Condemnation – a word which carries with it a strong negative connotation. A word that brings with it punishment and carries fear and anxiety into the hearts of many. However, would you believe me if I told you that the majority of the verses found in Scripture related to condemnation are actually verses which have been written to give hope to people? We serve a God who loves us, who is merciful to us and who is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and receive everlasting life. This is the sole reason why He gave His only-begotten Son to humanity. God and Christ orchestrated the plan of salvation because love is at the core of their characters. Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.

But let’s go back to condemnation, in order to understand it better and what it means for us as Christians. Noah Webster’s dictionary, used for the translation of the Bible, defines condemnation as “the judicial act of declaring one guilty, and dooming him to punishment.” Thus, when the Bible was translated, and the word condemnation chosen in certain passages, it was meant to be understood as defined here.
There are 12 verses which use the word condemnation; however, there are 64 in total that use the root word “condemn”. The Bible verses referencing condemnation help us to understand its cause and how one can escape it.

More broadly, the purpose of this presentation is to explore the ideas presented in the book of Romans, specifically the fifth chapter. The greek word katakrima (G2631) used in those chapters is literally translated condemnation or damnatory sentence. It comes from the root word katakrino (G2632), which means to give judgement against or to judge worthy of punishment. Other verses which use this term also show this to us clearly. Here are a few examples:

“The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” Matthew 12:41

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death” Matthew 20:18

“Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” Romans 2:1

“But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” 1 Corinthians 11:32

And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 2 Peter 2:6

It is evident from Scripture that to condemn is indeed to judge worthy of punishment. Thus, the word is in reference to judgment and punishment, and rightfully so, since the Bible clearly teaches that all of us will be judged.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

There are only two outcomes of a judgment. One may either be found guilty of the offense and receive the corresponding punishment or one may be found innocent.

This is exactly what is being depicted in Romans chapter 5. The context of this chapter is justification. The beginning of the chapter states:

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” Romans 5:1

What is it that requires this justification? What is it that brings punishment, and most importantly, what is the reward of this justification that comes by faith?

We need not go further than this chapter for in the last few verses Paul clearly answers these questions.

“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20-21

It is sin which brings forth condemnation. The punishment for our personal sins, not only according to Paul, but the entire Bible, is death, more precisely, the second death. Sin brings forth death. Just as we read in Ezekiel:

“The soul that sinneth it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:20

Nevertheless, because of the righteousness of Christ, eternal life, which is the reward of justification reigns even more for those that so choose. Paul has clearly defined both outcomes: either to be justified and blameless or to be condemned and punished.

Romans chapter five has become the subject of much debate and discussion, specifically with respect to whether sin is something that gets passed on from one generation to another. We have already defined sin in an earlier presentation, and established that according to both Scriptures and the 1888 messengers, it is the personal transgression of the law of God, which is the result of every individual’s own choice. This chapter solidifies this for us by exploring the following question:

Are we condemned to eternal death because of our ancestors or because of our personal sins? As we have done in the past, we are going to first see what the papacy, also known as the Antichrist, teaches in regard to Romans 5 and condemnation, and in turn allow the 1888 messengers to tell us whether the third angel’s message has anything to do with such line of thinking. Let us read from an article published by the Catholic Church, entitled “To Explain Infant Baptism You Must Explain Original Sin”. In it we find the following:

“Can you give me a Bible verse on infant baptism?” I often hear this from Catholics who want to explain the Church’s teaching on the subject to non-Catholics.

Well, no and yes. No, because there is no Bible verse that says, “Baptize infants” (just as there is no Bible verse that says, “Do not baptize infants”). But, yes, I can give you a Bible verse on infant baptism if you understand that the Church’s teaching on this subject flows from the Church’s teachings on original sin and the sacrament of baptism.

In this article, I will focus on explaining, from the Bible, the Church’s teaching on original sin to help us understand the Church’s teachings on baptism. Most non-Catholics don’t care about what the pope says or what the Catechism says or what Vatican II says. They want to know: “Where is that in the Bible?”

The doctrine of original sin is that “in” Adam all have sinned. This parallels the doctrine of justification that “in” Christ all are righteous. Many Catholics do not fully understand or appreciate the importance of this parallel and how it weaves through much of Catholic teaching.

We can begin to understand this parallel—namely, through the first Adam all have died and through the second Adam (Christ) all have life—by looking at Romans 5. Verse 12 says that “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin.” And look at the evidence throughout verses 15–19: “Many died through one man’s trespass. . . . For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation. . . Because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man. . . . Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men. . . . By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.”

Look at verse 16: “For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation.” Who did it bring condemnation for? Adam only? No—verse 18 says, “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men” (emphasis added). This is stated even more clearly by the King James rendering the same verse: “Therefore, as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation.”…

“We are born with a fallen nature, a nature that is separated from God as a result of Adam’s sin. We have to be born again to become joined to God, to be in Christ, to become a member of the body of Christ, to be saved. We are born of Adam’s body into condemnation.”

We are born of Christ’s body unto salvation.

Finally, we reach the part where this ties into infant baptism. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “Unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). In verse 5 he repeats himself: “Unless one is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

In other words, being born again is the same thing as being born of water and the Spirit, and it is a necessary condition for entering the kingdom of God. Jesus is saying that a man must be born of water and the Spirit—in other words, he must be baptized. The Bible tells us that you cannot enter the kingdom of God if you are not baptized…

Now, when a child is born, it is born into the flesh. But the Bible tells us that the flesh is of no avail because of the consequences of original sin. That’s why Jesus says we have to be born again. The first birth is birth of the flesh, but we need something more in order to have life.

What is that something more? The Bible tells us: Everyone must be born of the Spirit in order to have eternal life; it is the Spirit that gives life, not the flesh. And how do we receive the Spirit? The Bible tells us that we receive the Spirit by being born again—by being born of water and the Spirit—by being baptized. We find this in Ezekiel 36:25–27, John 3:3–5, Acts 2:38, and elsewhere. When we are baptized we put on Christ (cf. Gal. 3:27). We are buried with him in baptism (Rom. 6:4). We become members of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). We receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). We become a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

We are by nature children of wrath. Original sin is real. It is not something the Catholic Church invented. We are born of the flesh, not of the Spirit. We are not born in a state of holiness. We are born in a state of original sin.”

This is how the Catholic Church describes Romans 5.

Let us examine and summarize the principles that were brought forth from this article:

What Catholicism teaches is that:

– All of us sinned in Adam,
– Thus, we are born separated from God
– We are also born as representatives of the flesh, even before we have chosen to do according to the flesh (that is, to live a life of sin)
– Because of Adam and the nature he passed on to us, we are born condemned
– Since we are under God’s wrath due to our fallen nature, we require instant baptism upon birth

The article might seem logical at first glance, but it would only be so if we disregard the entire Bible and adopt the Catholic way of thinking, more specifically the doctrine of original sin. But this is not what the Bible teaches and what the 1888 messengers taught. Rather, it is in direct violation of the biblical and 1888 definitions of sin, probation, justice, and personal choice. However, our main focus is still condemnation. Did the 1888 messengers believe that we are born condemned because of Adam and the nature he passed onto us, or did they believe that condemnation comes only from our personal choice to transgress God’s holy law? We can answer this question only if we allow them to speak for themselves.

“By the law is the knowledge of sin;” and by the law is condemnation.” {A. T. Jones, AMS December 2, 1897, p. 738.11}

“Did Jesus Christ come to the world to condemn the world, or to add condemnation to that already upon the world?—No; he expressly declared that he came not to condemn the world, but to save the world. The world is condemned already; it is overwhelmingly condemned by its sin, and unless it can escape from the condemnation, it must perish. The mission of Christ was to provide this way of escape from condemnation, and the mission of Christians is to point the people to this way of escape.
The law of God condemns the world. Every law condemns the transgressor; and that is all it can do for him. The more law, therefore, the more condemnation. The people of the world are already overwhelmingly condemned by their sin, and now professed Christians want to keep upon all this the condemnation of new laws for observance of the Sabbath. They want new and more stringent legislation, to make the world better! But legislation has no power to save, but only to condemn. {A. T. Jones, AMS August 10, 1899, p. 485.4}

In these statements A. T. Jones clearly links condemnation to the law. In fact if there was no law there would be no condemnation. But here are a few more statements from the writings of Ellen White and E. J. Waggoner that will clearly define what they believed and preached:

“For if by one man’s offences death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” [Romans 5:17-19.] The grace of Christ is His character. But grace does not abolish the law of God. By the law is the knowledge of sin. The law is the transcript of God’s character. It presents His righteousness in contrast with unrighteousness. The law can make sin appear exceeding sinful. It can condemn the transgressor, but it has no power to save and restore him. Its province is not to pardon the transgressor of [the] law. Pardon comes through Christ, He who lived the law in humanity. God’s character is Christ’s character. Man’s only hope is in the substitute provided by God, who gave His Son that He might reconcile the world to Himself. He hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. {Ellen White, Ms68-1898.13}

“Jesus says, ‘What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.’ Mark 11:24. There is a condition to this promise—that we pray according to the will of God. But it is the will of God to cleanse us from sin, to make us His children, and to enable us to live a holy life. So we may ask for these blessings, and believe that we receive them, and thank God that we have received them. It is our privilege to go to Jesus and be cleansed, and to stand before the law without shame or remorse. ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’” Romans 8:1. {Ellen White, SC 51.3}

“There is probably no passage in Romans [5] more difficult to understand than verses 12-19. The reason is that there is so long a parenthesis in the midst of the main statement, and there is so much repetition of the same form of expression. There is really no greatly involved argument. In this study we shall not attempt to deal with every particular, but will note the main thought running through the whole, so that the reader can read and study it more satisfactorily for himself.

Death by Sin. Death came by sin, because sin is death. Sin, when it is full grown, bringeth forth death. See James 1:15. “To be carnally minded is death.” Rom. 8:6. “The sting of death is sin.” 1 Cor. 15:56. There could be no death if there were no sin. Sin carries death in its bosom. So it was not an arbitrary act on the part of God that death came upon men because of sin. It could not possibly be otherwise.

Righteousness and Life. “To be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Rom. 8:6. “There is none good but one, that is, God.” Matt. 19:17. He is goodness itself. Goodness is his life. Righteousness is simply God’s way. Therefore righteousness is life. It is not merely a conception of what is right, but it is the right thing itself. Righteousness is active. As sin and death are inseparable, so are righteousness and life. “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil.” Deut. 30:15. Death Passed upon All Men. Note the justice here. Death passed upon all men, “for that all have sinned.” “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” Eze. 18:20. And this is also a necessary consequence of the fact that sin contains death in it, and that death can not come in any other way than by sin.

How is Adam a figure of Him that was to come, namely, Christ? Just as the following verses indicate, that is, Adam was a figure of Christ in that his action involved many besides himself. It is evident that Adam could not give his descendants any higher nature than he had himself, so Adam’s sin made it inevitable that all his descendants should be born with sinful natures. Sentence of death, however, does not pass on them for that, but because they have sinned.

“Death passed upon all men;” or, as stated later, “judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” “The wages of sin is death.” Rom. 6:23. All have sinned, and, therefore, all are in condemnation. There has not a man lived on earth over whom death has not reigned, nor will there be until the end of the world. Enoch and Elijah, as well as those who shall be translated when the Lord comes, are no exceptions. There are no exceptions, for the Scripture says that “death passed upon all men.” For the reign of death is simply the reign of sin. “Elias was a man of like passions with us.” Enoch was righteous only by faith; his nature was as sinful as that of any other man. So that death reigned over them as well as over any others. For be it remembered that this present going into the grave, which we so often see, is not the punishment of sin. It is simply the evidence of our mortality. Good and bad alike die. This is not the condemnation, because men die rejoicing in the Lord, and even singing songs of triumph.” {E. J. Waggoner, Waggoner on Romans 91-94}

“If we say that the death which comes to all men—good and bad, old and young alike —is the carrying out of that judgment which “came upon all men to condemnation,” then we take the position that there is no hope for anyone who has died. For there is no such thing as probation after death, and therefore the man who dies in sin can never be accounted righteous. If it is said that the good do not die in sin, but only because of sins previously committed, the justice of God is impugned, and his imputed righteousness denied. For when God declares his righteousness upon the one who believes, that man stands as clear as though he had never sinned, and cannot be punished as a sinner, unless he denies the faith. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24.

So in giving the law, he was giving the gospel in thunder tones. Righteousness and peace dwell together in fullness in Christ. So in him is life. Condemnation is in the law, but the law is in Christ; and in Christ is also LIFE. In Christ we get the righteousness of the law by his life. The voice that declared the law from Sinai, was the voice of Christ, the voice of the very one who has this righteousness to bestow.

The giving of that law was one of the highest manifestations of love that could be; because it preached to the people in the strongest tones that there was life in Christ. The one who gave the law, was the one who brought them out of Egypt. He was the one who swore to Abraham that he and his seed should be righteous, and this showed to them that they could not get righteousness in the law; but that they could get it through Christ. So there was a superabundance of grace; for where sin, by the giving of the law did abound, there grace did much more abound. That thing is acted out every time that there is a sinner converted. Before his conversion he does not realize the sinfulness of his sins. Then the law comes in and shows him how awful those sins are; but with it comes the gentle voice of Christ in whom there is grace and life. How precious it is to have that conviction of sin sent to our hearts, for we know that it
is a part of the work of the comforter which God sends into the world to convict of sin. It is a part of the comfort of God to convict of sin; because the same hand that convicts of sin holds the pardon, that as sin had reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. In this grace we have again those precious words,—much more. Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. {E. J. Waggoner, Letter to the Romans GCB—No. 9 1891}

These passages indicate that the 1888 messengers believed and taught that condemnation comes directly from the law. If there was no law, then there would be no condemnation of any sort, for the law is in God and in Christ. Waggoner put it so simply that even a child can understand it. We are condemned because we have all sinned, because we have all broken God’s holy law. None of the 1888 messengers believed that we are born condemned because of Adam and our fallen nature. You may search their writings but you will not find that we are born separated from God either. They had a deep and thorough understanding of the plan of salvation and the mercy of God. We have a mediator who stepped in as soon as Adam sinned and gave humanity a second chance, a second probation. Romans 5, as well as their understanding of condemnation, fall perfectly in line with the entirety of the Bible. There is perfect cohesion and continuity throughout the word of God with respect to the concept of justification, just as with everything else. Along with Paul, the 1888 messengers taught a gospel of personal accountability. May God help us to understand the third angel’s message and the principles which underlie it, for it is the message that will finish work and bring sinners to repentance.

“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:2