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Sabbath School Insights
2010 Quarter 3: Jul - Sep
Insight #09, August 28, 2010
Third Quarter 2010 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Freedom In Christ”
For the week of August 22 - 28, 2010
Romans chapter eight begins with no condemnation in Christ and ends with no separation from Him. Condemnation is a legal sentence from a judge in court. Justification, or acquittal, is the opposite of condemnation. E.J. Waggoner wrote of this in 1891:
“[L]et us have some definitions to keep in our mind. Justification is ‘a showing to be just, or conformable to law, rectitude, or propriety.’ Condemnation is ‘the judicial act of declaring guilty, and dooming to punishment.’ The two words are directly opposite in meaning; and we have the inspired declaration that all the world are guilty (condemned) before God, and that by the deeds of the law none can be justified” (E.J. Waggoner, Signs of the Times, November 23, 1891. He used these legal definitions in articles in this magazine on March 25, 1886 and September 11, 1884).
Ellen White wrote earlier in that same year concerning the difference between justification and condemnation. She stated: “Justification is the opposite of condemnation” (Ellen White, Manuscript 21, 1891, pp. 1-11).
Following is a Biblical Dictionary definition justification:
“As regards its nature [justification], it is the judicial act of God… . It is the act of a judge and not of a sovereign. The law is not relaxed or set aside…” (Easton, M. (1996, c1897). Easton's Bible Dictionary).
In order to lift the sentence of condemnation that rightfully belongs to us, because of our transgressions of the law, Jesus had to die for us, as us. He is both our Substitute and our Representative. Instead of condemnation, our sentence of acquittal was declared at Calvary in Christ.
Justification is both a judicial term – a word from the courts of law – and an experiential term. Justification becomes experiential when a person believes. It effects a change in the mind and heart. When we accept Christ “by faith” a change, even the new birth, occurs.
In judgment, justification is the gracious act of God, who sits as Judge in the high court of Heaven. By this act He pronounced, concerning the fallen human race, a decree of restoration to divine favor. This was because Christ, the Representative of humanity, exhausted the penalty for man’s transgressions of the law on Calvary. God’s justice was satisfied in the death penalty contained in the sentence of condemnation imposed on the fallen human race in its Representative.
“Justice moved from its high and awful position, and the heavenly hosts, the armies of holiness, drew near to the cross, bowing with reverence; for at the cross justice was satisfied” (Ellen White, “The Signs of the Times,” June 5, 1893).
The freedom from condemnation, in Christ, comes because of what God did in Christ. This is stated plainly in Romans 8:3 –
“For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh” (The NET Bible, First Edition).
Because of our sinful nature, the law cannot free us from condemnation. It can never justify. It can only condemn us. In order for us to become free from condemnation, God sent Jesus and “made Him to be sin for us.” Therefore we may be not only legally justified, but also justified experientially through faith in Him. Jesus was born “under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Galatians 4:4–5). He took our condemnation “under the law.” Jesus was sent in sinful human flesh like ours in order to condemn sin in our fallen flesh.
How did He do this? First of all, He never gave in to the clamoring tendencies to sin inherent within our nature. By conquering these tendencies He condemned them where they reside – in our fallen nature. Secondly, He took our committed sins upon Himself, along with our fallen human nature. In His death He condemned our sins forever. The completeness of Christ’s condemnation is found in the fact that He condemned sin in its tendency, as well as taking the condemnation that resulted from our committed sins. If Jesus had failed to condemn sin on a single point, He could not be a complete Savior. A.T. Jones commented regarding this:
“O, He is a complete Saviour. He is a Saviour from sins committed and the Conqueror of the tendencies to commit sins. In Him we have the victory. We are no more responsible for these tendencies being in us than we are responsible for the sun shining, but every man on earth is responsible for these things appearing in open action in Him, because Jesus Christ has made provision against their ever appearing in open action. Before we learned of Christ, many of them had appeared in open action. The Lord hath laid upon Him all these and He has taken them away. Since we learned of Christ, these tendencies which have not appeared He condemned as sin in the flesh” (A.T. Jones, General Conference Bulletin, February 21, 1895, p. 267)
Christ was condemned as we deserve, that we might be justified as He deserves. He was condemned as us, that we might be free in Him. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him” (Isaiah 53:5). He suffered the condemnation which was ours, that we might receive the freedom which was His. “With His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Are you free in Christ?