Quite often you hear people talk about how hard it is to be a Christian. They talk about all the rules and regulations and laws and how if you make a mistake you’ll be condemned to hellfire and brimstone. Unbelievers in particular talk about God as if he were ready to damn every person for every mistake they ever made and that everyone is under the constant threat of condemnation and damnation.
If you have heard such talk too, then you need to read this post, because nothing could be further from the truth.
Jesus Came to Save
First up let’s look at those statements above. Who is it that makes such erroneous claims? Unbelievers. And what does an unbeliever know about the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Nothing! Zip! Nada! Zilch!
How can someone with no knowledge of something make any kind of a claim about that thing? And more to the point why should anyone listen to them? If you were ill and a mechanic said he could fix you by doing brain surgery, would you let him? Would you even listen to what he had to say in relation to your health? You might listen if you had a knock in the motor of your car, but on matters of your health, especially if surgery is needed, you want a trained surgeon! And it’s the same with matters of the Lord. Don’t listen to anyone who is an unbeliever speaking about Christianity because they haven’t got a clue.
Now back to the point here, in this section of scripture we see John wrote that Jesus came to save, not to condemn. Jesus brings salvation and life, not destruction and death. The purpose of Jesus’ visitation was to lead us to life and salvation through His sacrifice. He came to take away sin so that we do not have to live in fear of death and condemnation as the people of this world do.
The Truth About Condemnation
Who is it that condemns us? Well there are a few responses to this question and we should look at them all.
First and foremost we are condemned by the Devil. Satan is described in Revelation 12:10 in this way. “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”
Satan is the accuser of all who desire to follow the Lord. He stands in judgement condemning and accusing each and every one of those who come to Christ in an attempt to overwhelm them with his lies. But we see also in the few verses preceding this scripture in Revelation that he has already lost and was cast out of the presence of God. So we do not need to fear his condemnations.
The second group who condemn us are the unbelievers in this world. They are not on the side of Jesus but are on the side of the devil. So if the devil stands condemning and accusing the people of God, is it any wonder that his people do likewise. As for them being on the side of Satan, Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Luke 11:23)
The third group is a little harder to combat because it is…Ourselves. We do a darn good job sometimes of putting ourselves under condemnation. If we make a mistake we often fall into the trap of condemning ourselves and we can get all twisted and bitter about it which only makes matters worse. And yet in this scripture we see that Jesus came to save and not to condemn us. We know also that Paul wrote in Romans 8:1-2, “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.” So if Christ does not condemn us, and if there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, why do we condemn ourselves? Are we greater than God? If He has said we are not under condemnation who are we to say that we are still condemned? And when we do condemn ourselves we stand in a risky place because we become judges and it is not our place to judge. Judgement belongs to God, not us. So we should not and must not pronounce judgement even on ourselves before the time of judgement set by God. We do not have the right!
And finally the last thing that condemns us is the Law. This is a tough one because as Paul said, “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Romans 7:12) But we see also when Jesus was speaking to the Jews that the Law accuses us for it shows up sin for what it is and makes it thus more sinful. Jesus said, “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope.” (John 5:45) The Jews set their hope on the Law of Moses to lead to salvation, but it is the law that condemns sinners for their sin. As Christians we are called to set our hope on Jesus who provides salvation based on faith and not on the law.
You will have noted though that in this list above there is no mention of Jesus or God as one who condemns us, because they do not. The offer of God through Jesus Christ is freedom and salvation, not condemnation.
Real Freedom in Christ Jesus
Which brings me to freedom in Jesus Christ. Jesus came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29) He also came to set us free from the law as Paul showed in Romans 7:4-6.
4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.
5 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.
6 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.
You see in vs 4 we have died to the law and Paul reiterates this in vs 6 saying we are released from the law, all of which occurs when we enter the death of Jesus Christ. And how do we enter the death of Jesus Christ? Through our water baptism, for in it we go down into the water and are buried with Christ, and as we are raised out of the water we are resurrected with Christ and born again to a new life in the spirit. Paul explains this in Romans 5:3-4 saying,
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
But why would the Lord want us to be set free from the law if indeed it is holy, just and good? The reason is quite simple. It is the law that condemns us and convicts us of sin. So if Jesus was to totally remove sin from the world, he had to remove the law as well because while the law remains in effect it will continue to convict you of sin. But if the law is taken away there is no sin. And these are not my words for Paul wrote,
“For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.” (Romans 4:15), and
“…sin is not counted where there is no law.” (Romans 5:13)
So if you remove the law you also remove sin. But some will argue that you can’t remove the law because people will do whatever they like and will continue to sin. And what happens if the law is removed and we make a mistake and slip up. Is it still sin? No it isn’t because where there is no law there is no sin. That is where Gods grace comes into play. He knows we are not perfect and that we will slip up, but in His grace he has already covered us for all of our sins, past, present and future. This is the power of the blood of Jesus Christ to release us from all sin so that we can live in the freedom of the truth of Jesus Christ.
The grace of God is not given to allow us to continue to sin. It is given so that we will repent and turn to God to seek out how to live a life pleasing to him.
And we have this by faith alone through accepting what God has done through Jesus Christ on our behalf. To receive this freedom from sin and the law in the grace of God all we must do is to believe it, as Paul wrote,
11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.
13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Verse 11 tells us how we are to think. Have faith in Jesus Christ and consider yourself to be dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ. This is the faith that we have in our baptism for it is through baptism that we died and are raised with Christ.
Then we see in the following verses above that we are not set free to do whatever we like or to let sin continue to reign in our bodies. We have been set free to do what is right and to serve God in righteousness.
And finally in verse 14 he shows us that as we continue to walk with Christ when we slip up it is covered, for we are not under the power of sin but under the grace of God.
And this is why John wrote that Jesus came to save man and not to condemn him.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Arjun Kartha)
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