John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
The greatest sin is unbelief. This is the sin that finally condemns. Anyone who dies in unbelief, their fate is sealed. The downfall of the Israelites was not because they were not religious enough; it is because they counted on their own righteousness. They lacked the true knowledge that would lead them to Christ for their justification by faith to secure righteousness. They had fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).
I see a direct correlation between John 3 and Romans 10. Here is Paul’s analysis and cry to God for men like Nicodemus and his people, “1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes”, Romans 10:1-4. Unbelief was their downfall; their only hope was the righteousness of Christ to be received by faith.
A chapter ealier in Romans 9, Paul addresses their unbelief as he discusses how the Gentiles were made righteous while the Israelites were left behind. The Gentiles pursued (responded) to righteousness by faith, “the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path”, Romans 9:30-32 (NLT). Their unbelief became a stumbling block that brought about even greater condemnation.
The issue here is not of happiness or trying to keep the law, the issue is of righteousness and how to attain it. Jesus says to Nicodemus, John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not condemned…” To believe in Him is more than head knowledge, it’s to put off the old man with its deeds and put on the new man. It’s to declare bankrupt and embrace Him who is able to make you righteous. 2Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”. That is to say that God treated Jesus as though He lived our lives and treated us as though we lived His life. This is called “imputed” righteousness. To impute something is to ascribe or attribute something to someone. Through faith in Christ that comes by hearing and hearing of the word of God, the righteousness of God is given to us. When we place our faith in Christ, God ascribes the perfect righteousness of Christ to our account so that we become perfect in His sight. That is the new birth, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”, 2Corinthians 5:17.
What Paul counted on at some point to save him, it condemned him as he found out. Jesus said “… he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”, John 3:18. Paul penned these words “7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;” Philippians 3:7-9.
Faith in Christ is essential to salvation, it is what justifies believers. Salvation is received by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Romans 3:24-26, “24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be JUST and the JUSTIFIER of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
He who is righteous by faith shall live, Romans 1:17 for “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise”, Ephesians 1:13.
In summary, those in Christ can confidently stand on these words, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,…”, Romans 8:1. Those who are not in Christ Paul has something to say to you, “… the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness”, Romans 1:18. To continue, Blessings Ev