Taken and adapted from, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom
Written by Samuel Bolton
All this the apostle puts plainly: ‘Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died’ (Rom. 8. 34). He sets the death of Christ against all the charges that can be brought. It is evident that the court of the law cannot condemn the believer:
I. Because that court is itself condemned
…its curses, judgments, and sentences are made invalid. As men that are condemned have a tongue but no voice, so the law in this case has still a tongue to accuse, but no power to condemn. It cannot fasten condemnation on the believer.
II. Because he is not under it as a court.
He is not under the law as a covenant of life and death. As he is in Christ, he is under the covenant of grace.
III. Because he is not subject to its condemnation.
He is under its guidance, but not under its curses, under its precepts (though not on the legal condition of ‘Do this and live’), but not under its penalties.
IV. Because Christ, in his place and stead, was condemned by it that he might be freed
…Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us’ (Gal. 3. 13). It may condemn sin in us, but cannot condemn us for sin.
V. Because he has appealed from it.
We see this in the case of the publican, who was arrested, dragged into the court of justice, sentenced and condemned. But this has no force because he makes his appeal, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ (Luke 18. 13). He flies to Christ, and, says the text, ‘He went down to his house justified’. So the court of the law (provided that your appeal is just) cannot condemn, because you have appealed to the court of mercy.
There are many who make a false appeal.
They appeal in part, not wholly, for they trust partly on Christ and partly on themselves.
Many appeal to Christ for salvation who do not appeal to Him for sanctification. This is false. Many appeal to Christ before they are brought into the court of lie law, before they are humbled, convinced, and condemned by the law. The case of the publican shows what kind of appeal will do a man good. Condemned in the court of the law, he makes his appeal to Christ in the Gospel. Read the words spoken of him: ‘He stood afar off, and would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner’. Here was a threefold demeanor, answering to a threefold work within him. First, he stood afar off; this answers to his fear and consternation. Then, he would not so much as lift up his eyes; this answers to his shame and confusion. Again, he smote his breast; this answers to his sorrow and compunction. And being in such a case he then appeals: ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’.
In brief, then, if your appeal is a right one and such as will do you good, it must be a total, not a partial, appeal. You must not come to Christ for some relief only, but for all. Christ must have the honor of all. Also, it must be an appeal for grace as well as mercy, for sanctification as well as salvation, an appeal to be made holy by Christ as well as to be made happy by Christ. Again, it must be the appeal of a man humbled and condemned in himself. No man will appeal to another court until he is found guilty and condemned in the former. So here, we cannot appeal to Christ until first we are found guilty and condemned by Moses. This the apostle shows: ‘We have proved both Jews and Gentiles to be all under sin; as it is written. There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understands, none that seeks after God’ (Rom. 3. 9-11).
Thus demonstrates the indictment and the accusation of the law, and in verse 19 is found the sentence or judgment upon it, and there the apostle tells us the reason why the law says this: ‘That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God’. It is when the law has accused and sentenced us, when it has stopped our mouths and we become guilty, that the sinner comes to make his appeal from the law as a covenant to Christ as a Savior. He looks for nothing from justice, but all from mercy. And when he has thus appealed, the law has no more to do with him; he is not under the sentence, the penalties of the law; he is out of the law’s reach. The law can take no hold of him for condemnation; he has fled to Christ, and taken sanctuary in Him.
What a privilege is this, to be free from the curses and penalties of the law, so that if the law threatens, Christ promises; if the law curses, Christ blesses. This is a high privilege. If God did but let one spark of His wrath and displeasure fall upon your conscience for sin, you would then know what a mercy it is to be thus freed.