Romans chapter eight opens with this,
there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ
(Romans 8:1 NASB)
I am not good at English grammar, and so I pay to have my work edited to an acceptable and readable degree. I said all that to say, that I may make odd and rather apparent statements, such as, for Paul to open with the word, therefore, is indicative of a thought that needs to be continued; and, it demands that we understand what that previous thought was. On that note, we ended our look at Romans chapter seven with this upbeat tone.
man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
Thanks be to God
through Jesus Christ, our Lord!
So then, on the one hand, I myself with my mind am serving the law of
God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
(Romans 7:24-25 NASB)
A small Bible study group I am involved in is studying the same section of scripture but leans heavily on Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on Romans. Wiersbe says that this “gives the “therefore” of no condemnation…” If that were all I had to go on, I would be scratching my head in bewilderment, but Wiersbe continues with – “a tremendous truth and the conclusion of a marvelous argument.” Well, yes it is, but suppose you had just joined the group that night, would you know what that argument was? Probably not.
In concise words, none of this would be possible if not for “Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
Assuming that you have been following my studies, the majority of you should realize by now, that until the day when this body gets changed, we are stuck with this body of death. In itself, that is a dismal proposition. Thank God Jesus went to the cross.
Here is where that change I spoke of, comes into play.
“in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the
trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52 NASB)
Paul stated in the NASB, “thanks be to God through Jesus
Christ, our Lord, we are set free.”
If you operate on the principle that you died to this world and that dead people don’t have a problem with lust, then you should make it through this journey with relative success (spiritually.)
Eugene Peterson’s Message adds this commentary to Romans 7:25,
“He (Jesus Christ) acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” The parenthesis is added by me.
And the NLT puts a slightly different spin on 7:25 by saying,
“Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ, our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind, I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature, I am a slave to sin.” If it were not for Christ Jesus, we would be lost forever. Ah, but we are not lost, because the answer to this brokenness in us that pushes us to fulfill our desires, is wrapped up in our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Some, like Warren Wiersbe’s commentary, will try to tell you that you were healed the day you accepted Christ. If you sat in meetings with me, where people try to own that idea, you would hear me say, “I wish that were true.”
As Paul said in chapter seven,
But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:16-20 NLT)
I have learned that, for me, in this life, I need to lean heavily upon the Holy Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
And with that, we move into Romans chapter eight.
The Complete Jewish Bible starts us off with the word, therefore, as do many other translations.
Therefore, there is no longer any condemnation awaiting those who are in union with the Messiah Yeshua. (Romans 8:1 CJB)
I often hear my spirit say, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The majority of the condemnation that I have experienced in this Christian life has come at me from religious people. Need examples?
- The pastor who verbally accosted me and said that I am too edgy to teach Bible study; and yet, he allows others, who stand in defiance as they speak in opposition to accepted church Biblical values and doctrines.
- An individual whom I used to deem a friend, called me a firebrand (this is a person who provokes people,) and scolded me in public because I try to get people excited about the Word of God.
- And then, there is the brother in Christ who wanted to make himself look important by trying to argue me down in a home-group. The question was asked of the small group that night, how big was David when he fought Goliath. (Three hard pieces of Biblical evidence demonstrate his potential size, and it wasn’t small.)
So what is Paul saying? Even if abuse or hardship comes, there is NO condemnation awaiting us on the part of Jesus or the Father, because we are in union with Jesus by our acceptance of Him and what He did for us.
The statement, “there is NO condemnation” is straight forward. You would think we should all have this established in our thinking. However, even in a small group that I am part of, a dear lady, who we assume to be knowledgeable in scripture, said, then what do we do with what Paul said about confessing our sin? I told her, don’t you see, the assumption is that:
a. God has just moved you over to the “burn this one in hell” list because of your “sin.”
b. That sin, (You would not expect the eighty-year-old church lady, to be committing grievous sins of the flesh.) has everything to do with raunchy fleshly desires. IT DOES NOT. Sin is merely missing the mark. Every day, we have marks we have to hit, such as loving the unlovable. How does that work out for you? Yeah, me too.
If this “sinning” stuff were the end-all, then NONE of us would go to heaven.
c. This idea of confessing, as though it was a continual act of slaughtering a lamb for your sins, does not change God’s heart toward you. 1 John 1:9 NASB says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Well, obviously, John is talking about the God relationship, but the word confess is not what you think.
Confess is the Greek word homologeō and means to assent.
Assent, from Webster’s dictionary, means “the act of the mind in admitting, or agreeing to, the truth of a proposal.”
A proposal? So your mind has been presented with a proposal, and in many cases, the enemy is the one doing the proposing. Another way to look at this is, Satan offers you a jump (off a cliff for all I know,) and even though you are NOT being pushed, you choose not to resist that nonsense and take the jump. IF you have done that and survived, and you are now confessing to a safe and sane believer – hopefully, how you bought into the lie of the enemy.
Rejoice for you have done several positive things:
- You have just become open and honest about your sin – in which you missed the mark.
- You are at least, owning your actions, and the damage you may have created.
- Now you have the chance to make a change and potentially NOT do that again.
- And, our intercessor, Christ Jesus, is praying alongside you, for your healing and restoration to sanity.
Before I move on, I want to point something out.
We have many translations available for our usage. If you chose to use the KJV, for example, you would get this: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
Pay attention to these words:
“who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
One version, the exeGeses ready research Bible, indicates that this line is NOT in the original manuscripts. Words added for clarity, such as “There is,” are most often italicized, but that did not happen here, and, to make our understanding more muddled, the KJV gives me Strong’s numbers for the added line.
Confusing, absolutely, and it requires that we pay attention and dig a little more.
Now, what do I do with this dilemma that the added line creates?
For me, I run several tests on it, and I lean on the Holy Spirit.
If you are not filled with the Holy Spirit, then you need to ask the Father to fill you with that free gift. Scripture tells us that:
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (John 16:13 NASB)
So, clearly, the Holy Spirit is a huge benefit, and He – being a persona of God, no less than Jesus is, will show you the truth and guide into the truth. Sorry, but you are just going to have to learn to trust Him, just as you trusted Christ Jesus to be your Lord.
If I choose not to use the KJV translation with the added words, am I losing some deep part of God’s heart?
I did not pay much attention to this line before, as much of Romans was like muddy water. Today though, I find that the phrase most certainly implies the meeting of some conditional human standard. If that is the case, who set the standard because knowing that will influence how much effort I put into sorting this out?
Lacking an answer as to who set the standard, I move on to some other test. Now, I find myself asking, does what seem like God’s word truly reflect God’s nature and character; if so, how would I evaluate that?
Considering that God sent His only Son, to die a brutal death, for a world that did not know or love Him, why would He now put stipulations, on what, Paul pointed out, are impossible in our flesh to fulfill, back on us again?
I can learn quite a bit about God’s character just by looking at Jesus’ life. He told us, “whatever I see the Father do, I do.” And, as Peter said, “Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil.“
“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38 NASB)
What I understand about what happened here in Acts 10:38, is that there was no exclusion, as all were oppressed by the devil. Again, I am aware that religious folk will accost you for advocating how Jesus operated by saying, the devil is not hiding under every bush, and they would be right. But consider this, Satan took one-third of the angels with him in his fall. One-third of a countless quantity is an astronomical amount, and they are all most certainly helping Satan in his final attempts at destroying anything and anyone that looks like Jesus.
The bottom line for me, God would not, and has not made a conditional relationship with us. Sadly, this very conversation became a point of contention in “Bible Study” one recent Thursday. Fortunately, I did my own personal study and then looked at the Wiersbe commentary and that is precisely what he found. I pointed this out to my critic and that person, for the moment, shut-up.
I must admit that having people walk according to the Spirit would be a better way of living for all of us, but we must learn to show people who are struggling, just as we do with the enemy’s taunts, a little more grace.
I am going to throw in a verse that I was reminded of today before I started working on this study on Romans 8.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 NASB)
I came upon this verse in Ephesian in my morning devotional. It is something a group of men I know, do every day. The writer of the devotional, Andy Stanley, asked the question, should we respond affirmatively to this merely because it is God’s Word, or should we follow the advice, because Christ has forgiven us? In other words, act like Jesus.