“No Condemnation!” What a wonderful couple of words! If there is ever a message that humans need to hear it is that one. The Apostle Paul has already shown the futility of Christians trying to please God by obedience to the Law (in chapter 7); now he explains how simple it is to please God by serving him in the ‘new way’ of the Holy Spirit. We should treat Romans 7:7-25 as another of Paul’s great ‘parentheses’ and start today’s reading from 7:6 and then straight into 8:1. Try it! Chapter 8 is simple and practical, and it starts by ridding us of our feelings of condemnation: “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”. Condemnation comes from two sources: guilt from sins already committed, and guilt from the power that sin seems to have over us on a day-to-day basis.
Jesus dealt with the penalty of our sins by dying in our place on the cross and taking upon himself the punishment that was due to us. We are therefore ‘Justified’ (declared acceptable by God). Justification is the complete antidote to this kind of condemnation. Ignore your feelings if they disagree with your spiritual position in Christ. To apply the benefits of the cross to our lives, Jesus acts as our intercessor before the Father’s throne. Therefore, “It is finished” – the price has been paid in full – and the full blessing will remain with us forever!
The power of sin (as a moral bias towards rebellion against God) in our lives is dealt with by walking daily with the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent into our lives and into our bodies. As we listen to him throughout our day, he keeps our minds on what is right and neutralises the power of sin in our sinful natures. Galatians backs this up with: “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you WILL NOT gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (5:16). So God has given us an everyday power over the temptations and the potential to sin; his Spirit lives in our bodies for certain; if you don’t have him in you, then you are not a Christian (see Romans 8:9). Paul says to us: ‘Use your brain: choose to walk with the Holy Spirit and you will always avoid sin. Once the power of sin is neutralised, there is no further opportunity for condemnation’.
The remainder of this glorious chapter informs us of the following (and much more too):
- The Spirit inside us validates the fact that we are truly God’s children and His direct heirs
- Our present sufferings are due to living in a broken world that will one day be liberated for us and with us – indeed God has imposed brokenness on our world, to provoke the children of God into taking up their full inheritance.
- We, ourselves, will receive our full adoption inheritance when we receive our new bodies
- God has given us the Holy Spirit to intercede for us, particularly to help us pray effectively – so we see that we now have two personal intercessors: Jesus, for justification and the Holy Spirit for obedience and holiness
- We are on a ‘Highway of Holiness’ leading inexorably to glory (vv28-30). He has chosen and predestined us – before the beginning of time – to be like his Son. Those he predestined, he called into salvation, then declared righteous, and soon will take to glory!
- If God is on our side, it really doesn’t matter who is against us, does it! Nothing (not even we ourselves) can separate us from the love of God, that is found in Christ, ever!
Let’s all use our brains and serve God in the new way of the Spirit from now on.