By: Jerry S. Maneker

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or
peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35)

The Apostle Paul, who called himself the chiefest of sinners (1Timothy 1:15), who confessed to constantly wrestling with
sin (Romans 7:7-25), who consented to the death of the first Christian martyr, Stephen (Acts 8:1), and who persecuted
followers of Christ until his conversion (Acts 8:3), wrote the above verse of Scripture.  Indeed, he comforted all of us by
telling us that not only would nothing separate us from the love of Christ if we yield ourselves to Him but that, “There is
therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) (The additional words in this verse in
the Texus Receptus have little support.)

In spite of his own history and his own struggles with sin and his sin-nature, a nature shared by all of us, he was able to
tell the Sanhedrin at his trial, “…Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” (Acts
23:1)  Paul knew about God’s grace to all of His followers more than most of us know today.  Despite his history, Paul
never felt that he was under condemnation by God.

He knew that God chose us from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) to do a work for Him and that He knew
everything we would do.  God knew our past, present, and future thoughts and actions and chose us anyway for His own
sovereign purposes.

God didn’t choose us to put us into condemnation!  Many people who claim to speak for God may seek to condemn us
or have us have self-condemnation, but God doesn’t do that; Paul affirms God’s unconditional love for us.  

Writing to those who are God’s possession he wrote, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be
conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did
predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also
glorified.  What shall we then say to these things?  If God be for us, who can be against us?  …Who shall lay any thing
to the charge of God’s elect?  It is God that justifieth.” (Romans 8:29-31,33)

Indeed, we are not answerable to mere man (Isaiah 2:22; Galatians 1:10) but are answerable to God, the God Who
created us and chose us and Who loves us like crazy.  However, many priests and ministers don’t tell us this message.  
Many seek to take people who already feel under condemnation and seek to justify and reinforce that condemnation.

In one church we attended, the pastor had a couple get up in front of the church during a service and confess their
adultery.  To say that we were uncomfortable is putting it mildly.  After the confession, the pastor said, “Now we are
being church!”  Whatever that means!

In that church, as in every other church, all of us were sinners! Yet he didn’t relate his own sins or ask the rest of us to
confess our sins to the congregation.  However, when it came to sex he, like many others, was frothing at the mouth.

Don’t you think that this couple already felt condemned?  Did they need to be put through that humiliating ordeal?  Yet,
they consented to their confession and I can only imagine that they did so because the pastor reinforced their self-
condemnation and made them feel that their confession would somehow expiate their feelings of guilt.  Perhaps it did.  I
don’t know.

The fact is that smug, self-righteous people, those who feel holier than thou, commit the most egregious sin.  They are
the ones who haven’t got a clue as to how far all of us fall short of God’s standards of perfection and holiness.  They
trust in their meager attempts to act in the culturally approved manner of what is deemed “Christian” in order to please

Moreover, they take their twisted image of God and Christianity and seek to impose those images onto the thinking of
other adults and, most poignantly, children.  They wittingly or unwittingly put yokes of bondage and condemnation on

For whatever reason, many people feel condemned and seek solace and comfort within the church that is to be an
institution to help feed the spiritually needy and wounded.  And the fact of the matter is that we are all spiritually needy
and wounded and we need the balm of compassion and comfort!

All Christians, clergy and non-clergy alike, are to be like Barnabas!  “Barnabas” means “Son of encouragement,” “Son
of comfort,” “Son of exhortation,” “Son of consolation.”  That’s what we’re to do for all people, both inside and outside
the church.  We are to lift each other up and comfort the afflicted.  We are to nurture one another and have compassion
for each other as we navigate our struggles through this life.

“…comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2Corinthians 4)

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