Summary: Our response to the Gospel is relationship and obedience. Relationship without obedience leads to "Cheap Grace" and Obedience without relationship leads to "legalism"

Rom 8:1-17 – No Condemnation in Christ

What is it like to be a condemned man?

 Have you ever imagined what it would be like to stand in the dock waiting for the jury to deliver its verdict and to hear the words “we find him guilty”

 And then to hear the judge pronounce the death sentence

 Seen the movie, “Dead Man Walking” or “The Green Line”

 Perhaps some of us here today still feel guilt over some past sin, or we may wonder if we are are good enough to escape God’s condemnation

 The great apostle Paul struggled with these same feeling

 Romans 7:21-25 It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?

Last time I talked about the movie “The Hand”

 How the old man keeps coming back to haunt us

 Paul also struggled with the old man of sin and if we were to stop at v.24 it would seem it is a losing battle

 And it is except for one thing

 In this section of scripture between v. 14-25, Paul uses the personal pronoun “I” or “me” 33 times

 What does this indicate to you when we see 33 uses of the personal pronoun used in 12 verses

 Emphasis is on self effort and while we try to battle this old nature by ourselves we will fail

 Our new life is meant to be lived in partnership with God

 So in v.24 Paul in frustration asks the question, “Who will free me from this “Life (Self-life)” dominated by sin”

 And he now gives us the key to how we can live the overcomers life

25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

 The answer to his dilemna is the gospel message of Jesus Christ

And he goes on to expand his answer in Rom 8

 This chapter is the culmination of Paul’s explanation of the basis of the Christian faith

 One of the most important chapters in the whole Bible

 Its the Christians victory cry

 In contrast to the last chapter where Paul used the personal pronoun 33 times in 12 verses, guess what word is used 19 times – Spirit or the Holy Spirit

 Ought to give us some indication of where our strength should come from

1Therefore, (as a result of all that has gone before) there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,[1]

 It doesn’t say there is “a little condemnation”, it says “no condemnation”

 …………Are you in Jesus Christ?

 How much condemnation do you have?

 Do we believe that very encouraging statement

 Its healthy to have remorse and guilt for our past and present sins, especially at our repentance, but God does not intend us to stay in that frame of mind

 He wants us to believe this statement

When we use the expression, “Freedom in Christ” What do we mean?

 Here we see Paul’s explaination, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.

 Far too many Christians live their lives as thought they are still under condemnation

 These people are asking the wrong question. The question can never be, "Am I good enough."

 And of course the answer is “no”

 The more important question that needs to be asked is the one I asked earlier, Are we in Christ?

 If we are, then the next verse applies to us

 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death

 this is the answer to Paul’s dilemna posed in the last chapter

 the new law of the spirit frees us from the law that governs the sinful man

V3: "God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

 So Paul clearly says that if we are “in Christ” we no longer live under condemnation.

Let me ask, What has Christ set us free from?

 free from the death penalty of our sin

 set free from the power of the sinful old man (or disposition) that used to rule our lives,

 those two things allow us to approach God’s throne and relate to Him personally

 But now that we have this freedom, does this mean we can live our lives any way we choose?

 How does paul answer that question in Romans 6, “God forbid!”

 It would be like unbaptising ourselves

 When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we enter into a special relationship with God - a covenant relationship.

 Faith is not a “one off” occurrence. It’s a “walk of Faith”.

 That walk is one of discovery. On it we discover God’s love, we learn obedience to God’s law , and we enter into the will of God

Think of the Covenant Law that was given to Moses

 What was it ultimately designed to do

 How did Jesus answer when he was asked, what is the greatest commandment - Matt 22:36-40

 It was ther to help the Israelites relate to their God and their fellowman

 To often we view the law in isolation rather than viewing it in the context of its covenant relationship

 Think of law in the context of marriage for a moment

 Susan and I have just celebrated our 25 wedding anniversary

 From my perspective, we have had a happy marriage

 But we also know marriage involves accepting and living with the faults of each other

 “God knows what I had to put up with”

 The thing is, if you have a healthy loving relationship, you are willing to put up with, overlook, tolerate, and live with the faults of the other person

 But if one person in the marriage continues to takes advantage of that relationship, by lying, cheating, and abusing the others good will, what eventually happens

 Eventually the marriage is terminated

 We also need to look at the Law in the context of its Covenant relationship

The law has two sides to it

 When in relationship with God, the Law is used to govern our relationship with God and our fellowman

 It is like a sign post leading the way into a closer realtionship with God and our fellowman

 However, when we fall out of the context of relationship – the law becomes an instrument to judge and condemn us

 For a very long time, God bent over backwards to love the Israelites. He allowed them to abuse him terribly

 He lamented in Deut 5:29, “29‘Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!

 However they failed in their responsiblility to respond to God’s overtures of love by not honouring their part of the covenant agreement

 Because of their continued disobedience, they fell out of relationship with God, and the law which was to be their signpost became their judge – and it condemned them

 after 1200 years of trying, God terminated the covenant agreement as we’re told over in Jer 31:32

 Jeremiah 31:31-32 “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—32 “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.

 Because they failed, the covenant failed

 So God, through Jesus Christ instituted a new covenant, but this time obedience did not depend on fallible human beings, but rather on Christ’s faithful obedience, and we know he did it in the context of relationship.

 Read that again in v.3-4

 V3: "God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

 So we enter into the new covenant of grace through Christ’s blood, His obedience, and his love.

 But now that we are in that covenant relationship, what does God expect of us

 Exactly what he expected of the Israelites, otherwise we too may fall under condemnation

 He wants obedience in the context of relationship

Let me ask you, How do we relate to God and discover his perfect will for our life?

 For this purpose he has given us the Law of Christ spelt out in the Gospels and the writings of the apostles.

 Strangely that’s why the New Testament is called The “New” Testament. It’s the NC introduced by God to replace the one that failed

 A new (really an “old” as it has always been there) expanded law was given to match the relationship expectations of the New Covenant. (Matt 5-6 etc).

 But not only were we given a more complete version of God’s law, we were also given a new heart on which the Holy Spirit “can write” God’s law of love so the reality can match the expectations. Jer 31:33

 Jeremiah 31:33 “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

And the rest of Rom 8 is a fulfillment of this prophesy

 Its all about “Living in the Spirit”

 The rest of this chapter is about relationship and obedience

 Its a check list we can use to see if we are truly living in the spirit or living in the flesh

5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

 See the comparison

6The mind of sinful man[5] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind[6] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.

And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

 Christ and Sin are incompatible. Both cannot rule our bodies

11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,

 Emphasis so far on obedience, now he introduces the context of relationship

14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.[7] And by him we cry, "Abba,[8] Father."

 Is the God we pray to remote and unaccessible, or is he a close loving Father

 The spirit will draw us into a prayful relationship with the father

16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

 In the end, what matters isn’t our ability or failure to keep the law, what matters is that we remain in relationship

 God has made us his children and parents don’t abandon their children or love them any less because they mess up

 If our heart is right and we are in relationship, God is more than willing to keep treating us as his children

 That’s what a loving father does

Notice in all of this explaination of life in the spirit, the emphasis is on our disposition, not our performance

 Oswald Chambers quote, "You can never make yourself holy by external acts, but if you are holy, your external acts will be the natural expression of your holiness."

 Have to be very careful of the criteria by which we evaluate our faith

 our salvation depends in its entirely on the saving work of Jesus Christ, not on our performance.

 And the presence of God’s Holy Spirit within us depends entirely on the work of Jesus Christ, and the grace of God.

So we see Relationship and Obedience have to go hand in Hand

 we become unbalanced and less effective as Christians when we promote one over the other

 Relationship without Obedience will lead to what? - “Cheap Grace”

 Obedience without Relationship will lead to What? - “Legalism and Judging”

 Which way do you naturally lean? Our church has a history of emphasising “obedience”

 Obedience is a great quality, but it has to be tempered by relationship

 Whatever our leaning, we all need to ask God to strengthen the other so that we can be more effective in representing our Lord

This is the reality in which you and I live – we have Freedom in Jesus Christ but that freedom does not allow us to do as we please

 So under the NC we should view the law of Christ as our guide to “Godly relationship” rather than as a law to “condemn”.

 That’s why Paul can say, “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ”.

 So in summary, we have been set free from the death penalty of sin;

 we have been set free from the old man with its pre-disposition to do evil;

 And we are in true relationship with the Father because we view Christ’s law as our guide to Godly living rather than a law that condemns

 We are truly free

 Let’s enjoy our freedom and celebrate the One who has made this freedom possible by living in His love and in His will