The Good News - Home
By David A. DePra
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom 8:1)
For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (Rom 8:15-16)
If God be for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:28-31)
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)
If you read these passages from Romans 8, you are faced with some incredible claims. Four tremendous ASSURANCES. We are being told by Paul that if you are a Christian, there is NO POSSIBILITY AT ALL that there is any condemnation from God towards you. Ever. NO condemnation. We are also being told that we are the children of God – and that this relationship with God is based, not on FEAR, but upon LOVE. Also, we are being told that God is FOR us – and that because of that, nothing and no one can stand against us. And finally, we are being told that there is NOTHING WHATSOEVER that can come between us and the love of God in Christ Jesus.
These four assurances are describing, not only God’s attitude towards us, but they are describing our RELATIONSHIP with Him through Christ. We could list many other verses. But these four strike at the heart and core of so many of the problems we have in our Christian walk.
Despite these assurances, however, we often do not believe them, or think that they apply to us. We do think God condemns us, is mad at us, or is out to make things difficult. We do think that we might be sons of God, but that this carries no real meaning as to relationship with God. We do think that God is against us, rather than for us. And we do think that many things, especially our sin and failures, can separate us from the love of God.
Why do we disbelieve these assurances? Because we don’t FEEL as if they are true. We look at ourselves, and our reactions, and we cannot seem to find evidence that these assurances are true. But we forget that God has already told us that the evidence of His promises are not in us. They are in HIM. All of the promises of God find their yes and amen in Him. So we need to start looking for assurance, not in ourselves, but in HIM.
The fact is, however, everything Paul states in the above passages are based on the finished work of Jesus Christ. Do you see that? All of them have to do with what Christ has done with the sin issue through His death, and with the new relationship the Redemption has made possible through His resurrection. Thus, these assurances are the direct results of the very foundation of Christianity: The finished work of Jesus Christ.
Now, once we see that, we must come to terms with some extremely marvelous ramifications. First, it means that if I am a Christian, the assurances in these verses apply to ME. Not maybe. Not perhaps. But for certain. Why? Because these Truths are based on the finished work of Jesus -- which is the foundation of Christianity. Thus, if I am in Christ, these verses describe the foundation of my relationship with God through Christ.
Now, I want to be sure that you really grasped that last paragraph. I am saying that if you are a Christian, then by definition, the four assurances above apply to you. Indeed, it is not possible to BE a Christian and not have these assurances apply to you. This is so certain that it can be stated with certainty that if these four assurances do not apply to you, and you are a Christian, then Christianity itself is false.
Do you think that is an exaggeration? It is not. Every one of these assurances, and more, are based on the FOUNDATION of Christianity. They describe THE RELATIONSHIP God has with us if we are IN CHRIST. That is how important they are – and that is how important it is for us to believe and embrace them.
Indeed, I would dare say that if you and I actually came to terms with those four assurances quoted above, that not only would many of our spiritual problems, confusions, and struggles cease to be, but we would, because of our faith in Christ, be released into a realm of resurrection life that was hitherto impossible.
Why? Because again – we are talking here about the foundation of Redemption itself – the foundation of our relationship with God. If the foundation isn’t understood, how are we to progress in the Truth?
Many Christians know the above verses by heart. They have the theology memorized. But the question is: Do these passages represent my everyday relationship with God? Am I free of condemnation running my life? Do I walk in the reality that nothing can separate me from the love of God? See what I mean? Get these issues solved and everything else begins to fall into place.
It is a fact that if we are having difficult problems walking with the Lord, much of the problem may come back to where we have doubted or denied these great Truths. Sure. Again – they are based on the foundation of the Redemption. Thus, if you doubt them, you are doubting the basis of everything you are in Christ.
Now, this does not mean you lose your salvation, nor does it prove you aren’t saved. It may simply mean that you doubt. The solution is to believe and stand fast in the Truth behind these statements by the apostle Paul.
Actually, the good news is that Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all Truth. Thus, the Holy Spirit is, right now, trying to get you and I established in these assurances. He wants them to come to govern our lives, and our relationship with God.
Let’s briefly look at each of these assurances. The first one is from Romans 8:1. Paul tells us, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
Do we believe that when God says, "NO condemnation," that He means it? Or would we prefer, when we FEEL condemned of God, to exalt our feeling above the Word of God, and establish IT as the Truth? Sorry to be so blunt, but when we rush right by these assurances and begin to instead believe how we feel, that is exactly what we are doing. We are taking how we feel, our interpretation of it, and setting IT up as the test for Truth. When will we finally understand that there is no Truth in us? And that until we begin to settle on these basis issues, we are not going to have our minds renewed according to the Truth in the way God desires for us?
We need to start believing God – to the complete disregard of our feelings and understanding of ourselves. If we do, we will find out He was right the entire time.
The Greek word for, "condemnation," means, "to render a judgment against." It does not simply mean to call something wrong, or to say that someone is guilty. No. Doing that may be simple honesty. This word means more than that. CONDEMNATION speaks of God not only honestly calling someone what they are, but it includes God judging against them in the sense of pronouncing sentence upon them.
Now we can see why there can be no possibility of condemnation for those in Christ: If Christ died for ALL sin, then Christ bore all justice for sin. He bore all condemnation for all sin. That leaves no condemnation for you to bear for your sin. Thus, if you are in Christ, condemnation cannot apply to you. It is not in God’s vocabulary.
Of course, most Christians probably wouldn’t say that God condemns them to eternal death. But many do feel as if God condemns them for sinning, or for not having much faith. But the Bible doesn’t say that there is not one kind of condemnation, but that there is another kind, perhaps to a lesser degree. No. The Bible says that there is NO condemnation for those in Christ.
Now, let’s lay this out in a way that will seal the deal. What does Paul REALLY mean when he says that there is NO condemnation for those in Christ? Does he mean that there is no condemnation EVEN when we sin?
Well, he had BETTER mean that! For if there is condemnation upon us when we sin, then there is condemnation period! Can you see that? When else would there be condemnation? – when we obey? Of course not. Paul is saying that there is no condemnation for us EVEN when we sin.
Many of us, however, never give this much thought. We somehow assume that there is no condemnation for us EXCEPT when we sin. Unwittingly, we are making the finished work of Jesus Christ dependent upon our sin or obedience – which is grace by works.
Let’s put this whole thing to rest by placing our two options side by side:
There is no condemnation for those in Christ – EXCEPT when we sin.
There is no condemnation for those in Christ – EVEN when we sin.
Can we see how clear this becomes? The Truth is that there is no condemnation for those in Christ EVEN when we sin.
One other verse affirms this Truth. Paul said, "Are we to continue in sin because grace abounds?" God forbid. (Rom. 6:1) Right here, Paul is saying that grace DOES abound EVEN when we sin – which is the same thing as saying that condemnation does NOT abound EVEN when we sin. Let’s put two more options side by side:
God’s grace abounds -- EXCEPT when we sin.
God’s grace abounds -- EVEN when we sin.
Again, perfectly clear. God’s grace abounds EVEN when we sin, because if it doesn’t abound EVEN when we sin, then it certainly doesn’t abound at all! When else would we NEED grace to abound? When we obey? No. When we sin.
So what we end up with are these two Truths – and really, they are one Truth:
There is no condemnation for those in Christ -- EVEN when we sin.
God’s grace abounds -- EVEN when we sin.
The question now becomes: Do we BELIEVE that this is the Truth – when we sin? That’s the question. Do I believe what Jesus finished is finished, or do I believe that every time I sin, I sort of UNFINISH it all over again? Do I believe that every time I sin that Jesus must die all over again to pay for it? Or do I believe that in Christ, ALL my sin was paid for along time ago? And that nothing I do can change that?
Here we see that the finished work of Christ is not in question. What is in question is my faith.
It is good that we believe this great Truth as an overall, but we need to apply our faith when we sin. We need to do so by absolutely refusing condemnation – even if we FEEL condemned. We need to do so – not by merely fighting fear and condemnation – by we need to believe by standing fast in the Truth.
The grace of God never did depend on me. That is why it IS grace. It abounds EVEN when I sin, and that removes the possibility of any condemnation being possible for anyone in Christ.
Spirit of Sonship
Are you always trying to find God, but never seeming to succeed? Do you always feel as if you are outside of the will of God, and always trying to figure out how to get in? But never really sure that you have? Do you scrap and claw and try to drag God down from heaven into your life – and yet feel like it is futile? Well, this may be because you know lots of Bible verses, but don’t believe them. You may not realize that you are a son of God – and what that means.
Paul tells us what it means. He says, "For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Through Christ, we have a new relationship with God – NOT we are trying to have one – but we DO have one. Indeed, we have a NEW IDENTITY, governed, not by fear, but by His love for us.
Practically, this means that instead of trying to get into a new relationship with the Father, we ought to believe we are in one. Instead of trying to find God, we need to realize that Christ is IN US. Instead of trying to drag God down from heaven, we need to understand that He has already sent His Spirit down to us.
But why doesn’t it seem like it? Because again -- we are usually looking at OURSELVES for evidence that these things are the Truth. Or we are looking at what has happened in our lives for evidence that God is with us. That isn’t a good idea – although I would have to say that eventually there is going to be evidence there. But if we want evidence that we are sons of God, we need to look – at what?
Paul tells us. He says, "The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." There is supposed to be evidence – not of us – but within us. That evidence that we are sons of God is the Holy Spirit.
Now, I do realize that this isn’t going to do it for many people. People will say, "But what if I just THINK the Spirit is in me?" Or they might actually have the Spirit within them, and yet be so out of sorts that they will say, "I sense no evidence at all. I guess I’m not saved." It is entirely possible to look at your emotions and think it is the Holy Spirit, or to look at them and become convinced that the Spirit could not possibly be in you.
Yet the Word of God says that the evidence that we are children of God is the Holy Spirit in us. If the church today taught about the life of Christ in us, and taught the Truth, this evidence would not seem weak. Because Christians were edifying each other in Christ, it would be so real that it could carry us.
God is For Us
"If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom 8:28-31) Such a simple statement. Of course, Paul is not saying that God will see to it that no one will ever be against us. The statement is to draw a contrast. Paul is saying that if God is for us, then who can succeed in aborting His purpose by being against us?
As mentioned earlier, if you think God is not FOR you, why do think you are saved? Do you think that God has given His Son to save you, only to oppose you from that point forward, intending to hurt you, deprive you, or play games with you? Nonsense. God has saved us for Himself. He is FOR us. But remember – God is FOR us on HIS terms, not ours.
What this means is that because God knows best, God is FOR us in the sense of seeking to bring us into His eternal will and purpose. God wants to give us everything of Himself that is good for us. But in our ignorance, almost like children tend to do, we so often define God being, "for us," as God doing what WE want Him to do. But this is obviously wrong. Again, God is FOR us in that He does what is best for us – eternally and in this life as well. And sometimes this makes it necessary for God to not only ignore what we want Him to do, but to actually come in and break our will apart.
For example, in order for God to establish His kingdom in us, He must tear apart our kingdom. In order for God to show us the Truth, He must expose our error. In order for God to be for us, He must get us to where we are for Him. The fact is, most of the time it appears that God is against us, we are really against God. Perhaps not on purpose. But it boils down to that in the end.
Herein we again see the need for the Cross. It is simply impossible that God can take hold of human beings in whom there is NO Truth, NO light, and NO life, and change them overnight into what He wants us to be. There is UNLEARNING and LEARNING. But the end is supposed to be freedom.
The Bible says that God is never against us. But God will and does CHASTISE us as sons and daughters. We all know what that means. But have we realized that chastisement is not always because we have done something wrong? God chastises us even when we have obeyed and believed Him. Chastisement is simply training. It is God’s way of making our relationship with Him possible – by changing US.
Once we see that everything God does in our lives is a manifestation of God being FOR US, we ought to stop and consider. The next time it seems as if God is against us, or has been indifferent to us, we ought to ask: Why does it seem like this? What am I not seeing? Instead of blaming God for not being FOR us, we ought to start examining whether we, at least in our attitude, have been AGAINST God.
Christians need to start being FOR God. We need to submit to Him unconditionally. Once we do that, we will find that He has always been FOR us. Funny how that works. Funny how surrender to God ends the battle. And once we realize that God is evermore FOR us, rather than AGAINST us, we will begin to know a freedom that will enable us to walk with God as never before.
Nothing Can Separate Us
Paul says, "NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ." But so often, we believe that our sin separates us from God. Did Paul forget about that?
No. In fact, sin cannot separate us from God if we are IN Christ. Why? Because Christ is not separated from God. And we are in Him.
In Truth, Jesus has already taken sin away – our sin away. John the Baptist said of Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) Furthermore, Hebrews tells us that the fact that the veil separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the tabernacle was rent is symbolic of the fact that sin has been rent in the body of Jesus, and thus gives us, "a new and living way," into fellowship with God. (see Heb. 10:17) There is NOTHING between us and God. Nothing.
Now, if I believe my sin is between myself and God, and therefore do not come before the Lord, then I have put something between myself and God – my unbelief. But I have put it there. Not God.
Here again we see that faith means everything. Do I believe that I can do nothing to separate God from myself? Even if I sin? For Pete’s sake, if I sin, what does the Bible say I can do? Confess that it is taken away in the Blood of Christ. Thus, rather than say sin separates us from God, we ought to say that Christ has separated us from our sin.
If I feel that I am separated from God, then I can be sure than I am not, "feeling," according to the Truth. But what else is new? Emotions, and even my perception, are not indicative of the Truth. God has already told us what His heart is towards us. Whether we think it to be true doesn’t change Him.
The wonderful assurances of the Bible are many. We have discussed but four of them. There is NO condemnation. Ever. Even when we sin. We are sons and daughters of God and have His Spirit in us. Thus, we don’t have to try to find God. He is in us. God is always FOR us, and never AGAINST us. And finally, NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.
Now, if we really believed just these four things, or even one of them, it would change our attitude forever. For once we operate from the Truth that God is always with us, and never against us, and that nothing can separate us from His love, everything changes. Instead of trying to find the victory, we will come to terms with the very foundation of the Redemption – that in Jesus Christ, God has already won the victory, and has birthed us into a new relationship with Him, characterized by these four assurances.
The Good News - Home