What a powerful text this is. The hope of every Christian rides on the very truth of Paul’s statement.
Read again what Paul wrote to the Roman church nearly 2,000 years ago, for it is as true today as it was then: “Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I wonder if we really understand, know in our hearts, what Paul wrote and we just read.
“Therefore,” Paul wrote. We can substitute the word ‘conclusion’ for ‘therefore.” Paul has summed up his argument of the law versus faith in Jesus Christ.
“Therefore.” He could have said, or the Greek text could have been translated, “In conclusion - or “To end the discussion, there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”
Hallelujah - we are saved and we stay saved.
Let’s take a look at the word ‘condemnation’ for a moment. What does this word mean . The root of the word, condemn, means 1) to express disapproval of, or 2) to pronounce sentence against, or 3) to declare unfit for use. I find this fascinating. As Paul used the word, in Greek (kat-ak’-ree-mah) he intends the word to mean “an adverse sentence.” So there is no sentence for those in Christ Jesus, or anyone to express disapproval of, or declare us as unfit for use to Christ Jesus?
Not exactly. Listen to what “my old friend” Matthew Henry who wrote his commentary on the scriptures more than 250 years ago had to say on this subject. “He (Paul) does not say ‘There is no accusation against them”, for this there is; but the accusation is thrown out. He does not say, ‘There is nothing in them that deserves condemnation’, for this there is, and they see it, and own it; but is shall not be their ruin. He does not say, ‘There is no cross, no affliction to them’, for this there may be; but there is no condemnation.” Satan does accuse us, the scriptures tells us, but we are defended by Jesus Christ, our Advocate.
You see, the blessing of this verse of scripture is for those who are united with, and in, Jesus Christ. We may be accused, but God the Father pays no attention. We may be called useless, but God the Father knows better and we have been sentenced to death, by virtue of our sinful nature, by God the Father provides Jesus Christ to carry our sins, wash us clean and make us fit for service in the Kingdom. Amen.
Paul writes to his charge in Rome to continue on the path even through they now know of their sinful natures and God’s requirement of death to sinners. We are released from that law. We didn’t find a way to skirt the law, but God lifted the requirements when He sent his son to die on the cross for us. Praise God for his mercy and His grace.
Paul contrasts the person who continues to fill his or her mind with thoughts leading toward sin with those whose minds are fixed on the Almighty. “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires,” he writes. Left to our own devices, we can find plenty of ways to sin. I remember when President Jimmy Carter admitted that he “lusted in his mind.”
We must be very careful of what we allow into our minds, for once a thought enters the mind it is there forever. Once something is learned it is very difficult to ‘unlearn’ it and that is what Paul is writing about. “...but,” Paul continues, “those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Wow, we can seek the Holy Spirit and let him lead us through the muck and mire of everyday life. He will, if we permit him to, filter out the evil in this world: To destroy the virus of sin before it can fester and cause a mortal disease.
What a God we love. He provides everything we need to live with great joy. If left to ourselves, Paul advised, we would quickly fill our minds and souls with evil, but it we put ourselves in the hands of the Holy Spirit, our minds controlled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace with God. Who says we are not fit for service -- condemned? That’s a lie of Satan and smells of smoke and brimstone and comes from the pit of hell. Even in our worst days, when everything seems to be coming apart and we are out of control, we know that everything is just as it should be. Be still and know that God is in charge. God has ordained the comings and goings of us all. When we face trials, we need not give in to Satan’s lie, “See,” he whispers, “I told you, you are worthless. God doesn’t care about you. He’s given up on you. You’re not fit to serve him.”