Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No Condemnation


Romans 8:1-2 THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death.


To understand what Paul means by the "law of sin and death" we need to note the link between "the flesh" and "sin" in his thinking. For instance, he concludes the previous chapter with the dismal words "with the flesh [I serve] the law of sin," thereby clearly identifying "the flesh" as the means whereby sin operates within the human experience. At this point, considerable confusion can arise because of Paul's habit of using "flesh" (Greek, sarx) in a number of ways. In Romans 8:28, "flesh" obviously means the tissues of the physical body; in Romans 1:3, it means natural descent; in Romans 3:20, it is a synonym for the human race, and in Romans 8:30, it refers to human nature. To add to the confusion, the translators of English editions of the Bible occasionally translated sarx words by the English word "carnal." But all is not lost if we remember that when sarx, whether translated "flesh" or "carnal," appears in contrast to God and His work in human lives, it means human nature with particular reference to its inbuilt sinfulness. Godet defines it as "the inclination to seek self-satisfaction in everything," and Bruce weighs in with "sinful propensity from Adam." The flesh is an attitude or inclination operating in complete rejection of the divine will that requires self-sacrificial submission, choosing rather the free expression of anything and everything that will bring self-gratification. It is in this flesh that the law of sin and death moves and has its being.

Anyone who reads Romans 8 should have little difficulty grasping the significance of the flesh. The law is said to be "weak through the flesh" (Romans 8:3); those who live "according to the flesh" set their minds on the "things of the flesh," which we are told is "death" (Romans 8:5-6); the fleshly mind is "enmity against God" and "is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can it be" (Romans 8:7); furthermore, "those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:8). To be "in the flesh" means the same as being "in Adam," or unregenerate; to live "according to the flesh" means to live as if unregenerate after becoming regenerate. Paul's cry for deliverance is therefore a longing to be free from the discouraging tendency he has discovered in himself to live, although justified, as if he is not. He finds within himself a sinful propensity which is so powerful that he recognizes he, in himself, is incapable of breaking it; in fact, it is so pervasive that he feels as if he is "sold under sin" because his human nature is so thoroughly imbued with selfishness and self-serving. This is the law of sin and death from which he longs to be free.


"No Condemnation" simply means
"Not guilty; let him go free." What would those words mean to you if you were on death row? The fact is that the whole human race is on death row, justly condemned for repeatedly breaking God's holy law. Without Jesus we would have no hope at all. But thank God! He has declared us not guilty and has offered us freedom from sin and power to do his will.


"Lord, I am so thankful that when I give my life to you, when I confess my sins, and make you Savior and Lord, there is nothing known against me. I am free, and not guilty. That still overwhelms me. I am so thankful for the blood of Jesus that washes me and makes my heart "white as snow." I choose today to walk in that forgiveness and freedom. In Jesus' name, amen!"