“Men like you can never change.” (Romans 8:1)
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. —Romans 8:1
“Men like you can never change.”
Condemnation changes everything.
It stems from a crime. It removes freedom. It changes the trajectory of a life.
For more than 20 years, “Confrontation” has been my favorite song from the musical Les Miserables, the redemption story adapted from Victor Hugo’s book of the same name. The protagonist, Jean Valjean, has served 19 years in prison for stealing bread. His past conviction has marked him for life and he has hidden his criminal history to try and make a life for himself.
In the song, Valjean, now a successful businessman and mayor, encounters a policeman, Javert, who has been hunting him for years. In the beautifully written duet, the two men—criminal and lawman—sing over each other with the lawman repeating the powerful line, “Men like you can never change.” He makes clear what Valjean’s condemnation means: his identity, his future, everything, is defined by his condemnation.
This week’s Fighter Verse brings us to a key moment in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Looking back over the previous seven chapters, Paul assures his readers that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Why do Christians need to hear this? We have been “set free from sin” and have received eternal life, the “free gift of God” (Romans 6:22-23).
Put simply—we need to hear this encouragement because life this side of heaven is hard.
More times than I can count in the last few months, we have received messages from friends and family that have involved stories of hopelessness, powerlessness, or anxiety. Cancer. High risk pregnancies. Conflict at work. Strained marriages. There is a lack of peace. There is a deep sense of the brokenness in our sin-stained world.
But here in Romans 8:1, Paul reflects on the beauty of the work of redemption, even in light of the continuing impact of sin this side of heaven, and says: “Now! No. More. Condemnation.” Without a shadow of a doubt, the condemnation has been removed. No matter how things may appear. No matter how we feel about the past, no matter what we see in the present, those who are “in Christ Jesus” are free from condemnation. We’re not on the run anymore. Our future is secure.
That’s the heart of this battle over condemnation. Those who trust Jesus face a daily struggle to trust that Christ truly has removed our condemnation. That God has permanently altered our future.
This verse is the foundation of the powerful verses to come. We can be assured of our lack of condemnation because our justifying God gave up His Son to death so that there would be no charges against God’s elect (Romans 8:33-34). We are not and will not be condemned. Christ is at the right hand of the king. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Walk in that truth, Christian. Run with abandon in that blood-bought reality. Know that the king has declared you innocent because of the work of His Son. You are not and will not be condemned.
What brokenness are you seeing in the world that is causing you to doubt that your condemnation has been removed?
What practical steps do you need to take to cast your anxieties about those things on Him, knowing He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)?
How should the truth that you are not “on the run” anymore change your life today?