and spend some time asking God to help you live out that truth in your daily life.
- Talk to Others. Ask a mature believer to suggest to you more biblical identity markers that you can record in your journal.