by Mike Ratliff
1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 NASB)
On February 29th I posted The Conflict of Two Natures, which was based on Romans 7. In this post, after looking at some of the major points of the Doctrines of Grace and who we really are in Christ over the last few weeks, we now return to Romans 8 and pick up Paul’s reasoning. Romans 8:1 from the Greek text reads, “Οὐδὲν ἄρα νῦν κατάκριμα τοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.” Or, “Therefore there is no condemnation to the ones in Christ Jesus.” The “therefore” translates ἄρα (ara), “as a result, then, so, therefore, possible.” Normally a “therefore” marks the conclusion of the verses immediately preceding it, but here it introduces the staggering results of the Apostle’s teaching in the first seven chapters, which states that justification is by faith alone on the basis of God’s overwhelming grace. For those in Christ, there is “no condemnation.” What does that mean?
“Condemnation” translates κατάκριμα (katakrima), “condemnation.” It occurs only three times in the New Testament, all in Romans (cf. 5:16, 18). It is used exclusively in judicial setting as the opposite of justification. It refers to the verdict of guilty and the penalty that verdict demands. Here the Apostle Paul is telling us that all in Christ are under “no condemnation.” What that means is that no sin a believer can commit—past, present, or future—can be held against him, since the penalty was paid by Christ and righteousness was imputed to the believer. And no sin will ever reverse this divine legal decision. Some of you may remember a “Tweet” several months ago made by Rick Warren in which he stated that the Doctrine of Imputation made lazy Christians. So, what sort of Justification doctrine do people like Rick Warren hold to if believers are held to their own righteousness and are responsible for their own justification? That’s called works righteousness and those in it are in bondage.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:2-11 NASB)
Now the Apostle Paul tells us why there is no condemnation of the believer, which is that the Spirit has replaced the law that produced only sin and death (Romans 7:5, 13) with a new simple law that produces life, the law of faith (Romans 3:27), or the message of the gospel, which he refers to in v2 as the “law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.” The law of sin and death is the Law of God, however, the Law is good, holy, and righteous (Romans 7:12), but because of the weakness of the flesh it can produce only sin and death (Romans 7:5, 13).
In v3 we see that the Law could only condemn men not deliver. Those who proclaim that we must keep the Law in order to be justified have been deceived because the only one who has ever kept the Law is Jesus Christ and it is his perfect righteousness and his perfect keeping of the Law that is imputed to all believers at the justification. This is what God has done by sending his own Son in the lines of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin. He condemned sin in the flesh. Our Lord Jesus became the propititiation for those he came to justify.
In v4 we read that “…the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” The thoughts, words, and deeds that the moral Law of God demands are the righteous requirement of the Law. The ceremonial aspect of the Mosaic Law has been set aside (Colossians 2:14-17), and the basic responsibility for the civil aspect, which shows the application of the moral law in a community, has been transferred to human government (Romans 13:1-7). The moral law finds its basis in the character of God and is presented in outline form in the Ten Commandments; its most condensed form is in Jesus’ commands to love God and to love one’s neighbor as one’s self. Its substance has never been abrogated, but finds its authority in the new covenant. Every unbeliever is stull under its requirement of perfection and its condemnation, until coming to Christ (Galatians 3:23-25) and every believer still finds in it the standard for behavior. The fact that the righteous requirement of the Law might be “fulfilled in us” is talking about a fact that true believers actually “do not walk according to the flesh, but according the Spirit.” This is a statement of fact that applies to all believers and is speaking to the fact that the Holy Spirit is able to change all in Christ by writing the Law of God in their hearts changing their moral character to reflect that of God himself and become bound to his will. This includes the power to obey that will. Walking this way refers to a lifestyle, the habits of living and thinking that characterize a person’s live (cf. Luke 1:6; Ephesians 4:17; 1 John 1:7). All believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit so each will manifest the fruit he produces in their lives (Galatians 5:22, 23).
In v5 we have a contrast. Those who are according to the flesh are contrasted with those who are according to the Spirit. Those who are according to the flesh are unbelievers and they set their minds on the things of the flesh. This “setting the mind” refers to a basic orientation of the mind—a mind-set that includes one’s affections, mental processes, and will (cf. Philippians 2:2, 5; 3:15, 19; Colossians 3:2). Unbelievers’ basic disposition is to satisfy the cravings of their unredeemed flesh (Philippians 3:19; 2 Peter 2:10). On the other hand, those who are according to the Spirit are believers. The Holy Spirit will have overhauled their mind-set and they will still be in the process of weeding out the affections for the things their flesh loves while cultivating affections for the things of the Spirit.
In v6 we have a statement of fact. Those who are of the flesh are carnally minded are spiritually dead while those who are of the Spirit are of life and peace.
I used to get into “debates” with former Christian friends who refused to believe in the Doctrines of Grace and v7 was one that they would actually deny. They would say that a lost person did have the ability to seek after the things of God, repent and be found pleasing to God and that would be enough for God to save them, et cetera. However, what does v7 say? The mind-set of the lost person is hostile toward God for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so. However, that is not to say that there are not of lot of false forms of Christianity out there that have there own idolatrous god they worship and their own idolatrous Jesus they order around, but you see, that is “christianity on their own terms” and it is just as pagan as any other false religion for these people will not subject themselves to God or his law nor are they able. I v8 Paul tell us plainly that those who are not of the Spirit (true Christians) cannot please God.
In v9 Paul makes it clear that genuine Christians have the Holy Spirit and are not in the flesh, but that anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. In v10 he shows us that we do not need to be looking to the health, wealth and circumstances and markers of whether we are in Christ or not, but whether the Spirit is in us or not. Even as we grow old and die or get sick and die, if the Spirit is in us, we are alive in Christ because of his imputed righteousness.
In v11 Paul looks forward to the Resurrection. This doctrine of the Resurrection of the Saints is overlooked so much these days. So much emphasis is placed on dying and going to heaven to be with Jesus or having him come for us as the Body of Christ, but Paul emphasized the Resurrection of our bodies quite a bit so we need to as well. If the Holy Spirit who raised our Lord Jesus from the dead dwells in us, he will also give life to our mortal bodies through his spirit who dwells in us.
We will look at our inheritance in Christ (Romans 8:12-17) in the next post.
Soli Deo Gloria!