Summary: In this sermon we see that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because we are now children of God.
The first verse of the greatest chapter in the Bible—Romans 8:1—says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Everything else that follows in the rest of Romans 8 tells us why there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
The first reason why there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus is because there is no condemnation from the law. That is what the Apostle Paul teaches in Romans 8:1-4.
The second reason why there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus is because we have been delivered from the flesh. That is what the Apostle Paul teaches in Romans 8:5-11.
The third reason why there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus is because we are now the children of God. That is what the Apostle Paul teaches in Romans 8:12-17.
Let’s read Romans 8:12-17:
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:12-17)
February 25, 1992 is the day we finalized the adoption of Jon, my son. For many months prior to that day we lived with tremendous uncertainty wondering whether or not we would be able to keep Jon. But, finally, after months of uncertainty and waiting, the judge declared Jon to be our legally adopted son, with all of the rights and privileges that pertain to that status. We no longer had to worry about any legal judgments that might go against Jon.
Similarly, when God adopts us into his family, there are no longer any judgments against us. That is what Paul means when he says that there is “therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (8:1). There are no judgments against us for a number of reasons, one of which is that we are now the children of God.
How do we know that we are the children of God? Paul gives us five reasons in Romans 8:12-17 why we are the children of God.
I. We Do Not Live Like Non-Christians (8:12)
First, we are the children of God because we do not live like non-Christians. Paul says in verse 12, “So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.”
In our previous study Paul made it clear that the “flesh” or “sinful nature” (as some translations have it) refers to a non-Christian. Paul is saying that in light of all that God has done for you by justifying and sanctifying you by the work of the Holy Spirit, you now no longer live like a non-Christian.
But Paul’s point is actually stronger than that. Paul’s point is that we are debtors not to live the way a non-Christian lives, but to live a different way.
It’s the work of God that has given us this new life, and, therefore, we ought not to live for the flesh or for its goals. We are debtors to God not to live according to the principles and aims of a corrupt and fallen human nature.
We often say that the great motive of the Christian life is gratitude. In other words, we don’t obey in order for God to love us. We obey because God has loved us savingly in Jesus Christ. It is God’s initiative and love that has provoked our response and obedience. And that, of course, is entirely true.
But the New Testament makes it clear that there are in fact a number of motivations for living the Christian life. And Paul is bringing our attention to one of those motivations right here. He’s not bringing before us a motivation of gratitude; he’s actually bringing before us a motivation of obligation. Do you see that?
I like the way one translator put it: “Such is the hope that believers have that it lays them under obligation to live as men claimed for that destiny of glory.”
So Paul is telling us that we are children of God because we do not live like non-Christians.