Food for Friday

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1

An excited group of reporters gathered one Friday morning at a courtroom in the city hall building in Saint John. We were excited because of a message from police headquarters that a prominent politician was going to appear in that court on a serious criminal charge. As the court proceedings were called to order, and the judge took his place, we looked about but could see no sign of the politician in question. The judge picked up a sheet of paper, cleared his throat, and began to read. Yes, that politician’s name was on that sheet of paper. And the charge the judge read was a serious one, shocking us and the rest of the courtroom. As the judge finished reading, the Crown prosecutor stood up. ‘Your honour’, he declared, ‘we are withdrawing that charge’. We all gasped! The judge scribbled something on the paper, set it aside, and moved on to the next case. As soon as the court proceedings ended, we reporters gathered about the prosecutor as he left the courtroom. Most of us were personal friends of his, and he waited patiently as we got our microphones and cameras into place, smiled, and read a brief prepared statement. Just half an hour before the court convened, he said, new witnesses had come forward with evidence that completely cleared the politician of any wrongdoing. So there was no point in proceeding with the charges. Just like God will never proceed with charges against any Christian.

Unlike the politician who was innocent of the charge, you and I were clearly guilty. We were not only guilty, but we were also condemned already (John 3:18). We knew it, too, and confessed as such before we could be saved. So our declaration of no condemnation is far more significant than for the innocent politician. But if God has declared no condemnation for us, why is there condemnation for the unsaved people all around us? Because we are in Christ Jesus, our text proclaims, and they are not. In the politician’s case, there was never a crime, so there was nothing to condemn or punish. But in our case, there were plenty of crimes and there was punishment due. But the Lord Jesus has taken our punishment on Himself, and God has accepted his punishment in our place. The poet has well said ‘God will not payment twice demand, first at my bleeding Surety’s hand, and then again at mine’. ‘He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied; by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities’ – Isaiah 53:11.

We did not see the politician in the courtroom that day because the prosecutor had notified him in advance that there was no need for him to show up. Today’s text is God’s notification to us that we need never be concerned about showing up at the Great White Throne of judgment. Our text does not say there will be no condemnation, it says there is no condemnation. The clearing of all the charges from our record forever is something to appreciate today. Let this glorious truth thrill our souls! -Jim MacIntosh

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