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The Purpose of the Passion

In your life there is no condemnation—only the operation of redemption.

From the editor

By the close of this sermon, Mac Brunson has masterfully explained complex theological concepts like condemnation, salvation, and justification with such ease. This is due, in no small part, to three pivotal stories that he tells at the beginning, middle, and end of the message. Find the illustrations about Jörg Gerkner, the Englishman and his Rolls-Royce, and the story of Princess Alice. When you find them, double underline them and place them in a file folder. They're keepers!


Jörg Gerkner, a young German man, found himself in North Africa in 1943. He was a part of Rommel's great wave of infantry that swept across the Middle East and Africa. If you know your history, Fredrick Bernard Law Montgomery, the pompous British field marshal, defeated Rommel at Tunis in 1943 and captured thousands of German young men. The British handed over these German prisoners to the Americans, and the Americans brought them to the United States for imprisonment. Jörg was sent to Fort Denney, a prison camp in New Mexico. He thought: I'm condemned. I'm a prisoner of war. I was part of that Nazi war machine, and for the rest of my life I will live as a condemned man.

In 1945, Jörg slipped past a guard, lifted up the fence, fled Fort Denney, and found work as a sharecropper. He worked for this farmer and that farmer, always moving because he was terrified his bosses would discover he was a condemned man and send him back to the prison camp. He didn't know what to do, so he was always on the run, trying to stay away from the authorities.

Because he had played tennis quite well in Germany, Jörg decided to become a tennis instructor. He soon left that job, because he was again fearful the authorities were going to find him. He then became a ski instructor in the Rocky Mountains. In fact, in 1952, he was part of the team that went into the Donner Pass. There was a train that had wrecked there, and it was locked in because of the snow. Jörg and a number of other skiers went in and rescued some 200 people from the train wreck. In spite of his heroic effort, he returned home fearful that he'd blown his cover, thinking, They're going to know who I am, and so I've got to move again. He told his wife, "Pack it all up. We've got to move immediately." After 20 years of always moving, she said, "Wait a minute. I can't take this any longer. What's wrong with you? Why are we constantly moving like this?"

Jörg sat down and shared what he had never shared with anyone else—that he was a prisoner of war, a man condemned. She looked at him and said, "Go to the office of immigration and naturalization. The war is over." Finally, when he was 64 years old, he broke and went to the office of immigration and naturalization. They released him from the charges and made him a United States citizen.

As I read that story and thought about that young man, I wondered, How many times did somebody knock on the door, and he went pale, thinking, They've shown up; somebody's found me out. It's the authorities. I'm a condemned man. They're going to put me back in prison again?

How many of us live under this great tension and pressure of condemnation? I want us to look at Romans 8 together. I want us to see the results of the passion of Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection. Those of us that live under constant condemnation need to listen to the Word of God when it says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." That is the result of the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the passion of Jesus Christ.

Jesus had a magnificent obsession with his passion, because it was the means of our salvation. When King George VI invited Winston Churchill to become the prime minister, Churchill said, "It seems as if I've prepared for this moment all of my life." That's what Jesus said to Pilate. In John 18 he said, "For this I was born and for this I have come into the world."

What is the result of the passion of Christ? I want to show you just two things briefly.

Through Christ's passion, we have liberation from condemnation.

Number one, I want you to understand that in Christ's passion we have liberation from all condemnation. "There is therefore … ." That "therefore" is emphatic. It places great emphasis on what has been said—not just in the last couple of verses in chapter 7, but on thoughts Paul addressed way back in Romans 1. Paul uses the first chapter to talk about the rebellion of man. Romans 1:21: "For even though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened." Because of that, there is condemnation. Look at verse 18: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." Condemnation.

When you read chapter 2, you find more condemnation. Verse 11 speaks of the impartiality of God: "For there is no partiality with God. All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law." What's going to happen to those who don't hear the law? They're going to die without the law. Condemnation. What about those who receive the law? "All who sin under the law will be judged by the law." Condemnation. Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Condemnation. Romans 5:12: "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." Condemnation. Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is death." Condemnation.

After all this talk of condemnation, Paul says in Romans 7:24: "O wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death?" Condemnation.

Then Chapter 8 begins this way: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." That is the result of the passion of Jesus Christ—no condemnation.

"There is therefore now … ." Why now? Because Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, has been crucified. That's why now. In the Greek New Testament, the emphasis is upon the negative—the "no." The text literally reads: "No condemnation, therefore, for those who are in Christ Jesus." There is no more condemnation, regardless of who you are or what you've done in your life.

In Genesis 6:14, God told Noah to build an ark: "Go make for yourself an ark of gopher wood. You shall make the ark with rooms and shall cover it inside and out with pitch." That word "pitch" is the word "atonement." "You shall cover it inside and outside with atonement." It is the atonement of your sin by Jesus Christ that saves you. You are covered with it inside and out.

I want you to see that God is pointing to something bigger with the story of Noah. I believe he's pointing to being in Jesus Christ. There is a sense of foreshadowing in this story: "Then the Lord said to Noah, 'Enter the ark, you and all your household. For you alone I have seen to be righteous before me in this time.'" Noah's family and the animals get into the ark, and look at what God's going to do: "And those that entered, male and female, all flesh entered as God had commanded, and the Lord closed him in." There is a great emphasis being placed on the fact that Noah got into the ark, and it's the same concept of being in Jesus Christ. It says God put him in the ark and shut the door. They were inside that atonement.

My point is this: when you are in Christ, you are secure. It's not your holding on that saves you, brothers and sisters; it's the fact that those nail-scarred hands are holding onto you. The whole of the Book of Romans spins on one word—justification. The condemnation is gone, and what I get in place of that is justification.

Justification is not the same thing as salvation. When you come to Jesus Christ, if you receive him as your Lord and Savior and receive his salvation, you receive new life. There is only life in Jesus Christ. But when you come to him, you not only get new life, you get justification. You get a new standing before God. As you stand before the great Judge of all time and humanity and eternity, you have a new standing before that Judge. It's not the same thing as forgiveness. You've asked for forgiveness, you've repented of your sin, you were saved, but you continue to sin. You have to come back and repent and ask him to forgive you, but you don't get saved all over again. That justification is eternal. It holds you securely through all of eternity.

Justification is also not the same thing as a pardon. If I was a judge, and you brought a criminal before me and I pardoned him, he would still have a record. Justification means there is no record against you in heaven at all.

A man who lived in England came over to the United States to go to a resort for several months. He wanted to bring along his Rolls-Royce for the trip, so he had it carefully packaged and shipped overseas. While visiting the U.S., something happened to the car—a mechanical failure of some sort—so he called over to England and explained his problem to the company. Rolls-Royce told him, "That's fine. Within 48 hours, we'll have a mechanic with the auto parts there to fix it for you."

They put a mechanic on a plane with the necessary car parts and flew him to the United States. He worked on the car in the parking lot of the resort, fixed it in good time, got on a plane, and flew back to England. The man happily drove his Rolls for the rest of his time in the U.S. Then he packaged it back up, put it on a ship, and sent it to his home in England.

Nearly a year after the man returned to England, he discovered he had never received a bill from Rolls-Royce. So he wrote the company a letter, saying, "This date last year there was something wrong with my Rolls-Royce and you flew a mechanic over to help me. You fixed it, but I've never received a bill. If you should find that bill in your office, I'll be happy to pay for your efforts at fixing my car."

He received a letter back from Rolls-Royce that simply said: "In the files at the headquarters of Rolls-Royce, there is no such account saying anything has ever been wrong with a Rolls-Royce anywhere that you speak of."

Now that's justification. When you get to heaven and Satan wants to holler and scream about all your sin, Jesus is going to look through the files, turn around, and say: We don't have a file on him here at all.

That's great. That's glory. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Jesus Christ." If you're in Jesus Christ, you are in for eternity.

Through Christ's passion, we have the operation of redemption.

Christ's passion also brings the operation of God's redemption into my life. Look at verse 2: "For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free." But what did the law of the spirit of life set me free from? It set me free from the law of sin and the law of death. When Paul uses the word "law," he doesn't mean the Mosaic Law; Paul is talking about the operation of sin and the operation of death.

Before Jesus Christ was in my life, sin operated freely. Death had free reign over my life. Because I've received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the result of his passion, crucifixion, and resurrection is that now I no longer have to yield to what sin dictates for my life. Whatever my flesh wants to do—whatever the lust of my flesh wants to do or whatever the lust of my eyes longs to look at—I no longer am under the operation of sin. Beyond that, I'm no longer under the operation of death. Death doesn't have the final say on my life.

You might say, "How can that be?" Look at what Paul says in verse 3: "For what the law could not do … ." The law can't make you perfect; it only reveals how imperfect you are. The law can't make you holy; it just shows how unholy you are. The law can't make you righteous; it just shows you how unrighteous you are. The law can't save you; the law condemns you and shows you how bad you really are. If you doubt how bad you are, read the law and it will point out that you are a miserable sinner! But Paul writes: "For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did." What we could not do, God did. This is perhaps the clearest verse in all the New Testament on the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ: "God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin." God "condemned sin." What sin had done to me—condemning me to an eternity in hell and in separation from Jesus Christ—Jesus reversed at the Cross. Jesus pardons me. He pardons my condemnation, and he condemns sin to an eternity in hell.

You might say, "Why the passion of Christ? Why did Jesus do it? Why did God send him? Why did Jesus die? Why did Jesus take that beating? Why did he take that crucifixion? If he was sinless and did not deserve it, then tell me why he did it!" You'll find the answer at the end of Romans 8. Romans 8 begins with a word of "no condemnation." It closes with a word of "no separation." Verse 35: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword? Just as it is written, 'For thy sake we are being put to death all day long. We are considered as sheep for the slaughter.' But in all these things we are more than conquerors. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor any powers, height nor depth, nor any other created thing, should be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Why did Jesus endure the passion? He loves you! He loves you! He loves you! The result of the passion of Christ is that there is no more condemnation in your life. His operation of redemption has begun in you. Jesus has done all of this great work in you, because he loves you!


In 1878, Victoria was queen of England. Her third child was Princess Alice. Princess Alice had married a king who was one of the kings of a small German state. They had a number of children, but several of them contracted what was called black diphtheria. After one of their little girls died, they were horrified when their youngest child, a little boy, was diagnosed with the same illness.

The doctors told Alice, "You cannot be around this child. We have put a nurse and a nanny in the room with him. You and the king are to stay away from him. This is highly contagious, so don't go around him."

Princess Alice was standing at her son's bedroom door one day when she heard the little boy ask the nanny, "Why doesn't my mommy ever kiss me anymore?" With that, Alice threw the door open, ran into the room, grabbed the little boy, and just smothered him with kisses. She contracted black diphtheria, and they buried her within the week.

Let me tell you something: You were dying eternally in your sins and transgressions when you cried out to God. God heard your cry, came and took you up in his arms, and smothered you with a kiss of grace—and it took his death to do it.

Author Bio:

For your reflection:

Personal growth: How has this sermon fed your own soul?

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Exegesis and exposition: Highlight the paragraphs in this sermon that helped you better understand Scripture. How does the sermon model ways you could provide helpful biblical exposition for your hearers?

Theological Ideas: What biblical principles in this sermon would you like to develop in a sermon? How would you adapt these ideas to reflect your own understanding of Scripture, the Christian life, and the unique message that God is putting on your heart?

Outline: How would you improve on this outline by changing the wording, or by adding or subtracting points?

Application: What is the main application of this sermon? What is the main application of the message you sense God wants you to bring to your hearers?

Illustrations: Which illustrations in this sermon would relate well with your hearers? Which cannot be used with your hearers, but they suggest illustrations that could work with your hearers?

Credit: Do you plan to use the content of this sermon to a degree that obligates you to give credit? If so, when and how will you do it? (For help on what may require credit, see "Plagiarism, Schmagiarism")

Mac Brunson is pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Florida.

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Sermon Outline:


Those of us that live under constant condemnation need to listen to the Word of God when it says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus."

I. Through Christ's passion, we have liberation from condemnation.

II. Through Christ's passion, we have the operation of redemption.


You were dying eternally in your sins and transgressions when you cried out to God. God heard your cry, came and took you up in his arms, and smothered you with a kiss of grace—and it took his death to do it.