Peninsula Community Church
April 22, 2018
Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
If I polled this room I am sure that I would find that most of us have dealt with regret, failures from the past, and the condemnation resulting from sins committed and those already forgiven. If you are like me, when you look back over your life, you are keenly aware of things you wish you could have done differently. I often wish I could go back and raise my kids now with the wisdom I have obtained through the years. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. For some of us, there are jobs we wish we had taken. There are jobs we wish we had not taken. There are decisions we wish we had made and some we wish we had not made. There are words that have been spoken but there are also words which were never spoken that haunt us.
In Romans 7, Paul describes this battle by painting a picture of the struggle of human life. Paul masterfully describes a life in chaos. As you read Paul’s words in Roman 7:15-20, we are captured with the pressure he is experiencing. Listen to his own words. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. Through this turmoil he reached the conclusion that he was a wretched man as noted in Romans 7:24.
The term wretched is interesting in that it means “to bear a callus.” It can also mean “to be exhausted through intense labor.” The bottom line is this word represents an intense miserableness. It represents the condition of the heart and mind when the believer is weary of the fight to do what is right. It represents the struggle to fulfill the requirements of the law in an attempt to be pleasing to God. In fact, how intense and ineffective it is to try to live this way? How painful it is to fail to do or not do what we desire over and over again? It can be frustrating and debilitating.
From here Paul makes a desperate plea. Who will deliver me from this body of death (Romans 7:24)? Paul reached the point that so many reach. He is saying I am tired and I am weary. There is an annoying reality that is hanging over me. No matter how hard I try, I fail at doing what is right and honorable before God. I keep blowing it. How am I going to get past this? How am I going to get to the place that who I spiritually and who I am in the flesh is in alignment with God’s will and purpose? How can I overcome the plight of my life? How will I ever be accepted by God?
The disservice of our modern translations of the Bible is that we have chapter and verse designations, which at times can break up a discussion. You see, Romans 8 is a continuation of all of the previous chapters as well as the discussion in Romans 7. In Romans 8:1, Paul makes a powerful life changing statement. He proclaims There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This is an interesting passage. To understand it, we must dig a bit deeper.
The first thing to consider is that in the original Greek language it was common for writers to place the most important word at the beginning of the sentence. In our English language the first word is “therefore.” In the original Greek, however, the word “no” comes first. The word used here is not the normal word for no but is the strongest word in the Greek language for “no.” The statement then is an emphatic NO to condemnation. It is like saying, “There is no condemnation, none whatsoever, for the believer in Christ Jesus.”
Secondly, we must understand why the power of condemnation is so destructive. Condemnation has been defined as a statement or expression of very strong and definite criticism or disapproval. Condemnation negatively impacts the believer’s outlook on life in many ways. It reminds us of our past failures and indiscretions. Condemnation gives the false sense that there is no hope and that is just how things will be. There is no dispute on the truth of the accusation per se, but it is how the truth is used that makes the difference. One way brings hope, the other brings despair. Condemnation also causes us to feel rejected by people and disenfranchised from God. The result is that we walk in guilt and fear and somehow we believe that we have failed ourselves and/or God. Condemnation can also force us into a lifestyle of works rather than living in grace. We are falsely drawn into the attitude that if we just strive harder, God will love us more.
Thirdly, this passage reminds us of a powerful truth. The idea of no condemnation does not come as a result of our actions but rather our position in Christ. It is not how we act, but where we are positionally that counts most. We are in Christ. That is our position. That is how we need to live. We are in Christ and not under the bondage of past sin. Notice that Paul states the power of living without condemnation comes only to those who are in Christ Jesus.
This truth is critical to our success as the Spirit points us to a life in Christ, because He has delivered us from the power of sin. Paul asks who can deliver him from this body of sin (Romans 7:24)? Who can satisfy this longing to live holy and righteously? It is Christ! It is His death on the cross that paves the way. It is His resurrection that brings power to overcome the sin in us.
I love what John Piper said in relationship to being in Christ. Being “in Christ Jesus” is a stupendous reality. This stupendous reality of in Christ Jesus brings many benefits. If you are “in Christ” listen to what it means for you. In Christ, you were given grace before the world was created (2 Timothy 1:9). In Christ, you were chosen by God before creation (Ephesians 1:4). In Christ, you are loved by God with an inseparable love (Romans 8:38-19). In Christ, you were redeemed and forgiven for all your sins (Ephesians 1:7). In Christ, you are justified before God and the righteousness of God is imputed to you (2 Corinthians 5:21) . In Christ, you have become a new creation and a son of God (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 3:26). In Christ, you have been seated in the heavenly places, even while living on earth (Ephesians 2:6). In Christ, all the promises of God are Yes for you (2 Corinthians 1:20). In Christ, you are being sanctified and made holy (1 Corinthians 1:2). In Christ, everything you really need will be supplied (Philippians 4:19). In Christ, the peace of God will guard your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7). In Christ, you have eternal life (Romans 6:23). And in Christ, you will be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:22). All those united to Adam in the first humanity die. All those united to Christ in the new humanity rise to live again.
The question therefore is will you live a Romans 7 life or a Romans 8 life. Will you live with the torment of a condemned life or will you live a condemnation free life? How does this work? It is by grace, but we must act by faith to secure our walk in Christ. By faith, we choose to live in Christ. We choose to walk in His ways. The decision for us is whether or not we will we walk according to the flesh or according to the Spirit. These expressions bring out a strikingly essential distinction between the law and the work of Christ. The former seeks to control and discipline conduct by requirements and threats which brings condemnation. The latter introduces into man’s inner being a new principle of life, where right conduct spontaneously flows from the Spirit. Coercion is the focus of the one and inspiration is the focus of the other.
As I was preparing for this study, something hit me that I had not seen before or at least I did not remember it. The chapter begins with “no condemnation” and ends with “no separation.” I love this thought. The chapter begins with the concept that there is no condemnation when we are in Christ. The chapter ends with the fact there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ. In between these two great truths we have the unfolding of truths that help us live as effective, passionate followers of Christ to maximize our purpose in the kingdom.
In our discussion there is a secondary and equal point that needs to be made. When we speak of no condemnation and the principle that God’s love never ceases, we must also be aware that this does not mean that sin will not be dealt with or judged by God. Too often, we believe in the premise that since there is no condemnation we are allowed to do whatever we want without regard to the consequences. That is hyper grace and should not be given any room or merit in this discussion. Those who hold to hyper grace believe we can do whatever we want to because we are under grace. This is the exact issue that Paul dealt with when asked the question earlier in Romans. “Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1)? His answer was an emphatic no. You see there are consequences to our sin and that must be considered before any decision is made or action taken. Yes we live by grace, but we must not cheapen the grace given to us by thinking we can sin and get away with it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer had this to say about cheap grace. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession… Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus, living and incarnate. That is not what Paul is talking about here. He knows that God’s grace brings us to repentance and healing and does not free us to live in our sin.
We can live in freedom because there is no condemnation for past sin and failures. At the same time, if we blow it, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Remember Paul’s words. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword (Romans 8:35)? We can be assured there is no outside influence that can keep us from God’s love. God’s love is not exhaustive and it never ends no matter what. The fact is there is nothing you can do to stop God from loving you. If He already loved us at our worse, why would He start now. He loved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8), why would He not love us when we do something as a believer.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom