There are some who are not concerned about their sin because they think they are good people.
He was a man who was the self-proclaimed chief of sinners.
And the hope Paul offers those who feel their own unrighteousness is not some sort of positive feel good self-esteem type message.
If you take the time to read the beginning of Romans you will find in fact just the opposite.
He makes it clear that we are much worse than we actually think we are. “There is none good, no not one.”
There are others who are not concerned about their sin because they think God doesn’t care.
Paul knew God to be the perfectly holy Judge who will not let one sin go unpunished. He Himself writes, “For the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.”
Yet even still this great sinner stands in the presence of a most Holy God and says without hesitation,
I know I will not be condemned.
That’s the idea behind the question, “Who is there to condemn?” It might sound at first as if Paul were wondering. But this is not so much of a question really as it is a declaration. It is as if Paul is standing in the throne room of God on judgment day, before the Holy, all knowing, all powerful judge of the universe. And as he stands before the Almighty all knowing Judge of the Universe, he is looking about him confidently crying out, ‘Who is there, who is there in this entire universe, who will step forward now and say I am worthy of being punished?’”
Which is really a remarkable thing to say, especially in light of who the apostle Paul is and who he knew God to be.
We look at who Paul was, a former persecutor of the church, a man who threw women and children into prison for believing in Christ, whose whole being at one time was literally filled with hate for those who were following Christ.
We look at who God is, a God whose eyes are too pure to look on evil, who is everywhere and sees everything, and knows everything.
And we look at what Paul says, not denying his sinfulness or God’s holiness, yet this Paul standing before this God, so assured of God’s acceptance that he can ask this question, who is there to condemn?
And we find ourselves asking, how can this be? How could Paul be so confident about his relationship with God?
Understanding the answer to that question is the key to understand why you if you are a believer do not have to despair over your sin.
We have in the passage before us four reasons why no matter how unrighteous you feel if you are a repentant sinner who has been genuinely converted and united to Christ you can be confident about your relationship with God no matter what you have done. They all center on Jesus Christ and His Work. I want us to consider the four facets of Christ’s work that gave Paul confidence so that those of you who are believers might have confidence as well.
His answer begins with the death of Christ.
“Christ Jesus is the One who died.”
If you are a believer the first reason you don’t have to despair over your sin no matter how unrighteous you feel is Christ’s death.
There are lots of questions I can understand that people ask about God.
Like how could God become man or how can the Bible be written by God and humans at the same time, but one question I cannot understand is the question, how can God punish sin? I mean would you look at this world? Would you look at your own heart?
Our sin deserves to be punished.
There’s no way we can change that.
And the judgment it deserves is eternal death.
So God sent His Son to absorb the judgment our sin deserved. That is what is happening on the cross. You might picture God with His bow, the bow of His wrath, and it is pointed right at you; but He turns, and He takes the arrows of His wrath and He launches them at His Son Jesus Christ instead of you.
We can stand before the all knowing Most Holy Judge of the Universe with confidence because the Bible tells us on the cross Jesus Christ fully paid the penalty for ever sin believers have ever committed or will ever commit.
We don’t have to fear God’s punishment for our sin, because in the death of Christ, God has already punished it.
Which sounds nice, but sometimes feel far from us.
I am sure that if you or I had a court date, we were on trial for something we supposedly did, we would be concerned.
But if we had some sort of definitive proof of our innocence, much of our concerns would be taken care of. In fact, when we started to become concerned about the trial we would probably go back and think about the proof we had and how we were going to make our case. Which is exactly what we need to do when we begin to despair over our sin. We need to go back to the cross and think long and hard about Jesus’ death and what it means for us.
It is the definitive proof of innocence.
Or maybe better, it is proof the Judge is for us.
The cross tells us it is not about us frantically searching for ways to satisfy the Judge, it is about the Judge providing a way for His justice to be satisfied for us.
That’s what is happening on the cross.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
One of the keys to overcoming discouragement over sin is realizing the gospel is as good as God says it is.
The cross is definitive proof that the Judge is for us because it means every sin you have ever or will ever commit is forgiven.
It’s already been dealt with.
Paul puts it like this in Colossians 2:13,14…
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
Paul says we are forgiven all of our sins. That means past present and future sins. That means there’s not one single solitary sin that God is going to hold against the believer. All of our sins are taken care of by Christ’s work on the cross.
As one author explains so beautifully, “…there is not left in the book of God a single sin against a believer, nor can there possibly be even a particle of punishment ever exacted at the hand of the man who believes in Jesus for this reason, that Jesus has been punished to the full.”
It’s as if we had this tremendous debt we owed God – and Christ paid it – so God cancels it. Completely erases it, as if it never existed.
I mean to get specific you might take a moment and think of something you feel especially guilty about.
Maybe it’s pride, or maybe it’s sexual lust, maybe it’s slander, or maybe it’s anger at your children.
If you have put your faith in Christ, the guilt for that sin has been erased. Christ took the punishment that sin deserved at the cross. That means you can just write over the top of that sin, Jesus Christ. He bore it on the cross.
So we grieve over sin, but do we have to be overwhelmed by fear and guilt? No. Because we know that sin has been punished. It’s been dealt with. By Christ.
The debt’s been paid. No matter how unrighteous you may feel, if you are a genuine believer, you can be assured that you are not going to be condemned, because Jesus paid the penalty for your sins through His death.
The death of Christ is reason number one we don’t have to be discouraged over our sin.