On Wednesday nights this fall I am teaching a class on Romans 8, and I love the connection between the opening and closing thoughts of that chapter.
The chapter begins with these words, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”
The chapter ends with this passage: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The idea that is conveyed through the symmetry between these two passages is that since, through Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation, there is also no separation from God and his love.
Because God condemned sin in Jesus, we are justified through the righteousness of Christ, meaning that we are reconciled to God by the grace of God that offers us forgiveness of sin through the sacrifice Jesus made to pay the penalty of our sin. Since our sin has been dealt with through Christ, we can be at peace with God; and that peace is expressed and experienced through God’s presence in our lives, i.e. no separation from God and his love.
This tells us two important things: (1) sin separates us from God and (2) our separation is bridged by the grace of God and the work God has done on our behalf through Christ.
We cannot bridge the gap our sin creates between us and God. Only God is powerful enough to overcome the separation sin creates.
But the promises of “no condemnation” and “no separation” only apply to those who are “in Christ Jesus.” And in Romans 6:1-14 Paul explains that being “in Christ” requires being baptized into Christ’s death so that we can be resurrected to live a new life – a life of no condemnation and no separation.
Now, that’s good news!
But only for those who are “in Christ.”
So, are you “in Christ”?
If so, celebrate the grace you’ve received.
If not, what’s the next step toward Christ that you need to take?