What does Romans 8:1 mean when it says Christians are under “no condemnation”? Some people use this verse to claim that Christians need not be concerned about our sins because we’re forgiven.
Two things help us accurately understand this verse:
1. The meaning of condemnation.
The Greek word katakrima translated condemnation is only found three times in Scripture (Romans 5:16; Romans 5:18; Romans 8:1). It’s always used to describe final, permanent condemnation. Genuine Christians will not be condemned to hell.
2. The full teaching of Scripture.
However, multiple Bible passages explain how sin damages our lives. Christians are given many instructions in the New Testament for living lives worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1; Romans 12:1-2). We understand that we are in a process of renewal, “putting off” our old sin nature (Ephesians 4:22-24).
No matter what we’ve done, we will be in heaven with the Lord. But God’s Fatherly love compels Him to punish and discipline us here on earth (Hebrews 12).(1)
And our love for God compels us to deal deliberately with our sins (John 14:23-24).
If someone has no concern for their sins, it is an indication that they don’t know the Lord (1 John 3:1-10; Romans 6).
Footnote: (1) Reading about the forgiveness of David in 2 Samuel 12 will clarify this point. Note that God fully forgave David, but his sin brought him both punishment and consequences.