No Longer Condemned

Bible Book: Selected Passages 
Subject: Grace, God's; Reconciliation; Forgiveness

Colossians 1:21-22; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:1-2

Rioting and looting are far too present in many of our cities today.  Many of you will remember the riots that took place in South Central Los Angeles several years ago. Buildings were burning and stores were being looted. During all the confusion, an unsuspecting truck driver named Reginald Denny made a wrong turn and ended up in an area of some of the worst rioting. Millions of people were watching as a news helicopter filmed what happened live. Denny was pulled from his truck after the window was smashed with a brick. Two men pulled him from his cab and threw bricks at him, beat him with a broken bottle and kicked him in the face until he lost consciousness, permanently damaging him. Somehow, he lived through the ordeal. When the case came to court, the men who had beaten him were hardened and belligerent. They showed no sign of remorse. Once again, the media was filming live as they panned the courtroom. Reginald Denny’s face was still swollen and distorted from the merciless beating he took. The nation watched as Denny got out of his seat, against the protests of his attorneys, and walked over to the mothers of his assailants and hugged them as he told them he forgave their sons. They returned his hugs, and one mother said that she loved him. Whether or not his actions had any effect on his attackers, we do not know.

Let me remind you that this is exactly what God has done for you. It is called grace. The men in the courtroom did not deserve forgiveness; they did not ask for it, and they had done nothing to deserve it, but it was offered without condition

But in the same way, the world mutilated Jesus — his body was disfigured from the beatings and the torture of the cross. The world was expressing its hatred of him at the same time his arms were open wide with the offer of forgiveness and reconciliation. Before we ever thought of God, he was walking toward us to embrace us and give us his forgiveness

The Bible puts it like this: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation,” (Colossians 1:21_22). The Bible tells us: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8). This is grace: We are given forgiveness and love when we do not deserve them. In fact, we still do not deserve it, nor will we ever deserve it. Grace means that God has forgotten about my past sin, so I should too. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 8:1-2: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”  Grace means that forgiveness and reconciliation with God have come, not based on what we have done, but on who God is

What should we know about this wonderful free expression of God’s love?

I.  Grace is the defining element of the Christian faith

A. Is Christianity really different?

Several years ago they held a symposium in Britain on comparative religions, with scholars from all around the world. They debated whether there was any belief, which was unique to the Christian faith. Was there anything there, which was not taught by the other great world religions? They discussed doctrines like the incarnation and the resurrection. But other religions spoke of gods appearing in human form and accounts of people returning after death, though they usually spoke of it in terms of reincarnation. C.S. Lewis wandered into the room as the debate was in full heat. He asked what all the arguing was about and was told that they were trying to discover if there was anything that was taught in Christianity that was not taught by other world religions. Lewis replied, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.” There was some discussion about his remark, but finally the other scholars had to agree

1. The idea that God’s love comes to us freely, with no strings attached and asking nothing in return, seemed to go against what they taught in all the other man-made religions of the world

a. The Buddhist’s eight-fold path was a religious walk based solely on the individual’s performance

b. The Hindu doctrine of karma with its successive phases which determine a person’s destiny was based on certain things a person accomplished

c. The Muslim’s have the code of the law which must be followed precisely to enter into paradise

d. These are ways that a person must work to earn approval. Christianity alone makes God’s love and acceptance something which is offered to undeserving human beings without cost or condition. It clarifies that it cannot be earned; it comes as a free gift.  The Bible says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

f. All the other religions with their gods and goddesses count people’s sins against them.  Reconciliation is a difficult, if not impossible, climb for them. But Christians understand that the true God of heaven is one who is full of compassion and mercy.  Friends, God wants to be reunited with us more than we want to be reconciled with him. And the cost of this reconciliation is free — paid for by the offended party. This is the central and defining element of the Christian faith. God’s love and forgiveness cannot be earned — it comes as a free gift.

2. Grace means that you no longer have to be perfect

A. What's so amazing about grace

Philip Yancey, in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace?, tells the following story:

“A vagrant lives near the Fulton Fish Market on the lower east side of Manhattan. The slimy smell of fish carcasses and entrails nearly overpowers him, and he hates the trucks that noisily arrive before sunrise. But midtown gets crowded, and the cops harass him there. Down by the wharves nobody bothers with a grizzled man who keeps to himself and sleeps on a loading dock behind a Dumpster.  Early one morning when the workers are slinging eel and halibut off the trucks, yelling to each other in Italian, the vagrant rouses himself and pokes through the Dumpsters behind the tourist restaurants. An early start guarantees good pickings: last night’s uneaten garlic bread and French fries, nibbled pizza, a wedge of cheesecake. He eats what he can stomach and stuffs the rest in a brown paper sack. The bottles and cans he stashes in plastic bags in his rusty shopping cart. The morning sun, pale through harbor fog, finally makes it over the buildings by the wharf. When he sees the ticket from last week’s lottery lying in a pile of wilted lettuce, he almost lets it go. But by force of habit he picks it up and jams it in his pocket. In the old days, when luck was better, he used to buy one ticket a week, never more. It’s past noon when he remembers the ticket stub and holds it up to the newspaper box to compare the numbers. Three numbers match, the fourth, fifth-all seven! It can’t be true. Things like that don’t happen to him. Bums don’t win the New York Lottery.  But it is true. Later that day he is squinting into the bright lights as television crews present the newest media darling, the unshaven, baggy pants vagrant who will receive $243,000 per year for the next twenty years. A chic looking woman wearing a leather miniskirt shoves a microphone in his face and asks, “How do you feel?” He the stares back dazed, and catches a whiff of her perfume. It has been a long time, a very long time, since anyone has asked him that question.”

“He feels like a man who has been to the edge of starvation and back, and is beginning to fathom that he’ll never feel hunger again.”  What did that beggar do to deserve receiving several million dollars? Absolutely nothing! He had not even bought the winning ticket. All he did was pick it up and cash it in to receive his prize. Someone else had thrown it away as though it was useless, but he saw its potential worth. He had not worked for a long time. He did not earn the money. They gave the check to him as a free gift, without conditions. He did not have a job or an education. He did not have to do anything but accept the check.

B. Having a relationship with God does not depend on how well we do or how perfect we are.

It is based solely on the mercy and grace of God.  The Bible says, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4_5) Here is the unique message of the Christian faith

C. What grace means

Phil Yancey writes, “Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more.... And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.”

3. Grace inspires us to no longer live in sin

A. Fear is a poor motivator

One thing I have learned over the years, as a parent and as a pastor, is that guilt is a poor motivator. Some people are afraid to talk too much about grace out of fear that people will no longer think obedience is important. You can motivate people through guilt, but it does not last very long. You can force your children to obey your rules while they are home, but once they are away, and you are no longer there to enforce the rules, the rules will not stick. You can motivate employees through fear and intimidation, but you find that they will do only what is absolutely necessary, and that resentment will fill your place of business. There are some coaches who try to motivate through humiliation — pointing out everything a player did wrong — even doing it in front of the public. If you want to rip the heart out of a team there is no better way to do it.  My friends, you need to let your team know that you believe in them; let your employee know you appreciate them; let your child know that they have your approval even if they fail, and see what difference grace makes.

B. Guilt and fear are poor motivators

Grace and fear are poor motivators, but love motivates us inwardly, from the heart, to do our best.  If we were to scrutinize the thoughts, decisions and actions of our life on any day, we would find that even the best of them would be filled with selfish purposes and wrong motivations

4. Grace must be received

A. I can hold out to you the greatest gift in the world, but if you never receive it, it is never yours. And here is the tough part, because if you cannot admit that you need grace, you can never receive it. If you never admit that you are guilty you can never receive forgiveness — you will not understand your need of it

B. Pascal said, “Truly it is an evil to be full of faults, but it is a still greater evil to be full of them, and to be unwilling to recognize them”


Because of the death of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary, GRACE has been extended to every one of us.  Have you reached out to Jesus and accepted his marvelous gift of grace?  Are you extending the gift of grace to others?   His marvelous grace is available to everyone today.  As you open your heart to accept his free grace, lets sing the old hymn Grace Greater than our Sin.  I love the first stanza and refrain:

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled


Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin