Wednesday @ Westminster: The Anointed Priest

Think about the last time you issued a challenge. It took a lot of confidence, didn’t it? Not only did you challenge someone else to do something, you challenged yourself to do the same. How much confidence would you need to be able to stand up in the midst of the world with the devil and his minions all around and say, “Who shall condemn?” (Rom. 8:34) Paul is not just asking a question here; he is confidently challenging anyone, if they dare to challenge his faith. Why? Because he is confident in Jesus Christ.
 
In particular, he is confident and so should we be in the anointed priest, Jesus. The Westminster Larger Catechism speaks of his priesthood by asking, “How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?” It’s answer is, “Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering himself a sacrifice without spot to God, to be a reconciliation for the sins of the people; and in making continual intercession for them” (Q&A 44). Christ’s death and intercession for us are found here in Romans 8.
 
The Condemnation
“Who is to condemn?” (v. 34) The world will. It will say to the government that we have “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6), since we proclaim another king; since we proclaim salvation outside of ourselves; since we proclaim a new life that requires renouncing the world. The world will persecute us and hate us like it did our Lord. The world will call us insignificant, behind the times, and dangerous. 
 
Yet we stand confidently against all it condemnation free from all fear.
 
“Who is to condemn?” (v. 34) Our own conscience seared by sin will. “You’re too sinful to be loved by God. You’re not good enough to be loved by God. You’re too inconsistent to ever believe that you were born again in the first place. You’ve not done enough good. You’ve not cleaned up your thoughts enough, your words enough, or your deeds enough.”
 
Yet we stand confidently against all it condemnation free from all fear.
 
“Who is to condemn?” (v. 34) The devil will. He is that ancient serpent who so craftily tempted our sinless first parents, and now he comes against you (Gen. 3). He is that accuser who entered the presence of God in order to get his hands upon Job so that Job who renounce his faith in the Lord, who now wants the same with you (Job 1). He is that powerful opposer even of our Lord himself in the wilderness, so uses Scripture to oppose you (Matt. 4). He is that enemy who sought to sift Peter like wheat through a sieve in the hopes that Peter’s faith would go right through (Luke 22). He is that deceptive enemy who disguises himself as an angel of light to get you to put your guard down (2 Cor. 11:14). He is that might foe that stands arrayed for battle against you, arrayed in the spiritual armor of God (Eph. 6). 
 
Yet we stand confidently against all his condemnation free from all fear.
 
“Who is to condemn?” (v. 34) 
 
The Confidence
Against all these condemnatory foes, our confidence is not found in self, but in the Savior. He is our confidence. Even if your faith feels weak or feels like it is small, true faith has a measure of confidence because it is focused outside itself on Jesus Christ. Paul directs our faith to four aspects of the work of Christ here in Romans 8:34, with two of them reflected in the Larger Catechism: his crucifixion, his resurrection, his exaltation, and his intercession.
 
“Who is to condemn?” (v. 34) We are confident because of Jesus’ crucifixion: “Christ Jesus is the one who died” (v. 34). The world wants to persecute us and condemn us to death—so it also did with my Lord. My own sins want its wages of death. The devil wants me consigned to perdition. But I have Jesus.
 
His crucifixion is my redemption, the price that needed to be paid to free me from condemnation in hell. He gave “his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). 
 
His crucifixion is my satisfaction, the punishment that was needed to remove God’s condemnation from me. As he said on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). 
 
His crucifixion is my propitiation, the sacrifice that turns away the condemning wrath of God from me. “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2). 
 
His crucifixion is my expiation, the sending away of my sins forever from the presence of God so that I am not condemned. “He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26). 
 
His crucifixion is my reconciliation, bringing me from a status of condemnation into a status of peace with God. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Rom. 5:10–11).
 
What then shall we say to these things?
 
“Who is to condemn?” (v. 34) We are confident because of Jesus’ resurrection: “More than that, who was raised” (v. 34). Bring all the condemnation you want, O world, flesh, and devil, because Jesus’ resurrection is the proof of his being my perfect Savior. “If Christ has not been raised… you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). But he has been raised! This is the proof of his sacrifice being accepted by God. This is the proof of his victory over sin, which leads to death. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55–57).
 
What then shall we say to these things?
 
“Who is to condemn?” (v. 34) We are confident because of Jesus’ exaltation: “Who is at the right hand of God” (v. 34). Not only was Jesus raised from the death, just to live again on earth—no, but he was then crowned at the right hand of God, the place of authority, dignity, honor, and power. Again, his exaltation is the validation of everything he did. And because he was exalted, now he can give eternal life to me. Even more, when Jesus entered into heaven at his ascension, he entered as my representative. This means that when Jesus was raised, I was raised; when Jesus’ humanity was accepted into heaven, my humanity was accepted into heaven. What condemnation can scare me? What condemnation can remove this from me? Thomas Manton once said that at the ascension Jesus “hath taken possession of heaven for, and in the name of, all believers, that in time they may ascend and be partakers of the same glory” (Works, 12:371).
 
What then shall we say to these things?
 
“Who is to condemn?” (v. 34) We are confident because of Jesus’ intercession: “Who indeed is interceding for us” (v. 34). My once dead, now alive, now exalted Savior is now interceding for me. 
 
He intercedes with his person. He literally is before the face of our heavenly Father, between us and any accusation or condemnation. As Hebrews 9:24 says, “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands…but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” Christ himself appears in the presence of God for me, for you!
 
He intercedes with his prayers, “always liv[ing] to make intercession for [me]” (Heb. 7:25). What is Jesus doing for you right now? He’s praying for you. What a Savior! And I want you to know that he does not now or forever forget you but “will take notice of our particular case . . . he knoweth us by name, and our necessities and wants, and doth particularly intercede for us. Nay, he is mindful of us when we are not mindful of ourselves, for his intercession doth make way for the effectual application of his grace to us when we think not of it” (Manton, Works, 12:373). Listen to that again: “he is mindful of us when we are not mindful of ourselves.” Amazing.
 
“Who is to condemn?” (v. 34) Can you make that challenge today? Do you have that confidence today? Our confidence against all spiritual condemnation is found in Jesus Christ, the anointed priest.

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