Recently, I was invited to share at a Bible study. One man stood up and prophesied that God was about to judge America. He announced, “Because America has allowed abortions, homosexuality, and blatant sexual sins, God is angry at America.” He continued, “In Deuteronomy 28 there are five curses for every blessing. If you do not repent, you will be under a curse. Because of America’s sin, sickness and poverty will come upon you.”
I interrupted him and said, “Sir, all of God’s judgment was poured out on Jesus at the cross. Jesus took the curse. God now looks at us through the blood of Jesus. God does not curse us, He looks at us from a place of mercy, love, and forgiveness.”
The man was offended at my words but I continued, “In the Old Testament, we see God’s judgment. His wrath burned against the Israelites during the time of Moses. Fire and brimstone rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah. Elijah called down fire from heaven. But, in the New Testament, Jesus revealed God as a loving Father. All of God’s judgment was poured out on Jesus at the cross. The cross makes all the difference in the world. It is the dividing line between God’s judgment and His love.”
I finished by turning to the most radical verse in the Bible, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
In Old Testament times, God was angry at those who broke the Law. But Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the Law. So God is not angry anymore! God is not mad at America or the world, God is smiling at the world. God is not judging America. God is not judging you. His mercy triumphs over His judgment. God is not up in heaven trying to beat you up. He is in heaven reaching out to you. Even when people are living in sin, God still loves them and offers them the hope of salvation. We are not “sinners in the hands of an angry God,” we are sinners in the hands of a merciful God.
Jesus did not come to condemn, curse, or judge the world. Jesus told Nicodemus, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17).
Why do I call Romans 8:1 the most radical verse in the Bible? Because it completely sets the believer free from condemnation for doing wrong.
On another occasion, right when I was celebrating the fact that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ,” a holiness preacher quoted the rest of the Scripture to me, “There is no condemnation to those…who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit”
“See,” he said, “if you walk in the flesh and start sinning, you will be right back under condemnation.”
This interpretation bothered me so much that I went and looked the Scripture up in my Greek New Testament. Did you know that this phrase “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” is not found in the original Greek? So, what is it doing there?
The translators were so blinded by their legalistic theology that they could not believe the verse as it was originally written—its declaration of freedom was so large. So they added a qualification to the verse. The good news of our absolute freedom in Christ was too radical for those translators to handle. And for many today it is still too radical. There is therefore, now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. No condemnation! Think about that for a little while.