Summary: Chapter 8 is entirely built upon the opening statement of verse 1. The statement is a summation of chapters 6-7, which make the iron-clad case that we are dead to sin, alive to God, and free from the law. Because of all this, there is now therefore no
Chapter 8 is entirely built upon the opening statement of verse 1. The statement is a summation of chapters 6-7, which make the iron-clad case that we are dead to sin, alive to God, and free from the law. Because of all this, there is now therefore no condemnation. Verse 1 makes the statement of no condemnation, reminds us of the condition, and shows the result.
The condition of no condemnation is to be in Christ Jesus. One who is not in Christ Jesus is indeed under condemnation. John 3:18-19 tell us that people are already condemned, because they have not believed on Christ, and the condemnation is that light came, but men loved darkness more than light, because of their evil deeds. These are people who are not in Christ Jesus, but our text speaks of those of us who are. It would be a serious tragedy to accept the statement and fail to acknowledge the condition. I’m afraid it would be to join with all too many modern day church members, who say they know Him, but their words and deeds show them to be hypocrites.
The result of being in Christ Jesus is that we do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Now, I am aware that the older manuscripts do not include this last phrase, but I contend that it doesn’t do any damage, because verse 4 comes right back with it again, and the statement of verse 4 is in the older manuscripts. We simply need to be aware that walking according to the Spirit is not a condition for being in Christ Jesus and experiencing no condemnation, but rather, it is the result. One of the basic principles of proper biblical interpretation is to compare Scripture with Scripture. The very heart of the gospel message is that Jesus took our place in the payment for sin. When He lifted up His voice from the Cross and said, “It is finished,” it was finished! The sin debt was paid for the whosoever wills of this world.
In verse 2, we see that there are two opposing spiritual laws: the law of the Spirit of life in Christ and the law of sin and death. Everybody lives under one of those laws. For those who are saved, verse 2 tells what has happened. Have you ever flown on big jet? I have a number of times, and every time I have sat down inside a 747 or 767, the thought has hit me that this thing is big! Not only is it big, but I know it’s heavy, and I know the law of gravity is always at work, and I find myself thinking, “I don’t see how this thing can fly!” But then, the law of the power of those big jet engines kicks in, and the law of aerodynamics kicks in, as the wind hits the wings, and in spite of the constant and powerful law of gravity, it flies.
We saw in the previous chapters that the law was not bad, as a matter of fact, it was very good. But, in verse 3 we have another statement as to how the law was limited in its ability. It could only show us our guilt and define our punishment, but then God did for us what the law could never do, He sent His Son and condemned sin in the flesh. It wasn’t that God looked at it and said, “Well, I didn’t do a good enough job on that, I’d better do something more,” but it was that God never intended the law to do what Christ did. The law was simply a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, as Galatians 3:24 tells us. He condemned sin in the flesh by becoming flesh, living sinlessly, then being made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him, as we are told in 2 Corinthians 5:21.
The righteous requirement of the law is that the wages of sin is death. Only the genius of God could give us the ability to say, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live.” It is mind boggling that God is so holy, that He could not waver the least little bit concerning the righteous requirement of His law. The human tendency would be to say, “Well, I’ll just let it go this time,” but God would never say that. For God to just let something go, would mean that it might not really be necessary to take His word all that seriously. Isn’t that exactly where many people are in their thinking? They say, “I know I haven’t been perfect, but my good side out-weighs my bad side.” God says that we don’t even have a good side! He says in Isaiah 64:6, that the best of our righteousness is as filthy rags. The great news is that there is no therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because Jesus took our condemnation upon Himself and as a result, we are free indeed.