Impossible to Condemn Those in Christ
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Romans chapters 1-12 are all about the gospel. Paul has focused on the fact that in the gospel there is a righteousness that is found that comes from Christ’s life and sacrifice. That right standing with God is given to people as a gift, it is a result of God’s grace, not the actions of people. And it is attained as people trust Christ to give it to them. For the past two chapters Paul has been rebutting the idea that since the law does not make me righteous, that it is not important. People make this jump for a couple of different reasons. 1. Christ fulfills the law in terms of granting us righteousness. 2. Christ fulfills the law that refers to the sacrificial system, the priestly law it is sometimes called and that law has substantially changed. We understand that sacrificing animals is not necessary and we will see that we have sacrifices to make of a different sort. 3. The laws relating to the nation of Israel do not apply to Gentiles ever and since in Christ God has broken down the dividing line. (Why do we no longer have genealogies? Because they are all one generation long. From you to Christ!)
Paul is not linear in his writing. He loops around and comes back. Here we are looping back and it is in order to describe how Jesus has set us free from our sinful problems!!! This is GOOD NEWS!!
- In the Flesh I Deserve Condemnation
- Wretched man status is a given
Paul personally. Consider what he says about himself in
Phil 3:3-6 If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
and combine that with
I Tim 1:13-15 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
I Cor 15:9 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
If Paul says about himself: 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? What should I expect in my own experience? Humility!!
How about this: Just as I have no ability to create life, I have no ability in myself to resurrect my life killed by sin. It requires the same abilities that only God has.
- In the flesh vs. In the Spirit (In Christ) (In the Word)
A way to define ourselves and an approach to God.
In my sinful nature= In the flesh (A Platonic dualistic metaphor)
In the flesh means that I rely on something I or others (apart from Jesus) have done to gain a right standing with God. This is the seat of humility!
Recognizing that we have sinned (are slaves to sin) and are deserving of death, how should we approach the rest of our lives? God is hard to see or be sure of so perhaps I should give token gifts of money, service, good works etc. I can compare my life to that of others and come out OK. This is what it means to be “in the flesh.” I am relying on something other than Christ.
What is God doing?
Romans 11: 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
In the Spirit we rely on the mercy and grace of God to allow us access to the life of the Spirit through Christ.
- I need saving
- Justification is described:
Saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ. Eph 2
Made alive together with Christ even when I was dead in transgression and sins. Eph 2
Made righteous because Jesus was made sin on my behalf II Cor 5
Killed by my sin, raised to live in Christ.
If I could gain righteousness apart from Christ, then Jesus’ death is not necessary. It is a waste. Gal 2:21
- Sanctification described: I walk by the spirit and not by the flesh. Gal 5
I set my mind on spiritual things, not on fleshly things (desires) Col 3
I set my heart (desires and priorities) on things above, not things of the earth. Col 3
I deny self, take up my cross (bear the suffering of self-denial that I do not like) and I follow Jesus! Gospels
I live life “in the spirit”. Here in Romans 8
John 7: 37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
A river is a metaphor for life. Living water means life. Life means a way to pursue life that recognizes and relies upon the truths expressed and accomplished by Jesus Christ.
So, I cannot claim overtly that Jesus has justified me and not pursue life in the Spirit! That abandons the foundation that would cause us to pursue justification to begin with! Sin produces death.
So, recognizing that I deserve condemnation: Paul points out that
- Christ Completely Frees From Condemnation
- Jesus is a literal offering for my literal sin v.3
3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.
Jesus removed my inadequacies from the equation of my judgement.
Jesus does this by…
- Jesus condemned my condemnation
And so he condemned sin in the flesh,
There is no condemnation apart from the law condemning me. It’s this simple. The problem with the law is my inability to keep it. It is my own very weakness that plagues me. And so, there is a standard, I don’t meet the standard, that is very clear.
But, if I were able to meet the standard then I would be good before the law. So, there is a sense of wages here. I have earned condemnation and that condemnation is just. But, there is also a gift here: Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ my Lord.
And so Jesus condemns my condemnation. He does away with it. And I would have to return to life before Christ to pick that condemnation back up again. Why would I want to do that? That’s silly. There are people who appear to do so. They are dealt with in the parable of the sower.
- The requirement of the law is met for me
4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us
What is left that I need in order to be good with God? Nothing. Jesus has purchased people for God from every tribe, tongue and nation. I fit into that category of people.
Last phrase of verse 4 is a transition to living a new way.
III. Jesus Saves Those Who Live According to the Spirit
- What does it mean to live according to something?
I looked this phrase up in every English version on Bible Gateway.
Walk according to the spirit
Walk after the spirit
The way we live is based on the Spirit
Run our lives according to what the Spirit wants
Obeying the Spirit
Walking in accordance with the Spirit
We live following the Spirit
We live life’s journey following the Spirit
We live by our spiritual nature
The Holy Spirit controls the way that we live
We do what the Holy Spirit wants us to do
- The Spirit mentioned is God’s Holy Spirit
John 14: 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth.
John 14: 25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 15: 26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
John 16: 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
- A promised Advocate, like Jesus, except that He will be with you forever!
- The Spirit of Truth (Jesus said, “I am the truth.) The standard by which we connect with the truth about God and how to live in His world. There is complete harmony between the teachings of Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s teaching.
- The Holy Spirit will teach and remind the Apostles about what Jesus said to them. (This is why it is so significant that the NT had Apostolic Authority!)
- The Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus. And the Apostles testify about Jesus. And we testify about Jesus.
- The Holy Spirit waits for Jesus to go before He comes in power. And before He comes for all people. Feast of Pentecost. And it is better for all people that Jesus goes and the Spirit comes.
- The Holy Spirit proves the world to be wrong about sin, about righteousness and about judgement. (In other words, we need to make sure we follow the teachings of the Holy Spirit about these very important areas of life.)
- The Holy Spirit guides folks to the truth. He speaks from God, just like Jesus. He glorifies Jesus. He reveals in the same manner as Jesus.
- Are you walking after the things of the Spirit?
Galatians 6: 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Sowing is planting something now that we hope to gain a harvest from later.
Establish habits in your life that will yield spiritual fruit.
Pray, study, and fast, give, serve and sacrifice. Focus your decisions and priorities every day around God’s kingdom purposes in your personal life, your family’s life, around the culture you live in and around the broader world. March 2nd Lent begins this year. I challenge you to find a spiritual discipline to practice that will give you strength against your fleshly self.