Sermon for 03.26.23 “We don’t deserve it”

Lent 5, March 26, 2023
Text: Romans 8:1–11
Theme: We don’t deserve it
Other Lessons: Ezekiel 37:1–14; Psalm 130; John 11:1–45 (46–53) or John
11:17–27, 38–53

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Epistle lesson from Romans 8 serves as our sermon text for this
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
Ø LSB 430:1 My Song Is Love Unknown
My song is love unknown,
My Savior’s love to me,
Love to the loveless shown
That they might lovely be.
Oh, who am I
That for my sake
My Lord should take
Frail flesh and die?
Text: Public domain

A. If you are a condemned person, you are officially declared “guilty” of
your actions and your sentence awaits.
1. Throughout history, many criminals were not only condemned and declared
guilty but were also put to death for their misdeeds.
2. They were:
A. hung,
B. shot,
C. gassed,
D. electrocuted,
E. injected,
F. and more.
3. However, the death penalty has over time been increasingly debated.
4. One reason some have argued against the practice is that some people,
after being put to death, were found actually to be innocent, or at least
not worthy of such extreme punishment.
B. Well, more than talking about the government bearing the sword in Romans
13:4, Paul talks about the guilt of man according to his sin.
1. He says that no one is found innocent.
2. In fact, just before our Epistle lesson, in Romans 7, he makes it very
clear that even with our best intentions, we can’t be free from sin.
3. He writes:
A. Romans 7:15 (NASB95)
15For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I
would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
B. Romans 7:18 (NASB95)
18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the
willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
C. Romans 7:24 (NASB95)
24Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
4. Paul makes it clear.
A. We are not a lot different before God than those on death row are before
B. We are guilty, every one of us!
C. All of us!
D. There are no exceptions!
E. There is no way for us to work our way out of sin.
C. But the beauty and joy of this letter is in what comes next.
1. Paul asks:
A. Romans 7:24 (NASB95)
24Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
Romans 7:25 (NASB95)
25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand
I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my
flesh the law of sin.
2. The answer lies in a Savior from the outside, a Rescuer.
A. Jesus is that Savior; he was sent to bail us out.
B. At the very end of chapter 7, we read Paul rejoicing in this fact,
1. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (7:25).
C. And not only that!
1. Because of this rescue, Paul begins chapter 8 with the following
A. Romans 8:1 (NASB95)
1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
D. That’s right.
1. In Jesus, you’re not guilty.
2. In Jesus, you’re taken off of death row.
3. In Jesus, you can be at peace.
4. In Jesus, There Is No Condemnation.
E. Why?
1. Jesus Christ came to be our substitute and because He came to be our
substitute, we now live by the Spirit.
I. In Jesus, There Is No Condemnation, because Jesus Christ came to be our
A. The purpose of Jesus’ coming to earth was to live as our substitute
under the Law.
1. In a very real way, Jesus came to take our sentence onto himself.
2. He came to do our jail time, to receive the guilty verdict and pay for
our sins with his own life.
3. When Paul says there is no condemnation for those who are “in Christ,”
he is referring to Jesus’ role as our ransom for sin and our union with him
in Holy Baptism.
4. As our ransom, Jesus was the payment offered to God for our sin.
5. Peter says it this way:
A. 1 Peter 1:18–19 (NASB95)
18knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or
gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,
19but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood
of Christ.
B. Here we might remember the Old Testament sacrificial system with all of
its ceremony and frequency.
1. Day after day, week after week, the priests of old were to offer
sacrifices to the Lord.
2. Why?
3. The writer to the Hebrews declares:
A. Hebrews 9:22 (NASB95)
22And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed
with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
4. The priests were to sacrifice the appropriate animal for the atonement
of the people’s sins.
5. They were to trust the Word of the Lord and to see in that sacrifice was
their forgiveness.
C. Probably more than any other, we recall the sacrifice of the lamb.
1. Let us reflect on the first what happened on that first Passover for the
Israelites while in Exodus.
2. On that night, the sacrifice of a lamb was central, and again each year
it was a substitutionary sacrifice and a foreshadowing of what was to come.
3. This is why when John the Baptist came on the scene he looked at Jesus
and cried out:
A. John 1:29 (NASB95)
29The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of
God who takes away the sin of the world!
4. When John spotted Jesus, he looked upon the real and greater substitute
for sin who would ultimately win forgiveness for the world by taking our
place under the Law and dying as a sacrificial offering, not by a noose or
a gun shot or electric shock but by death on a cross as was prophesied of
5. With the shedding of his blood, however, there indeed is forgiveness,
and that forgiveness leads to life for mankind!
D. Not only did Jesus become our sin-bearer, but in Romans chapter 6, Paul
makes clear that Jesus’ substitutionary work on our behalf leads to
Baptism, which unites us to Christ.
1. In Romans 6:3–5, we read:
A. Romans 6:3–5 (NASB95)
3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus
have been baptized into His death?
4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that
as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we
too might walk in newness of life.
5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death,
certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
E. This language helps us understand the “in Christ” language of verse 1 of
our text.
1. How is it that is there no condemnation for you?
2. By having union with Christ.
3. As our substitute, Jesus died in order to win for us forgiveness of
4. Additionally, as our substitute, through Baptism, he clothes us with
himself and grants us the gift and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
5. So, Jesus has not only taken our punishment upon himself, but he has
also remade us and joined us to himself as a fruit of his substitutionary
work applied through Baptism and faith.
6. Paul says in verse 2 of our text:
A. Romans 8:2 (NASB95)
2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from
the law of sin and of death.
B. Because of Christ, you are not condemned; you are free.
C. Because of Christ, you are not alone, but the Holy Spirit dwells in you
F. Remember Barabbas?
1. The Bible says Barabbas was a “notorious prisoner” locked away because
of robbery and murder (Matthew 27:16).
2. On that infamous day, Barabbas and Jesus stood before the people.
3. Pilate asked:
A. “What do you want me to do with them?”
B. Of Barabbas, they said, “Let him go!”
C. Of Jesus, they said, “Let him be crucified!”
D. Mark says it this way:
1. Mark 15:15 (NASB95)
15Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and
after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
E. Have you ever cringed at Barabbas, at his guilt and his newfound
F. Well, even as Jesus took Barabbas’s place, he has taken yours and mine
as well.
II. In Jesus, There Is No Condemnation and we now live by the Spirit.
A. During Lent, we recall that Jesus took our place on death row.
1. He:
A. opened our jail cell,
B. let us out,
C. and, most amazingly, entered himself.
2. While we rejoice in Jesus for taking our place, we also rejoice in
something else.
3. Not only did he serve us as substitute, he gave us the Holy Spirit as
gift and blessing.
4. The Holy Spirit helps us to suppress the flesh and to live beyond the
moment as children of God and heirs of heaven.
5. That’s the second reason there is no condemnation for us in Christ
Jesus—because we now live by the Spirit.
B. Unique to the Book of Romans and the entire Scriptures is chapter 8 and
its distinction between “life by the Spirit” and “life by the flesh.”
1. Apart from Christ, we are darkness.
2. Our lives are motivated by fleshly desires, and as such we have no hope
of heaven.
3. However, with forgiveness won by Christ and his life offered in our
place as substitute, the Holy Spirit is now given to make us holy and to
give new direction to our lives.
4. Paul writes of this in verses 3–4:
A. Romans 8:3–4 (NASB95)
3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did:
sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for
sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not
walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5. As those who have escaped condemnation, we find that:
A. our state of being,
B. our perspective in life,
C. and our manner of life have all been changed.
6. Paul speaks of this change throughout the rest of Romans chapter 8, the
final verses of our text and the verses following, as “living by the
Spirit.” He makes four points to explain what this “living by the Spirit”
A. First, when we live by the Spirit, we live with confidence in our
resurrection. Paul says in verses 10–11:
Romans 8:10–11 (NASB95)
10If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the
spirit is alive because of righteousness.
11But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He
who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal
bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
1. In union with the Holy Spirit, you cannot be condemned.
2. When the Father sees you in union with the Holy Spirit, he sees Christ
in you, a child of God.
3. This reminds us of the Beatitudes of Matthew 5.
4. Line after line, we read:
A. “Blessed are you, blessed are you, blessed are you.”
B. In this discourse, no one is blessed because of being perfect, nor
blessed by being engaged in some extraordinary activity.
C. The blessed are blessed due to their present condition of faith in the
Lord and presence of the Holy Spirit.
D. Those who are blessed by this union look forward to the day of the
resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.
B. Second, when we live by the Spirit, we live with the confidence that we
have been made:
1. “sons of God” (8:14).
2. Jesus teaches us to pray “Our Father” for a reason.
3. He wants us to know and believe that he came to earth not just to be our
Savior, but also our Brother.
4. So we sing with joy the hymn, “God’s Own Child I Gladly Say It” (LSB
5. Paul teaches in verse 15 that the Holy Spirit leads us to cry out to God
in a childlike way, saying:
A. “Abba! Father!”
B. We can call out to our heavenly Father in confidence.
C. Having this relationship, though our flesh continues to assault us with
temptation, we ought to remind ourselves over and over again that we indeed
are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.
D. This is why Luther encourages Christians to wake up in the morning, make
the sign of the holy cross, and say, “In the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
E. He says this so that we might remember who we are, or better yet, whose
we are.
F. That we might recall our Baptism into Christ and that the Holy Spirit
has brought us into the family of God.
C. Third when we live by the Spirit, we look forward to the future glory of
1. In verse 18, Paul shares a familiar and comforting message:
A. Romans 8:18 (NASB95)
18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to
be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
B. Life by the Spirit looks forward to heaven.
C. The earth with its lusts, pleasures, temptations, sickness, vanity, and
general brokenness due to sin is not our final destination.
D. Paul makes clear that the earth is groaning and laboring like a woman
experiencing birth pangs—and that things here are just plain wrong.
E. By the Spirit, we can understand the present circumstance and patiently
await our final goal and future hope.
F. How important this is to know!
G. Because heaven has been made secure by Christ our Redeemer, we can truly
say these words:
H. Romans 8:28 (NASB95)
28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those
who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
D. Finally, when we live by the Spirit, we realize that nothing can
separate us from the love of God.
1. Quite possibly the most comforting portion of chapter 8 is Paul’s
listing of all the things that cannot separate us from the love of Christ
when we live by the Holy Spirit. Paul writes:
2. Romans 8:35 (NASB95)
35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or
distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Romans 8:37–39 (NASB95)
37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved
38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to
separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
C. Truly “life by the Spirit” is a different life from living “life by the
1. It is:
A. A life lived free from fear,
B. a life with rich identity,
C. a life of confidence in the future,
D. and a life certain of God’s love.
E. These are not themes that typically exist for people living on death row!
D. When Paul said:
1. Romans 8:1 (NASB95)
1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2. he meant it . . . and much, much more!
3. As we meditate on the words of Scripture this Fifth Sunday in Lent and
soon come to Holy Week, we should consider what it means that Jesus was
willingly condemned in order to set us free.
4. Not only did he gladly take our punishment upon himself, he graciously
gave us the Holy Spirit and made us victors forever in his name.

A. He’d squandered everything.
1. His father had been so good to him, so generous, advancing him his
inheritance in cold, hard cash, and he’d blown it all on wild living.
2. As he trudged back from the far country toward his father’s house, he
knew what was coming.
3. He knew what he deserved:
A. “I told you so!
B. You had your chance.
C. Now you’re on your own.”
4. But no, that is not what happened!
5. Dad comes running out to meet him!
6. Not a harsh word.
7. Not a well-deserved judgment.
8. Instead he hosts a party and showers good graces on this, his lost son!
B. The parable of the prodigal son is a wonderful reminder of grace and
undeserved mercy, as Paul describes in Romans 8.
1. By Christ’s sacrifice for us:
A. Romans 8:1 (NASB95)
1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2. With humble thanks and a great sense of peace, we reenter the Father’s
household as dearly loved and redeemed children. Amen.
C. Let us pray:

Ø LSB 430:7 My Song Is Love Unknown
Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine!
Never was love, dear King,
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my friend,
In whose sweet praise
I all my days
Could gladly spend!” (LSB 430:7) Amen.
D. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

E. In the Name of the Father…Amen.