“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” —Romans 8:1, 2
Now, I’m sure you’re getting tired of me and every preacher you’ve heard say that every time you see a “therefore,” go back and find out what it is there for; so I’m not going to tell you that.
Nevertheless, this little Greek word does connect us with what the apostle has just spoken previously in order to, first, amplify our hope so that we are not crushed in despair from the wretched truth of Romans 7:24; and second, to further explain his thanksgiving for the believer’s reality in Christ expressed in Romans 7:25. Though we are imperfect, and apart from the grace of God, all we do is sinful and falls short of God’s glory, as we have seen in Romans 7:14-25, because of the amazing grace of a sovereign God, we are placed in the bosom of the heavenly Father by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore, Christ does not condemn us. He does not condemn His own. In fact, he cannot condemn us because we are Christ’s body, and “no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it” (Ephesians 5:29).
Oh, my friends, that is great reason to celebrate every breath we take; for in Christ, we have been delivered from eternal damnation, though eternal damnation is exactly what every one of us deserves for our offesive lives lived in defiance agains a holy God.
Sadly, these days, there are those who will corrupt this truth by proudly proclaiming that the Christian is not condemned because the Christian, so they say, has no command from God to flee from wickedness, neither to eschew evil. They pull Romans 8:1 from its context, which is contained in the following nine verses. They love to quote our Lord when He spoke to the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11, “Neither do I condemn thee;” yet, they forsake the very words following that statement: “…go, and sin no more.”
In this chapter, we will see that walking after the Spirit is the revelation of the truth of Redemption’s reality, of our liberation from condemnation. It’s important to note that the second part of this verse is not in the earliest Greek manuscripts. Because it is in the King James Version of the scriptures, it has given rise to a misinterpretation of the text in English, which lends itself to a form of legalism, and even a form of “shepherding” or “lording over the people of God.” It takes the phrase “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” to mean unless you and I are doing and believing certain things, then you are not saved. Certainly, there are necessary truths concerning Christ that must be revealed to us by the Spirit in order for us to be saved, such as the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; however, some might apply the understanding, or even the acknowledgment of the doctrines of grace, to make salvation possible. But that confounds grace.
Actually, the Greek phrase that is contained in later manuscripts merely explains who they are “which are in Christ;” that is, the “them” that are spoken of in Romans 8:1 are not condemned. It expresses the truth that those who are in Christ are those who have evidence in their lives that there has indeed been a change so that they can now walk after the Spirit of God and not according to the flesh; in other words, those saved by the grace of God in Christ Jesus.. Romans 8:2 further explains this. Paul writes, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” He explains that because of the certainty of this awesome reality of life in Christ by God’s grace, the condemnation of sin that brings death no longer holds us captive. We are free, truly free. The grip of fear, as one condemned, loses its grip upon you and I according to how much we have grown in grace as we are strengthened in faith.
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Read the previous article in this series, “Thanks Be to God” (Romans 7:25).