Romans 8:1-2: How Christ Rescues Us From Condemnation

Sermon Audio:

Romans 8:1-2 is one of the most powerful and reassuring summaries of the Gospel in the whole Bible. By examining these two verses, we can find immense encouragement about some of the astounding things Christ has done and is doing for His people who have put their faith and trust in Him.

How Christ Rescues Us From Condemnation

Paul opens in verse 1 with one of the most well-known phrases in all of the Bible, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” Paul makes it very clear that those in Christ are not condemned. Now what does it mean to be condemned? In the biblical meaning of the word, it means to be sentenced and damned by God for sin. Christ has taken away that sentence of damnation for the Christian!

Now the question is, “How did Christ take away our condemnation?” And this is where things get very interesting, because in order to answer this, we need to pay particular attention to the word “therefore.” This single word is possibly the most important word in the entire book of Romans. And why is that? Because this word is the culmination or the peak of all that Paul has been teaching up until this point. So in order to truly understand how the Christian is no longer condemned, we have to have an understanding of what Paul has taught before this verse.

To do this we can look at Romans 7 where Paul makes this very dramatic statement, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” The word “rescue” is key here and should be defined.  We also need to answer why Paul would say that he is wretched, and why that wretchedness is caused by what he calls a “body of death,” which we also need to define.

To answer these questions, we need to take a little journey through the Scriptures, and then bring it all together. First, in verse 22 of Romans chapter 7 Paul says, “For in my inner self I delight in God’s law…” Now focus on this phrase “inner self.” What does Paul mean? In 2 Corinthians 4:16 Paul explains this when He says,  “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” So the inner man is the part of us that is being renewed or made new. It’s the part of us that doesn’t decay. It is our soul or our spirit. 

Now that’s the inner man. What about the “outer man”? The outer man is our physical body, which is temporary. This is the part Paul told the Corinthians is decaying and dying, and this is what Paul is talking about in Romans 7:23. Paul says this, “but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.” So right after Pauls says his inner self or spirit delights in God’s law, he then describes this war between his inner self which loves God’s law and his outer self, or his flesh which is still in prison to sin. And Paul says that the problem of sin’s effect is so bad that in verse 24, he calls his outer man a “body of death.” So this answers our questions about Paul’s wretchedness. He is wretched because his body of death, which is his outer man or his flesh, is at war with his inner man  or his soul which loves God’s law.

Now why does Paul call his outer man the body of death? To find out, we can look at Romans 5:12 where Paul says this, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.” So we see that through the “first man” Adam, sin is the cause of death. Now one question is, is this verse referring to spiritual or physical death? Well it’s actually both. The entrance of sin into the world actually caused two types of death, physical death and spiritual death. We know from other passages that this is the case. Ephesians 2:1 says, “you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” This is spiritual death. Why? Because of sin. And what about physical death? Romans 8:10 says, “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.” Paul says the body is dead because of sin. This is the body of death, the physical body, which every Christian is at war with, because of sin, which brought physical death. 

Alright so how do we bring all this together to answer our original question, “how did Christ take away our condemnation?” Paul gives the first clue back in Romans 7:25. After asking the question, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”, he says, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” This connects to Paul’s “therefore statement” immediately following in Romans 8:1. So Paul means that Christ will take away our condemnation by rescuing us from it. The next question is, how will He and how has He rescued us from condemnation? 

There are actually three parts to Christ’s rescue from condemnation. There is the first part that Christ has already accomplished, which is his atoning sacrifice that pays the ransom for our sins. In Romans 8:3, Paul says Christ did this by taking on the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering.  This part of the rescue mission is complete. There’s a lot more to say here, but since we’re only covering Romans 8:1-2 here, we’ll move on to the next part of the mission.

The second part of Christ’s rescue mission is happening now, and this is where all of God’s people are given the Spirit who lives and works within them. As a result, they become more and more like Christ. Romans 8:14 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” So the Spirit is continuously bearing witness within us to invoke and stir within our hearts the desire to seek and call for God the Father. 

Another example is found in 2 Corinthians 3:18, where Paul says, “And we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” So through the Spirit, Christ is rescuing us by working in us and making us more like Him, literally and supernaturally transforming us from one degree of glory to another. From the very moment we believed with faith in Christ, which God enabled us to do, the Spirit began this work. And this work is part of the rescue mission where Christ has and is rescuing us from spiritual death. And this rescue is not something we do. In fact, none of our being rescued from condemnation is because of anything we do. Our rescue is purely God’s doing. I’ll cover this more in the second main point.

Now what about the rescue from our bodies of death which end in physical death? Well that is the third part of the rescue mission. It is something that Christ will do. In Romans 8:10-11 Paul says this, “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

So we already saw that Christ has and is rescuing us from spiritual death, and here, we see that Christ will also rescue us from physical death, or as Paul put it, our body of death. And how will He do that? By giving life to our mortal bodies of death through the Spirit. In other words, Christ is going to resurrect our physical bodies through the power of God the Spirit. Just as the Spirit raised Jesus from the dead, the Spirit is one day also going to raise your body, your body of death, from the grave, but it will be a new body that replaces your body of death.

This is further explained in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 when Paul says, “Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality. When this corruptible body is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting?” So this amazing promise means that when we, like Paul, struggle with the war going on between our body of death and our spirit, we can rest confidently in the knowledge that one day He will rescue us from the prison of this body of death, knowing that God will give us a new immortal and incorruptible body without sin. And so we say with Paul, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Christ Frees Us From The Law Of Sin and Death

In verse two, Paul gives further explanation about how Christ has rescued us from condemnation. He does this by contrasting two different kinds of law. The first kind of law is the law of the Spirit of life, and this law is the means by which we are set free from the other law, which is the law of sin and death. Here Paul says, “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” So the law of the Spirit of life is like a key that unlocks the prison of the law of sin and death.

Now to rightly understand this verse, the two types of law need to be defined. First we’ll define the “law of the Spirit.” Paul has actually already defined this for us back in Romans 7. In Romans 7:6 Paul says this, “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” So Paul says that the law or rule for the Christian now is the new way of the Spirit. Before this new way, there was an old way which followed the written code, which we can infer is the law of Moses. Paul says that this old way held us captive. So the old way, which followed the written code, held people as prisoners, revealed their sin, and as Paul says in Romans 7:5, caused them to “bear fruit for death.”.

So part of Christ rescuing us from condemnation is that He sets us free from the obligations and the prison of the law, which as Paul said, results in the fruit of death. So because of Christ’s work, Paul says we are released from the old way of the written code, because we now live by the new way or the new law of the Spirit. Paul explains this further in Galatians 5:1 when he says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  (Gal 5:1) …yoke here meaning, the law of Moses. And if you skip down to verses 16 and 18, Paul says this, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. … But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” So here again Paul is teaching about the prison of the old law and how the law of the Spirit of life sets us free from this prison of the old law, which is the law of sin and death.

So now let’s talk about the law of sin and death. Why is the old way of the written code, or the law of Moses, a law of sin and death? We already saw Paul explain this back in Romans 7:5 where he says, “For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.” So in other words, even though the old written law is good, as Paul says later in verse 12 of this chapter, it can only expose and arouse sin within us to bear fruit for death. Therefore the old law cannot rescue us from condemnation, because of our sinful nature. And this is exactly why Christ had to fulfill the old law’s obligations and set us free from it. Because without a new way according to the Spirit, all we would have is the written law, and the written law can only condemn us in our sin. 

Paul explains this very clearly in his second letter to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 3:3-9. Pauls says, “3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. … 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. … 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory.” So Paul is even more clear here that the only thing the Mosaic law can do is kill and bring death. In fact, he calls the old law the ministry of condemnation. So now thinking back to our Romans 8 passage, we can see the connection between being rescued from condemnation and being set free from the law of sin and death, which is the Mosaic law, by the law of the Spirit of life. The old letter of the law is the ministry of condemnation, and the new way of the Spirit is the ministry of righteousness. The two are completely opposed in Scripture. Both are good but only one results in our righteousness. And this is truly an astounding and wonderful truth which is very worthwhile to study further, but for the sake of time, I need to bring this message to a conclusion.

Application Of Encouragement

Based on these truths, there is a great opportunity for encouragement here. And that encouragement is basically this: If you are in Christ, if you have genuinely repented and put your faith in Him as the risen Lord for the forgiveness of your sins, you cannot lose your salvation. It is impossible. And why is that? Well, there are a lot of reasons, but for one reason, as we already saw, Christ is rescuing us from our bodies of death, and He has rescued us from the law of sin and death by the Spirit. So we are no longer under the law’s condemnation that we all deserve outside of Christ’s saving grace, and so when Paul says that Christ rescues us, he means that Christ actually rescues us. He doesn’t start the rescue and then allow it to fail. He starts and finishes it. He begins it, and He ends it. And how does He do that? Well, let’s look again at a passage we’ve already read today. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 says this, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

So at this very moment, God is renewing us. He is making you new. In the literal sense this means that he is changing you from a corrupt state into a less corrupt state. There is work going on that you cannot see, that is happening right now, and this work is beyond your physical vision and comprehension. This work involves the supernatural renewing of your inner self, which is your soul, by the work of the Spirit, where you are continuously being made into a better, more Christ-like version of your previous selves. And this work cannot be stopped and it will be completed, because it is not something that you or I have anything to do with. It’s not up to you. It’s work that God has started, that God is continuing, and that God will complete. Romans 11:29 says, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” When God calls you to Himself and begins His work, it cannot be revoked. It cannot be stopped. It can only be completed.

So going back to Romans 7, if Paul gives thanks because Christ will rescue us from condemnation, it can only mean that Christ will successfully rescue us. A failed rescue is not an option. Because if a failed rescue is possible, it means that Paul is a liar. But Paul is not a liar, because Christ does not only attempt to rescue us and He certainly does not fail to rescue us. He always rescues us successfully and completely.

Now how does Christ guarantee our rescue? Well he does this in multiple ways. First, by His obedience he fulfilled our obligation to perfectly obey the law for our righteousness, because we are incapable of perfectly fulfilling the law as it is required. In fact Paul says this in Romans 10:4 when he says, “For Christ is the end (meaning the termination) of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” So Christ has terminated your obligation to perfectly obey the law in order that Christ’s righteousness, by his obedience, can be attributed to you. And this means that technically, you cannot sin so much that you lose your salvation. It’s impossible, because Christ as your representative, has already fulfilled your obligation to perfectly obey the law.

John Bunyan says in his work, Law and Grace,

“…there is no law to come in against the sinner that believes in Jesus Christ; for he is not under that [law], and that by right comes in against no one but those that are under it. But believers are not under [the law]–that is, not their Lord, therefore [it has] nothing to do with them; and besides, Christ’s blood [has] not only taken away the curse [of it], but also He [has] in His own Person completely fulfilled [the law] as a public Person in our stead.”

Now you may be asking if this means that we can sin all we want and still be saved. And I will answer by giving the same answer that Paul gave to the same question in Romans 6:15, 17-18 when he says, “Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means….But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”

And this leads us to the final part of the conclusion, which is why a true believer, who has been set free from the obligation to the law, will not use that freedom to live in sin. As Paul says here, the freedom we are given is not the freedom to sin, but it is the freedom to be righteous, or the freedom to become slaves of righteousness. And how are we given this freedom? Again, let’s go back to Romans 7:6. Paul says that, “we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” So it is the Spirit Who changes everything about us and our desires. 

So then the question of, “can we sin all we want?” becomes an irrelevant question, because if we truly have the Spirit, we will not desire to continue in sin. In fact, our nature, our inner self is completely opposed to and disgusted by the idea of living in sin. Romans 8:5 says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” So the Spirit continuously changes our entire mindset and the things we desire.

These truths are just a taste of the many ways Christ guarantees your rescue from condemnation. There is also Christ’s atonement and propitiation of your sins, the sealing of the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of your salvation, the Father’s adoption of you as His spiritual son or spiritual daughter, His making you an heir together with Christ, and His giving you the right to be a royal citizen of heaven. There is so much more here to talk about, but hopefully what has been presented here encourages you with the knowledge that Christ has done and is doing far more for you than just pay for your sins.

Lastly, a quote from Bunyan’s work, Law and Grace:

“Christ [has] so gloriously paid the debt that now God can say, Welcome, soul, I will give [you] grace, I will give [you] glory, [you] will lie in My bosom, and go no more out; My Son [has] pleased Me, He [has] satisfied the loud cries of the Law and justice, that called for speedy vengeance on [you]; He [has] fulfilled the whole Law, He [has] brought in everlasting righteousness (Dan 9:24,25). He [has] overcome the devil, He [has] washed away [your] sins with His most precious blood, He [has] destroyed the power of death, and triumphs over all the enemies. This He did in His own Person, as a common Jesus, for all persons in their stead, even as for so many as shall come in to Him; for His victory I give to them, His righteousness I give to them, His merits I bestow on them, and look upon them holy, harmless, undefiled, and forever [beautiful] in my eye, through the victory of the Captain of their salvation.”





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