Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Romans 8:33-34 (NKJV)
The question in verse 33 is a legal question. Imagine standing in a courtroom and the prosecuting attorney points his finger at you, looks to the crowd and says, “Who can lay a charge of sin against this person?” The point of these charges is to bring you to a place of condemnation. The crowd waits silently as they know there is One in the room who knows all about your life. He knows every single detail of your life. As He stands to speak the crowd leans in to hear because they fully expect Him to lay the smack down on you and they want to be sure to hear.
The prosecuting attorney asks Him, “Do you have any charges to bring against this person?” God looks at you and then He looks at the prosecutor and says, “No, because of my Son I declare him to be righteous.” The prosecutor’s face twists with rage as he starts listing very real sins that you are guilty of and then says to God, “Now what do you say?” God replies, “What you’ve said about his sin is true. However, I have justified him through my son and I have no charges to bring against him now or ever.”
This really is the picture here. Will God ever bring a charge against us or accuse us now that we are a part of His elect? No, because He is the one who justifies us. Justification is the legal act where God declares believing sinners to be righteous. This declaration is only made because of your faith in Jesus. God is not going to declare you righteous one minute and then turn around and say, “Not really. Look at all the things you’ve done wrong.” He won’t do this because He has declared you, a believing sinner, to be righteous through your faith in Jesus.
So, if God won’t bring charges against us, will anyone condemn us? Imagine again the courtroom scene. The prosecutor cries out, “Who will condemn this person?” The prosecutor knows that there is one man in the room and He above all others has the right to condemn you and so he goes to Him. The man stands up, holds out his hands that are horribly scarred and says, “I do not condemn him because I have already taken the punishment for his crimes. He is now and forever free from condemnation.”
Again, this is the picture here. Just as God doesn’t bring charges against us because He is the one who has justified us, so Jesus will not condemn us because He is the one who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He not only died for our sins but He also rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and now actively intercedes on our behalf. Think about what we are seeing here. Not only does Jesus not condemn us but He also actively intercedes for us.
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1 (NKJV)
What is the standard that God calls on us to meet? The standard is that we don’t sin. However if we do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. What if Jesus never condemned believers? What if, instead condemning believers, Jesus always acted as our defense attorney? What if this was true not only when we were “good” but also when we were “bad?”
I like this statement from Pastor Mark Driscoll. “If you are a Christian, God is not punishing you when you suffer. Jesus died for you, so your punishment has been paid. You will suffer because of your sin, sin of someone else, or consequence of the Fall. But, God is not punishing you. So, run to Him & not from Him.”
What if this was really true? If this was really true, would it influence your actions, your reactions and your attitudes when you suffered? Isn’t this statement what Paul is saying in this passage? Why is this important to know? How many times when suffering comes into our lives do we wonder, “Why is God punishing me?” He’s not. If you are a Christian, the punishment for your sins has already been taken care of by Jesus on the cross. I may suffer consequences because of my sin but that is not the same as God punishing me for my sin.
Once again, we are reminded about the significance and the centrality of the cross in the life of a believer. On the cross, Jesus took the punishment for all of our sins. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was effectual for all our sins, past, present and future. This is why Jesus, not circumstances, guarantees God’s love for us because Jesus guarantees that God will justify us and not condemn us.