October 3rd, 1954 @ 7:30 PM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-3-54 7:30 p.m.
In our preaching through the Word, last time the last part of the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans; and tonight we begin in the eighth chapter. And the text is the first verse of the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, and if you have your Bible turn toward it, and we will read it. And then keep your Bible open, and we will look at some of these things that Paul has written under the inspiration of the Spirit to the churches of God in the earth. Romans 8 and the first verse: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus. There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus” [Romans 8:1].
In the seventh chapter he had recorded the conflict of the inner life of the believer in Christ. Starting up there at the twenty-first verse of the seventh chapter of Romans:
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
The conflict inner, the struggle on the inside of the man who has given his life to God; then the outbreak:
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
And then the grand avowal:
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. With my mind, my inner heart, my spirit I myself serve the will and the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.
You have a chapter heading there, and it divides the verses; but it is artificial, and when Paul wrote it, by no means was there any such suggestion as a separation between those glorious verses. Every man who gives his life to Christ and who follows the will of God shall find himself in a conflict, in an inner struggle, in an agony of spirit. But in our agony and in our trial and in the battle of the soul, there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus. Conflict yes, but no condemnation [Romans 8:1].
In the midst of the hottest of the battle, we still are justified. And in our agony and in our trial, we still can lay hold upon the word and the promise of God: “There is therefore now no condemnation” [Romans 8:1]. Whipped by the devil, dragged at the chariot wheels of sin, ground between the upper and nether stones of Satan, powdered and bruised and crushed in the mortar and pestle of the hand of our adversary, we still can triumphantly say, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus” [Romans 8:1]. All of us who have fled—poor, prodigal sinners that we are—for refuge in Jesus, this is our verse: “There is no condemnation to them in Christ Jesus.” Poverty yes, but no condemnation; depression of spirit, sometimes yes, but no condemnation; frustration and defeat, weakness, miserable agony, interceding, crying unto God, faults and failures yes, but no condemnation! “There is therefore no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus” [Romans 8:1].
And you have in your King James Version a concluding word in that verse: “Who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” [Romans 8:1]. Somebody wrote that; we don’t know who did it. It’s not in the original, it’s not in the text; Paul didn’t put it there. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus,” period! [Romans 8:1]. And somebody who came along transcribing these texts in the years and the hundreds of years ago, seeing that verse, said, “We can’t let that stand like that. My fellow Presbyterian minister,” the fellow read that and said, “Why, it’s not possible for a man to be saved just being in Christ Jesus, you’ve got to do something else besides trust in the Lord. There must be some work there; there must be somewhat to offer unto God, of sanctity and holiness there. And so back yonder, years and years ago, a man reading that said, “We don’t believe a man can be saved by just trusting in the Lord”; so he added to it: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
Over here in the last chapter of the Book of the Revelation, one of those copyists did the same thing. In your King James Version, which is a translation of the Textus Receptus, you have it translated here, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates into the city” [Revelation 22:14]. A copyist did that. Here’s what John wrote: “Blessed are they that washed their robes, that looked to Jesus, that trust in Him, blessed are they that washed their robes, that they may have right to the tree of life” [Revelation 22:14]. And a copyist saw that and said, “That can’t stand. That can’t stand. We’ve got to change this.” So he changed it, “Blessed are they that do His commandments.” No, sir, not according to the Book, not according to the Bible, not according to the Holy Spirit: no man can ever be saved by doing commandments. Satan laughs at laws and moralities, and God Himself scorns your righteousness as though they were filthy rags [Isaiah 64:6]. If a man is saved, he’s saved by refuge, by fleeing to, by hiding himself in the Lord Jesus. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus” [Romans 8:1].
Do you notice that word “therefore”? We better look at that. A man who’s got a “therefore” back of what he says doesn’t have to stammer; he speaks with authority, he speaks with certainty, he speaks under the power and aegis of the Almighty God; and Paul speaks thus there. “There is therefore”—wonder what that “therefore” refers to? That word “therefore” refers to all of the things he has said previously in this marvelous epistle to the church at Rome. What are those things that Paul had said?
In the first and the second and the third chapters, Paul was saying that all of the world is guilty before God. In the third chapter and the nineteenth verse he sums it up, that, “All of the world may become guilty before God” [Romans 3:19]. Whether a man lives over yonder or here, whether his skin is white or black, whether he’s learned or unlearned, whether he’s rich or poor, male or female, young or old, all alike: we’re condemned before God; we’re lost sinners in God’s sight [Romans 3:23]. That’s what Paul was saying in the first three chapters of the Book of Romans.
Then in the fourth chapter, Paul was saying that we are saved not by our good works, not by our merit, not by our keeping of any law, not by walking according to any commandment, but we are saved by trusting the Lord Jesus Christ. [Romans 4:5], “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith, his trust, his committal to Jesus is counted for righteousness”; Jesus, who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” [Romans 4:25].
Then in the fifth chapter of the Book of Romans he says that all of us who have trusted in Christ have received the covenant of grace through Him. All of us are in Jesus as our federal head [Ephesians 1:22; 1 Corinthians 15:22]. In the fifth chapter of Romans and the eighteenth verse, “Therefore as by the offense of one, Adam, judgment came upon all men to condemnation”; all of us sentenced to die, all of us belonging to a mortal race, the descendants, the children of old man Adam. “Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One, by the free gift in Christ Jesus, grace and salvation and mercy came upon all men unto justification of life” [Romans 5:18]. These of us who have flown to the Lord for refuge and have found in Him an abiding place, we are one with the Lord Jesus. Our Savior, our representative and our champion, for us He kept the law, He obeyed all righteousness; and His goodness and His virtue are imputed unto us [2 Corinthians 5:21], and we cannot be condemned because we are one in Him [Romans 8:1].
In the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans, he describes that mystical, that vital, and that living union that we have in Christ Jesus; and he likens it in the form of baptism. We are buried with the Lord in the likeness of His death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also walk in newness, in victory, in the triumph of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection [Romans 6:3-6]. We have died with Christ; we are raised with Christ. As Christ is, we are. If He is condemned, we are condemned; but if He is justified, we are justified in Him. We are one in Christ Jesus.
Then in the seventh chapter at the beginning, he likens that mystical union of the believer in Christ, he likens it unto a marriage: “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” [Romans 7:4]. We’re no longer married to the law, no longer married to death, no longer married to dead works; but we have been espoused to another: we are the bride of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are one with Him; one flesh, one love, one devotement, one commitment, one and eternal and everlasting life, marriage to the Lord Jesus Christ. We belong to Him; we are His.
Sometimes that oneness of figure is used: the vine and the branch; as the branch is one with the vine, so we are one in Christ Jesus [John 15:4]. Sometimes the Lord will use the figure of a foundation stone: as the stone is one with the foundation, so we are one in Christ Jesus [1 Peter 2:4-6]. And sometimes the Bible will use the figure of the members of the body: as the members of the body are one with the head, so we are one with the head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ [Ephesians 5:23]. If the head can be condemned, then we can be condemned. But if the head is justified, we are justified. If my head is acquitted, my hand is acquitted. No man can be drowned if his head is above the water. You can’t drown a man by his feet: as long as his head is free and above, you can’t drown him. As long as the Head of the body of Christ—our Savior—as long as He is above the storm and the current of condemnation, His sinless members cannot be lost, cannot be condemned, cannot fall under the sentence of death. We are one in Him [1 Corinthians 12:13].
And through it all, through it all, “There is therefore now no condemnation” [Romans 8:1], through it all Paul in the chapters here in Romans is talking about our great substitute and sin-bearer: He who died in our stead:
God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
And we rejoice in God, by whom we have now received that blessed atonement.
He died for us and in our stead [Romans 5:8]. And the law never demands but one death, just one, just one. When a criminal is condemned and he’s hanged, or he’s electrocuted, or he’s in the gas chamber, and his life is forfeited, the law is satisfied; it never demands but one death. And Christ died that death for us: the penalty is paid; I don’t pay it again. The debt is paid; I don’t pay it again. He was our substitute: He died for us. “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, under condemnation and under the sentence of death, Christ died in our stead, in our place” [Romans 5:8]. He did that for us, for you, for me, for us!
I, in my reading, Charles Haddon Spurgeon of England, and Dwight L. Moody of America, both of the men living in the same generation, happened to come across the same story, and both of them told it. I’ve read it in both of their messages. It’s this: in one of the French wars, a man’s name was drawn for the battle. And because of other considerations, a friend stepped in and took the place of the man. And that friend went into the war, and in the battle he was slain. In the years after, the man’s name was drawn again. And when he appeared before the law, he said, “My name has been drawn, and I went to the war, and I was slain; and I cannot be impressed into the service again.” And they found out that his friend had taken his place, and had fought in his place, and had died in his stead. And according to the law, the man was free: he had already fought, he had already died, and he was free! His friend had taken his place.
So it is in the condemnation and the wrath of the judgment of God upon our sins: “The wages of sin is death” [Romans 6:23], and “The soul that sins shall die” [Ezekiel 18:4]. And who dies? I must die, or somebody else. I must pay the penalty, or somebody else. Christ has done it for us. He took our penalty, He took our place, He died in our stead [1 Corinthians 15:3]; “There is therefore now no condemnation, no death, no judgment to face, to them who are in Christ Jesus” [Romans 8:1]. We stand free. We stand forgiven. We stand saved. We stand justified. We stand accepted in the presence of the courts of glory; no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.
We must take the whole text: “There is therefore now no condemnation”; and many there are who would stop, “no condemnation.” Many there are who say, “The Lord is merciful; He would not condemn. The Lord is full of grace and mercy; He would not judge. The Lord is full of compassion and sympathy; He would not rebuke. The Lord is so loving and kind, He would not consign to eternal perdition even the least of His creatures.” There are many who say that today. “There is no condemnation,” and they stop there. Paul doesn’t say that. Jesus doesn’t say that. The Bible doesn’t say that. This Bible is full of the terrible thunder and fury of Almighty God upon the error and the transgression of man’s sins. From its beginning until its ending there are those awful thunderings and judgments of Almighty God against our iniquities and our transgressions. It’s a gospel of Satan, it’s the promise of the devil, when he whispers in your ear, “Yea, hath God said, Thou shalt surely die? Thou shalt not surely die” [Genesis 3:1-4], Satan whispers in your ear. “That’s a false gospel. It’s a false hope, it’s an illusion, There is no condemnation.”
Outside of Christ there is nothing but condemnation! All of us are lost and undone sinners outside of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh! those words, Hebrews 10:27: “Outside of Christ, nothing left but a certain fearful looking for of fiery judgment and indignation.” Again, John 3:18: “He that believeth [on Him] is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already”; not going to be, already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And the last verse in that same chapter, John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God, the wrath of God, the burning fury and judgment of Almighty God, they rest and they lie upon him!”
“There is therefore now no condemnation”—can’t stop there, it’s condemnation, it’s the judgment, it’s the wrath of God everywhere, except one where, except one place, except one refuge, except one hope, except one gift, except one grace, except one proffered mercy, except in one Somebody: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus” [Romans 8:1], who fly to Him for refuge and for hope, who bow in His presence, who look up into His glorious face, who find their strength and their salvation in Him. And to those who are in Christ Jesus, Paul writes here in the eighth chapter of Romans so gloriously and so triumphantly, he challenges heaven and it echoes through all hell: listen to Paul as he says, “What shall we say then? If God be for us, who can be against us?” [Romans 8:31]. And again, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also give us all things?” [Romans 8:32]. Again, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?” Who is going to do it? Who is going to accuse us? Satan? Anybody? God’s elect, “It is God that justifieth” [Romans 8:33]. In Christ Jesus—we may stammer and stutter, be feeble and fail, falter, be defeated, go down—but in Christ, it is God that justifies those who trust in Him. And who is equal to God? “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus?” [Romans 8:34-35]. All that we need, all that shall save us, all that shall keep us is in the Lord Jesus Christ. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus” [Romans 8:1].
When I’m in myself, I’m in sin. When I’m in myself, I’m in the flesh. When I’m in myself, I’m in condemnation. When I’m in self, I’m ultimately in the wrath and perdition of the eternal burning of a never-ending hell. When I’m in myself, I’m lost, I’m lost, I’m lost! But when I’m in Christ Jesus, when I’m in the Lord Jesus, when I trust my soul to the Lord, when I am in Him, when I commit my life and my way to Him [Romans 10:9-10], when I’m in Christ, there is no condemnation [Romans 8:1], there’s no lostness, there’s no judgment, there’s no fire, there’s no burning, there’s no wrath, there’s no hell, there is nothing but the promise of the ultimate victory of the glory of God in Christ Jesus. You are saved in Him. You are safe in Him, eternally, forever you are at one in Him, in Christ [John 10:27-30]; no condemnation to them in Christ Jesus [Romans 8:1].
As the man in the days of the Flood, in the ark, in the ark, as the heavens grew dark, and the fountains of the deep broke, and the waters rose, the ark floated on the bosom of the deep; and Noah was safe inside, inside the ark [Genesis 7:13-24]. As the children of Israel were saved under the blood of that awful Passover night, when the death angel, when the death angel scrutinized the doorposts and the lintels of all of the homes and the families of Egypt, under the blood, under the blood the Israelite was safe, he was safe [Exodus 12:7, 12-13, 22-23]. As Moses was safe in the cleft of the rock, God said, “Moses, no man could see My face and live.” And the Lord God took Moses and put him in a cleft of the rock, and covered him there with His hand, while His glory passed by [Exodus 33:20-23]; Where Fanny Crosby, got that beautiful song,
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my soul in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.
[“He Hideth My Soul,” Fanny J. Crosby]
Will the devil get us? Will we be lost? Will we finally stumble into the perdition and the fire of an eternal judgment? Will we? Could we? “There is therefore no condemnation, no judgment, to them who are in Christ Jesus” [Romans 8:1]; held in the hollow of His hand, saved, saved forever, forever [John 10:27-30]. That’s the hope and the promise, that’s the gift of God: eternal life in Christ Jesus; looking to Him—not to the church, not to the ordinances, not to our good works, not to the keeping of the law, not to the obeying of the Commandments. Our hearts in Him, loving the Lord, given to the Lord, and all of the rest of the beautiful and precious ways that ought to adorn and embellish the life of those who are in Christ Jesus; it follows beautifully thereafter. There’s Somebody helping then, Somebody keeping then, Somebody guarding then, Somebody guiding then, if we’re in Christ Jesus [Romans 8:1].
And that’s our appeal to your heart tonight. While we sing this song, while we press this appeal, anywhere, anywhere, everywhere, somebody you, give his heart to the Lord [Romans 10:9-13], come into the fellowship of this church; while we sing this hymn, into the aisle and down here by the side of the pastor. Would you come tonight? “Preacher, tonight I give my heart and my life to the Lord Jesus, looking to Him, looking to Him” [Ephesians 2:8]. Some of you already saved and already baptized, while we make this appeal would you come and share with us this gracious ministry, the blessed hope we have in the promise, in the death, in the resurrection, in the intercession, in the glorious coming again of our Lord Jesus? [Romans 8:23-25; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Titus 2:13-14]. While we make the appeal, into the aisle and down by my side, would you come, while we stand and while we sing?