Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Implications of No Condemnation

Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is a wonderful truth to rejoice in. But it also has another aspect. If there is no condemnation for me if I am in Christ Jesus, there is also no condemnation for that other person who is in Christ Jesus. This can sometimes be a difficult truth to live. Now do not get me wrong; I am not saying that there is no place to correct another believer--Scripture clearly teaches there is (Galatians 6:1; Matthew 18:15,16; Hebrews 12:12,13). Nor does it mean we should not seek to examine our own lives for things we need to change (Proverbs 28:13; Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 John 1:9). Rather, it requires a different attitude. If Christ has indeed paid the entire price for my sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:13,14; 1 Peter 2:24,25), then I am declared righteous in His sight by faith in Him (Romans 4:4,5; 3:28; Galatians 2:16). This being so, my motivation for doing good works is my love of God for what He has done for me, not servile fear (1 John 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; Romans 8:15). This means that, while I do need to examine myself to see where I need to change, I can put my sin behind me and go on in Christ (2 Corinthians 7:10; Philippians 3:12-16; Hebrews 9:12). As a result of my sins being paid for, I do not need to be discouraged or defeated by them but can go on with Christ, confident of His forgiveness. Much less should I be disheartened by not meeting those standards laid on me by other people.

But if I claim this for myself, I also need to grant it to other believers. (Even when dealing with unbelievers, I need to deal with them in light of the fact that this same forgiveness is offered to them if they only accept it.) This does not mean that I should not correct them as the Scripture requires, but it does mean that my goal must be to put them back on the right track. It cannot be to write them off or to tear them down (Romans 15:1,2; Ephesians 4:12-15; 2 Corinthians 13:10). This can often be a hard goal to achieve. There are those who simply will not listen. In some cases we may need to even impose discipline on them (Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:4,5), but the goal of this should be restoration (2 Corinthians 2:6,7; 2 Thessalonians 3:14,15). But I am less concerned here about official church action than I am about how we treat those other believers we meet on a regular basis. Do we treat them as Romans 8:1 requires they be treated, or do we look down on them or mistreat them because they do not meet our standards? “No condemnation” needs to be applied to everyone and not just myself.

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