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Every Crime Forgiven

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Romans 8:1

The amazing reality is that, by the grace of God, sinners can stand uncondemned before the holy God. This is not only possible; it is certain for all who trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. That wonderful truth is clearly stated in Romans 8:1.


Many years ago, Bob Sheffield, a staff member with The Navigators mission organization, told of how, before becoming a Christian, he played professional hockey in Canada. He was tough, and he loved to fight, on and off the ice. Once, as a result of a barroom brawl, he found himself in jail.

Some years later, Bob and his wife became Christians. Soon after, they accepted a temporary assignment with The Navigators in the United States.

Bob had to apply for “landed immigrant status,” which would allow him and his wife to continue in ministry for an extended period anywhere in the States. However, because he had a criminal record, his request was denied. After every effort to get beyond his criminal record, they decided to take a long shot and apply in Canada for what is called the “Queen’s Pardon.” Following a thorough investigation, the pardon was granted.

From the moment he received notice of the Queen’s Pardon in the mail, whenever Bob was asked on some form or application if he had a criminal record, he could honestly answer no. You see, this pardon meant that the very record of the crimes he had committed were completely erased.

That notice he received reads in part as follows:

Now know ye therefore, having taken these things into consideration, that we are willing to extend the royal clemency on . . . Robert Sheffield, we have pardoned, remitted, and released him of . . . every penalty to which he was liable.[1]

Well, this makes me think of every believer today; we have received a similar pardon. It came in the mail, so to speak, by way of a direct letter from our King. That letter is the book of Romans, and the King’s pardon is declared here in the very first verse of chapter 8, where Paul writes, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Let me unpack this verse by looking at five key words or phrases here.

First, Paul begins with the words “There is therefore.” These are words of summary.

In other words, based on everything we have learned in this letter—that all people are sinners and cannot save themselves; that Jesus Christ is the Savior of sinners if they will trust in Him alone—he can now declare the glorious truth expressed in the following words.

Second, Paul follows that up with the word “now”—“There is therefore now.” This is a wonderful word of safety.

The little Greek word translated “now” (nun) is a time reference. You could amplify Paul’s words to read, “Therefore, at this present time.”

Paul is emphasizing that you do not have to wait until you die to know that you are no longer condemned. Freedom from condemnation is an experience that can be enjoyed right now!

If you have placed your faith in Christ alone and received from Him the free gift of salvation, you are safe. You do not have to wait until you have died to know if you are going to heaven. You can know that now. By faith in Christ, you are one of God’s children—right now!

The next word found in the King’s pardon is the word “no”—“There is therefore now no condemnation.” That little word communicates certainty!

The word translated “no” (oudeis) is a very strong term. It is extremely emphatic. In the Greek text, this is actually the first word in verse 1—placed first as a way to emphasize it for us. There is no condemnation! Any thought of guilt is completely out of the question.

Paul writes in this one verse words of summary, safety, certainty, and now, fourth, a word that communicates substitution—“Therefore, there is now no condemnation.”

This Greek word translated “condemnation” appears in Romans only here and then later on in chapter 5. It relates to the sentencing for a crime and especially the penalty that the verdict demands. So, Paul is, in effect, saying, “There is no penalty for crimes against God.” That is an amazing declaration. There is no sentence to serve!

Why? Because you have received the King’s pardon, just like Robert Sheffield’s pardon read: you have been pardoned, remitted, and released of every penalty to which you were liable.

So, how can Paul say there is not one little bit of condemnation in the mind of God? The next phrase in Romans 8:1 explains it: There is now no condemnation “for those who are in Christ Jesus.” These are words of eternal security.

Here is the key to the King’s pardon. You have to be in Christ Jesus. Since Jesus Christ was condemned, satisfying the wrath of God for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), those who come by faith to Christ are no longer within the reach of God’s wrath. They rest in the finished work of Christ on their behalf. They are safe and secure in Christ.

An Old Testament event sheds light on this doctrine of security. Noah’s ark was built over the course of 120 years. After this huge three-story barge was built, God commanded Noah to cover the ark within and without with pitch—that tar-like substance that would keep the water out. It is interesting that the word for “pitch” is the same Hebrew word used elsewhere for “atonement.” You see, the ark became a symbol of atonement.

Everyone inside the ark was saved, delivered from the wrath of God, the judgment of God, when it fell on all the world outside the ark. Those outside the ark were judged and lost; those inside the ark were safe and secure.

What it meant for Noah and his family to be “in the ark,” it means for us today to be “in Christ.” In Christ—our atoning ark of salvation—there is no condemnation, now and forever.[2]

Beloved, the world is divided into two classes of people before the throne of God: those outside of Christ, and those in Christ; those who are trying to pay for their sins themselves and earn their way into heaven, and those who are trusting Jesus who died on the cross and shed His blood as our atoning sacrifice. He took our place. He paid for our crimes. He effectively earned our way into heaven by paying for our sin Himself.

A magazine article some years ago told of a sixty-seven-year-old man named Bill who had donated over 100 pints of blood over his lifetime. No doubt many people were helped, maybe even owed their lives to this man’s kindness and generosity. That’s pretty impressive to us. Do you think it impresses God? Here’s what Bill thinks. He said, “When that final whistle blows, and [God] asks, ‘What did you do?’ I’ll just say, ‘Well, I gave 100 pints of blood.’ Then Bill added with a laugh. ‘That ought to get me in [to heaven].’”[3] 

How tragic that is. Let me tell you, that man is trusting in the wrong blood. The Bible says that it is only the blood of Christ—the shed blood of Jesus—that cleanses us from every sin (1 John 1:9).  

If you are outside the ark today, outside the body of Christ, accept His work on the cross for you before it is eternally too late. Accept the King’s pardon in Christ. In Him you will find safety, certainty, substitution, and security.

And when Satan, that old liar, comes to you and whispers that you are still a condemned sinner and you do not stand a chance before God, just take him to Mount Calvary, and the cross where Jesus died. Point to that cross, and remind him that Jesus already paid for your crimes, your sins. He has taken your punishment in your place.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is the King’s promise. This is the King’s pardon, given freely to you.

[1] Tom L. Eisenman, Temptations Men Face (InterVarsity, 1992), 21-22.

[3] Joe McKeever, “Trusting Only in Christ’s Blood,” Sermon Illustrations,

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