What's the Greatest News We Could Ever Hear?
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. - Romans 8:1-3, ESV
Some people think the greatest news they could ever hear is, "Your cancer is gone!" Truly, that would be most welcome news for many people fighting cancer, but ultimately cancer is a temporary problem, isn't it? Even if the cancer was gone, something else would take the life of our mortal bodies eventually.
Some people think the greatest news would be, "You won the lottery!" Sadly, lottery winners declare bankruptcy more frequently than people who never win the lottery. Money can always be spent, no matter how much we have, and it can never truly satisfy us in this life, much less for eternity.
I think it is beyond dispute that Romans 8:1 contains the best news we could ever hear, in two simple words: "No condemnation."
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
But I've sinned so much! - No condemnation.
But I still struggle with doubt. - No condemnation.
Can I know I am forgiven? - No condemnation.
But I feel so weak and so inadequate. - No condemnation.
How do I know my eternal destiny is secure? - No condemnation.
How is such an absolute sentence possible? It is because God has done what we could never do. The law cannot save us because we are weakened by sin. God sent His Son and condemned our sin in Him on the cross, so that we could be set free from the law of sin and death and instead be ruled by the law of Spirit and life.
Paul then sets up a fundamental distinction between two different kinds of people all over the world and throughout history. More important and essential than distinctions of class, race, nationality, political affiliation or income level is this distinction, between those who live according to the flesh and those who live according to the Spirit.
What's the difference? Those who live according to the flesh are those who are living life on their own, living out of their own strength and wisdom, doing the best they can with what they have. They may be religious or secular, rich or poor, popular or outcast, but without the Holy Spirit living in them, they are in the flesh, cut off from God, on their own. Their destiny is death and condemnation.
Those who live according to the Spirit are those who are in Christ Jesus. That is, they have trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and have been united to Him by saving faith. They know and love and trust in Jesus for their wisdom, their strength, their salvation and their acceptance before God forever. They will not trust in what they do, but they trust in what Jesus has done.
So, which are you? If you long to hear the very best news, "no condemnation," then are you trusting in the very best and only Savior? If you are trusting in Jesus and living in the power of the Spirit, then not only can you know "no condemnation," but you can also know this beautiful hope: "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." Jesus lives, and so will I!
Today's devotional begins our time in Romans 8, one of the most glorious chapters in all of Scripture. Our brief daily devotions won't be adequate to plumb the depths of this great section of God's word. I recommend Derek Thomas' book, How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home. You may also benefit from my sermon series through Romans 8, which you can find here and here.