There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. – Romans 8:1 NKJV
As we open this chapter many of us have heard, cherished and even reveled in the great notion that there is now now condemnation! But let us take heed.
Depending on your bible translation, some clarity may be provided or needed. Some translations, for some apparent reason drop an important statement Paul had in the original Greek. Every translation indicates in one fashion or the other that there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. But many end the statement, when further clarity was originally provided. The original Greek ended the sentence with:
Not according to flesh who walk, but according to the Spirit.
Or translated in English as in the New King James Version:
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit – Romans 8:1 NKJV
Why do I point this out? Back in Chapter 3, we talked about carnal Christians. Those are people referred to as those who accept Jesus as savior, but not as Lord. The original text points out that condemnation has been removed from the Spirit-filled Christian, but not from the carnal Christian. The cranial Christian, even though he is in Christ, is still exposed to the threat of condemnation.
But that is not what Paul is teaching. Paul is declaring that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because those who are in Christ Jesus do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Your faith and confidence in this scripture is based on your life. Do you just declare him as savior or is he your Lord?
Freedom from judgment – (Romans 8:1-4)
1There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. – Romans 8:1-4 NKJV
That tremendous gift from the end of chapter 7 is finalized with the clarity, therefore their is no condemnation for those who walk not by the flesh, but in Christ Jesus. The key is in Jesus. In Adam, we were condemned. In Christ, there is no condemnation.
We need to also realize that it says no condemnation, it does not say no mistakes, no failures or no sin. Christians do fail and they will fail. Abraham lied about his wife; David committed adultery; Peter tried to kill a man with a sword, and you probably even know some more that you have discovered as well. You are going to be hurt by other Christians. That does not mean they are not Christians. This does not mean that you let them run all over you. When it feels like you are not being treated well, talk to your brother; establish healthy boundaries. Just because someone is a Christian and they sin does not give them free reign over you and justify bad decisions.
The Law cannot claim you (v.2)
We have been made free from the law of sin and death, we have life in the Spirit. The law of sin and death is what Paul described for us in chapter 7:7-25. Now in this chapter we learn about the Spirit of Life! We are dead to the law (Romans 7:4) and we are free from the law (Romans 8:2)
The Law cannot condemn you (v.3)
Jesus has already payed the price for our sins on the cross. We need to understand that the law cannot save, it can only condemn. God sent his son, Jesus, to save us; to do what the law could never do! Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross, and since we are “in Christ”, God will not condemn us.
The Law cannot control you (v.4)
The believer lives a righteous life, not in the power of the law, but in the power of the Holy Spirit. The law does not have the power to produce holiness; it can only reveal and con- demn sin. But the indwelling Holy Spirit enables you to walk in obedience to God’s will.
The righteousness that God demands in His law is fulfilled in you through the Spirit’s power. In the Holy Spirit, you have life and liberty (Rom. 8:2) and “the pursuit of happi- ness” (Rom. 8:4).
The legalist or perfectionist tries to obey God in his own strength and fails to measure up to the righteousness that God demands. I know I have tried to use the bible as the only answer and all I did was beat myself and others up. The Spirit-led Christian, as he yields to the Lord, experiences the sanctifying work of the Spirit in his life.
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. – Philippians 2:13
Freedom from Defeat – (Romans 8:5-17)
We have no obligation to live life like we used to. Our old self is dead. If we are reborn and “in Christ”, our old self died on the cross. We can have victory in Jesus, our savior, forever!
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:5-8
Paul is not talking about carnal Christians and spirit-led Christians in this section. He is talking about the saved and the unsaved. There are four contrasts he uses:
1. Flesh Vs Spirit (v.5)
An unsaved person does not have the spirit of God, but lives in the flesh and for the flesh. I can reflect in the years past when I was living solely for myself. Not for anybody in my family and definitely not for God. The unsaved person’s mind is is centered on things that satisfy their flesh.
But a Christian has the Spirit of God living in them and they live a whole new life compared to the old ways. The mind is set on things of the Spirit, on things above.
We need to be honest and clear when we view the differences of the flesh and the Spirit. This does not mean that unsaved people do not do good things. It also does not mean that if someone does good things, they are saved. Remember, we cannot earn our salvation. Also, remember: being a Christians does not mean they will never do anything bad. What it means is there is different motivation, desires and purpose in the lives of those who are in Christ Jesus.
Can you describe how you were in the flesh, but now in the Spirit?
2. Death Vs Life (v.6)
The unsaved person is alive physically, but dead spiritually. When unsaved the inner person does not respond to the Spirit. The person may be very religious and moral, but they are led by their motivations and desires, not the spirit.
3. War with God Vs Peace with God (v.6-7)
In the last chapter we learned how the flesh, our old nature, rebels against God, and does not submit to God’s law.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:1
“There is no peace for the wicked,” says the Lord – Isaiah 48:22
4. Pleasing self Vs Pleasing God (v.8)
An easy illustration is “to be in the flesh means to be lost, outside of Christ”. The unsaved person lives to please themselves. To declare their righteousness. I, I, me, me. There is a concept of entitlement. The unsaved person rarely thinks about pleasing God. We have come to understand that the root of all sin is selfishness. It is more “my will” than “your will” be done.
You have the Spirit (v. 9-11)
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 8:9-11 NASB
Verse 9 seems to make it so simple, “you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit”. The evidence of conversion is the presence of the Holy Spirit living in you, witnessing that you are a child of God. That Spirit of God is what gives life to us and encourages us to serve God.
Can you describe a time when you could really notice that you were living by the Spirit and not by your flesh?
The Spirit has you (v. 12-17)
12 So, dear brothers, you have no obligations whatever to your old sinful nature to do what it begs you to do. 13 For if you keep on following it you are lost and will perish, but if through the power of the Holy Spirit you crush it and its evil deeds, you shall live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
15 And so we should not be like cringing, fearful slaves, but we should behave like God’s very own children, adopted into the bosom of his family, and calling to him, “Father, Father.” 16 For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we really are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we will share his treasures—for all God gives to his Son Jesus is now ours too. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. – Romans 8:12-17 TLB
It is not enough for us to have the Spirit of God living in us. We have to let the Spirit have us. We have to surrender to the Spirit. Only then can He share with us the abundant, victorious life that can be ours in Christ. We have no obligation to the flesh, because the flesh has only brought trouble into our lives. We do have an obligation to the Holy Spirit, for it is the Spirit who convicted us, revealed Christ to us, and imparted eternal life to us when we trusted Christ. Because He is “the Spirit of Life,” He can empower us to obey Christ, and He can enable us to be more like Christ. We cannot fight off the enemy alone. Even if we are aware of the enemy, we cannot save ourselves.
Verse 14 touches on a key point of “being led by the Spirit”. The verb here means “willingly led.” We yield to the Spirit, and He guides us by His Word day by day. We are not under bondage to law and afraid to act. We have the liberty of the Spirit and are free to follow Christ.