Romans 8 begins with the incredible statement “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” These are some of the most liberating words found in the entire Bible. But they can only be fully appreciated by those who have come to realize they deserved a death sentence. To this point in Romans, Paul has made it clear that Jew and Gentile alike, deserve that eternal condemnation:
… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 3:23, 6:23a, NIV)
Imagine you are awaiting the execution of the death sentence. Barabbas was one such man; a convicted insurrectionist, who was condemned to die on a Roman cross in Jerusalem. His execution was deserved according to the Roman law for he had incited rebellion against Roman rule. Barabbas, as a Zealot, was a religious man in a sect of Judaism that held a high view of the Law and nationalism – so high, in fact, that they sought to rid their land of the pagan Romans by force. Viewed through our modern lens, we could equate Barabbas with today’s religious terrorists. He, like they, believed the cause to be righteous. Nevertheless, civil law had been violated and Barabbas was condemned.
However, when Jesus was brought before Pilate, the Roman governor had a dilemma: either sentence an innocent man and appease the Jews, or release Jesus and incite the crowd. He chose a method that let him off the hook by invoking a custom of releasing a criminal of the Jews’ pleasing. The crowd chose Barabbas! We are not told of Barabbas’ reaction to the crowds’ choice of Jesus Christ for crucifixion instead of him. Certainly, it was one of great relief as he was the first to realize those words, “no condemnation,” in association to Jesus Christ. We can only hope that Barabbas embraced the true sense of the meaning by coming into relationship with Jesus Christ. However, if he did not – if he continued to pursue his own path of righteousness – he only experienced a reprieve.
Do we really appreciate those words, “no condemnation”? Even after having received the gift of salvation, I need to remind myself of the abject depravity from which I was saved. Thus, Paul’s lament, “ What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24, NIV), garners a greater appreciation towards God when we realize:
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2, NIV)
Not only do these words bring relief, but they bring security. While life in the Spirit is a theme of this chapter, the security of the believer is a predominant theme, too. We have the assurance of not being put in “double jeopardy” because Christ has once and for all paid the penalty for our sins, bringing “no condemnation” and nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39, NIV). HALLELUJAH!
Your Response: If you have made a spiritual inventory (as suggested last week), be sure to take time to dwell on the fact that Christ no longer holds you guilty for your sins as you have trusted in Him!
- Have you failed in a marriage?…He does not condemn you!
- Are you struggling to overcome some hang up?…He does not condemn you!
- Have you made wrong choices in the past?…He does not condemn you!
- Do you have a criminal record (as Barabbas)?…He does not condemn you!
1 The word used to describe Barabbas as “robber” in John 18:40 is the same word the Jewish historian, Josephus, used to describe the Zealots.