Calvary Road Baptist Church


John 3.18


Imagine the Lord Jesus Christ sitting alone in the cool of the evening at the edge of the city of Jerusalem during the first year of His public ministry. Some months before He had been publicly identified on the shore of the Jordan River by the prophet and baptizer named John as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, John 1.29. Since then He had spent most of His time in Galilee, teaching and working miracles of various kinds and assembling a growing number of followers. Now in Jerusalem for the first time since that baptizing prophet had announced Him to those who came to hear him preach and baptize in the Jordan River, some of whom had been part of the religious establishment in Jerusalem, scribes, and Pharisees, He cleansed the Temple the day before yesterday and worked miracles. That stirred up a great many people, including the pilgrims visiting the city for Passover. It is now two days after He cleansed the Temple, two days after working miracles in the ancient city, two days after He predicted His own resurrection from the dead, and one day after the Passover celebration and the working of more miracles that prompted many to believe in His name, John 2.23. On this day the Lord Jesus Christ stayed out of the public eye, spending most of His time with the inner circle of disciples traveling with Him. Sometime during the day word was sent that the master of Israel, Nicodemus by name, wished to speak with Him that evening. He consented. So a place was arranged, and eventually, the old man came.

What prompted him to seek an audience with the Lord Jesus Christ? Was it a word he had received from those who saw Him baptized by John in the Jordan River? Was it the account others heard of John declaring Him to be the Lamb of God? Was it a word he had received of the miracles He had worked? Perhaps it was the cleansing of the Temple, or the miracles worked in Jerusalem. From his own mouth, we might surmise it was what Nicodemus had heard of both the Savior’s teaching and His miracles, John 3.2. The conversation itself is summarized in John 3.1-15.[1] In the course of a few minutes, the Lord Jesus Christ engaged an aged Bible scholar in an important conversation. The highlights of that conversation are reported in summary by the Apostle John. During that meeting, the Lord Jesus Christ declared to Nicodemus that 

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” 

John 3.3. Of course, Jewish people of what day were fixed upon an anticipation of the Kingdom of God. So it was important for Nicodemus to know that without being born again he would never see that kingdom. The Lord Jesus then went on to declare to Nicodemus, 

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” 

John 3.5. Of course, with each assertion our Lord was speaking that evening to the master of Israel about a matter he had taught others about many times, the New Covenant,[2] insisting in John 3.7, 

“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” 

The plural pronoun used by the Savior shows He spoke to Nicodemus about not only Nicodemus but about everyone’s need to be born again.

The commentary provided by the Apostle John, decades after the conversation that took place that night, is found in verses 16-21. John 3.16 informs the reader why God sent His Son, Jesus Christ: 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

John 3.17 reveals to the reader what God’s purpose was in sending His Son, Jesus Christ: 

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” 

John 3.18, our text for this morning, provides the context that makes John 3.16 and 17 all the more impressive: 

“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” 

Can you conceive of a realm or region in which every inhabitant is condemned? In which every citizen is doomed? In which every individual is damned? That region, that realm, is here, where we live, where we were born, and where we will die. It is the realm of humanity. It is the citizenry of earth. It is the population in which every single individual will live and then die, with each person’s death being the direct consequence of his sin’s damnation. You may not have concluded in your own thinking what I have just concluded. However, I challenge you to think it through. In the beginning, when God created the universe, and all that herein is, it was all good. Actually, it was very good.[3] And there was no death. The reason there was no death is because there was no sin to be found anywhere in the human race, and because there was no sin there was no condemnation, and because there was no condemnation there was no death.

Who can deny that death is the certain end of every life, the certain end of your life? You have never met anyone who has not died or will not someday die. And I claim, based upon the authority of God’s Word, the Bible, that there is only one reason for death; condemnation resulting from sin. You might think, “Well, I disagree.” Fine. Go ahead and disagree. And while you are disagreeing, tell me why people die and why you will die if it is not because they and you are sinners under condemnation?[4] Do you have a better explanation? Let’s hear it.

There is this realm in which everyone is condemned already. It is where we live. It is our existence. It is our reality, yours and mine, despite the fact that most people live their lives struggling to avoid facing the reality, denying the inevitable fate that everyone faces which is death. The universal reality, then, is condemnation. However, startling as it may seem, there is an exception to the universal reality of damnation. There is a subset of humanity that is not condemned. Let me set that subset of humanity aside in your thinking for now to address the universal reality into which each of us was born.

Four certitudes in connection to being condemned already: 


It was not the case with our first parents. Adam and Eve were created directly by God.[5] They were created without sin. They were good. But they transgressed and ate the forbidden fruit, became sinfully self-aware, and were cast out of the Garden of Eden on the day that they spiritually died, being separated from God by their sin.[6]

It was following Adam and Eve’s plunge into the spiritual darkness and death of sin that their children and subsequent generations of the human race have been conceived and born. Of course, there is the Biblical account of Adam and Eve’s firstborn, Cain, thought by his mother to be better than he actually was.[7] I suppose this is the case with every mother. The tragedy, sad to say, was that Cain was born with a birth defect, a spiritual one that could not be detected by eyeing him over when he was born. It was his nature, you see, a nature that was corrupted by the nature of his parents, who conceived him in sin. Everyone’s behavior reflects his nature, and so it was with Cain. He became angry one day, and his countenance fell.[8] He was inconsolable.[9] In the end, he was overcome by his own sinful impulses, and he slew his younger brother, Abel. Older brothers are supposed to look after their kid brothers, provide a bit of supervision for them to keep them from harm. But not Cain. Because he was angry and felt justified in expressing his anger he took his brother’s life; his brother who had done him no wrong.

What does Cain have to do with you? Everything. You see, Cain illustrates the consequence of Adam and Eve’s sinfulness in your conception and mine, as well. Let me explain: Though little children seem to be so innocent and cute, so adorable and lovable, each and every conception has something in common with every other conception that has taken place since Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden and God cast him out. Illustrated in the case of Cain, it is explained by the sweet psalmist of Israel, David, in Psalm 51.5 when he offered up his psalm of repentance and explanation for his own actions of committing the sins of adultery and murder:[10] 

“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” 

The upshot is that because of our first parent’s sinfulness every subsequent human being conceived by their parents have been conceived in sin. This is expressed in Job 14.4: 

“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” 

Thus, my friends, you and I are just like David in this respect. Were your parents moral and honorable? Wonderful. However, despite their relatively moral conduct, they were themselves conceived in sin, and they, therefore, conceived you in sin, with dreadful consequences. 


May I stipulate that you were cute, cuddly, lovable, and precious when you were born? I will grant that you were beautiful and adorable. I will admit that your parents cherished you and formed opinions about you that they sincerely wished to be true, even if they did not in their heart of hearts know to be true.

I am not suggesting that infants be treated as adults. I would never condone arresting a toddler for taking a rattler from another youngster and prosecuting him for petty theft. I love the little cuties and seek only their protection, their provision, and their ultimate good. All of these things said, do you not find it amazing that those who are most committed to the faulty notion that the human race is essentially good and capable of improvement by government edict are also the most willing to murder the little ones before they are ever born? I have a serious problem with Democrats and other leftists because of that.

One of the great paradoxes of the day is that those of us who are most opposed to harming the young even before they are born are also those who embrace the truth that every one of us is born sinning. Listen to inspired David again, this time referring to those who think they are so upright and good, in Psalm 58.1-3: 

1  Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?

2  Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.

3  The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 

Who needs to teach a newborn to cry when he is not hungry to demand the attention of his mother, for no other reason than because he is bored and wants to be entertained? What mother cannot tell the difference between her baby’s cries of hunger, cries of discomfort, cries of fear, and cries of rage? As well, what mother with any understanding of her child’s nature does not recognize her baby’s attempts to control and manipulate her? Oh, the little critters can be so deceitful.

My friend, there is no doubt about it. Though your child is most definitely a gift from God to be loved, to be nurtured, to be trained, to be raised in the admonition of the Lord, to be taught God’s Word, to be prayed for, and to be witnessed to for the salvation of that little one’s eternal and undying soul, that baby was born sinning. The reason your child and every other child was born sinning? Every child is conceived in sin, is developed in sin in the mother womb, and is therefore born sinning. 


Speaking of every human being sired by a sinful father, born to a sinful mother, and entering the world already committing sins because of an inherited sinful nature, what can be said of those who are condemned already as a result of their utterly sinful state who then add to their condemnation by the sinful behavior and choices they engage in each and every day of their lives? I speak, of course, of mankind in general and not that portion of our race in the subset of humanity that is not condemned. Be patient. I will make mention of this subset of humanity shortly.

Revelation 20.12 speaks of books kept by God in which are recorded the sinful deeds of every human being. Imagine, if you would, a book brought into existence by God when you were conceived, in which is recorded every work of your life, every conscious thought, every utterance or mutterance, and every actual act decided upon by your will.

If you are condemned already, conceived into a state of condemnation, and were then born into a state of condemnation, what is to be said of you after a lifetime of advancing your condemnation because of an endless array of sinful deeds added to your already condemned status? What happens to a criminal arrested and in custody who then embarks on a career of crime following his arrest? Does it go better for the condemned to then go on a crime spree? No, it does not. The crime spree only makes things worse.

Yet crime sprees are precisely what those condemned already engage in. Allow me to read just a few descriptions of the crime sprees of those who are condemned already: 

First Corinthians 6.9-10: 6 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?

9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 

Galatians 5.19-21:

19  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 

Ephesians 5.5:  “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” 

Revelation 21.8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” 

Romans 1.18-32:     18            For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

18   For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

19   Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

20   For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

21   Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22   Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

23   And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

24   Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

25   Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

26   For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27   And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

28   And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

29   Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30   Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31   Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

32   Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. 

These are but a partial listing of spiritual crime sprees those who are condemned already engage in. So if your conduct is anywhere mentioned in any one of these lists, you have only added to your trouble and made your future torment worse than it otherwise might have been. 


Four irrefutable facts for you to face:

Fact #1: Most people who are born die without being born again. This is a hard fact of numbers and history. Only Jesus Christ saves, and He only saves those who trust Him, yet most people will live and die without even hearing of Him much less trusting Him. As well, most who hear of Him and are exposed to the Gospel will nevertheless die in their sins, never having trusted Him. The fate of so many who have grown up in Church breaks my heart. This is hard, cold, dreadful reality, even though it is denied by those who will die in their sins while being unwilling to face the reality of their eternal damnation.

Fact #2: If you would save yourself from the condemnation of your sins you could not. The condemned are not merely ignorant of spiritual reality and their dreadful state; they are willfully ignorant. Romans 1.28 shows this by declaring that the lost do not like to retain God in their knowledge. They do not want to hear it. The problem is far worse than ignorance. The problem is death. God warned Adam that he would die if he disobeyed, yet he disobeyed anyway. That day Adam died spiritually. That spiritual death is every man’s lot in life, as Paul points out in Ephesians 2.1 to believers about their former state: 

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” 

In Romans 5.6 the apostle states the same reality in different terms when he says of the lost, 

“For when we were yet without strength.” 

Why can you not do anything about saving yourself from the condemnation of your sins even if you would? You are dead, spiritually dead, and dead people are impotent and incapable of doing anything. That is why I observe that even if you would save yourself you could not. Picture your dead body in a coffin in a funeral home that has caught fire. How are you to save yourself by fleeing the burning building when you are already dead? So it is with an unsaved person. You cannot flee the fires of judgment because you are already dead.

Fact #3: If you could save yourself from the condemnation of your sins you would not. Consider Romans 3.11: 

“There is none that seeketh after God. 

Surely, you are in that category. The reason you do not seek after God is because you choose not to, just as Adam and Eve ran into the bushes to hide from God. You do not want to, and no one can make you, so you don’t. Thus, even if you could save yourself (which we already know to be impossible), you would not. You are of the same type as those Israelites bitten by serpents in the wilderness whose lives could have been saved by looking out the opening of their tents to the brass serpent Moses erected for that purpose. Only they wouldn’t. They could have but they would not so much as lean to one side to fix their gaze upon that uplifted type of Jesus Christ on the cross. Most people throughout history will live their lives and die their deaths without being born again, only to suffer the endless torment of the damned. You are likely one of them. I say this because you are incapable of saving yourself even if you would and because you are unwilling to save yourself even if you could. This is the terrible fix you are likely in. However, there is undeniable Fact #4.

Fact #4: Our text declares, “He that believeth on him is not condemned,” so there are some few who are delivered from the condemnation of their sins by believing on Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Precisely how is this done? I do not know, precisely. It is the result of a great miracle of God called the new birth, that takes place when a sinner who has heard the Gospel turns from his sins to trust Jesus Christ to the saving of his eternal and undying soul. Though I do not know precisely how such a thing occurs, I do know that such a thing happened to me a bit more than four decades ago. Someone declared in my hearing the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ. Following that, the Bible explains that God the Father drew me to His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit of God miraculously gave me life the moment I trusted the Savior for my salvation, full and free.[11] 

Others in this room and around the world have for the last 2,000 years had similar experiences. We were conceived in sin. We were born sinners. During our lives, we compounded the problem of our condemnation by going on what is properly described as a spiritual crime spree that only made matters worse. And quite unlike what happens to the vast majority of people in our predicament we had a saving encounter with the Triune God Who used His wonderful Word, the Bible, to tell us of our sins, to then tell us of His beloved Son, and to finally work a mysterious to us miracle that resulted in us becoming new creatures in Christ.

My friend, you cannot save yourself. You will not save yourself. But Jesus saves. Therefore, I urge you to come to Jesus Christ right this moment for salvation full and free. Believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Do you need to understand everything? No. What you need to do is come to Christ, so come to Christ now!


[1] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah: New Updated Version, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993), page 268 and Andreas J. Kostenberger, John - ECNT, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), page 128.

[2] Jeremiah 31.31-34

[3] Genesis 1.31

[4] If you are wondering why Christians die though their sins are forgiven and they are not under sin’s condemnation, study First Corinthians chapter 15, where the Christian’s death is explained in the context of the resurrection from the dead.

[5] Genesis 1.26-27, 31; 2.7, 21-22

[6] Genesis 2.17; 3.6-7, 23-24

[7] Genesis 4.1

[8] Genesis 4.5

[9] Genesis 4.6-7

[10] 2 Samuel 11.1-27

[11] John 6.44; Ephesians 1.13

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