Summary: To let the reader know that we have certain privileges in Christ Jesus
THE PRIVILEGES OF RELATIONSHIP
American express in one of its older commercials used to say “Membership has its privileges” and that is fine when it comes to looking for a credit card, but when it comes to our salvation, I’ve learned that relationship has privileges.
The Counterfeit/Fraud departments at the FBI have a proven way to train their agents to detect counterfeit money. They place before their trainees a series of real bills from the smallest to the largest. They would study the bills and become familiar with what real paper money looks like. They would become so familiar, that they can spot a phoney dollar bill from the real one simply by looking for certain things. Likewise Paul in the text is showing us how we should know if we are the real deal or not, then he is showing us the reward that comes with walking in relationship with the Lord.
First of all, in order for you to tell if you have a relationship with the Lord is . . .
1. YOU MUST BE IN CHRIST JESUS (v.1)
“There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus,”
I think that the greatest mistake that many clergymen have made, is that in our invitations for Discipleship. We would tell the unchurched to come to Jesus but we would wrap that statement around telling them to join our local assembly instead of the body of Christ called the Church. Many of the unchurched do not see the word Church as the source of walking day by day with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They simply view it as having some place to go once a week and when they do that it qualifies them as saved. But that my brothers and sisters are not true at all. This might work in certain social activities that you are involved with. But when it comes to salvation Jesus reminds us in John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.”
So, the first thing the new convert must know is that if they accept Jesus as their personal Savior, their sins will be forgiven them and there will be no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.
From the evidence seen in many of our churches, this principal has not been taught. We’ve been taught and rightfully so to pay our obligations, to join certain ministries and to tell someone about our church. But when it comes to abiding in Christ, it calls for us to change the way we are, to become what we need to be, and that is like Christ.
Since Christ has come into our lives, a most wonderful thing has happened. We who believe in Christ are no longer condemned. The believer is no longer doomed and damned, but is freed from the penalty and condemnation of sin; he is not judged as a sinner, but is delivered from the condemnation of death and hell; he is not judged to be unrighteous, but is counted to be righteous.
It means simply this, the person who is in Christ is safe and secure from condemnation now and forever more. So, in order to have this freedom from sin, we must be in Christ Jesus.
Secondly, . . .
2. WE MUST LEARN TO DENY OUR FLESH (v.1b)
There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh,”
One of the biggest battles that Christians face is the battle that we have with our own flesh. Now if you are a super Christian this does not apply to you, but for the rest of us it is a struggle. Our struggle might not be things like committing adultery, or fornicating. We might not gamble or take on the late night life. We may never cheat, smoke, use drugs or play the lotto. But, I find the battle just as intense. Jesus Himself had a spiritual battle with His flesh in Matthew chapter 4. That was the chapter when Jesus had fasted forty days in the wilderness and verse two said that afterwards He was hungry. That is when the tempter came to Him and said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Now keep in mind that Jesus is the Son of God and He could have turned those stones into bread, but He was not going to allow His flesh to dictate to Him what He needed. So Jesus said to the tempter, It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. You see Jesus had the power to put His flesh under subjection. We too must learn to follow Jesus’ lead and learn to put our flesh in its place. Now, we might not have battles with the things that you might consider the big sins, but do you have a problem of being obedient to Jesus’ commands. Is there a problem with being mean spirited? Do you still talk about people who don’t see things the way you do? Are you still making excuses about why you cannot make it to church on study and prayer nights? If so, you are just like the rest of us struggling! But there is some good news. If you walk with Jesus, He will conquer the problems of the flesh. Now note this crucial point: only the believer who is in Christ Jesus will not be condemned. All nonbelievers will face condemnation for sin. A genuine believer is a person who does not walk after the flesh.