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No Condemnation

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
January 29, 2024 12:01 am

No Condemnation

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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January 29, 2024 12:01 am

Because of what Jesus Christ has accomplished for His people, their condemnation is taken away and eradicated. Today, Derek Thomas marvels at the grand picture of divine rescue painted for us in the opening words of Romans 8.

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The gospel is more than just Jesus died on the cross for me.

The gospel is Trinitarian in origin and shape, and the contours of the gospel, as Paul describes it here, is a Trinitarian one, involving the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. As Christians, we should never tire of contemplating the wonder and the beauty of the gospel, the amazing grace that we have experienced if we are in Christ. And we'll be doing just that this week with a particular focus today on the Trinitarian nature of the good news. This is the Monday edition of Renewing Your Mind.

I'm Nathan W. Bingham. We mustn't forget the gospel. It's something we need to preach to ourselves every day, and a wonderful chapter in the Bible to help us do that. In fact, a chapter that Derek Thomas calls the best chapter in the Bible is Romans chapter 8. Until Thursday, you'll hear messages from Dr. Thomas' gospel-filled series, simply titled Romans 8, and I encourage you to request the series and the companion book to study all the verses of Romans 8 at renewingyourmind.org. To begin our journey in Romans 8, here's Derek Thomas. Well, hello and welcome, and we are going to walk through together the eighth chapter of Romans. And I preached a series on this and once called it the best chapter in the Bible. And then a deacon came to—there's always a deacon—and he came to me and said, doesn't that imply that there are parts of the Bible that are better than others, and doesn't that call into question the inspiration of the totality of Scripture? So, I just said, chill. You've got two minutes to live, and I'm the pastor.

I'm coming to the hospital to visit you. You have a choice. Do I read the first eight chapters of Chronicles, which is a list of names, or Romans 8, and the clock is ticking?

Make your choice. And I think that it's perfectly okay to say that there are certain parts of Scripture that are so condensed with the gospel, the gospel in all of its purity, the gospel in all of its simplicity, the gospel in all of its contours, and almost the entirety of the shape of the gospel is contained in Romans 8. It has been a favorite chapter for Christians ever since Paul wrote it.

It begins with no condemnation and ends with no separation. And I want to remind you as we begin, and we're going to look at this in twelve parts, and in this first session we're going to look at the first four verses. And before I read those first four verses, I want to remind you of an illustration from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, not the first part but the second part of Pilgrim's Progress, the story of Christiana and the four boys as they make the same journey as Christian made in part one. And there's a marvelous illustration that Bunyan employs about a man who's got a muckrake, and he's looking down, and he's doing this sort of thing. And what he doesn't see is that behind him is a man who's holding a crown above his head.

All he can see is the menial task in which he's employed, but he doesn't see the status that he's actually a king. And Romans 8 is a reminder to us that in Jesus Christ, we are children of God, and we are heirs, and we are joint heirs with Jesus Christ. And there is no condemnation, and there is no possibility of separation from His love. Well, let's dive into Romans 8 and beginning at the first verse. 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. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous and the righteous in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

We need some context. The three major rules of real estate is location, location, location, and the three principal rules of exegeting Scripture is context, context, context. And we're in Romans 8, and that means, of course, that seven chapters have preceded it. And Paul is writing this letter.

He's never been in Rome. He's anticipating a journey to Spain, and he wants Rome to be what Antioch was. Antioch was home base for the spread of the gospel in what we might call the Middle East and the eastern side of Europe. And Paul is now strategizing that Rome will become the home base for an expansion of the gospel westwards and as far as Spain, which was about as west as Paul probably envisaged the world to be. And he's begun this magnificent letter by reminding his readers in Rome of the gospel, and he has uttered those extraordinary words that he's not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God unto salvation.

He explains and narrates that gospel. You remember how Martin Luther discovered that gospel in the first chapter of Romans, the righteousness that Luther was endeavoring to find through effort and works and performance and acts of self-denial and so on until he saw that righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ. And it was the first chapter of Romans that brought that home to him. Paul has expanded on why we need the gospel, and in Romans 1, 18 through 3, 21, he has examined how there is none righteous, no, not one, both those who have the law and those who don't have the law.

Both Jews and Gentiles all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And then in chapter 3 and verse 21, having closed every mouth, that every mouth might be stopped before God, he brings in the wonder and provision of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and expands on the doctrine of justification, how we are declared to be righteous, how we are declared to be in the right with a holy God. And he goes to the Old Testament in order to demonstrate that that has always been the way that sinners have been made right with God, and he uses Abraham and David as his primary examples in Romans chapter 4. And then in chapter 5, he talks about the Adam-Christ parallel. He expounds upon the realities of the Christian life in chapter 6 that we are in union and communion now with the Lord Jesus.

We are no longer in Adam. We are in Christ, buried with Christ, raised with Christ to newness of life. And chapter 6 perhaps is the fulcrum, the pivot on which the book of Romans turns from having considered what we were. Paul now wants us to appreciate what we are in Jesus Christ, and we are a new creation. We are in union and communion with Jesus. Looking at this now very quickly, chapter 7 expands upon the realities that even though we are in Christ, we still continue to sin. Sin no longer rules and reigns in our life, but it is still a powerful force in our life.

And we often forget who we are, and we revert to thinking that we are back in Adam again, and the good that we would we do not, and the evil that we would not. That I find I do, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death. And the answer to that question is here in Romans 8, that we are delivered by the purposes and promises of God in Jesus Christ, a God who will not and cannot let you go. And so, we come to Romans 8 and verse 1, there is therefore now no condemnation. No condemnation, those sweet words, because by nature, we are condemned. By nature, we have broken God's law. We have fallen short of the glory of God.

That is how Paul puts it in the third chapter of Romans. We have failed to live up to what God intended us to be, as image bearers of God. And therefore, we have failed to realize the glory that God has in store for us, like the man in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress image with a muckrake.

And we're constantly looking down, and we fail to see the glory. And the glory is, on one level, no condemnation. I want you to look at the passage, and I want you to see that it is thoroughly Trinitarian. There is something in these opening verses that tells us of that which the Father does, of that which the Holy Spirit does, and of that which the Lord Jesus does. And it's very important for us to understand that, that the gospel is more than just Jesus died on the cross for me. The gospel is Trinitarian in origin and shape. And the contours of the gospel, as Paul describes it here, is a Trinitarian one involving the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is therefore now no condemnation. And you notice that in verse 3, for God has done what the law weakened by the flesh could not do, by sending His own Son. So, the God in verse 3 is actually the Father. The Father has done something, and the Father has declared that by nature we are guilty, and we've broken God's law, but something has happened that the condemnation of sin has been taken away and eradicated. There's a therefore in verse 1 of Romans 8, and whenever you see the word, therefore, you ask the question, why is it there?

What is it there for? And Paul is drawing a conclusion. Based on everything that Christ has done, based on everything that Christ has accomplished, based on the fact that we have now been regenerated, and quickened, and called, and brought into a saving union with Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation.

Calvin in the Institutes of the Christian Religion, this extraordinary book that he writes when he's 27 years old in 1536, and then it goes through various Latin and French editions until the final edition in 1559, and it had grown from its original size to four times its size. But in book three, and it's in four books, and in book three, Calvin begins with that famous statement that so long as Christ remains outside of us, all that He has accomplished is useless and of no value to us, so long as He remains outside of us. And what Paul wants us to understand that when Christ becomes part of us, when we come into union with Christ, when we believe in Him, and trust in Him, and take Him completely and utterly as our Lord and Savior, there is a consequence. There's a therefore, and the therefore is there's no condemnation. Actually, in the Greek, the first word is no.

It's the negative word, not because Paul wants to be negative in and of itself. He actually wants to be positive because the no here is that we are no longer condemned. The frown of God's holiness no longer looks down upon us. We have been freed. We have been set free and liberated, and the burden of condemnation, the guilt, has been taken away.

The judge has declared us not guilty, even though we are guilty. He has declared us not guilty, and He has done so in a way that has satisfied divine justice. And therefore, not only is there that which the Father does, the declaration of no condemnation, there's also that which the Son does. For God has done, look at verse 3, for God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. The law cannot justify us because of the weakness of the flesh, not because of any weakness in the law itself. The law is good. The law is holy and pure. The law is an exposition of the character of God. The law tells us what God is like.

It shows us His character, His attributes. The problem lies in us. It is the weakness of the flesh. It's our weakness.

It's our inability to keep the law. God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do, by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin. Now, there are two things there. This is the Father sending His Son, like John 3.16, for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. The love that rescues and redeems us initiates as much in the Father's heart as it does the Son's heart.

The initiative in redemption is the Father sending His Son, His only Son. And notice how Paul puts it, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin. He doesn't say, in sinful flesh. That would call into question the sinlessness of Jesus. Jesus was impeccable. He was without sin. There was no blemish in Him. He had no original sin.

He committed no actual sin. He was flawless. He was pure.

He offered a righteousness which was immaculate. But He came in the likeness of sinful flesh. He came into this world, into this fallen world, this cursed world, this world that is unhinged. He came in a lowly condition, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, took the form of a servant, was found in fashion as a man, tempted in every point like as we are, yet without sin, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin.

And for sin. He condemned sin in the flesh. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, but without sin. And He came in the flesh, in actual flesh.

He wasn't a ghost. There is an error in the early church that John speaks of in his first epistle called, Darcetism, those who denied the reality of the incarnation, that Jesus was just a spirit, the Greek background having some misgivings about material atoms and molecules and that creation itself was somehow impugned with sin and iniquity and the whole idea of the soul being imprisoned by the body and so on. And here is the Apostle Paul saying about Jesus that He came in the likeness of sinful flesh. He was flesh and blood.

He was a true man. He was born in Bethlehem, a baby boy of Mary and of the Holy Spirit, conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, grew from a little baby to a twelve-year-old, discussing with the rabbis in the temple, grew to be a man with human mind and human emotions and human affections and physical properties in every conceivable sense, a man, a human being, because He came to represent us. And He came, notice especially, for sin. That was the purpose of His coming. He came to deal with the problem of sin, our greatest problem, our greatest predicament, that which Paul has already expounded upon in this epistle, that there is none righteous, no, not one for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And Jesus came as our representative and our substitute for sin, for the purposes of sin, to deal with sin, to atone for sin, to redeem us from the bondage of sin and pay the ransom price that would set us free so that in union and communion with Jesus, God can look down upon Him and condemn sin in the flesh. God made Him, Jesus, to be sin for us, that we might be reckoned the righteousness of God in Him. So, here is double imputation, our sins reckoned to the account of Christ, His obedience, His righteousness, His perfection reckoned to our account.

He obeyed where we disobeyed. He offered up Himself as a sacrifice to satisfy the demands of divine justice so that God would be just and the justifier of Him who believes in Jesus. There's that which the Father does, and there's that which the Son does, but there's also that which the Holy Spirit does in verse 2, and that's something that Paul is going to expand upon in some detail in the course of Romans 8. Romans 8 is one of the great chapters on the Holy Spirit, and this is how he put it, for the law of the Spirit of life, the law of the Spirit of life.

It's an interesting phrase. Why doesn't he just say, for the Spirit of life has set us free in Christ? Instead, he says, the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. And Paul is hinting at something that he's going to expand on in verse 4, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. And commentators disagree on what verse 4 means, but I think that verse 4 is saying that as a consequence of our salvation and redemption in Jesus Christ, we are now set free to live out the law by the power of the Holy Spirit, not in order to be justified, but because we are justified. In the grammar of the gospel, there are indicatives and imperatives, and the indicatives are, we are saved, we are redeemed. We experience this amazing sentence, we are not condemned. We are set free, but set free to what?

Redeemed for what purpose? In order that the law, the law of the Spirit of life, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, might work itself out in the pattern of our lives. God saves us in order that we might be holy. Not a holiness that justifies, but a holiness that declares our sanctification, our progressive sanctification that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Now, Paul is going to expand on that a little more in the course of this eighth chapter of Romans, but here in these opening verses, a little picture, actually it's a grand picture of the doctrine of the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit rescuing us from the plight of sin and delivering us to no condemnation and the glory, the glory that follows. It is a grand picture for us in those opening verses of Romans 8, isn't it?

All glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. This is the Monday edition of Renewing Your Mind, and you just heard the first message in Derek Thomas' series, Romans 8. If you'd like to study the entire chapter line by line, perhaps with your family or Bible study, request the complete 12-part series when you give a gift of any amount at renewingyourmind.org. In addition to the DVD of the series and lifetime digital access to the messages and study guide, we'll send you Derek Thomas' book, How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home, which is also a study in Romans 8. Call us today at 800 435 4343, or give your gift at renewingyourmind.org. Your support helps the truth of the Gospel continue to be freely proclaimed every day on Renewing Your Mind and through the global outreach of Ligonier Ministries. What does it mean to have our minds set on the things of the Spirit as opposed to the flesh? Join us tomorrow as we continue this study in Romans 8, here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-21 13:38:30 / 2024-02-21 13:46:33 / 8

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