1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,
4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:1-8
As Christians who have come out of the trap of legalism Romans 8 is a banner of truth and freedom that soars majestically over the life of the forgiven and redeemed sinner. Any of you reading this blog post that have suffered under the restraints and demands of a law-centered religion well know what I am talking about.
Paul is not saying in these verses that the law is bad or anything like that. He is simply making sure that we know the keeping of the law in order to earn merit with God will fail us every time. The reason being, “the law was weakened by the flesh.”
Let’s take a look at the passage and revel in the hope and encouragement it offers to anyone who puts their trust in the saving power of Jesus.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (v. 1) Think about that for a moment. If you are in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation towards you by God. Romans 5 begins, “Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 1) To have no condemnation is to “have been justified through faith,” and the result of that is that we have ”peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Doesn’t that thought cause your heart to swell with joy and confidence and awe at the graciousness and love that God has for us?
We’ve mentioned in other posts that to have peace with God is a technical term in the New Testament that means to have absolute assurance in our salvation. What Paul is therefore telling us in the opening verse of Romans 5 and 8 is that when you and I put our trust in the righteousness of God we have assurance of eternal life and there is no condemnation found in us.
John Stott makes a wonderful comment on this; “Paul will almost immediately go on to explain that our not being condemned is due to God’s action of condemning our sin in Christ.” Romans, John Stott p. 217
“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh.”(v. 3)
If we think that we can please God by performance based religion we have thrown the cross away and made a mockery of the sacrifice made at Calvary by our Lord Jesus Christ. If we believe that trying to prove our worthiness by becoming “fit to be saved” through striving to obtain perfectionism by trusting in the powerless law weakened by the flesh we have missed the whole point of the Gospel. What the powerless law couldn’t do “God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.”
Our sins that condemn us and separate us from God were transferred to Jesus at the cross. He took our burden, our guilt, our shame, and our sins and carried them away. In their place He declared us righteous, no longer condemned by the law. It has nothing to do with earned righteousness because that is impossible for us because of our sinfulness. Righteousness is Jesus’ righteousness, His perfection, His keeping of the law, His sinless life, all accredited to us by His absolute action of love of becoming my substitute, the sin offering at Calvary’s cross.
Just writing these words sends shivers up my spine. Reading Romans 8, which is probably the most loved chapter in the entire Bible, thrills me and encourages me to love God with all I have. Reading this Chapter makes me want to worship and shout the praises of God from the rooftops. What grace that God could save a wretch like me.
The key to Romans 8 is the understanding of the contrast between the weakness of the law and the power of the Spirit to save. In the first twenty-nine verses of the chapter the Holy Spirit is referred to nineteen times. Stott points out correctly, “Thus the Christian life is essentially life in the Spirit, that is to say, a life which is animated, sustained, directed and enriched by the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit true Christian discipleship would be inconceivable, indeed impossible.” Romans, John Stott, p. 216
Let’s look at verse two, “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Notice the two great blessings that the chapter introduces us to in the first two verses. We have, “no condemnation,” and have received “freedom” when we are in Christ Jesus.
Simply put it is because we have been redeemed that we are declared justified and are liberated from the bondage to sin. And it is because we are liberated that we have no condemnation. I would like to quote Stott one more time, “True, Paul was at pains to stress that the law is not itself sinful, yet he added that it reveals, provokes and condemns sin (7:7-9). True again, he stressed that the law does not become death to people; yet it had produced death in him (7:13). So, shocking as it may sound, God’s holy law could be called the law of sin and death because it occasioned both. In this case to be liberated from the law of sin and death through Christ is to be no longer under the law, that is, to give up looking to the law for either justification or sanctification.” Romans John Stott p. 218
The “law of the Spirit” that opposes the “law of sin and death” occasions all this. What constitutes the law of the Spirit will be the focus of our next post.
* Please take the time to read some of the stories of Christians who are experiencing persecution for their total commitment to Christ. They need our support and prayers.. http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…