16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
It is not uncommon for those who believe in Jesus to still feel a serious level of guilt, shame or condemnation over past or current failures. We need to remind ourselves that there is no need for this. This is not to say that sin is OK and not to be dealt with. We need to repent, come to God again asking for forgiveness and taking our sin to the cross.
Have you fallen in the same way repeatedly? I want to be careful here as I write this, because I don’t want to be perceived as going easy on sin. But consider this additional passage, Matthew 18:21-22, where Peter asks about our need to forgive.
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
God is not asking something from Peter or us, which he is not already doing himself. I believe this is one way we can look at the “is not condemned” phrase in John. When Christ died for our sins, he died for all of them – past, present and future. He gives us power to walk away from sin and the grace to walk in forgiveness at the same time.
In the words of Paul in Romans 8:1-3,
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.
Our sin is condemned but we are not.