"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not condemned; he who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.Those who have not and will never believe in Christ Jesus have already been condemned. Past tense. It is not something that will happen in the future if they do not receive Jesus as Lord today; they are condemned where they stand—now. We are told precisely what their condemnation is and why they are condemned. They were condemned from the foundations of the world.
This is the condemnation: that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For every one who practices evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God" (John 3:16-21, emphasis mine).
"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. ... For if you are living according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:1, 5-9, 13, emphasis mine).
However, the same is not true of those who believe or will believe in Christ Jesus. We are told that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Since they were chosen in Jesus from the foundation of the world, they were already not condemned because they belonged to Him.
The unbeliever is condemned at this very moment while the believer is not condemned at this very moment. The future judgment will only reveal the position they already find themselves in.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONDEMNATION AND CONVICTION
by Stephen Altrogge
Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This scripture is a wonderful, freeing, life-giving promise for all Christians. But it raises the question: What is the difference between condemnation, which is wrong, and conviction of sin, which is good? Here are a few differences that I hope you find helpful:
- Condemnation is either from Satan or our sinful hearts. Conviction is a gift from the Holy Spirit.
- Condemnation causes us to turn away from God in fear, dread, and shame. Conviction causes us to come to God and freshly place our faith in the perfect life and death of Christ.
- Condemnation causes us to wallow in despair and self-pity. Conviction leads to God-centered hope.
- Condemnation leads us to believe that we’ll never change. Conviction gives us hope that, even though we sinned, God is still at work in us. (Condemnation paralyzes faith for change. Conviction bears the fruit of faith for change.)
- Condemnation is inward, self-focused, and always dwelling on the fact that I have sinned. Conviction is outward, God-focused, and always dwelling on the fact that I have sinned against God.
- Condemnation sees God as an angry judge who could strike at any moment. Conviction sees God as a loving Father who disciplines his children.
- Condemnation can actually cause us to forget repentance because we are so inwardly focused. Conviction leads to quick (but not hasty) repentance.
- Condemnation feels like a black, oppressive cloud. Conviction feels like a sweet, though often very painful, interaction with the Lord.
- Condemnation is useless and sinful. Conviction is fruitful and pleasing to the Lord.